On Saturday, the New Jersey Devils will play regular season hockey at Prudential Center for the first time in 169 days as they take on the Detroit Red Wings. Coincidentally, the Red Wings were the team’s final opponent in 2021-22, but both teams have changed considerably since their last meeting. The Devils are coming off a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers, while Detroit played last night against their Original Six foe, the Montreal Canadiens, shutting them out 3-0.
Thursday night saw the Devils score the first goal against the Flyers, but they allowed four consecutive goals subsequently. Even though the team took a loss against one of their bitter rivals, there were some positives. Alexander Holtz scored his first NHL goal, Damon Severson put his name on the scoresheet, and Erik Haula impressed in his Devils debut. However, Mackenzie Blackwood struggled in net, letting in four goals on 24 shots. On Friday, the Devils had an afternoon skate, which saw the return of both Nico Hischier (hamstring) and Andreas Johnsson (illness). Saturday morning, the team had a skate that saw Tyce Thompson return in a non-contact sweater. Also, it was confirmed that Hischier will make his 2022-23 debut on Saturday. In a corresponding move, the team sent Johnsson to their AHL affiliate in Utica.
Related: 5 Devils Takeaways from 5-2 Loss to the Flyers
For those attending the game, there will be a Devils Fanfest outside the Prudential Center starting at 4:00 pm. Fans can watch the team stroll the red carpet and enter the arena. Afterwards, there will be several food trucks and games, as well as appearances from N.J. Devil and the Alumni Mascots.
*Lines courtesy of NHL.com*
New Jersey Devils:
Yegor Sharangovich – Nico Hischier – Jesper Bratt
Ondřej Palát – Jack Hughes – Dawson Mercer
Tomas Tatar – Erik Haula – Alexander Holtz
Miles Wood – Michael McLeod – Nathan Bastian
Jonas Siegenthaler – Dougie Hamilton
Ryan Graves – Damon Severson
Brendan Smith – John Marino
Scratches: Kevin Bahl, Jesper Boqvist, Fabian Zetterlund
Detroit Red Wings:
Tyler Bertuzzi – Dylan Larkin – Lucas Raymond
Jakub Vrana – Andrew Copp – David Perron
Elmer Soderblom – Michael Rasmussen – Oskar Sundqvist
Dominik Kubalik – Pius Suter – Adam Erne
Moritz Seider – Ben Chiarot
Filip Hronek – Olli Maatta
Robert Hagg – Gustav Lindstrom
Scratches: Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno, Jordan Oesterle
What’s Happening in Detroit:
The Red Wings are playing their second game is as many days following their 3-0 shutout of Montreal. While the game was highlighted by Elmer Soderblom’s first NHL goal, several others contributed in the Detroit win. Ville Husso stopped all 22 shots in his Red Wings debut, while Michael Rasmussen and Olli Maatta each had an empty net goal. Last night also marked the debut of new head coach Derek Lalonde, who won his first game with the Wings. “I liked the way we played,” Lalonde said post game. “I’m more excited about the zero (goals allowed) than the three (goals scored), and the way we stuck with it.”
Keep an Eye On:
New Jersey Devils: Dawson Mercer
If the Oct. 13 game was any indication, there will not be a sophomore slump this season from Dawson Mercer. He led the team with six shots on goal and recorded the secondary assist on the Holtz goal. “At first I thought it was going wide when it was trickling in,” Mercer said. “I just hopped up as quick as I could and skated over to him.”
Mercer also had a hit, a blocked shot, and won 71 percent of his faceoffs. The 2020 first-round pick was one of the brightest spots on last year’s Devils, putting up 42 points while playing in every game. Mercer is on a line with two the team’s best playmakers: Jack Hughes and Ondřej Palát. It is a very realistic possibility that Mercer eclipses his 42 points from his rookie campaign.
Detroit Red Wings: Michael Rasmussen
The Red Wings chose Michael Rasmussen ninth overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, and he has been a key component in the team’s rebuild. He is in his fourth NHL season, setting career highs in multiple categories last season. He put up 15 goals and 12 assists with the Winged Wheel, and Friday night could be a sign of things to come for the forward.
Related: Red Wings’ Rasmussen Eager to Build on Last Season’s Success
Rasmussen had three points in the team’s first game of the season, the highlight being an empty-net goal to give the Wings a 2-0 lead. His linemates are also very young, with Soderblom and new addition Oskar Sundqvist on Rasmussen’s wings. The good news for Detroit is that he’s only 23 years old, and there’s plenty of room for him to grow under the new regime.
Where to Tune In:
The Red Wings-Devils battle will be shown on MSG, which will feature the debut of new play-by-play announcer Bill Spaulding. Ken Daneyko will return in his role as color commentator. ESPN+ will also carry the Devils home opener. The Devils Hockey Network will provide an option to listen to the game, with Matt Loughlin and Chico Resch calling the action.