Devils Gameday Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs – 11/17/22

Tonight the New Jersey Devils will be looking to collect their eleventh straight win for the first time since the 2005-06 season. Nico Hischier’s team will face off against Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first time this season at Scotiabank Arena.

New Jersey Devils Gameday Preview MacKenzie Blackwood, Nico Hischier and Dougie Hamilton
MacKenzie Blackwood, Nico Hischier, Dougie Hamilton (The Hockey Writers)

The last time the Devils earned a win over the Maple Leafs was on April 5, 2018, however, the last time New Jersey won in Toronto was on Oct. 11, 2017. New Jersey’s opponent swept their three-game series last season outscoring the Devils by a 16 to 7 margin, per the Devils’ website. Forward Jesper Bratt is coming into tonight’s contest on a five-game point streak versus the Maple Leafs dating back to Dec. 27, 2019.

Setting the Stage 

New Jersey’s Morning Skate Line Combinations: 

Tomas Tatar – Hischier – Fabian Zetterlund

Erik Haula – Jack Hughes –Dawson Mercer

Yegor Sharangovich – Jesper Boqvist – Bratt

Miles Wood – Michael McLeod – Nathan Bastian

Jonas Siegenthaler – Dougie Hamilton

Ryan Graves – John Marino

Brendan Smith – Damon Severson

Vitek Vanecek

Related: 10 Observations From Devils’ 10-Game Winning Streak

Toronto’s Morning Skate Line Combinations:

Michael Bunting – Matthews – William Nylander 

Alexander Kerfoot – John Tavares – Mitch Marner 

Pierre Engvall – Pontus Holmberg – Calle Jarnkrok 

Zach Aston-Reese – David Kampf – Denis Malgin

Morgan Rielly – Jordie Benn 

Mark Giordano – Justin Holl

Rasmus Sandin – Timothy Liljegren

Matt Murray

How to Watch and Listen

Tonight’s 7:00 P.M. broadcast will be exclusively on MSG Networks with Bill Spaulding and Ken Daneyko. As always, fans can listen to the game on the Devils Hockey Network.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Three Things to Know 

I reached out to my colleague, Shane Seney, who covers the Maple Leafs here at The Hockey Writers, for some insight into tonight’s opponent. Here are three things Devils fans need to know. 

1. Nylander Promoted to the Top Line

Nylander has 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 17 games. He is coming into tonight’s matchup with four points in his last three games. As Seney explains, the 26-year-old was recently promoted to the top line to play alongside Matthews and Bunting. One noticeable change in his game is that he’s not shying away from contact this season and has no qualms about playing in those dirty areas of the ice. He has collected 11 points in 14 games against New Jersey throughout his career.

2. Murray Will Start in Net

Murray’s return to the ice was the storyline last game as he earned a win against his former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins. After a solid preseason, the goaltender was hurt after playing in the season opener. He looked good in his return and has been confirmed to be the starter tonight against the Devils. Through two games, he appeared to track pucks well, and it seems his confidence is back. Throughout his career, he has a record of 8-3-1 against New Jersey with a .897 save percentage and 3.16 goals against average.

Matt Murray Toronto Maple Leafs
Matt Murray, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

3. Toronto’s Third Line Struggles

Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe continues to shuffle players around in an effort to find a successful combination for his third line. According to the morning skate, it will be Engvall – Holmberg – Jarnkrok against New Jersey and the trio has struggled offensively combining for only one goal in their last four games. As my colleague said, if the Devils want to extend their winning streak, they will want to exploit this line.

New Jersey Devils (13-3-0)

Statistics and Streaks Courtesy of the Devils PR Department 

  • The Devils are one of eight teams since the 2019-20 season that earned a winning streak of 10-or-more games in a single season.
  • The team is 6-0-0 when Hughes scores a goal this season and 11-0-0 when Hischier records a point in a game this season.
Jack Hughes New Jersey Devils
Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)
  • New Jersey improved to a 7-0-0 record for the month of November.
  • As of Nov. 16, Haula is ranked third in the NHL for face-off percentage on the road at 64.8 percent.

Notable Quotables 

Brendan Smith on Needing a Better Start:

“An area that I think we need to work on is our first period, we have to come out a little bit better. …That an area that we want to get back to is right off the puck drop is getting a good start and get the flow. It’s all the detail stuff, it’s still a work in progress, but I’m obviously very happy with how things are going.”

John Tavares on Jack Hughes:

“He’s as dynamic of a player that you’re going to find. He’s extremely good off the rush. He and [Nico] Hischier are really good players coming into their own so they will be a challenge for us that we have to match.”

Lindy Ruff on Nico Hischier:

“He’s a great two-way player and probably a better person than he is a player. He cares more about his teammates than he probably does about himself. You’ll see that sometimes in his mannerisms he wants to take care of every one of his teammates and wants to lead by example.”

The Devils enter tonight’s game 6-0-0 against Canadian teams this season and will have a big test ahead of them at Scotiabank Arena as they look to keep their winning streak alive. Coverage for tonight’s game will begin at 6:30 P.M on MSG Networks.