Devils Gameday Preview: Montreal Canadiens

The New Jersey Devils’ four-game homestand continues as they host the Montreal Canadiens tonight in Newark. It is the second meeting between the two clubs, with the Devils earning a 5-1 victory in their first matchup of the season. Jesper Bratt, Jack Hughes, Dougie Hamilton, and John Marino found the back of the net while Vitek Vanecek made 22 saves on 23 shots.

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

The Devils are 3-1-1 in their last five games and have won their last six contests at Prudential Center. Head coach Lindy Ruff switched up his forward lines a few days ago, and the team’s new top line of Tomas Tatar – Nico Hischier – Dawson Mercer has been phenomenal. Over the past two games, the trio has combined for 10 points. Mercer has the hot hand and enters tonight’s contest with four goals in his last three games.

Related: 4 New Jersey Devils Trade Deadline Thoughts

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On the other side of the ice, Montreal has a record of 3-2-0 in their last five games. Their last contest was Saturday, Feb. 18, versus their rival Toronto Maple Leafs. Josh Anderson scored the lone goal for the Canadiens and has 16 goals in 54 games. On Feb. 18, the club announced defenseman Arber Xhekaj was placed on injured reserve. He joins Juraj Slafkovsky, Brendan Gallagher, Jake Evans, and Cole Caufield.

Setting the Stage

How to Watch

Fans will be able to view tonight’s contest on MSGSN. Play-by-play announcer Bill Spaulding will have the call at 7:00 P.M. along with Ken Daneyko. Additionally, fans can tune into the Devils Hockey Network.

Devils Projected Lineup

Tomas Tatar – Nico Hischier – Dawson Mercer

Yegor Sharangovich – Jack Hughes – Jesper Bratt

Ondrej Palat – Erik Haula – Fabian Zetterlund

Miles Wood – Michael McLeod – Jesper Boqvist

Brendan Smith – Dougie Hamilton

Ryan Graves – Damon Severson

Jonas Siegenthaler – Kevin Bahl

Vitek Vanecek

It’s worth noting that defenseman John Marino is ill, and per Matt Loughlin, he will not play tonight.

Canadiens Projected Lineup

The Canadiens held a practice at Bell Sports Complex on Feb. 20 before flying to New Jersey. Below is the workflow that was utilized.

Rafael Harvey-Pinard – Nick Suzuki – Josh Anderson

Mike Hoffman – Jonathan Drouin – Joel Armia

Rem Pitlick – Christian Dvorak – Evgenii Dadonov

Michael Pezzetta – Alex Belzile – Jesse Ylonen

 Corey Schueneman – David Savard

Mike Matheson –  Justin Barron

 Jordan Harris – Johnathan Kovacevic

 Sam Montembeault

Sam Montembeault Montreal Canadiens
Sam Montembeault, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Per the team’s website, forwards Kirby Dach, and Sean Monahan, as well as defenseman Chris Wideman did not practice because they were receiving treatment. Priyanta Emrith reported that Dach and Wideman would not be traveling to New Jersey.

What You Need to Know

The Devils were 2-1-0 versus the Canadiens last season and have an all-time record of 75-72-10-7. Historically, New Jersey has more wins against Montreal than any other Atlantic Division opponent.

The last time the Devils shut out the Canadiens was on Oct. 21, 2010. Martin Brodeur stopped all 21 shots to secure his team’s 3-0 victory. The last time Montreal shut out the Devils was on Mar. 11, 2008. Carey Price made 38 saves backstopping his team to a 4-0 win in front of the hometown crowd at Bell Centre. It’s worth noting that entering tonight’s contest, the Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs are the only two teams in the league who have not suffered a shutout this season.

New Jersey is 11-1-0 against Canadian teams this season, with only one loss to the Maple Leafs on Nov. 23. Entering tonight’s contest, Hughes has seven points in five games versus Montreal, while Mercer earned five points in four contests against tonight’s opponent.

The Devils will look to earn their seventh straight victory at Prudential Center and close the gap between them and first place Carolina Hurricanes. Fans can tune into MSGSN at 6:30 PM for the pre-game show with host Erika Wachter and studio analyst Bryce Salvador.

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