Devils Gameday Preview: Chicago Blackhawks – 12/6/22

After a brief trip to Philadelphia, the New Jersey Devils are back at Prudential Center, taking on the Chicago Blackhawks at 7:00 pm. The Devils are 20-4-1 this season, good for 41 points and the top spot in the Metropolitan Division, while the Blackhawks are 7-13-4 for 18 points in the Central Division.

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

New Jersey was able to pull off a victory in the City of Brotherly Love, winning 3-2 despite several late Flyers chances. It was their 11th straight road victory, the third-longest streak in NHL history. Fabian Zetterlund scored first, while Dawson Mercer and Jack Hughes added two goals in the final period to seal the victory. Even though they came out on top, head coach Lindy Ruff was critical of how the team played. “We were flat,” the second-year Devils coach said. “We had to dig a little deep and shorten the lineup, try and create a little energy.” 

Related: 4 Takeaways From Devils’ 3-2 Win vs. The Flyers


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The Devils will try to perform better against the Blackhawks, a team that has struggled this season. Following their matchup with Patrick Kane and company, the Devils will take on the New York Islanders and New York Rangers in two straight high-profile matchups. The Isles have 32 points and are trying to chase the streaking Devils. Chicago, meanwhile, will return to the United Center for a three-game home-stand against the Winnipeg Jets, Washington Capitals, and Vegas Golden Knights, three tough tests for the young squad.

The Devils Projected Lines:

Forwards:

Tomas Tatar – Nico Hischier – Jesper Bratt

Erik Haula – Jack Hughes – Dawson Mercer

Miles Wood – Michael McLeod – Fabian Zetterlund

Yegor Sharangovich – Jesper Boqvist – Alexander Holtz

Jack Hughes Jesper Bratt Erik Haula New Jersey Devils
Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, and Erik Haula, New Jersey Devils

Defensemen:

Jonas Siegenthaler – Dougie Hamilton

Ryan Graves – John Marino

Brendan Smith – Damon Severson

Goaltenders:

Vitek Vanecek

Akira Schmid

The Blackhawks Projected Lines:

Forwards:

Andreas Athanasiou – Jonathan Toews – Patrick Kane

Philipp Kurashev – Max Domi – Taylor Raddysh

Jujhar Khaira – Jason Dickinson – Colin Blackwell

Boris Katchouk – Mackenzie Entwistle – Reese Johnson

Defensemen:

Jack Johnson – Seth Jones

Filip Roos – Connor Murphy

Jake McCabe – Caleb Jones

Goaltenders:

Arvid Soderblom

Petr Mrazek

What’s Happening in Chicago:

The Blackhawks have lost nine of their last 10 games, with their lone victory coming against the Rangers back on Dec. 3. The next day against the Islanders, Chicago was shut out 3-0, as Semyon Varlamov recorded a shutout. Head coach Luke Richardson put it simply: “We didn’t play together.” Despite the setback, there was a positive to the tough defeat. Goaltender Arvid Soderblom impressed, saving 37 of 40 shots, including several good Islanders chances. Richardson said that he’s “been great in every appearance that he’s been in” and that the team needs to give him a “little more goal support.” The Devils are expected to see Soderblom in action tonight. 

The team still runs through Kane, who has 20 points in 24 games. While trade rumors have surrounded the former Hart Trophy winner, he’s still been his dominant self. Jonathan Toews has 14 points in 24 games, and new acquisition Max Domi has 19 points in the short season. However, Toews was not at the morning skate due to illness, and will be a game-time decision; Chicago has a plan in case the captain is not able to play tonight.

Keep an Eye On:

New Jersey Devils: Fabian Zetterlund

The Devils have a plethora of young forwards on their roster, and Fabian Zetterlund is one of the newest additions to the group. He scored his fourth goal of the season against the Flyers, which was his first since the game against the Washington Capitals on Nov. 26. He found a pass from Miles Wood and was able to bury the puck past Flyers netminder Carter Hart, which was also New Jersey’s first goal in their new Reverse Retro uniforms.

Related: Devils’ Fabian Zetterlund Proving He Belongs in Lineup

In 20 games in 2022-23, Zetterlund has 13 points, playing with several different linemates. For tonight’s game against the Blackhawks, he will play alongside Tomas Tatar and Nico Hischier on the top line. “Just to be a little bit heavier,” Ruff said about Zetterlund’s movement. He could find his way to a more permanent role in the top six if he continues performing the way he has, even when Ondrej Palat returns from his injury.

Chicago Blackhawks: Max Domi

Max Domi has quietly had one of the best seasons of his career in the Windy City. Even though he struggled to find the back of the net at first, he’s scored two goals in two straight games. Three of those goals came on the man advantage, while the other iced the victory against the Rangers with an empty-netter. So far, he has nine goals on the season, which leads the team. In the shutout loss to the Isles, while he did not add to his point total, he recorded nine face-off wins and spent over 18 minutes on the ice. Devils fans should be worried about him because, in 18 games against New Jersey, he has two goals and nine assists.

Where to Watch:

The Blackhawks and Devils will play each other on MSG Network, with Bill Spaulding and Ken Daneyko taking charge of commentary duties. Chris Wescott will continue to fill in for Matt Loughlin on the Devils Hockey Network, joining Chico Resch on the call.



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