Who: New Jersey Devils (9-16-5)
Where: Pepsi Center - Denver, Colorado
Puck drop: 7:00 pm MT
Watch: Altitude, MSG+
Taylor Hall will be playing at the Pepsi Center tonight - but it won’t be for the Colorado Avalanche...yet. With rumors swirling around the league that Denver is the most likely landing spot when Hall is eventually traded, tonight, he will lead his last place New Jersey Devils in an attempt to slow the red hot Avalanche.
Sitting in second place in the Western Conference, the Avs currently lead the NHL with a +29 goal differential and have put themselves squarely in the conversation as a true Stanley Cup contender. A win tonight would put the team back in first place in the West and only a point behind the Boston Bruins for the top spot in the NHL.
With the potential that he will end up in Burgundy and Blue before the trade deadline, this will be a chance for Taylor Hall to impress fans and Avalanche front office members. The game will also feature Jack “The one that got away” Hughes playing on Pepsi Center ice for the first time since the Avs lost the 2019 draft lottery.
Apropos of nothing, Avalanche fans should also keep a close eye on Miles Wood - just sayin’.
With a 7-0-1 record over their last eight games, the Avalanche come into tonight as one of the hottest teams in the NHL. They’re not only doing it with their patented high-scoring offense, over the last three weeks, the Avs have given up the second fewest goals in the NHL.
This will be another game without super-rookie Cale Makar in the lineup. Makar is skating on his own but hasn’t joined the team for a full practice as he recovers from an upper body injury. Coach Bednar continues to be optimistic that it won’t be long before Makar returns to the lineup.
Erik Johnson was also on the ice this morning, but he is going to take a while longer before he gets close to the lineup.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Joonas Donskoi - Nazem Kadri - Andre Burakovsky
Valeri Nichushkin - P.E. Bellemare - Matt Calvert
Matt Nieto - Tyson Jost - J.T. Compher
Samuel Girard - Nikita Zadorov
Mark Barberio - Ian Cole
Ryan Graves - Calle Rosen
New Jersey Devils
It’s been a very disappointing year for the Devils. After making a few major additions in the offseason, the team has failed to take the step General Manager Ray Shero had expected. Sitting at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division standings, New Jersey has lost six games in a row and will enter tonight’s contest with only three wins against the Western Conference.
Hall leads the team with 25 points in 30 games and despite his elite level of play-driving (he sits 14th in the NHL with 19.28 shot attempts per 60 minutes), he has been snake bitten when it comes to scoring goals - his 5.5% shooting percentage is about half of his career average.
Taylor Hall - Jack Hughes - Kyle Palmieri
Blake Coleman - Travis Zajac - Nikita Gusev
Jesper Boqvist - Pavel Zacha - Jesper Bratt
Miles Wood - Kevin Rooney - Wayne Simmonds
Andy Greene - P.K. Subban
Damon Severson - Sami Vatanen
Will Butcher - Mirco Mueller
Pavel Francouz will get his fourth straight start in the Avalanche net as he fills in for Philipp Grubauer. After the win against Philadelphia Wednesday night, Francouz is sitting on an 8-2-1 record and a .927sv%.
For the Devils, we’re going to see MacKenzie Blackwood between the pipes. He comes into the game with a less than stellar .902 sv%.