Where: Climate Pledge Arena
When: Saturday, April 16, 2022; 7:00pm PDT
Wait, who are we playing? Landlubber’s Guide to the New Jersey Devils
Local TV: ROOT Sports NW
Local Radio: 950 AM KJR
SiriusXM: Channel 220
Last Time Out
When these two teams last met it was mid-October, just the fifth game in franchise history. It was a very Kraken-esque effort, with Seattle yielding a goal on a comically botched 2-on-1 in the first 5 minutes of the game, followed by another Devils tally less than two minutes later, and it’s not hard to guess the outcome. Jared McCann and Riley Sheahan scored for the Kraken, and youngster Joey Daccord logged both his first start and his first loss of the season. Final score: 4-2 New Jersey.
Stats, Streaks, & Droughts
With Thursday night’s loss to the Colorado Avalanche, the Devils have now lost 11 of their last 15 games. They are currently in a stink-off with the Philadelphia Flyers for the right to last place in the Metropolitan Division, with both teams nearly 20 points behind the sixth place Columbus Blue Jackets. The few games the Devils have won during that stretch have been in front of 21-year-old rookie netminder Nico Daws, who is credited with every win New Jersey has managed to put up over the last 60 days.
Relatively speaking Seattle is doing better, albeit not by much. The Kraken have 6 wins in the last 15 games, but have looked more impressive than usual in the weeks since the trade deadline in March. In the second of two outings against the Calgary Flames the Kraken scored first, extended their lead to two goals, and began the third period with a 3-1 advantage before collapsing. Three unanswered goals and an empty-netter from the juggernaut Flames offense secured the win for Calgary. It was a tale of two goalies with respect to Seattle’s Chris Driedger: he posted a .952 save percentage through two periods — then .666 in the final 20 minutes.
Players To Watch
The Devils’ offense is led by a trio of high-octane scorers, all of whom are at or above 20 goals and 50 points this season, starting with left wing Jesper Bratt:
Next up is team captain Nico Hischier (trigger warning for Dallas fans, this clip makes your team look like they play in the Sunday 11:25pm men’s league...):
And finally youngster Jack Hughes, seen here making the Rangers’ defense look foolish before casually flipping a backhand into the twine:
Injuries, Illnesses, Additions, & Scratches
New Jersey has been bedeviled (“Groooooaaaannn...”) by injuries this season, and some impact players are currently affected. First and foremost, the two goaltenders they expected to get them through the season — Jonathan Bernier and Mackenzie Blackwood — are both on Injured Reserve. Additionally, forward Jack Hughes (sprained MCL) and defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler (broken hand) are out for the remainder of the season. Beyond that, forwards Jimmy Vesey and Miles Wood both missed Thursday’s tilt against the Avs and will not be in uniform tonight. The aforementioned Nico Daws is expected to start in goal for the Devils.
For the Kraken, the biggest change is the addition of 2021 second overall draft selection Matty Beniers, who signed his entry-level contract with the Kraken last weekend and made his debut on Tuesday against Calgary. Beniers notched the primary assist on the Kraken’s first goal of the game with a smart feed to fellow Massachusetts native Ryan Donato, registering his first point as a pro with his family in attendance at the Saddledome.
We will see some adjustments to the lineup relative to last game. Winger Jaden Schwartz is still out with an injury, but defenseman Haydn Fleury participated in full practice on Friday and should return to the lineup tonight. Expect forward Daniel Sprong to slot in for Joonas Donskoi who, along with defensemen Cale Fleury and Derrick Pouliot, will likely be a healthy scratch. Head Coach Dave Hakstol has been alternating goaltenders pretty regularly, so Philipp Grubauer could get the start against the Devils. Follow us on Twitter for the latest on lineups and starting goalies prior to puck drop.
Odds & Ends
- The Devils are an example of a team that is being built through the draft. 15 of the 30 players on the active roster and IR — including their de-facto starting goaltender and every one of their top six scorers — are New Jersey draft picks. Interestingly, the area where the Devils have the lowest percentage of drafted players is on defense. I expect that will change once they’re rid of P.K. Subban and his $9 million AAV contract at the end of this season.
- The Devils have used seven (that’s ‘7’) goaltenders over the course of this season. The best performer of the lot has been veteran Jonathan Bernier with a 4-4-1 record in 10 games played, amassing a .902 save percentage and 3.06 GAA. Worst of the lot, unsurprisingly, is absolute last resort Andrew Hammond, with an 0-2-1 record. Since coming over to the Devils from Montreal earlier this season, Hammond has a .822 save percentage, and a goals-against average — this is not a typo, I checked three separate sources — of 5.95, nearly double that of Bernier. Ooooouuuuuch... And we thought the Kraken had goaltending problems.
- The Devils have two roster players named Nico, and also two roster players named Jesper. If somebody wants to calculate the odds on that happening I would love to hear the results.
- And finally, your Shane Wright Sweepstakes update. Losses for all three teams vying for the title of last place overall means no change in the order since our last update. The Arizona Coyotes are in last with 49 points, the Montreal Canadiens are second-worst at 51, with the Kraken third from the bottom with 52. The last place finisher gets the best odds for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft Lottery, the winner of which has the opportunity to draft consensus overall #1 pick Shane Wright.