Tonight the St. Louis Blues travel to the garden state to take on the New Jersey Devils. Puck drops at 6:00 CT and can be viewed on Fox Sports Midwest.
The Devils are showing quite a resurgence this season after finishing as the third worst team in the NHL last year.
Thanks to a number one draft pick and led by a very talented group of young players the Devils are currently atop the Metropolitan Division and have the second most points in the Eastern Conference.
It is hard to talk about the Devils without first starting off with number one overall draft pick Nico Hischier. Although he is pointless in his last three games, so far this season he has amassed 2 goals and 8 assists while averaging 16 minutes of ice time a night. Hischier’s Corsi For% is only 46.6% at evens but apparently when you play for New Jersey that’s ok because it still ranks 9th best on the team.
Despite his age and lack of seasoning Hischier is centering the Devils top line between Drew Stafford, who has 4 goals and 6 points, and former Edmonton Oiler’s 2010 number one overall draft pick Taylor Hall who currently leads the team in points (17), assists (12) and is second in goals (5).
19 year old Swede Jasper Bratt who was selected 162 overall by the Devils in 2016 is second on the team in points with 5 goals and 7 assists.
Brian Gibbons leads the team with 7 goals and along with Adam Henrique, who leads all forwards in ice time, round out the second line.
On the back end another young player is stealing the spotlight. Will Butcher has 12 points, all of which come in the form of assists, in 13 games and is a plus 5.
After taking Sunday night off look for Corey Schneider to be back in net. After 9 games played Schneider has a .916 save percentage and a 3.09 GAA.
With a subpar Corsi of 46.29 it is apparent that the Devils are about as concerned with maintaining possession as head coach John Hynes is with growing hair.
Despite giving up more shots than they take the Devils still manage to score a lot of goals. Their 49 goals for is only one behind the Blues, while their goal differential of plus 7 is seventh best in the league.
With their strength coming from speed and transition look for the Devils to try and bait the Blues into another track meet. Which would not bode well for the boys in blue.
The St. Louis Blues are coming off a four game home stand in which they won 3 out of the 4 with their only loss coming against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Their last game was a 6-4 slug match in which they gave up 3 third period goals to a speedy and determined Toronto Maple Leafs team.
Thanks to a 3 point night against the Leafs Jaden Schwartz is now ranked third in points in the NHL with 20.
Vladimir Tarasenko has 2 goals and 3 assists in his last five games.
Alex Pietrangelo still leads all NHL defensemen in points.
Dmitrij Jaskin looks like a viable 3rd line NHL winger, which is really saying something.
Vince Dunn continues he’s stellar rookie campaign. His 55.0 even strength Corsi For% is third best on the team and the best of all Blues defensemen.
Despite a very minor hiccup against a talented Flyers team the Blues are continuing to hold their first place position in the division and in the conference.
Their 5 on 5 Corsi For% of 50.89 is on the upside of average while their 5 on 5 PDO is second best in the league and is less than half a point behind tonight’s opponent.
Controlling the pace of play has been a hallmark of the Blues for the entire season. Something that they admittedly got away from Saturday night, a game in which the needed five goals to seal the victory. When the Blues are at their best they maintain possession in the offensive zone, exhausting their opponent and then capitalizing on their fatigue.
Tonight they face a very talented and speedy opponent that will try to run the Blues into the ground. If the Blues can stick to their game and hem the Devils in their own zone for long periods of time the Blues look to fly back to St. Louis 2 points richer.
Thanks for reading and Go Blues.
All stats are provided by Corsica.hockey.