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Devils at Blues preview: Back to work

The Blues start the second half of the season tonight.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Devils haven’t been in St. Louis since February 18th, 2020, so to say that fans may need a refresher on New Jersey is an understatement. The Devils’ long rebuild continues, with them in last place in the Metro Division. Their 16-26-5 record is good for just 37 points on the year, and their 6-15-2 road record is a large part of their problem. They curbstomped the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night, but that isn’t exactly an achievement for a team to pull off this season. If they win tonight against the Blues, it’ll mark their first back-to-back road wins of the season.

The last time the Devils won in St. Louis, it was 2008, and that team was perfectly cromulent. Recently, the Devils have been a bottom tier team in the Metro, struggling to work their way up in one of hockey’s toughest decisions. Defenseman PK Subban hasn’t been able to turn things around there single handedly, and as of late circumstances haven’t converged in a positive way either. Jack Hughes is out with Covid that he picked up in his All-Star Game goodie bag, Dougie Hamilton is out on IR with jaw issues, and goaltenders Jonathan Bernier and Makenzie Blackwood are both out on IR as well.

The Blues will have to square off against either former Blue Jon Gillies or Nico Daws tonight, and neither goaltender is having a good season in the brief time that they’ve been with the Devils. Gilles is 2-6-0 since signing in New Jersey, with a 3.20 GAA and a .899 SV%. Daws is just 1-1-0 with a 3.56 GAA and a .857 SV%

Of course, these can be the goalies that the Blues look like the second coming of Martin Brodeur, so it’s tough to judge the outcome of tonight’s game based on who the Devils’ starter is.

Despite losing a clunker to the Winnipeg Jets by the score of 4-1 to end the pre-break half, the Blues have played well in the face of adversity. Now that the adversity has evened out (with the exception of the loss of Scott Perunovich to the IR), the Blues are well positioned to finish the season out strong. Twelve days off will either be a boon or a bust for the team, but there’s not a much better opponent than the Devils for the Blues to face in their first game back.