Game Preview: NY Islanders vs. New Jersey Devils
Following a rough two-game skid, the NY Islanders look to get back in the win column as they welcome the New Jersey Devils to the UBS Arena. Coming down to the wire, the Islanders must get back into the win column to maintain their wildcard spot, as they currently only hold a three-point lead over the Florida Panthers.
The last game was an absolute disaster for the Islanders as they got shut out at home by the Buffalo Sabres. This game comes the day after the Islanders struggled against one of the league's worst teams, the Colombus Blue Jackets. While they only gave up two goals, the Islanders' offense fell flat as they offered Semyon Varlamov zero help. Varlamov, however, played a great game, saving 33 out of 34 shots on net, for a save percentage of .971%. This loss falls solely on a lack of production by the offense.
The last game for the Devils, came on Saturday, as they welcomed the Ottawa Senators to the Prudential Center. The Devils had a much easier time, defeating the Senators, 5-3. Off of goals by Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, Dawson Mercer, Dougie Hamilton, and Tomas Tatar, the Devils' offense exploded. Hughes picked up his 40th goal of the season, as the Devils continue their impressive season.
This will be the third and final time this season that the Islanders and Devils play each other. The first game between the two teams came back in October. The Devils would make light work of the Islanders, defeating them 4-1. Anders Lee would be the only Islander to score a goal in that game. Mackenzie Blackwood would play a great game in the net for the Devils, saving 16 of 17 shots.
The second time these two teams faced off came back in December. The Islanders would have a much better time this game as they would go on to defeat the Devils, 6-4. Brock Nelson would lead the Islanders' explosive offense that night with two goals. If history shows anything, it's that in order to beat the Devils, this Islanders team has to score early, and often. Hopefully, we will see a well-rested Islanders offense and not the same one that was on the ice on Saturday.
Players to Watch
While not many people have been doing things of note on the Islanders, Nelson could be the difference maker in this game. Over the past five games, Nelson had four goals. Nelson also tends to play well against the Devils, picking up two goals the last time these teams faced off. If Nelson is able to continue his hot play, the Islanders can be a force on the ice.
For the Devils, Jesper Bratt has been on a rampage lately. Over the past five games, Bratt had four goals and two assists. On March 19th, when the Devils played the Tampa Bay Lightning, Bratt tallied a hat-trick. He went on to pick up at least one point in the next three games the Devils played. Coming into tonight's game with the Islanders, Bratt is on a four-game point streak and can prove to be the difference-maker for the Devils.