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Five things to watch when the New Jersey Devils take on the Dallas Stars:
The Devils have already taken on some very strong power play units and fared quite well. Early season success suggests the Stars may be the toughest test yet, though.
They have netted seven goals in just over 21 minutes on the man advantage. For perspective, the Devils have three in almost an identical amount of time.
The Stars filling the net as they have is no coincidence. They currently rank 1st in Corsi For/60, Shots For/60, and Expected Goals For/60 while up a man. High shot volume + elite offensive talent is a good recipe for success.
This is not a power play you want to mess up with.
2. Chances galore
New Jersey's offense has been surprisingly potent at 5v5 thus far. It's only been three games, mind you, but they've generated 31.61 scoring chances per 60 minutes played. That total would have led the league last year.
Dallas isn't far behind. Through five games they are averaging 30.89 scoring chances per 60.
Both teams have some high-end offensive players, play fast, and have had no problem creating good looks. The goaltenders could be tested a lot in this one.
3. Power play changes
PP2 has really struggled for the Devils in the early going. They have not accounted for a goal and their shot/chance generation numbers have been horrific – and not just in comparison to PP1.
In effort to shake things up, the Devils have moved J.S. Dea onto the 2nd unit. He is very quick, which should help in puck recovery situations, and was one of the most efficient assist-men in the AHL a season ago. I think promoting him is worth a shot.
4. Nico Hischier
Good looks haven't been hard to come by for him. He is 2nd on the team in scoring chances and already leads the way in high-danger opportunities by 5. Though he has nothing to show for his efforts so far, he's going to convert sooner than later if the opportunities continue to be there.
5. The matchup game
Mirco Mueller and Sami Vatanen will have the luxury of primarily facing Dallas' top line tonight. Whether it ends up featuring Alexander Radulov as well remains to be seen but shutting DAL1 down will be a tall order regardless.
Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have been one of the best offensive duos in the league for years and they're off to an excellent start again this season.
The Stars are averaging ~70 shot attempts and ~35 chances/60 with Benn + Seguin on the ice at 5v5. Those are terrifyingly good numbers.
The Mueller - Vatanen pairing has held up so far but this could be the night they run into some trouble.
Here are the projected lineups.
New Jersey Devils
Taylor Hall - Nico Hischier - Kyle Palmieri
Marcus Johansson - Pavel Zacha - Stefan Noesen
Miles Wood - Travis Zajac - John Quenneville
Blake Coleman - Brian Boyle - J.S. Dea
Mirco Mueller - Sami Vatanen
Andy Greene - Damon Severson
Will Butcher - Ben Lovejoy
Dallas Stars (via DailyFaceoff.com)
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Blake Comeau
Valeri Nichushkin - Jason Spezza - Alexander Radulov
Mattias Janmark - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick
Devin Shore - Jason Dickinson - Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Marc Methot - Julius Honka
Miro Heiskanen - Connor Carrick
Puck drop is just after 7:00 p.m. ET and can be seen on MSG+ and FS-D.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick and Corsica.Hockey.
Five observations from another impressive win vs San Jose
On lineup decisions when Bratt returns, 5v5 dominance, and Butcher
On Johansson, Butcher, and a clear matchup pairing