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Five things to watch when the New Jersey Devils take on the Montreal Canadiens:
1. Brendan Gallagher
Many Canadiens players have had tough seasons. Brendan Gallagher is not among that group. The 25-year-old winger has potted 30 goals and been one of the league's most dangerous players at 5v5.
Only Vladimir Tarasenko and Brent Burns have averaged more shot attempts/60 and he ranks 10th in scoring chances/60. The guys ahead of him are basically the who's who of snipers in the league (Alex Ovechkin, Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews and Tarasenko are in that group).
The guy lives around the net and has a non-stop motor. If the Devils aren't firm near the crease, or let up a bit due to fatigue, he will make them pay.
2. Another favorable PP matchup
Yesterday the Devils ran into one of the league's worst penalty killing teams in the New York Islanders. Today they might be running into *the* worst penalty killing team.
Their shot suppression numbers are, well, garbage and they have allowed six more goals than the next closest team.
The Devils' PP enters this game red hot having capitalized 14 times over the last 16 games. They should be able to take advantage of Montreal's horrible PK.
3. Test Carey Price
Price is having a horrendous season. Not just by his standards, but by anyone's standards. Among 57 goaltenders who have played 1,000+ minutes this season, Price ranks 50th with a .901 save percentage.
The only goaltenders below him are Craig Anderson, Anders Nilsson, Chad Johnson, Scott Wedgewood, Louis Domingue, Thomas Greiss and Scott Darling. That's not great company to be keeping.
Price is clearly not the guy he was prior to all his injuries. The Devils need to test him as much as possible and see if he'll make a mistake.
4. MoJo (probably) returns!
Marcus Johansson is expected to suit up for the first time in more than two months. While his counting totals aren't as good as many would hope for, I think Johansson was starting to play his best hockey prior to the injury and that he had been better than most gave him credit for
He will no doubt provide a nice shot in the arm for the Devils down the stretch and (likely) in the playoffs. I'm not sure how much John Hynes will put on his plate in his first game back. I'll just be glad to see him healthy and having fun again.
5. Hall line vs Alzner pairing
Karl Alzner and Noah Juulsen get the luxury of facing top competition on a nightly basis. So far it hasn't gone overly well for them. They own a 46.8 Corsi For% and 46 Goals For%.
They'll no doubt see a lot of Taylor Hall and co., which probably won't end well with the way they have been playing.
Here are the projected lineups:
Taylor Hall - Nico Hischier - Marcus Johansson*
Michael Grabner - Pavel Zacha - Patrick Maroon
Blake Coleman - Travis Zajac - Stefan Noesen
Miles Wood - Brian Boyle - Brian Gibbons
*temporarily put him in place of the banged up Kyle Palmieri
Andy Greene - Sami Vatanen
John Moore - Damon Severson
Mirco Mueller - Will Butcher
Montreal (via DailyFaceoff.com)
Paul Byron - Jonathan Drouin - Brendan Gallagher
Alex Galchenyuk - Jacob De La Rose - Artturi Lehkonen
Nikita Scherbek - Logan Shaw - Charles Hudon
Nicolas Deslaurier - Michael McCarron - Daniel Carr
Mike Reilly - Jeff Petry
Karl Alzner - Noah Juulsen
Jordie Benn - Brett Lernout
Puck drop is just after 7:00 p.m. Eastern and can be seen on MSG+ and SN.
Note: data via NaturalStatTrick.com and Corsica.Hockey.
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Marcus Johansson has played better than given credit for