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P3 New Jersey Devils @ New York Islanders: Five things to watch

September 20, 2018, 11:35 AM ET [17 Comments]
Todd Cordell
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Five things to watch when the New Jersey Devils take on the New York Islanders:

1. Pavel Zacha's shooting

Zacha has made it no secret he would like to put more pucks on net this season and he spent much of the summer working on his shot. He didn't put it to much use in his preseason debut as he attempted just two shots, none of which made it to the net, despite logging more than 20 minutes of ice.

Look for Zacha to be more trigger happy tonight, especially with the Devils lacking established NHLers up front. They need him to do some heavy lifting.

2. Will Butcher + Steven Santini

If John Hynes keeps the Andy Greene - Sami Vatanen pairing together, it is possible – perhaps even likely – Butcher ends up with Santini to start the year. The Devils tend to partner Butcher with defensive minded, stay-at-home-types and Santini is certainly that. He was really good in his preseason debut. Should he can duplicate that kind of performance tonight, he'd be well on his way to a top-4 role.

3. A bounce-back from Damon Severson

This is a really big preseason for Severson. He needs to re-establish himself and sell the coaching staff on his ability to play meaningful minutes. Unfortunately, he didn't exactly do that with his performance against Montreal.

The Devils were out-attempted 20-7 and out-scored 2-0 with Severson on the ice at 5v5. Though he was paired with Mirco Mueller, who I don't think is very good, you'd still expect better from a guy making ~$4 million per.

It'd be nice to see a strong performance from him tonight.

4. John Quenneville

He was really noticeable against the Rangers. He showcased his excellent release on a power play marker and also stood up for Mikey McLeod after he took a big hit. The Devils are all about the "brotherhood" so that surely earned him some brownie points with Hynes.

Tonight he's being given another really good opportunity as he's scheduled to play on arguably the top scoring line *and* power play. Let's see if he can take advantage of it.

5. Fringe forwards

Brett Seney has opened some eyes with his play in camp thus far. McLeod looked really good after settling in against the Rangers. Blake Speers made a nice play intercepting a D-to-D pass and taking it the other way for a short-handed goal. Blake Pietila made an impact with strong forechecking and puck pursuit. A lot of the fringe players battling for the final spot or two are off to strong starts. I'm really interested to see which ones, if any, can string together some quality performances and separate themselves from the pack.

Here are the projected lineups.

New Jersey Devils (@ChrisRyan_NJ)

Marian Studenic - Brett Seney - Drew Stafford
John Quenneville - Pavel Zacha - Joey Anderson
Blake Coleman - Travis Zajac - Michael McLeod
Blake Pietila - Kevin Rooney - Blake Speers

Will Butcher - Steven Santini
Egor Yakovlev - Damon Severson
Colby Sissons - John Ramage

Keith Kinkaid
Cam Johnson

New York Islanders (via @StapeAthletic)

Anders Lee - Brock Nelson - Jordan Eberle
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Kieffer Bellows - Scott Eansor - Steve Bernier
Pius Suter - Tanner Fritz - Mike Sislo

Thomas Hickey - Yannick Rathgeb
Devon Toews - Scott Mayfield
Luca Sbisa - Johnny Boychuk

Thomas Greiss
Chris Gibson

Puck drop in New Jersey is just after 7:00 p.m. ET and can be seen on MSG and MSG+.

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