Follow me on Twitter @ToddCordell
Five things to watch when the New Jersey Devils take on the Winnipeg Jets:
1. Miles Wood's debut
It's nice to see Wood starting out in the top-9/away from Brian Boyle. The latter *really* weighed Wood down when they were together last season.
In ~250 minutes with Boyle, the Devils controlled just 45.85% of the scoring chances and Wood's individual numbers were not good. He recorded just five points and averaged a lowly 1.19 per 60 minutes.
In ~615 minutes without Boyle, the Devils controlled 52.32% of the scoring chances and Wood averaged an incredible 2.34 points per 60 minutes.
There will likely be some rust tonight but I'm excited to see what an improved version of Wood can do with better linemates.
2. Another opportunity for JQ
John Quenneville has been pretty good in camp. That can't be said about most of the other bubble forwards, which is why many of them have already been sent packing.
I think Quenneville could all but ensure he makes the opening night roster with a quality performance tonight. He's certainly being put in a position to succeed alongside the team's most efficient 5v5 goal scorer and (arguably) best defensive center. We'll see if he can take advantage of it.
3. Mirco Mueller in the top-4
I try not to get too optimistic, or pessimistic, about a player/team based on preseason results. Mueller's play thus far is really testing that.
He has logged just over 34 minutes at 5v5. In that time, the Devils have been out-attempted 44-18 (29.03 CF%) and out-chanced 20-4 (16.67 SCF%). The ice has been severely tilted in the opposition's favor, to put it nicely.
Despite this, Mueller continues to get reps in the top-4. I don't know if the Devils are simply testing him, or if they actually plan on playing him a ton come October, but it'd be nice to see him put together *one* somewhat respectable performance either way.
4. Damon Severson
Severson has had a disappointing start to the preseason. I don't think his partners have helped – he has played primarily with Mueller and Egor Yakovlev – but you'd still like to see more from a $4+ million player.
I'm not sure the coaching staff is completely sold on him playing a top-4 role and an iffy performance tonight would only add to their concern.
5. Bubble forwards
The game in Switzerland will likely be used as a tune-up for the full roster. If that's the case, this will be the last chance for bubble players to make an impression.
I think Brett Seney is probably destined for Binghamton – it's not in his best interest to stick around as a rotational forward – but perhaps a strong showing tonight could change that.
As for Rooney, the Devils like his defensive game. If he can handle himself and contribute in a penalty-killing role, it will help his chances of making the team.
It's a really big game for these two (and Quenneville, who I already touched on).
Here are the projected lineups.
New Jersey Devils (via @ChrisRyan_NJ)
Taylor Hall - Nico Hischier - Kyle Palmieri
Marcus Johansson - Pavel Zacha - Jesper Bratt
Miles Wood - Travis Zajac - John Quenneville
Brett Seney - Kevin Rooney - Blake Coleman
Mirco Mueller - Sami Vatanen
Andy Greene - Damon Severson
Will Butcher - Ben Lovejoy
Winnipeg Jets (roster confirmed, lines educated guess)
Kyle Connor - Mark Scheifele - Patrik Laine
Mathieu Perreault - Bryan Little - Patrik Laine
Kristian Vesalainen - Jack Roslovic - Brendan Lemieux
Seth Griffith - Mark Dano - Jansen Harkins
Josh Morrissey - Jacob Trouba
Joe Morrow - Tyler Myers
Sami Niku - Tucker Poolman
Puck drop in New Jersey is just after 8:00 p.m. ET and can be seen on TSN3 as well as almost certainly via stream (check Reddit close to game time).
Devils sign Miles Wood to four-year extension
Three reasons to be optimistic about the Devils heading into the 2018-19 season
Three question marks for the Devils heading into the 2018-19 season
The Devils should give Miles Wood an opportunity in the top-6
Damon Severson should benefit from John Moore's departure