New Jersey Devils Game 21 Preview: at Minnesota Wild

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 30: San Jose Sharks left wing Alexander Barabanov (94) skates during the second period of the National Hockey Legue game between New Jersey Devils nd the San Jose Sharks on November 30, 2021 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The New Jersey Devils head north to take on the Minnesota Wild for the second time in eight days.

Tale of the Tape

Record: 9-7-4 (22 points, 6th in Metro)

The Opponent: Minnesota Wild (15-6-1) – FHN Site: In The Wild

Puckdrop: 8:00 PM ET

Venue: Xcel Energy Center

Expected Goaltenders: Jonathan Bernier (4-3-1) vs. Kaapo Kahkonen (3-1-1)

Television Broadcasts: MSG+2, BSN, BSWI+

Minnesota Wild

The Wild have been very good this season. In their last outing, Minnesota handled the Arizona Coyotes easily beating them 5-2 and extending their win streak to four games.

The team has been scoring at an amazing rate this season. Through 22 games, the Wild are averaging 3.68 goals per game which is good enough for fourth in the league. Minnesota is led by superstar forward Kirill Kaprizov who has the team’s scoring lead with 25 points (7G, 18A) in 22 games.

The Wild will be giving starting goaltender Cam Talbot the night off and turning to 25-year-old Kaapo Kahkonen against New Jersey. The second-year goaltender will be making his 6th start of the season and carries a 3-1-1 record with 3.04 GAA and .885 save percentage into tonight.

Minnesota is still without captain Jared Spurgeon who hasn’t played since November 20 due to a lower body injury.

New Jersey Devils

New Jersey is coming off their worst loss of the season against the San Jose Sharks. In a game that was full of promise because of the return of Jack Hughes, the Devils came out unmotivated. They failed to sustain any offensive zone pressure, took bad penalties, and couldn’t string consecutive passes together.

New Jersey is falling into a bad habit as they’ve been trailing early in their most recent stretch of games. For the Devils to defeat Minnesota tonight, they need to jump out early and put one past Kahkonen. They’re getting a little break not having to play against Talbot, but they still need to get quality shots from the start.

Expect New Jersey to turn to Jonathan Bernier for tonight’s game. While they have not named a starter for tonight yet, Mackenzie Blackwood deserves the night off as he should get the start tomorrow night against the Winnipeg Jets.

Bernier comes into tonight’s game with a 2.55 GAA and .914 save percentage with a 4-3-1 record in nine appearances this season.

Player to Watch: Jack Hughes

Hughes is the player to watch for the second consecutive game. In his first game back, there was some noticeable rust in Hughes’ passing and shooting ability. The 20-year-old was still able to create space through his possession and skating but just seemed a tick off with his puck moving.

Expect the recently extended Hughes to look a little more comfortable and control play like he did in the first two games of the season.

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