New Jersey Devils Game 3 Preview: vs. Washington Capitals

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 19: Nico Hischier #13 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Seattle Kraken at Prudential Center on October 19, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The New Jersey Devils get their first real test of the season as Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals come to the Prudential Center.

Tale of the Tape:

The Opponent: Washington Capitals (2-0-1) – FHN Blog: One Timer

Puckdrop: 7:00 PM ET

Venue: Prudential Center

Expected Goaltenders: Scott Wedgewood (0-0-0) vs. Vitek Vanecek (0-0-1)

Television Broadcasts: MSG+, NBCSWA

Washington Capitals

The Capitals have started the season hot as they’ve taken five out of six possible points in their first three games. In this small sample size, they have looked like the contender of previous years. The goaltending tandem of Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanecek, which was seen as a potential witness entering the year, has only allowed five goals through three games this season.

Even at 36, Alexander Ovechkin is as dangerous as ever. The nine-time Rocket Richard winner has scored four goals in the first three games of the season including a goal in their last game against the Colorado Avalanche.

Vanecek is expected to get the nod in goal as he starts his second game of the season. In his season debut, Vanecek stopped 22 of 24 shots in a 2-1 overtime loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

New Jersey Devils

New Jersey won their last game against the Seattle Kraken but suffered injuries to some key players in the process. Forward Jack Hughes is out indefinitely with a dislocated shoulder after taking a hit from Kraken defenseman Jeremy Lauzon. Goaltender Jonathan Bernier also suffered a lower-body injury and is being considered day-to-day.

With the Bernier injury and Mackenzie Blackwood on injured reserve, Scott Wedgewood will get his first start of the season. Last season, Wedgewood went 3-8-3 in 15 starts with the Devils.

New Jersey’s recipe for success is limiting Ovechkin. With the amount of skill he possesses, there is no possibility of completely stopping the Washington legend. Ovechkin is going to get his chances and the Devils defense must keep his opportunities to the outside.

New Jersey has struggled against Washington in recent years. Last season, the Devils dropped all eight games against the Capitals and struggled to keep the puck out of their own net.

Player to Watch: Michael McLeod

With the injury to Hughes, Michael McLeod moves up to the second line. McLeod gets his first real chance in a top six role as he is centering Yegor Sharangovich and Janne Kuokkanen. Fans should not be expecting Hughes-like production out of the former first round pick, but McLeod will be able to open up ice for his wingers with his speed.

McLeod’s willingness to get to the front of the net makes him a good choice on the second line.

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