New Jersey Devils Game 39 Preview: vs. Carolina Hurricanes

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 19: New Jersey Devils center Pavel Zacha (37) battles Arizona Coyotes left wing Johan Larsson (22) during the National Hockey League game between the New Jersey Devils and the Phoenix Coyotes on January 19, 2022 at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images)

Coming off an embarrassing loss, the New Jersey Devils welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to the Prudential Center.

Tale of the Tape

Record: 14-19-5 (33 points, 8th in Metro)

The Opponent: Carolina Hurricanes (27-8-2)

Puckdrop: 7:00 PM ET

Venue: Prudential Center

Expected Goaltenders: Mackenzie Blackwood (9-9-3) vs. Antti Raanta (5-2-1)

Television Broadcasts: MSG+, BSSO

Carolina Hurricanes

With 56 points in only 37 games, the Hurricanes are the best team in the Metropolitan Division. Carolina continued their dominance last night with a 6-3 win over the New York Rangers bringing their record to 8-1-1 in their last ten games.

In that game, Carolina led 5-1 after two periods and ended up scoring six goals, two on the power play, on 35 shots. Goaltender Fredrick Andersen recorded his 21st win of the season stopping 20 of 23 shots.

The Hurricanes are expected to turn to Antti Raanta for tonight’s matchup. The 32-year-old goaltender has only appeared in 10 games this season and will be making his first start since January 1 where he allowed three goals on nine shots in one period of action.

Due to a snowstorm last night in North Carolina, the Hurricanes could not fly to New Jersey following their game. They, eventually, were able to get to Newark on Saturday morning.

New Jersey Devils

The Devils were abysmal in their last showing against the Arizona Coyotes. After a decent first period, New Jersey fell flat and were unable to put any pucks past goaltender Karel Vejmelka. Couple that with a poor showing in net and team falls 4-1.

Mackenzie Blackwood is expected to get the start tonight for the Devils. The 25-year-old goaltender has struggled mightily this season and needs to start proving that he can be the team’s goaltender of the future. Blackwood has a 9-9-3 record this season with a 3.29 GAA and .894 save percentage.

Defenseman Ty Smith will miss tonight’s contest with an upper-body injury. The young defenseman has had a rough sophomore season with one goal and nine assists in 33 games.

Player to Watch: Pavel Zacha

Pavel Zacha needs to understand that he is playing for his job. The former first-round pick’s future spot on this team is in question as he continues to struggle. With only one goal in his last 18 games, New Jersey need more consistency and production out of Zacha.

If Zacha plans on being a member of the team after this season then he needs to pick up his game. Against a tough opponent like Carolina, Zacha cannot be a passenger and must contribute if there is any chance at a win.

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