The New Jersey Devils continue their three-game road trip against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Record: 15-22-5 (35 points, 7th in Metro)
The Opponent: Carolina Hurricanes (29-9-2)
Puckdrop: 7:00 PM ET
Venue: PNC Arena
Expected Goaltenders: Jon Gillies (1-4-1) vs. Antti Raanta (5-2-1)
Television Broadcasts: MSG+, BSSO
Carolina continues to assert themselves as one of the league’s top teams. Coming into tonight, the Hurricanes are second in the Metropolitan Division and have won five of their last six games. Their only loss in that span came against the Devils on January 22.
In their most recent outing, the Ottawa Senators were able to stay with the Hurricanes as the game had to be decided in a shootout. Goaltender Frederik Andersen stopped 37 shots and Andrei Svechnikov scored the only goal in the shootout to give Carolina the 3-2 victory.
Goaltender Anti Raanta is slated to get the start tonight for Carolina. The 32-year-old has not appeared in a game since New Year’s Day against the Columbus Blue Jackets. In that game, Raanta allowed three goals on nine shots and was pulled after the first period.
New Jersey Devils
New Jersey is heading in a different direction than Carolina. Injuries have plagued the Devils this season as they find themselves near the bottom of the Metropolitan Division with only three wins in their last 10 games.
While the Devils have played teams tough as of late, they have not done enough to put the team in the win column on a consistent basis. That was proven in the team’s last game against the Tampa Bay Lightning where they played pretty. A few mistakes from goaltender Jon Gillies proved to be the difference in the team’s 3-2 loss.
Gillies is expected to the start tonight against the Hurricanes. The 28-year-old has one win in seven appearances this season and will make his sixth start of the season tonight.
Defenseman Dougie Hamilton will not make his return to the lineup tonight. The former Hurricane is still working his way back from surgery to repair a broken jaw that he suffered on January 2.
Player to Watch: Janne Kuokkanen
A player returning to their old building can spark something inside of them. Janne Kuokkanen was drafted by Carolina in 2016 and spent three years in the organization playing seven games with the big club. Kuokkanen was traded to New Jersey as a part of the trade that sent Sami Vatanen to the Hurricanes.
Kuokkanen is one of players in their sophomore season that are struggling this season for New Jersey. With only 9 points in 39 games, the 23-year-old has struggled to find consistency throughout the season. Perhaps a game against the team that traded him could give Kuokkanen a little bit of an edge in tonight’s contest.
Kuokkanen has shown that he has the potential to be a very good NHL player but there comes a point where the potential needs to translate to performance. While this is only his second NHL season, Kuokkanen turns 24 after this season and his spot in the team’s future plans is very much in question.