Another Devils hockey game tonight and they’ll take on the New York Islanders at home. The Devils will mix in some different players compared to Monday’s roster against the New York Rangers. Some old faces will appear for the first time this fall, like Martin Brodeur, while new faces like Damien Brunner and Jon Merrill will get their first experience of playing hockey in Newark.
Here are the lineups for tonight:
Some thoughts for today's game:
The First Look At Martin Brodeur
While it’s already been announced that Martin Brodeur will be the team’s opening night starter (shocker), I’m sure deep down in his soul he feels he has something to prove after the team went out and traded for Cory Schneider in the offseason.
Marty is going to say all the right things to the media and he’s going to be very supportive towards Cory. It’s hard to believe, however, that he doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder all year to prove that he can still be the guy. This may turn into a goaltender “controversy” on a night-to-night basis, but it is going to push both guys to play their absolutel best.
Brodeur had his worst season in terms of save percentage last year, checking in at .901%. He’s already got a lot to live up to. Schneider was brilliant against the Rangers on Monday. Fans have quickly fallen in love with him. A good performance against the Islanders tonight would be a big boost for No. 30.
Signed to a player tryout contract a few days ago, Damien Brunner will jump right into the mix of things, likely playing on one of the top two lines. Brunner had a strong season for Detroit last year, his first campaign in the NHL despite his age of 27. Not only did Brunner post 26 points in 44 games, he was money in the playoffs as well. In 14 games he had five goals and four assists. If Brunner has a strong preseason, I don’t see how Lou Lamoriello could let him go, despite a logjam of forwards already.
Where Brunner may play the biggest role is on the power play. He had three goals and seven assists on the power play for Detroit last year, operating from the point. With very few pointman options for New Jersey, this could be where Brunner separates himself from other Devils fighting to make the roster. Keep an eye on him tonight; he already had a little bit of time in practice yesterday running the PP.
The future has never looked brighter for the New Jersey Devils defense. We saw what Eric Gelinas is capable of on Monday, now it’s Jon Merrill’s turn. It’s unlikely he’ll make the roster, but it’s a chance for him to showcase himself to the Devils organization and a couple thousand Devils fans. Don’t be surprised if he’s a bit overwhelmed; he played at Michigan last year and came to Albany late in the year and only logged 12 games. This will be a big step for him, even if it’s not a full list of NHL-caliber forwards he faces this evening.
For some reason, I have a feeling we are going to see a shootout. The Devils excelled in the shootout two years ago, but faltered greatly in the end of game skills competition last year. I think we’ll get an early look at who some of Pete DeBoer’s candidates will be when the shootout occurs in the regular season. I’ll say the Devils win 3-2.
Stay tuned here after the game; we’ll have a game recap as well as postgame sound and columns over the next 24 hours.