The New Jersey Devils are back on the road tonight, taking on the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena at 7:00 pm. It is a nationally televised game, so the Devils will be expected to bring their A-game, especially with the rest of the Metropolitan Division closing in on their second-place spot. New Jersey is 23-11-3 with 49 points, while Detroit is 16-12-7 with 39 points, 23 behind the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins.
The Devils spent most of the New Year’s Day game against the Carolina Hurricanes playing catch-up, trailing by a goal on three different occasions. They fell in the shootout 5-4, despite two goals from Jesper Bratt and a filthy goal from Jack Hughes, who has been a highlight reel on a near-nightly basis. Mackenzie Blackwood made a crucial error that resulted in a Sebastian Aho shorthanded goal, but he redeemed himself in overtime, stopping every shot. New Jersey could not score in the shootout after sending out Tomas Tatar, Bratt, and Hughes.
“You have to be satisfied that you battled back, battled back, you take the lead,” head coach Lindy Ruff said. “There are a lot of positives to go with the four that we scored against them.”
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The two teams have already met twice this season, with one victory apiece. The Red Wings won 5-2 in the Devils’ home opener on Oct. 15, while the Red and Black took the Oct. 25 game in Motown 6-2. Following this game, the Devils have two home games against the St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers before embarking on an elongated road trip along the West Coast, but not before a crucial rematch in Carolina.
The Devils Projected Lines:
Tomas Tatar – Nico Hischier – Jesper Bratt
Erik Haula – Jack Hughes – Dawson Mercer
Yegor Sharangovich – Jesper Boqvist – Tyce Thompson
Miles Wood – Michael McLeod – Fabian Zetterlund
Jonas Siegenthaler – Dougie Hamilton
Kevin Bahl – Damon Severson
Ryan Graves – Brendan Smith
The Red Wings Projected Lines
Dylan Larkin – Michael Rasmussen – David Perron
Jonatan Berggren – Andrew Copp – Lucas Raymond
Dominik Kubalik – Joe Veleno – Elmer Soderblom
Oskar Sundqvist – Pius Suter – Robby Fabbri
Jake Walman – Moritz Seider
Ben Chiarot – Filip Hronek
Jordan Oesterle – Olli Maatta
What’s Happening in Detroit:
The Red Wings have taken some steps forward since the last time they saw Devils and are coming off a big divisional win over the Ottawa Senators on New Year’s Eve. Detroit put three goals in the net in just two minutes to start the third period and knock off the Sens 4-2. Magnus Hellberg was sharp after the second period and stopped every shot during the last 20 minutes.
Robby Fabbri will make his return to the Red Wings lineup tonight. He had 30 points last season and will be entering his fourth season in Detroit. Tonight, he will play on a line with Pius Suter and Oskar Sundqvist. However, it was when the organization placed Jakub Vrana on waivers that took the hockey world by surprise. Vrana has two points in two games this season and was in the second year of a three-year deal worth $5.25 million annually.
Tonight’s game against the Devils is the Red Wings’ first game of 2023, and five of their next six games will take place at Little Caesars Arena, including tonight. Three of those games are divisional matchups, and two are against the Toronto Maple Leafs, which present a good chance for Detroit to catch up in the standings.
Keep an Eye On:
New Jersey Devils: Jesper Bratt
Jesper Bratt made headlines earlier this season for his impressive play, and he seems to have gotten his mojo back. The winger beat Hurricanes goaltender Antti Raanta twice and kept the Devils in the game until the shootout. He even had some good chances in the extra frame, and Ruff had enough confidence to pick him for the shootout. He added an assist on the day, and despite the loss, he was the first star of the game.
It was Bratt’s first goal since Dec. 21 against the Florida Panthers, which was another two-goal effort. The 24-year-old has cooled down a bit from his torrid pace, with 37 points in 37 games, but he did have another multi-goal game against the Red Wings back on Oct. 25. Playing on the top line has done wonders for Bratt, and it would not be a surprise to see him continue his success with Hughes and Tatar.
Detroit Red Wings: Lucas Raymond
Lucas Raymond ended his goal drought on New Year’s Day against the Senators, scoring the first goal of the third-period blitz. He has points in three of his last five games, including two assists in the overtime comeback against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Last season, Raymond wowed Red Wings fans, scoring 57 points and playing in all 82 games while finishing fourth in Calder voting and making the All-Rookie team.
Raymond’s 79 career points before turning 21 rank only behind some of the all-time Red Wings greats. Even though he hasn’t found the net against the Devils yet this season, he had two assists in Detroit’s triumph on Oct. 15. He has become one of the faces of the Red Wings’ youth movement, and his speed can cause damage to the Devils.
Where to Watch:
The Devils and Red Wings game will not be featured on any of the MSG Networks, but it will be shown on TNT, with Brendan Burke on play-by-play duties. The Devils Hockey Network will carry the game, and if fans are looking for familiar voices, they can hear Jason Shaya and Chico Resch call the action.
Erik Johnsen is one of the NJ Devils writer for The Hockey Writers. He is also a writer for Triple Play Newsletter. Erik is a 2022 Rider University graduate, and co-hosts a podcast called Too Many Men.