New Jersey Devils vs Montreal Canadiens: Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

Where: Bell Centre – Montreal, PQ, Canada.

When: Saturday, February 2, 2PM EST.

How (TV/Radio): TSN2, RDS, MSG+ | WFAN, TSN690

New Jersey Devils (Away)

Head Coach: John Hynes {All-Time 129-128-38 NJD}

Still without defenseman Ben Lovejoy, the Devils took another blow when they lost core d-man Sami Vatanen on Monday night when he left the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a concussion. Vatanen has 17 points this season but the big loss comes with his defensive play: 20+ minutes per game, 70 blocked shots, and 63 hits so far this season. The Devils were already suffering without star forward Taylor Hall as well as wingers Stefan Noesen and Joey Anderson.

Earlier this week the Devils made a minor league AHL trade, swapping defensemen with the Minnesota Wild but it is not expected to have immediate ramifications for the Devils’ blue line.Erik Gryba was recalled Thursday from the AHL to fill the gap.

Another negative for the Devils this season has been goaltending. Only as rookie Mackenzie Blackwood started, he was sent down late last week to take part in the AHL all-star game. All though he was recalled to the Devils’ Thursday, it is still expected that the inconsistent Keith Kinkaid will get the start. With a weakened blue line in front of him, Kinkaid will have his hands full with the high-shooting Montreal Canadiens.

The only significant advantage that New Jersey brings into this game is in special teams. Their powerplay is ranked 18th in the league with an 18.1 per cent success rate. Montreal is ranked 30th. The Devils can take comfort in those numbers should they also end up in the penalty box as their penalty kill is ranked second in the league with an astounding 84.7 per cent success rate. But how much of that does Sami Vatanen contribute to?

Montreal Canadiens (Home)

Head Coach: Claude Julien {All-Time 611-397-10-136 MTL, NJD, BOS}

Unlike their opponents, the Montreal Canadiens head into this home game with only one injury – Andrew Shaw. He is on the road to recovery from a neck injury but has yet to be cleared for contact and thus has been ruled out for this game.

The key to Montreal’s success in this game will be their shots on goal. Averaging 33 shots per game (good for 6th in the league), the pressure from the Canadiens offense should be enough to fluster and overwhelm the Devils’ defense and goaltending.

The Canadiens also allow almost 1 goal less per game than their opponents. Should Montreal be able to play a disciplined game and stay out of the penalty box, they should have the overall advantage. The New Jersey Devils have also been abysmal on the road thus far this season.

The last meeting between these two teams, back in November od 2018, saw the New Jersey Devils pick up the win with a score of 5-2.

What’s At Stake?

Already within reach of the playoffs, this is Montreal’s game to lose. In a conference as tight as the East, every two points count as the season enters its final quarter. The Devils are currently tied for second-last in the Eastern conference and continue to struggle. There is currently a 16-point difference in the standings between the two teams.

Questions to answer

How much will the loss of defenseman Sami Vatanen affect the play of the New Jersey Devils?

Will the high shot volume of the Montreal Canadiens prove too much for the Devils to handle?

Will the New Jersey Devils’ poor play on the road continue?

New Jersey Devils Injury Report

D Sami Vatanen – IR (concussion)

D Ben Lovejoy – IR (upper-body)

F Stefan Noesen – IR (lower-body)

F taylor Hall – IR (lower-body)

F Joey Anderson – IR (fractured ankle)

Montreal Canadiens Injury Report

F Andrew Shaw – IR (neck)

New Jersey Devils at Montreal Canadiens Predictions and Odds

The Montreal Canadiens are heavily favoured at -235 over New Jersey’s +175.