New Jersey Devils fans, the day is quickly arriving. Opening Night for the 2021 NHL season is on Thursday, January 14th, two days from now. It has been ten really long months without Devils hockey but it has finally arrived after all this time. Devils fans are anxiously awaiting Opening Night. New Jersey has a young core, some new faces, and a new head coach in Lindy Ruff.
New Jersey opens the season at home vs Boston on Thursday the 14th and faces Boston again at home on Saturday the 16th.
Opening Night- Devils Vs Bruins (1/14)
The night everyone has been waiting for, Opening Night. The Devils are at home to take on the Boston Bruins on Thursday at 7:00 PM. New Jersey went 1-2 vs Boston last season. This has the possibility of being quite the test for the new-look Devils. New Jersey is coming off their third last-place finish in the last four seasons.
Boston won the President’s Trophy last season, and they still are a very good team even with the losses of Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara. The Bruins are one of the top teams in the NHL loaded with tons of star power. Boston would be without all-star right-winger David Pastrnak as he is still recovering from hip surgery.
The Devils will be without first-line center Nico Hischier for this matchup and the near future, a big blow to the team. New Jersey will also be without winger Jesper Bratt and defenseman Sami Vatanen. Due to their recent signings and the quarantine rules set by the league, they’ll be inactive.
The Devils lineup will consist of some new faces in Ty Smith, Janne Kuokkanen, Yegor Sharangovich, Andreas Johnsson, and Ryan Murray. Watch for Devils to come out fast on Thursday. Head Coach Lindy Ruff has been implementing a more fast and aggressive style of play, suiting the Devils strengths. Goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood will most likely be getting the starting nod on Thursday as well.
Devils Vs Bruins (1/16)
Game two of the 2021 campaign is a Saturday afternoon rematch vs the Boston Bruins. New Jersey will most likely not have Bratt or Vatanen for this game as well, the same goes for Hischier. This is the first of three 1:00 PM games the Devils will be hosting at the Prudential Center this season.
It is going to be yet another tough test for the boys in red. I am hoping the Devils come out hard in this game as well and give Boston a run for their money. Mackenzie Blackwood will most likely be in net for this matchup as well. Blackwood has a bit of an improved defense in front of him to possibly ease the amount of work. Expect New Jersey to come out with a faster tempo in this game as well.
Players To Watch
My players to watch this weekend are Mackenzie Blackwood, Jack Hughes, and Yegor Sharangovich. Blackwood is coming off of a very good 2019-20 campaign, and with an improved defense in front of him, he could only get better. It is a tough test against the Bruins, but Blackwood stood his ground against the Bruins last year on New Year’s Eve to guide the Devils to an upset victory in the shootout. “Big Mac” also signed a new contract in the offseason with the Devils.
Jack Hughes is coming off a bit of a rough rookie season, but he has looked stronger and faster throughout training camp. Hughes also has some extra motivation and a chip on his shoulder to break out in 2021. With the injury to Hischier, expect Hughes to move up to become the first-line center. It’s time to shine for Jack Hughes in 2021, and Devils fans should see how he does playing in a faster style of hockey this weekend.
Yegor Sharangovich is most likely a lock to make the 2021 roster, and for good reason. Sharangovich dazzled in training camp, especially in the Red/White scrimmage game, where he propelled the Red team to a victory by tallying two goals. In 34 KHL games, he scored 17 goals as he learned to shoot the puck more. New Jersey has a bunch of young players who pass a lot, and putting a goal scorer like Sharangovich with them would be perfect. With Lindy Ruff’s fast playstyle, Sharangovich’s shot would be a huge factor. Look for him on the third or fourth line this weekend vs Boston.
I am super pumped for Devils hockey to be back in my life. It has been ten long months but here we are. Opening Night is right in front of us and I couldn’t be any more excited. The Devils will have a tough test in the opening two games vs Boston, but I expect the Devils to be competitive. It is going to be fun to see how the young players come out and if they improve in 2021. Both games this weekend will be televised on MSG+. Cheers Devils fans, the boys are finally back in action.