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PRE-GAME REPORT: Devils at Blackhawks

Devils wrap up their schedule prior to the holiday break with a game in Chicago

by Marc Ciampa / NewJerseyDevils.com

The Devils play their final game before the holiday break, wrapping up a two-game road trip against the Chicago Blackhawks. 

You can watch the game on MSG+ 2 or listen on the Devils Hockey Network. 

Video: DEVILS:60 | Devils Visit Chicago Before Holiday Break

Read the game preview below including lineup updates, our Pre-Game Report, videos and more. 

INSIDE THE DEVILS

Devils news and notes from the past few days. 

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE DEVILS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

CHICAGO, IL - For their final game before the holiday break, the Devils made a few small adjustments to their lineup.

Connor Carrick finds his way out of the lineup while Jesper Boqvist not only comes back in but is on the top line with Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri. 

At morning skate, the Devils lines that they ran were:

Boqvist - Hischier - Palmieri
Coleman - Zajac - Gusev
Wood - Hughes - Simmonds
Bratt - Zacha - Hayden

Greene - Subban
Butcher - Vatanen
Mueller - Severson

Mackenzie Blackwood will get the start in goal. 

Devils interim head coach Alain Nasreddine talked about playing Boqvist on the top line. 

"He's got all the tools. That's why he's given this opportunity. I really believe to put players in the right chair. Is it earlier than we'd like? Possibly but he's deserving of the opportunity."

Boqvist comes into the top line after not playing on Saturday in Columbus.

"The reason we sat him last game wasn't because of his play. We wanted to let some others play and seeing up top how slow the game looks is sometimes beneficial for a young player," Nasreddine noted. 

"It's his first year pro and he's thrown into the best League in the world. He's learning on the fly almost. There's something there for sure. He's got the skill, the speed, the hockey sense. There's a lot there but with young players it takes a little bit of time."

FAMILY AFFAIR

Tonight is a great opportunity for Boqvist, who will be playing against his brother Adam with his family in town for Christmas.

"My mom, dad and mom's sister are here so it's fun to have them here," said Boqvist. 

The family will then fly to New York after the game where they'll spend Christmas together. 

Blackhawks defenseman Adam Boqvist also talked about his excitement for tonight. 

"We played on the same team growing up. Dad was the coach and now he's in the crowd. So it's going to be a lot of fun tonight."

Adam talked about how the two went head-to-head mostly in practice but it gave him an idea of what to expect now that they're foes at the NHL level. 

"Those battles were kind of hard. He's fast so I had to work hard," Adam Boqvist said. 

Blake Coleman mentioned that he had some words for Jesper this morning. 

"I said he better win the brother rivalry here," Coleman laughed. "He's excited. Great opportunity playing with Nico and Palms tonight. Hopefully he'll give his brother a few minuses along the way."

MORE NOTES

Coleman talked about the team wanting to win this one to feel good heading into the three-day break.

"Any time you have a break you want to feel very good about how you left things," he said. "We're 2-2 in our last four and you pick this one up and you feel better about where this one is going."

Louis Domingue also skated this morning with the team, making three goalies including himself, Mackenzie Blackwood and Gilles Senn. 

Nasreddine added that Domingue will need some practice time to get his timing back. 

"He's doing great. The problem with Louis is we haven't had any practice time. For him to be thrown into a game situation right away is not fair to him and probably not fair to the team."

-- Marc Ciampa, NewJerseyDevils.com

PREVIEW

DEVILS (11-19-5) at BLACKHAWKS (15-16-6)

TV: 8:30 p.m. ET; Televised on MSG+ 2

Head-to-Head:

Tonight's game is the second and final meeting between the two teams this season. 

They met previously earlier this month when the Blackhawks won 2-1 in a shootout. 

Last season, the teams split their two games with the Devils winning big 8-5 at home and the Blackhawks winning 5-2 in Chicago.

Travis Zajac led the way for the Devils last season, registering two goals and four points in the two games. 

Devils team scope:

The Devils have dropped each of their last two games after winning two in a row. Friday's loss, they skated with the Washington Capitals for 39 minutes but a late second-period goal and a handful in the third resulted in a 6-3 loss.

Saturday, goaltender Gilles Senn was making his inaugural NHL start. It didn't start out well with a goal against in the opening minute but he did settle down to stop 35 of 38 shots in the 5-1 loss. He allowed three goals against and the team allowed two shorthanded empty-net goals late. 

Blackhawks team scope:

The Blackhawks return home after a successful road trip that saw them defeat the Winnipeg Jets 4-1 and Colorado Avalanche 5-3. Chicago is seven points behind the Flames for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.

Patrick Kane leads the Devils with 20 goals and 46 points through 37 games. 

Former Devils forward John Quenneville was recalled from Rockford of the AHL and could make his Blackhawks debut tonight. Quenneville was acquired from New Jersey by Chicago in exchange for John Hayden in the offseason. 

By the Numbers:

Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood is a career 1-0-1 against the Blackhawks posting a 2.89 GAA.

The Devils are 2-1-1 at United Center and 5-1-3 overall against the Blackhawks since the 2015-16 season.

New Jersey is 1-4-2 against the Central Division this season while the Blackhawks are 2-5-2 against the Metro. 

Injury Updates:

Devils - Matt Tennyson (upper body) is on IR; Louis Domingue (lower body) is on IR

Blackhawks - Drake Caggiula (concussion) is on IR; Andrew Shaw (concussion) is on IR; Calvin de Haan (right shoulder) is on IR; Brent Seabrook (undisclosed) is day-to-day; Brandon Saad (ankle) is on IR

-- Marc Ciampa, NewJerseyDevils.com

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