COLUMBUS, OH - The Devils are making some lineup adjustments as they head into their second game in as many days tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Up front, the team is going with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. Jesper Boqvist and Mike McLeod draw out and John Hayden and Connor Carrick draw in. Carrick hasn't played since October 14 against the Florida Panthers, out with a fractured finger.
"Up front there's those guys that have played well, so it'd be an opportunity to give them a more ice time," said Devils interim head coach Alain Nasreddine on why he's going with 11 blueliners and seven defensemen. "And Connor Carrick hasn't played in a long time. And it was a demanding game for the defensemen on the back-to-back.
"Also, they're very good in the offensive zone. They're heavy and do a good job on the offense. So, spreading the ice time a little more with the seven defensemen and keeping those guys fresh."
The other lineup change for the club is goaltender Gilles Senn will be making his first career start.
"We thought about it and, talking, I talked to (Blackwood). We made the decision after, assessing the situation. Three (games) in four (nights) and all that stuff. He'll be given a chance tonight."
As for McLeod, Nasreddine said he's been happy with how he's played but felt like a night off would help him after being thrown into the action this past week.
"We'll give him the night off. He'll have a chance to watch a game from above. And then it gives you an opportunity for new guys to come in with fresh legs."
-- Marc Ciampa NewJerseyDevils.com
DEVILS (11-18-5) at BLUE JACKETS (15-14-6)
TV: 7:00 p.m. ET; Televised on MSG+
Tonight's game is the first of four meetings between the two teams this season.
Last season, Columbus won all four meetings; three in regulation and one in a shootout. Mackenzie Blackwood played in two games for the Devils, stopping 45 of 47 shots for a 1.38 goals-against average and .957 save percentage.
Blake Coleman led the way for the Devils with two points (one goal) in four games versus Columbus.
Cam Atkinson had four goals and five points in four games to lead the Blue Jackets in scoring against the Devils.
Devils team scope:
After winning two straight, the Devils fell on Friday night to the NHL's top team, the Washington Capitals.
Kyle Palmieri leads the Devils in scoring with 14 goals and 22 points. He has a goal in each of his last three games.
Nikita Gusev had an assist on Friday, marking back-to-back games with a helper. He has 17 points through 31 games this season.
Blue Jackets team scope:
The Blue Jackets are really battling the injury bug with nine players currently out. Like the Devils, they're stuck in the best division in hockey. Jackets are only three points behind the third-place team in the Atlantic Division, the Sabres, but in the Metropolitan Division they would need to catch the Flyers who had 43 points and sit eighth overall in the NHL. They're seven points in arrears of Philadelphia.
Columbus has won three straight games and picked up points in each of their last six games (4-0-2). Prior to that, the streaky club had lost four in a row.
Gustav Nyqvist leads the way for the Blue Jackets with 25 points (eight goals) in 35 games. Pierre-Luc Dubois is right behind him with 24 points (12 goals).
By the Numbers:
Columbus has a record of 2-10-5 when the opponent scores first, compared to the Devils 5-13-1. The Jackets are also quite good when tied after one period (10-5-2) or two periods (7-1-4).
Devils - Matt Tennyson (upper body) is on IR; Louis Domingue (lower body) is day-to-day
Blue Jackets - Brandon Dubinsky (wrist) is on IR; Markus Nutivaara (upper body) is on IR; Emil Bemstrom (dislocated rib) is on IR; Sonny Milano (upper body) is day-to-day; Ryan Murray (upper body) is on IR; Josh Anderson (shoulder) is on IR; Andrew Peeke (fractured finger) is on IR; Cam Atkinson (lower body) is day-to-day; David Savard (illness) is day-to-day