EL SEGUNDO, CA - The Devils look to build on their streak of four straight games gaining at least a point in the standings as their road trip shifts to Southern California for the first of back-to-back games on Saturday afternoon against the Los Angeles Kings.
Although the team picked up a point on Thursday in San Jose, the feeling around the room was that they should have exited Silicon Valley with more than that after racing out to a 2-0 lead in the first period.
"We played good in the first period then got complacent. A little bit too many turnovers, not enough shots on net. We did a great job in the first 20 minutes, scored two goals and didn't give them a whole lot but the next 40 wasn't really our best. They flipped the script on us. They brought it, we didn't," stated Damon Severson. "Teams can play good for 20, 40 minutes but 10 minutes or even five minutes can hurt you in games."
Devils interim head coach Alain Nasreddine said that he went over some of the faults of last night's game prior to today's practice.
"To be honest, we addressed last night's game before practice so that was done with but as far as the pace of practice, we don't get to practice a whole lot so when we do get out there it's important to get the pace up."
The team is not expected to make any changes from Thursday's lineup with the expectation that the lineup will be:
The two goalies will split the weekend duties with Mackenzie Blackwood getting back between the pipes on Saturday against the Kings.
AFTER THE DEADLINE
With the NHL Trade Deadline having come and gone, it's a different atmosphere in the room with the group there now knowing that they'll be around until the end of the season.
Nasreddine talked about how that has an uplifting effect for the club.
"Having that stability really helps. Before the trade deadline there was that cloud over our heads, who was going to go. Once that was all done we can focus on our remaining games," he said, adding that it also creates opportunity as it has already for the likes of Nick Merkley, Mike McLeod, Joey Anderson, Josh Jacobs, Colton White, Dakota Mermis and Fredrik Claesson among others.
"It gives us the opportunity to bring some guys up from the American Hockey League. It's definitely helped."
ANDERSON VS. ANDERSON
Saturday's game will be a special one for Devils forward Joey Anderson, who will be facing off against his brother Mike. By coincidence, the game will be Mike's first career NHL game and by further coincidence, their entire family and extended family are in town.
"It's super exciting. We talked about this potentially happening and it gives me more excitement for him than anything I do," Joey said, adding that having the family there makes it extra special.
"They came out last week to watch our road trip and he'd be at home even if he was in the AHL this week. It was a good time to spend with the whole family in one spot and as it turns out we get to play each other. It'll be a fun afternoon tomorrow," Joey continued.
"The fact that I get to play against him when he makes his debut is awesome. That little big brother came out in me. I was excited for him."
A few weeks ago, on the Devils Official Podcast, Joey talked about the rivalry he has with his brother and how sometimes tempers can boil over. Mike mentioned that he knows which buttons to push to get Joey riled up and the Devils forward said he can do the same.
"It'll be different being in this League. I know the buttons to push and if I get in the corner with him, there might be an extra grip on the stick to make sure I knock him over. It'll be a good spirited battle," he chuckled.
"He's the only guy that's gotten me to my 'psycho' level. He's someone that has that capability."
-- Marc Ciampa, NewJerseyDevils.com
DEVILS (25-27-11) at KINGS (23-35-6)
TV: 4:00 PM ET; Televised on MSG+, MSG+ 2, MSG 2
Tonight's game is the second and final meeting between the two teams this season.
Earlier this month, the Devils won 3-0 at Prudential Center. Kyle Palmieri led the way with a goal and an assist while Blake Coleman and Nikita Gusev also scored for New Jersey.
Last season, the Devils won 6-3 in Los Angeles and the Kings won 5-1 at Prudential Center.
Kyle Palmieri had two goals to lead the Devils while Anze Kopitar had three points (all assists) to lead the Kings.
Devils team scope:
The Devils have picked up points in each of their last four games (3-0-1) and have only three regulation losses in their last 15 games (8-3-4) which goes back to the NHL All-Star Break. That puts the Devils only four points behind the New York Rangers who have the best record in the NHL since the break.
Since December 21, Nikita Gusev leads the Devils in scoring with 23 points in 29 games. He has seven goals in that time. In all, Gusev has 40 points in 60 games to rank second on the team behind Kyle Palmieri's 43 points in 59 contests.
Kings team scope:
On the flip side, the Kings have the NHL's third-worst record since the all-star break with 11 points in 14 games (5-8-1).
However, they've picked up points in three of their last four and five of their last seven including last time out which was a 2-1 win at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins this past Wednesday.
Anze Kopitar leads the team in scoring with 56 points
By the Numbers:
The Kings are 4-9-2 this season against the Metropolitan Division. L.A. has not won a game this season when trailing after one period (0-22-1) but have won twice when trailing after two (2-30-1). When tied after two, the Devils have only lost twice in regulation time all season (6-2-6) They've lost three times in regulation when leading after two (16-3-5). Kings are 6-4-4 when tied after two.
Devils have the best penalty kill in the NHL since December 21 at 85.3% Since that December 21 date, the Devils have picked up twice as many points as the Kings in the standings: 34 vs. 18. New Jersey has the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference since the all-star break.