DETROIT, MI - The Devils kick off a five-game road trip and will have a new-look lineup tonight with some fresh faces inserted prior to the journey.
Acquired in a trade yesterday from Carolina at the NHL Trade Deadline in exchange for Sami Vatanen, Fredrik Claesson will suit up for the Devils. It's the first NHL game of the season for the 150-game 27-year-old veteran.
"I was in the NHL the last three years before this season. I just want to prove myself and show the management and coaches what I can do. Nothing fancy or anything," said Claesson, who describes himself as a stay-at-home defenseman.
"Hard working, I like to block shots and shoot the puck but most of all just defend."
Claesson was with his Charlotte Checkers club in Hershey, Pennsylvania and had a 3:30 AM wake-up call in order to make it to Detroit in time for the morning skate.
He doesn't know many of the Devils but is familiar with Sami Vatanen.
"Both of us are Swedish so that helps to speak our language. He showed me around and I need all the help I can get."
Claesson added he was looking forward to the opportunity to play again in the NHL.
"I've been down in the AHL all year and to get called up right away is super exciting."
Coach Nasreddine noted that he was familiar with the player going back to his days coaching in the AHL.
"I knew him because when I started coaching in Wilkes-Barre he was in Binghamton so I knew what he is as a defenseman," Nasreddine remarked. "He'll be a big help for us. He's been around, 150 games."
MCLEOD JOINS DEVILS
Another move made by the club is Nick Merkley was assigned to Binghamton and Mike McLeod recalled for another stint with the team. McLeod will play center between Joey Anderson and Kevin Rooney on the fourth line.
"Guys like that have to approach each game one game at a time. He'll play tonight and we expect him to play his game and bring speed, tenacity. Consistency is what we'll be looking for," Nasreddine said.
McLeod was excited to get another chance in the NHL.
"It's an opportunity to grow as a player. Every call-up you get more confidence. It doesn't get easier but the game maybe slows down a little bit," he said. "I like my game right now. We've been really rolling in Binghamton. Our team is playing on a roll, pushing for the last playoff spot. I've had some great linemates."
Cory Schneier gets the start in goal looking for his first win of the season (0-6-1). Schneider is also looking for his first goal in support with him between the pipes for a road game. So far, in all four of Schneider's starts away from Prudential Center, the Devils have scored zero goals.
"I'm excited. We've got a long trip here and the first one is important. It's a key game for us. It's been fun watching him play and he's playing so well," said Schneider. "My objective is to play well and help this team. Help Mackenzie and do whatever I can. I felt good about my game in Binghamton. Had a rough start in the fall but things are feeling better."
The Devils lineup for the game will be as follows:
Tonight's game is the third and final contest between New Jersey and Detroit in the 2019-20 regular season series. The Devils lead the Red Wings in the season series, 2-0-0 (4PTS). The club kicks off an eight day, five game road trip (@ DET, @ SJ, @ ANA, @ LA, @ VGK).
In the season series, the Devils are outscoring the Red Wings, 9-2. New Jersey is 7-8 on the penalty kill and 1-10 on the power play in two contests. The Devils are outshooting the Red Wings, 60-46 in the season series. The club looks to improve their 8-8-3 record (4-4-0 road) against Atlantic Division opponents.
Devils team scope:
The Devils made three moves on Monday's Trade Deadline Day, sending Wayne Simmonds to Buffalo, Sami Vatanen to Carolina and Louis Domingue to Vancouver.
In the Vatanen trade, one of the players the Devils acquired is defenseman Fredrik Claesson who will be joining the club in Detroit on Tuesday.
Devils sit 26th in the NHL, four points behind Chicago for 25th with a game in hand.
Red Wings team scope:
The Red Wings are last in the NHL with 34 points, 16 points worse than the 30th place team in the NHL (Los Angeles). They made several moves on Monday, trading Mike Green and Andreas Athanasiou to Edmonton and tonight try to build on their 10-19-2 home record.
Dylan Larkin leads the team with 45 points in 64 games and Tyler Bertuzzi is second with 40 points. Betuzzi also leads the team in goals with 18.
By the Numbers:
Damon Severson (4A) leads New Jersey in points in the season series, tallying four in two games played. Will Butcher (1G-1A), Kyle Palmieri (1G-1A) and Jesper Bratt (1G) lead the club in goals against the Red Wings this season.
Mackenzie Blackwood started one game against the Red Wings this season. Blackwood allowed one goal on 26 shots against (.962) in 60 minutes of action. Cory Schneider is a career 5-9-2 against Detroit, posting a 3.05 in 17 games played.
Taro Hirose (1G) dented the net for Detroit in the first contest. Filip Hronek (1A), Anthony Mantha (1A) and Madison Bowey (1A) lead the Red Wings in assists against New Jersey with one in two games played.
Jonathan Bernier got the start in net in both contests. Bernier has allowed nine goals on 59 shots against (.847), falling to 5-5-1 in his career against the Devils.
The Devils are 3-3-0 at Little Caesars Arena and 7-5-2 overall against the Red Wings since the 2015-16 season.
Devils - Will Butcher (lower body) is out
Red Wings - Danny DeKeyser (lower body) is on IR; Filip Zadina (lower body) is on IR; Filip Hronek (upper body) is on IR