NEWARK, NJ - The Devils look for the season sweep tonight for the second year in a row when they face the Montreal Canadiens at Prudential Center but if they do it, it'll be without arguably their best forward and their best defenseman as Nico Hichier and Sami Vatanen are both out.
"It's nothing too serious but not ready to go for tonight," said Devils interim head coach Alain Nasreddine.
P.K. Subban also did not appear at today's morning skate and his a gametime decision as his illness lingers.
"With P.K. it's still dealing with that illness. It came back again last night. He's a game-time decision," Nasreddine added.
With that said, this is what the lineup could potentially look like this evening:
Joey Anderson will make his season debut for the Devils after being recalled from Binghamton. Anderson said he was happy to play in Binghamton and build some confidence in his game.
"It was the perfect spot for me to be. I got comfortable down there and was able to free myself up to make plays and have some fun," he began, adding that winning 12 of the team's last 14 games has been fun also. "We found some good chemistry with who they put us with down there. We've had some success lately, which has been great. The atmosphere in the locker room has been great."
Last season, Anderson played 34 games with the Devils and had four goals and seven points. He feels much more prepared and ready this time around.
"It's been a good year, a long year. I'm ready and excited for this. It's going to be a nice night to get my feet back in the NHL."
Nasreddine said he wants Anderson to play the same way at the NHL level and is prepared to give him the opportunity to do so.
"To bring that swagger that he found in Binghamton. He's a good player, played a simple game. Will be a good fit on that line. He might touch on both special teams, we'll see how the game goes. He's done a good job in Binghamton on both the penalty kill and power play."
Another player called up who might get to play is Colton White. He'll draw in if Subban can't go. White said he's ready for the chance.
"Wait and see what's going to happen. If I'm in, do my thing and if not just keep working as hard as I can," White said, adding that he doesn't expect to replace Subban. "Just play my game. It's a simple game. I get it out of my zone as quickly as I can. Efficiently, too. If I do that, I'll have an impact on the game."
PALMIERI ON HUGHES
Kyle Palmieri talked about playing with Hughes tonight instead of Hischier, who's out due to injury.
"He's excited to get the opportunity. With Nico being out, Nico is playing 19-20 minutes a night for us. It's going to be a huge role playing against top competition."
Palmieri said that the opportunity for a number of players to step up and in, including the aforementioned Anderson, will ultimately help the overall depth of the club.
"Nico's a huge part of our team but it's going to give other guys big opportunities to play big roles. It pushes guys up in the lineup with opportunities. We're looking forward to seeing how they step up."
-- Marc Ciampa, NewJerseyDevils.com
DEVILS (18-24-9) vs CANADIENS (24-23-7)
TV: 7:00 p.m. ET; Televised on MSG
Tonight's game is the third and final game between the two teams this season.
Last season, the Devils won all three meetings between the clubs and so far this year, they've won both.
On November 16, the Devils came back from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3 in overtime and on November 28, the Devils won 6-4. Both games were in Montreal.
Blake Coleman leads the way with five points through two games against the Habs.
Brendan Gallagher has two goals to lead the Canadiens against the Devils this season.
The Devils have had all three games that they've played since the all-star break go into overtime, with one shootout win, one overtime loss and one shootout loss to show for it.
New Jersey is in a stretch where they play six of seven games on home ice and 12 of 15. The club has the fewest number of home wins in the NHL at seven but also only nine regulation losses through 25 games (7-9-9).
Nikita Gusev's play of late has been outstanding and he now has 31 points, which is two shy of Kyle Palmieri for the team lead. Since January 12, Gusev and Jesper Bratt lead the Devils with five points each through seven games.
Canadiens team scope:
The Canadiens have been trying to get back in the playoff race, eight points behind Florida for third in the Atlantic Division and nine points back of the Islanders for the second wild card spot.
Tomas Tatar leads the club with 49 points in 54 games (20 goals).
Carey Price has been battling illness which means Charlie Lindgren might get the call in goal. He is 0-3 this season with a 3.40 goals-against average and .892 save percentage.
By the Numbers:
The Devils are outscoring the Habs, 10-7 through two games played. New Jersey is 6-7 on the penalty kill, and 2-9 on the power play in the two games played. The Canadiens are outshooting the Devils, 82-78. In the last contest between the two clubs, Montréal tallied 48 shots against New Jersey, the most the Devils have seen against this season. New Jersey is averaging 44% in the face-off circle. The Devils look to improve their 7-8-2 (3-3-2 home) record against Atlantic Division opponents this season.
Devils -Nico Hischier (undisclosed) is day-to-day; Sami Vatanen (undisclosed) is day-to-day; Ben Street (upper body) is on IR
Canadiens - Jonathan Drouin (wrist) is on IR; Paul Byron (knee) is on IR; Carey Price (illness) is day-to-day