NEWARK, NJ - The Devils look to make it four straight wins as they host the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night. After beating top teams like the Bruins and the Islanders, confidence is growing around the club. Will Butcher has seen improvements with the team's chemistry and trust.
"We're closing time better in the defensive zone, giving them less time to make plays. We're reading off of each other having that second guy come in and help when there's a battle or stall in the walls," said Butcher following morning skate. "I think we've been doing a really good job in the last games, just implementing [the systems]. Trusting each other, having confidence in our system and having belief in one another."
Nico Hischier has felt a difference in the locker room with the team's morale.
"If you look in the locker room, guys feel good about ourselves, we just have to try to keep that going," said Hischier. "We're playing some good hockey, and confidence is a good part of that."
Hischier is gaining more responsibility with the team. He wore the A last game and will rotate with Palmieri throughout the season according to Interim Head Coach Alain Nasreddine.
BEN STREET CALL UP
With Bratt and Hughes out against the Avalanche, the Devils called up Ben Street from Binghamton. Interim Head Coach Alain Nasreddine is very familiar with the Binghamton Captain. Nasreddine coached Street when both were with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins organization.
"He's a really good two-way player, and for us it's about meritocracy. He was the best player down there for our farm team and he deserves the call up," said Nasreddine following morning skate. "He's had a really good season for Binghamton and just got named to the [AHL] All-Star team so that says a lot about his body of work so far this season."
Street signed with the franchise on July 1st, 2019, and the forward is looking forward to seeing his first minutes with the club.
"It's really cool that tonight's going to be the night, hopefully I can help and contribute and these guys keep winning games too," said Street following morning skate. "It's been a crazy week, we had a kid last Friday, between that, All-Star game, call up today, it's been a bit wild."
The projected lineup for the Devils based on line rushes is as follows:
Zacha - Hischier - Palmieri
Coleman - Zajac - Gusev
Wood - Street - Simmonds
Boqvist - Rooney - Hayden
Greene - Subban
Severson - Vatanen
Butcher - Mueller
-- Catherine Bogart, NewJerseyDevils.com
DEVILS (15-19-6) at AVALANCHE (24-13-4)
TV: 7:00 p.m. ET; Televised on MSG
Tonight's game is the second and final meeting between the two teams this season.
They previously met in Denver on December 13 with the Avalanche prevailing 3-1. Mirco Mueller had the lone Devils goal while Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Valeri Nichushkin each tallied for the Avs.
Devils team scope:
The Devils have won three straight, including their last two against teams which rank in the top four in the NHL. They've also won seven of their last nine overall.
Kyle Palmieri leads the club with 28 points and 15 goals. Mackenzie Blackwood is 14-10-5 with all other goalies netting a record of 1-9-1.
Avalanche team scope:
Colorado is sixth overall in the NHL and second in the Central Division with 52 points.
The Avs are coming off a big 7-3 win over the St. Louis Blues. Prior to that, they had gone winless in five of six games.
Nathan MacKinnon leads the Avs in scoring with 62 points and through 41 games. He has twice as many points as the second place player on the team, rookie defenseman Cale Makar who has 31 points through 41 contests.
By the Numbers:
Travis Zajac registered an assist last game which tied him with Kirk Muller for third place in all-time points in Devils history with 520.
Nikita Gusev has nine points in his last eight games to lead the Devils during this timeframe.
Nico Hischier has picked up points in each of his last three games for a total of eight assists in nine games.
Devils -Matt Tennyson (lower body), Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt are out