Coach John Hynes confirmed at this morning's media availability that Cory Schneider will start. Schneider last played on October 14 against the Florida Panthers.
"I think it's time for him to get a start. He's really practiced well and had a few good days of practice," said Hynes.
BRATT RETURNS; GUSEV OUT
Some of the other lineup changes includes the addition of Jesper Bratt who was a healthy scratch against the Arizona Coyotes last time out.
"We had a good discussion when he got scratched in the morning. I asked him why do you think you got scratched and he had the same answers I was going to give him so that's good," Hynes began. "We sat down with him and compared some video of when he was playing his best and what he wasn't doing."
Bratt spoke about his discussion with the head coach.
"We talked a lot about my offesnive game. Being stronger on the puck and try to use my offensive skills a little more and be a bigger threat in the o-zone."
The winger spent the Coyotes game watching from the press box with Patrik Elias.
"Sometimes you can see that you have more time than you think. I was sitting up with Patty during the game and you can learn a lot from him."
The Devils are hoping that same approach helps Nikita Gusev, who will be out of the lineup tonight.
"When you scratch a player or a player doesn't play, you try to use the times to see what they can get from the game. Nikita's a decorated veteran player but he's new to North America. He's played a lot. It's an opportunity for him to sit back.
"Patty's got the experience with coming over from Europe. I think it's a good opportunity for him to talk," Hynes noted.
One player that has really benefitted from the odd schedule is Will Butcher, who got injured in the game against the Rangers back on October 17 but due to the light schedule, will have only missed two games in the 13 days since as he returns tonight.
"It worked out schedule wise for the time that I was out. Excited to get back in there," Butcher stated, adding that with the extra break the coaches were more cautious about rushing him back against the Coyotes last Friday.
"I felt pretty good to play the last game. The coaches just wanted me to get some extra days."
Butcher added that he feels he'll settle right in.
"The adrenaline of the game will take over and I'll be just fine."
-- Marc Ciampa, NewJerseyDevils.com
DEVILS (2-5-2) vs. LIGHTNING (5-4-2)
TV: 7:00 p.m. ET; Televised on MSG+
Tonight is the first of three regular-season contests between New Jersey and Tampa Bay. In 2018-19, the Lightning defeated the Devils in the season series with a 3-0-0 (6PTS) record. The Devils were 1-9 on the man advantage in the regular season series versus the Lightning, and 4-9 on the penalty kill.
Sami Vatanen (2A) and Miles Wood (1G-1A) led the Devils in scoring with two points. Taylor Hall led the squad with nine shots in three games played. Cory Schneider allowed seven goals in 95 minutes of action against the Lightning. Schneider played in all three contests against Tampa Bay.
Devils team scope:
The Devils are in a strange stretch of their schedule with only two games in 12 days to wrap up the month of October. With nine games played, the Devils are the only team with less than 10 contests in the season. In fact, the Rangers are the only team with less than 11 besides the Devils.
Taylor Hall leads the Devils in points with seven through nine games. Sami Vatanen, Jack Hughes and Pavel Zacha each have five.
Lightning team scope:
After last season saw them reach 128 points, only four off the NHL's all-time total of 132 set by the Montreal Canadiens in 1976-77, the Lightning are off to a slow start by their standards at 5-4-2.
The Bolts have dropped their last two games, falling 4-1 last night to the Rangers and 3-2 this past Saturday to the Predators.
Steven Stamkos leads the way for the Lightning with 12 points through 11 games while last season's Hart Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov has 11 points in 11 games.
Goaltender Curtis McElhinney is looking for his first win as a Lightning, 0-1-2 in his first three starts with a 3.30 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.
By the Numbers:
Kucherov had nine points last season against the Devils which was the most of any player against New Jersey in 2018-19. ... The Devils penalty kill got off to a rough start this season, going along at a 50% clip through the team's first five games but since that time, the Devils have had the best penalty kill in the NHL. Since October 13, the Devils have killed off 95% of all penalties.
Devils -Connor Carrick (broken finger) is out; Will Butcher (upper body) is probable.
Lightning - Anthony Cirelli, Pat Maroon and Victor Hedman all left the game on Tuesday with an injury and are questionable