The New Jersey Devils will try to cool off rookie forward Brock Boeser and find more consistency to their game when they host the surging Vancouver Canucks on Friday night. The Devils are 3-3-4 since knocking off Vancouver 2-0 on Nov. 1 and must figure out a way to stop Boeser, who has scored six of his team-high 11 goals in the last four games - four in the past two as the Canucks started their road trip with two wins.
New Jersey outshot Boston 15-5 in the third period to rally from a goal down before falling 3-2 in an 11-round shootout Wednesday and coach John Hynes would like to see his team play a complete game against Vancouver. “The last time we played them, the puck management wasn’t very good,” Hynes told reporters. “They’re a good, structured team. You have to make sure you’re making good decisions coming up the ice to get to our attack game. We have to skate and put their defense under pressure.” Boeser, the 23rd pick in the 2015 draft, had two goals each in 5-2 victories over Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to start a six-game trip. “Yeah, he hasn’t missed a shot in two weeks,” Vancouver center Brandon Sutter told Sportsnet of Boeser. “He’s going well. He’s confident, that’s the biggest thing. When he gets his chance to shoot the puck, he’s going to shoot it. And when he shoots, he scores.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet Pacific (Vancouver), MSG Plus (New Jersey)
ABOUT THE CANUCKS (11-8-3): Forward Sven Baertschi, who stands second on the team in points behind Boeser (21) with 17, has been productive of late as well with two goals and two assists in the last three contests. Veteran forward Thomas Vanek has also recorded six assists in the last five games and is one point behind Bo Horvat (16) for third on the team. Vancouver’s power play is becoming more of a factor the last five games (3-1-1), converting seven of their 15 opportunities during that stretch - getting one from Boeser in each of the last two contests - and is 15th in the league at 19.8 percent.
ABOUT THE DEVILS (12-5-4): New Jersey has been able to fight through injury issues all season and another obstacle was added Wednesday when it was announced top-line forward Kyle Palmieri (broken foot) was lost for 4-to-6 weeks. “I don’t know how often you get a full lineup throughout the year,” center Travis Zajac told reporters. “I think every team deals with it. We just have to make sure we come together. Guys are going to have increased roles.” Taylor Hall tops the team with 21 points and fellow forward Brian Gibbons recorded three of his team-high 10 goals in the last five games.
1. New Jersey G Cory Schneider is 5-1-2 against his former team and the Devils have won six straight overall versus the Canucks.
2. Vancouver F Daniel Sedin had two points against Philadelphia on Tuesday to pull within four of 1,000 in his career.
3. Canucks D Erik Gudbranson left Wednesday’s game with an upper-body injury and is questionable for Friday.
PREDICTION: Devils 4, Canucks 3