Two of the most surprising teams in the early season meet Wednesday night when the New Jersey Devils begin a three-game trip to Western Canada against the Vancouver Canucks. The Devils, who missed the playoffs each of the last five seasons, have won eight of the first 10 games and the Canucks boast points in the last five contests (4-0-1) after suffering two years without a postseason.
New Jersey, which has won two in a row and scored 36 goals in its eight wins while netting two combined in the two setbacks, is 4-0-0 on the road but face the first trip of more than two contests. “Obviously, a lot of the young guys haven’t done the trip before,” Devils captain Andy Greene told reporters of the trek, which includes games at Edmonton and Calgary. “I think it’ll be good for this group to get out on the road and see what happens.” Vancouver saw its four-game win streak come to an end with a 2-1 overtime loss against Dallas on Monday, but has given up only seven goals during the point streak and is giving teams a different look. “If they faced us the last couple years, we’re playing a lot harder and faster than we did in the past,” Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev told Sportsnet. “That’s how you have to play in this league now.”
TV: 10 p.m. ET, MSG Plus (New Jersey), Sportsnet 360 (Vancouver)
ABOUT THE DEVILS (8-2-0): Power forward Brian Boyle told reporters, “I’m ready to rock here,” and is expected to make his New Jersey debut at some point on the trip after being treated for Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. “We have a speed game but he’s a very smart player,” Devils coach John Hynes told The Record. “With his size and his understanding of the game, he fits in well with the type of group we have up front. He also brings some things we don’t have. He’s got a big body. He’s a good centerman who can kill penalties.” Right wing Kyle Palmieri is expected to miss all three games on the trip while he recovers from a left foot injury.
ABOUT THE CANUCKS (6-3-2): Vancouver posted 39 shots in Sunday’s loss, including 16 in the first period, but could not score until Sam Gagner registered his first of the season with a power-play tally in the third. The Canucks were without leading scorer Brock Boeser (two goals, nine points) because of a bruised right foot, suffered after blocking a shot last Thursday against Washington, but the rookie forward could return Wednesday. Forward Derek Dorsett was kept off the scoresheet Sunday, but is off to a great start with six goals in 11 contests, and offseason free-agent signing Thomas Vanek notched his sixth point with an assist against Dallas.
1. The Devils have won five straight meetings, including a 2-1 overtime triumph at Vancouver last January.
2. Tanev leads the team with a plus-8 rating and has recorded a pair of goals along with three assists.
3. New Jersey LW Taylor Hall leads the team with 13 points - eight in the last four contests.
PREDICTION: Canucks 4, Devils 3