New Jersey Devils Matchup Preview: Carolina Hurricanes


Hockey season is finally upon us. After going through the uneventful summer months, the NHL will make its long-awaited return, with training camp and the preseason beginning next week. It is expected by many that this will be a down year for the New Jersey Devils and they will likely miss the postseason again.

The Devils will begin their second season in the new Metropolitan Division. Before the season begins, I will analyze the other seven teams in the division, and how the Devils will fare against them this season. The preview will begin with the Carolina Hurricanes, who finished last in the division behind the Devils last year.

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Last Season Recap: The Devils won the 2014-2015 season series against the Hurricanes going 2-1-1 in four contests. All games were close with the losing team scoring one goal every time.

2015-2016 Scheduled Meetings: 12/3 at Carolina, 12/26 at Carolina, 12/29 at New Jersey, 3/1 at New Jersey, 3/27 at Carolina

What to Expect: Like the Devils, Carolina is also in a transitional phase, and will likely be towards the bottom of the standings come seasons end. Although that outcome seems likely, the Hurricanes have a much more talented roster than New Jersey which will show some fight and could potentially surprise everyone.

The Canes have a talented forward group headlined by the brothers Eric and Jordan Staal, along with Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm. Carolina recently bolstered this group further by acquiring Kris Versteeg from the Chicago Blackhawks.

On defense, Justin Faulk will continue to develop into one of the game’s better defenseman. The Canes also drafted college standout Noah Hanifin, who has drawn some comparisons to the great Scott Niedermeyer. The team also added James Wisniewski to add some offense from the blue line.

In net, the solid but injury-prone Cam Ward remains an option to start for Carolina. However, Ward will have to fight for the job with the newly acquired Eddie Lack, who came over in a trade from Vancouver. Given how well Vancouver-drafted goalies have performed in recent history, Lack appears to be the early favorite.

While Carolina could be a dark horse team, it appears unlikely given that they do not have much depth behind their top guys. Their bottom six forwards will likely be composed of primarily inexperienced youth, while their blue line has some question marks as well. It also remains to be seen how Lack will fare as a full time starter.

Advantages and Disadvantages: The Devils biggest advantage over Carolina here is clearly goaltender Cory Schneider, who has been the MVP in New Jersey during these tough seasons. It will be interesting to see two former Vancouver goaltending prospects face off with Schneider and Lack.

While Justin Faulk is a potential star and Noah Hanifin is a world class talent, the Devils defense appears to be slightly more complete. New Jersey has a former world class talent of their own with the reborn Adam Larsson. Andy Greene, Damon Severson, and Eric Gelinas will also be good contributors on what looks to be an exciting blue line.

While their forward depth is not strong, the Hurricanes will likely have better scoring results than the Devils weak forward group. The Staal brothers and Jeff Skinner are all capable of scoring 25+ goals while Mike Cammalleri was the Devils lone 20+ goal scorer last season.

On special teams, it will be curious to see which team is better in the respected categories. The Canes had the better penalty kill last season, while the Devils had the better powerplay. You would think it would have been the opposite given the Canes better scoring power and the Devils defensive depth and superior goaltending.

Prediction: As we have heard time and time again, this will likely be a year that New Jersey would like to forget. Fans will likely have to tough it out and endure another losing season that will result in missing the playoffs for the fourth year in a row.

While it does not appear to be Carolina’s year either, on paper they outmatch the Devils. In a matchup of potentially two non-playoff teams, I predict that the Hurricanes will win the season series over the Devils, winning three out the five contests. The Devils will win two of those games, with one coming in overtime.

How do you think the Devils will fare against the Carolina Hurricanes this year? Do they have a better team than Carolina, or is it worse? What are you expecting to see from this matchup? Please feel free to give your thoughts in the comments section below.

Next: New Jersey Devils News: Devils Sign David Schlemko

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