New Jersey Devils: Who Should Play Against Washington?

(Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images) /

Selecting the New Jersey Devils lineup for the final game of the season against Washington is not as simple a question as one might initially believe. Who should play against the Capitals? Here is an analysis.

The Devils making various lineup decisions for Saturday night is kind of like Federal Reserve Board governors making macroeconomic decisions in the interest of stimulating the economy. There are many complex factors in play. Economists care about employment rates, inflation rates, economic growth rates and the balance of trade.

Decisions the Devils need to make about who should play include an analysis of whether they actually want to win the game, getting certain players ready for the playoffs, providing other players with rest and an opinion about the importance of entering the playoffs on a long winning streak. MBA’s don’t have all the answers on the economy and I certainly don’t have them on the Devils lineup. But here is a brief analysis of some of the factors to consider.

Do The Devils Want To Win The Game?

There are more lineup decisions than usual to make against the Caps.

Okay, I get it, the Devils want to win every game. Moving beyond that, the concept of playoff match-ups is an important one.

One might argue that Tampa might be the preferred opponent among the triumvirate of the B’s, Caps and the Lightning. Or, perhaps not. My opinion is that, overall, it’s better to stay in the Metropolitan Division side of the bracket than worry only about a first round opponent. Therefore, for that reason, the Devils want to avoid the 2nd wild card slot and they do want to win the game.

How Important Is It To Get Cory A Game?

Well, on the one hand, it would be great to give Cory Schneider a start. He hasn’t played for a long time and you never know when he might be needed due to an injury to Keith Kinkaid or any other circumstances. However, starting Schneider is not the best path to victory. Consequently, that is a very difficult decision. One to which I do not have a great solution to offer. If pressed, I would start Blockaid.

What About The Other Healthy Scratches?

Playing Damon Severson is a no-brainer. Anyone can get hurt in the playoffs and you want to keep the person I will temporarily refer to as the Devils 7th defenseman sharp. Ditto for Jesper Bratt in the 13th forward role. Give them a game to keep them in game shape, it is not that much of a drop off in talent within those positional groups with these two in the lineup.

Jimmy Hayes and Drew Stafford I believe can be safely left out of the mix. It’s unlikely the Devs will need them going forward. If they do, that’s a problem.

Lastly, it would be great to get Marcus Johansson a game. But that’s more a medical than tactical decision. We’ll see what happens there.

Should Taylor Hall Play?

In a word, yes! Sure, an injury would be catastrophic, but the team needs to keep things rolling and he’s the heart and soul of the team. I might cut his minutes a bit, but I would dress him.

Bumps and Bruises

When considering who should play, it goes without saying that anyone on the club carrying a minor injury should sit Saturday night. Clinching in Game 81 affords the team the opportunity to extend the healing cycle for anyone who might benefit from a bit of extra time off the ice.

Next: Taylor Hall Makes The Playoffs

Summing Up

Isn’t it great to even be thinking about writing an article like this! Can’t wait to see the Devils first playoff game in six years. It’s been a really long time since the incredible excitement of the run to the Finals in 2012.  The first playoff game will be an awesome scene.