Question 3: Will There Be Any Personnel Changes?
Beyond the top six, Lindy Ruff is thinking about who might get back into the lineup. We know it’s happening. Miles Wood and Brendan Smith were taken out of the lineup after a rough Game 2. Ruff is always itching to get Wood back into the lineup. Curtis Lazar has been fantastic in relief, so he isn’t going anywhere.
Wood could replace Nathan Bastian, but that seems like a mistake. Bastian had a rough Game 6, but he is the Devils one true hitter among the forwards. If he is going to preach physicality without losing skill, Bastian makes sense to stay in the lineup. Wood also has two penalties in two games.
The defense is an interesting discussion. Ryan Graves was the best defenseman in Game 1. Since then, it’s been up and down. He has to get some props for how he adjusted on the penalty kill, holding the Rangers off the board during the Devils winning streak. However, his Game 6 performance was putrid.
Luke Hughes is the wild card on the bench the Rangers have no answer for. Of course, that’s a HUGE risk. He could make a mistake that costs the team the game. He’s very young, but he’s already one of the most offensively skilled defensemen in the world. It’s a hard decision, but the Devils need to consider that beating Igor Shesterkin will take a perfect offensive game plan.