St. Louis Blues vs. New Jersey Devils: Game Preview and Opponent Outlook


The St. Louis Blues will play the second game of a two-game back-to-back set on Tuesday, facing the New Jersey Devils. The Blues will be looking to improve over their result in New Jersey in January of 2014, when they lost 7-1 to the Devils.

We talked to David Berger, one of the editors at Pucks and Pitchforks, our fellow FanSided site covering the Devils, to give us some insight on what to expect in New Jersey tonight.

1. The Devils were able to dominate the Blues last year in New Jersey, winning 7-1. What do you think the key is for them to be able to repeat the same result this year?

DB: While it would be a shock for the Devils to put up seven goals again, for them to repeat the success they had on that snowy night at the Prudential Center they need to establish themselves in the offensive zone. Their game plan is built on an ability to get the puck in deep, get to work on the forecheck and work the puck back to the point. In recent games they haven’t been able to get any sustained offensive pressure and it’s forced them to scramble to find goals late in games. Against a good defensive team like St. Louis, play along the boards will be critical for the Devils’ success, especially with guys like Mike Cammalleri and Martin Havlat still out of the lineup due to injury. Also, not allowing the Blues any weak goals early in the game would be a point of emphasis.

2. To the naked eye, it would seem risky to have a guy in Cory Schneider who’s never had a starting job to himself and a borderline NHL talent in Scott Clemmensen as the backup. Is your impression that the Devils are content with their goalie situation, or do you expect them to try to make a move at some point? 

DB: It’s funny you ask this question because the Devils just made a move addressing their goalie situation. Scott Clemmensen was put on waivers and the Devils plan to send him down to Albany (AHL) to get some work in. It hasn’t been announced but the logical move is for the Devils to call up 25-year-old rookie Keith Kinkaid to serve as the backup to Cory Schneider. Kinkaid is a better goaltender than Clemmensen and should be able to give Schneider some days off this month when the Devils play five sets of back-to-backs including one this week against the Blues and Red Wings. As far as being content with Schneider as the no-doubt number one, the Devils are very happy with him and his play. He’s had some shaky moments this season, but overall he’s been fantastic. Sure it’s risky to give a guy the reigns who hasn’t had the opportunity before, but Schneider has played extremely well his whole career and shows no signs of not being able to live up to the billing. New Jersey gave him a seven year extension worth $42 million this offseason so they must have a ton of confidence in Schneider. Personally, I think he’s one of the best in the game and finally getting his shot to be the true #1 is going to do wonders for his career.

3. Is there an expectation that the Devils ultimately are going to have to count on some younger players to get them through the season, or do you believe that the core of older veterans can hold up and give the team a chance to compete for a playoff spot?

DB: While the Devils are mainly comprised of veteran players such as Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias, there are many young players that are paramount to the success of the team moving forward, not only this season but into the future. Adam Henrique, 24, leads the team in points and Jacob Josefson, 23, the former first-round pick is finally showing flashes of the player he could be. While the forwards are mainly veterans, where the Devils’ youth really shines through is on the blue line. Out of the seven defensemen the Devils have on their active roster, four of them are 23 or younger. Eric Gelinas, Adam Larsson, Jon Merrill and rookie-sensation Damon Severson have all contributed to the team this season and look to be key cogs on the defense for many years. With a veteran team, injuries are always a concern, but the Devils have a lot of talent at the AHL level that can come up and play if the need arises. So while the veterans will be counted on to lead the team, young players are always important to develop and pitch in when needed.

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4. The Blues have one Devils connection in Bryce Salvador, who had a lengthy career in St. Louis, but has obviously carved out a long career for himself in New Jersey now, too, and is the captain there. What have been your thoughts on his performance so far this year?

DB: Bryce Salvador is not a very popular man with Devils’ fans. As the captain, he has a ton of expectations he’s supposed to live up to and he hasn’t been very productive this season. Salvador’s game is being a physical defensive defenseman, but his best days are behind him. He’s lost almost all of his speed and opposing forwards blow by him at ease. If he’s able to catch up to a forward, he usually is able to muscle them off of the puck, but his lack of mobility has hurt his ability to do that. He’s also supposed to be a contributor on the penalty kill, but he’s out of position too many times. He’s a huge reason the Devils have one of the worst PK units in the league. He’s a good guy and appears to be a good leader; his teammates respect him and stick up for him. He also has been in a few fights this season that gave the team some life. It’s just at this point in his career, he’s nothing more than a sixth or seventh defenseman and he causes more harm than good. Being the captain, he never comes out of the lineup so the Devils need him to muster up anything he has left.

Thanks to David for giving us a New Jersey point of view.

After Brian Elliott got the call in goal for the Blues on Monday night in New York, Jake Allen will be between the pipes tonight against the Devils. The Blues will once again be without forwards Paul Stastny and T.J. Oshie, who are dealing with a shoulder injury and a concussion, respectively.

With forward Dmitrij Jaskin and defenseman Jordan Leopold healthy and available, it’s a solid bet that at least one of them will be inserted in the lineup as the Blues attempt to get everyone involved in the midst of a stressful road back-to-back.