Preseason Game Preview #2: New Jersey Devils vs. New York Islanders

Jon Merrill will play in this game! - Bruce Bennett

Welcome to the first of five preseason games that won't be aired on local television. The New Jersey Devils are set to debut Jon Merrill and Damien Brunner among others as they take on the New York Islanders tonight.

Welcome to the second game of the preseason. Expect a whole bunch of lineup changes for the Devils.

The Time: 7:00 PM EDT

The Broadcast: The Islanders' website will stream this game online.

The Matchup: New Jersey Devils vs. New York Islanders (SBN Blog: Lighthouse Hockey)

The Last Devils Preseason Game: They hosted the Rangers and won 2-1. Goals came from Mattias Tedenby and Eric Gelinas, Cory Schneider stopped 22 in the first two periods, and the fans got to endure a unit of Krys Batch, Darcy Zajac, and Cam Janssen for about ten minutes. Still, the overall performance was good, both teams cared, and the good fans left pleased about the result. My recap of the game is here.

The Last Islanders Preseason Games: That's games, plural. On Tuesday, the Isles had a split-squad game with Calgary. As in, each team split their lineups and played each other in two places: Calgary and Regina. The Isles lost both games, 5-3 in Calgary and 4-2 in Regina. Dominik has summaries of both at Lighthouse Hockey.

The Preview: I would expect plenty of changes to the Devils lineup tonight. Most of the vets and fringe roster players who didn't play on Monday should get minutes this evening. I'm sure today's morning skate will reveal exactly who is in the lineup. However, as of Wednesday afternoon, there have been a few confirmations from Tom Gulitti at Fire & Ice on who will play. In net, Martin Brodeur will start the game and Scott Wedgewood could replace him for the third period. The Rock will get to see Jon Merrill and Damien Brunner in red for the first time. I'm sure plenty of fans would love to see the latter two suit up. Merrill could potentially be a NHL defensemen in a few years with a mixture of both offensive and defensive skills. Brunner was brought in on a try out and good performances in camp would help his cause of making the team. As Jerry pointed out yesterday, it's not a guarantee. I do think his good 2013 season gives him a better shot than past players on PTOs. A good game or two could allay concerns about what he could do for the team away from Henrik Zetterberg.

Aside from them, I would be surprised if we also didn't see Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder play tonight. These two July 5th signings will likely be a part of the team's top nine when the 2013-14 season begins and this could be the first chance to see how Peter DeBoer will use them. The hope for Clowe is that he can play big, put some shots on net, and clear some space. He's not David Clarkson but playing a little like him would be fine. As for Ryder, I want to see him take initiative on power plays, fire some good shots, and not totally float on defense. Both players will likely have some significant role during the season. Tonight's a good time to make a good first impression.

With the acquisition of Brunner on a try out along with the Devils signing Rostislav Olesz earlier this summer, the one Devil to really keep an eye on tonight could be Stephen Gionta. If he plays, then he needs to be great to have a chance of maintaining his spot in New Jersey. I would say he is the weak link from last year's group of forwards. The only way to make the coaches think otherwise is to be too good to cut loose. I expect him to fly if he's out there this evening.

On defense, since we saw Adam Larsson, Mark Fayne, Peter Harrold, and Anton Volchenkov on Monday, I think we'll see Andy Greene, Bryce Salvador, and Marek Zidlicky tonight. Merrill would make it four. The Devils certainly have enough defenseman prospects to fill in the other spots. Who they will be is up for debate. It could be any two of Seth Helgeson, Raman Hrabarenka, Brandon Burlon, Damon Severson, or Reece Scarlett among others. Then again, the coaches may figure that since none of them really will have a chance at the next level, they could give another game - and more minutes - to a vet or two. The options are there, at least we'll see Merrill.

As for the Islanders, it's not really apparent what their roster will look like tonight. They did split them for the games against Calgary, but they could mix them for this more local game. At least Jack Capuano will be behind the bench. It's definite that we won't see Cal Clutterbuck. Arthur Staple tweeted that he's out with a skate laceration on Wednesday afternoon. Everyone else could be available. I would suspect they'll do as the Devils did. Put in some top players along with some fringe players and youngsters. As long as the Devils maintain good puck movement and don't get too lost in their own end, they should be fine. Generic, I know, but it's a preseason game where both teams won't likely have full-strength rosters. That's all you can ask for, really.

Again, the point of these games isn't necessarily to win but to get the rust off and put in a good performance. So keep that in mind going into tonight. In any case, what do you expect from tonight's game? Who are you most interested in seeing tonight? Are you going to tonight's game? I expect to be there in Section 1, so there will be a decent recap of sorts. Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this preseason match up in the comments. Thank you for reading.

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