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New Jersey opened its season in a losing effort, with errors that were all too similar to how the team ended its terrible 2021 campaign. The team is set to head back to the Garden State to open its home slate and it will do it with several changes. Yes, already.
Mackenzie Blackwood was his typically bad self at goalie. He allowed two pucks behind him that should not get by a professional. Per the usual. He will get to sit on the bench for the game against Detroit and Vitek Vanecek will replace him. It was a questionable move to even start Blackwood when the front office added Vanecek from Washington in the off-season and now he gets the start. If he plays well in this game, expect him to get more run.
There could also be line changes headed for this second game, too. Head coach Lindy Ruff tried to be too cute to open the season. Obviously I am not a coach, so I do not know why. Speculation would be that he wanted to ease into the season but through the early two periods it was a near even split for his four lines. The third period saw the best players on the ice more. The hope is that it continues because the talent is there and with Nico Hischier expected to be back for the game, the second line becomes more formidable.
For Detroit there is no easing into the season.
Schedule makers have them playing back-to-back days to open the year, which will give plenty of opportunity to see David Perron and Andrew Copp team up with Dylan Larkin and Lucas Raymond right out of the gate.
The team will use Alex Nedeljkovic in net for this game. The backup got a victory in his last preseason start, but that was a week ago. Seeing shots from opponents are different than practice and it will be a test for him to come in and play on the road.
Despite the early season shuffling there were a lot of encouraging signs from New Jersey. The home energy, Vanecek in net, Hischier coming back, and the assumption that Jesper Brett getting more icetime, and impressive showing from Alexander Holtz is giving us a buy sign.
Take New Jersey to bounce back to win to get your free $200 from BetMGM when they score a goal!