Devils host Kings in matchup of league's lesser lights
- Blackhawks trade F Anisimov to Senators
- Caps re-sign F Vrana to 2-year deal
- Hurricanes re-sign D Fleury for 1 year
- Suspended D Voynov signs with KHL team
- Devils hope to convince Hall to stay
There are just two teams with a lower point total this season than the New Jersey Devils, and one will skate into their building on Tuesday.
Yet it will not be a downtrodden Los Angeles Kings team that will pay a visit. The Kings increased their point total to 46 with a 4-3 overtime victory over the New York Rangers on Monday. But the back-to-back challenge for the Kings means that energy could be at a premium.
The Devils, and their 47 overall points, will take any advantage they can get. They are coming off an overtime victory as well, a 3-2 triumph over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.
Before that, though, they had lost four of five and slogged their way through four victories in 12 January games.
The All-Star break seems to have helped the Devils, who have won two of three since then, including a 6-3 victory at Pittsburgh on Jan. 28.
Things can start looking even better if goaltender Cory Schneider can revert to his old form. After a rough time this year returning from hip surgery, Schneider has most recently missed time with an abdominal injury.
He is set to return from a five-game conditioning assignment at Binghamton of the American Hockey League, but his playing time with the Devils appears uncertain. He reportedly will play in at least one of the Devils' upcoming four home games, but whether he plays Tuesday against the Kings is undetermined.
Winless in nine games (seven starts) this season (0-5-1), with a whopping 4.66 goals-against average, Schneider sounds confident he can turn around his season, even if he gave up a plethora of early-game goals.
"The last year, year-plus, I haven't played many games," Schneider said. "For me, to get in there, get into a rhythm, play back-to-back and play three times in a week, it was good to be a hockey player and pay games regardless of where it is."
A start for Schneider against the Kings would seem to make sense as he tries to regain a foothold again. Los Angeles will enter carrying a 2.29 goals-per-game average, second-last in the 31-team league to the Anaheim Ducks' 2.28.
The Kings have scored four goals in two of their last three games, but going back further, they had two goals or fewer in five of six games before this current three-game run.
Monday's victory saw them get a game-tying goal from Adrian Kempe with just under a minute remaining, and the game-winner from Tyler Toffoli 25 seconds into the extra period.
It took a bit of the sting off a brutal season that has already led to the trade of defenseman Jake Muzzin to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The sense is that more moves could be in store before the Feb. 28 trade deadline.
All-Star defenseman Drew Doughty has a lengthy eight-year, $88 million contract extension that begins next season, but he has gone on the record saying he wants to be in Los Angeles to see through the rebuild.
"Unfortunately, we didn't perform to the best of our abilities, and this is why we're having to do this," Doughty said of the roster reshuffle, according to the Los Angeles Times. "This wasn't our plan at the start of the season, but stuff happens, and I'm in here for the long haul. I want to be a King the rest of my life. I'm ready for whatever has to happen."
While Schneider is on the way back for the Devils, forwards Travis Zajac (lower body), Stefan Noesen (lower body) and Taylor Hall (lower body) are day-to-day, as is defenseman Ben Lovejoy (upper body). Forward Joey Anderson (ankle) remains week-to-week.
Kings forwards Nate Thompson (illness) and Trevor Lewis (foot) are day-to-day, but indications are that both could be available Tuesday. Forward Jeff Carter, fourth on the Kings with 25 points, left Monday's game with a lower body injury and was not on the bench in the third period or overtime.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 5, 2019