The Devils and Blackhawks will honor Jimmy Hayes tonight as the Devils get their season underway at home.
Former NHL player Jimmy Hayes, as the entire hockey world knows, died suddenly this summer at the age of 31. It was news that shocked the hockey world. He played college hockey at Boston College and was drafted in the second round in 2008 by the Maple Leafs. Hayes played 334 NHL games across 7 NHL seasons for Chicago, Boston, Florida and New Jersey. Jimmy was well known throughout the NHL for his infectious and loveable personality and his memory will be honored tonight in a game between his first NHL team and his last NHL team. It is sure to be a touching tribute for a deserving man who sadly died far too soon.
No great way to transition out of that, but after the tribute there will be a hockey game played between the Devils and Blackhawks. Game 1 of the season for the good guys and game 2 for the Blackhawks. Chicago is coming in 0-1-0 after a tough game against Colorado. For more on that game, check out the blog Andrew Jenkins posted on this site today.
As for New Jersey, it may only be game one but the Devils are certainly not at full strength. The Devils will be playing tonight without our number one goalie, two of our top four defensemen, and a valuable bottom 6 forward.
So with all that, no Smith, Severson, Wood, or Blackwood, what can we expect from the Devils tonight? The team has not indicated what they plan on the lines looking like but I would expect the top six forwards to include Sharangovich, Hughes, Kuokkanen, Hischier, Bratt, Zacha. However, it would not shock me to see Tatar on one of the top two lines instead of Kuokkanen or Bratt. On defense the top four will almost definitely be Hamilton, Graves, Subban and Siegenthaler. Chicago will be starting their backup goalie, Kevin Lankinen so they can start Marc Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh tomorrow night. With the Devils speed up front, supported by Hamilton and Subban’s cannon of a shot on the blue line, I expect it to be a rough night for Chicago’s weak defense and backup goalie. How about some predictions huh?
Final score: Devils 5 Chicago 2
First goal scorer: Yegor Sharangovich
Will there be a fight? Yes
Most points: Jack Hughes
The push for the playoffs begins TONIGHT! LETS GO DEVILS!
(Follow me on Twitter @PatBoooooth for live reactions to this and every Devils game this season)