New Jersey just got handed their first loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday by the score of 5-3. One could argue that was the Devils’ worst game thus far, and they wouldn’t be wrong. Before Thursday’s contest, New Jersey averaged a little more than 4 goals per game, even without one of their top forwards in Jesper Bratt.
Jesper Bratt was expected to come into this season playing at a more consistent level than last year. The former 6th-round draft pick got off red hot start a year ago but then really cooled off during the playoff push to a point where he was a healthy scratch.
As mentioned before, Bratt’s role likely would have increased this season. Unfortunately, he suffered a broken jaw in practice and was required to stop skating for 2-3 weeks. On Friday, Devils’ beat reporter Amanda Stein tweeted out that Bratt worked out on the ice for a second straight day. With the upcoming week where the Devils don’t have a game from Sunday to Wednesday, I could see Bratt returning possibly next weekend.
Then the question “Who’s coming out for Bratt?” gets asked. At the beginning of the season, I anticipated newly acquired Jean-Sebastien Dea would take a seat. With the way he has been putting the puck in the net the last 5 games and his role on the PK, that’s very unlikely. If Zajac manages to come back healthy and resumes his 3rd line center position, I think John Quenneville gets the scratch. To be fair, he has had opportunities to succeed, but he hasn’t. He was on the 2nd power play unit and still does not have a point yet.
So now that leads to what the lines would look like. If I’m John Hynes, there’s no way on God’s green Earth I’m touching the 1st line. The Hall-Hischier-Palmieri trio has been torching it thus far. I would probably move Noesen out of the 2nd line with Zacha and Johansson from that right wing spot and insert Bratt. I would then slot Noesen where Quenneville played on the Zajac and Wood line. The 4th line would still consist of Dea-Boyle-Coleman.
What do you think? Do you think Bratt deserves a spot in the lineup automatically? Is there someone else you would take out? What should the Devils do with Quenneville?