It’s a new season and plenty of the personnel has changed, but the results have remained the same.
New Jersey is still hopeless when it comes to the shootout, and after a blown lead late to the Blackhawks that’s where the game ended up going.
The Devils couldn’t convert in either of their attempts and allowed a goal on both, and an otherwise excellent effort from Keith Kinkaid was spoiled.
1. There are a few ways to look at last night’s game. On one hand, you have to be very happy the Devils managed to get it to overtime to begin with. The Devils were in the 2nd half of a back-to-back, without Patrik Elias, Mike Cammalleri, Travis Zajac, Dainius Zubrus, Ryane Clowe, Adam Larsson, etc. and had a rookie making his 1st career start against a team that entered last night 1st in the league in possession and having won nine of their last 10. I think prior to the game anyone would have been happy with a point and that’s how the Devils have to look at it moving forward.
2. On the other hand, it sucks to only get one point from last night’s effort. Chicago was the better team, but the Devils managed to get two goals from their 4th line and Keith Kinkaid looked exceptional. When you have players on your roster playing above their heads, you need someone else to step up and finish the job. That didn’t happen, and the Devils blew the game as a result. Had they won that game, they’d have been tied for a divisional playoff spot.
3. Chicago handed New Jersey their ass in the 2nd, but for the most part I thought the Devils actually defended their lead relatively well in the 3rd. As a tired team with significantly less talent they were only outshot 8-6, and had plenty of chances to bury Chicago. Martin Havlat hit the post, and Scott Gomez and Jaromir Jagr connected a couple times creating chances to put the dagger in the Hawks. They didn’t convert, obviously, and the rest is history.
4. Keith Kinkaid stopped 37-39 for a .949SV% in his NHL debut. He definitely deserved a better fate and I wish the Devils could’ve gotten the win for him, but it’s hard to feel too sorry for him as his efforts probably just won him the Devils’ backup job. Kinkaid might go up and down to ensure he gets plenty of work in Albany, but I think he’ll see more starts up here in the near future. Cory Schneider can’t play every game, and the Devils are surely comfortable giving Kinkaid spot starts after seeing last night’s performance against arguably the best team in hockey.
5. Steve Bernier gets beat like a drum for even being on the roster any time anything goes wrong, but he’s played his ass off for the Devils this season and has looked very good doing it. Bernier has finished his checks, created chances off the cycle, posted the 2nd best possession numbers on the roster and tallied seven points in 18 games while playing limited minutes. Say what you want about him, but with the way he’s played this season he should absolutely remain on the team.
6. Damon Severson played a good game against the Blackhawks. He made some nice defensive plays in space, and held his own during a couple one-vs-one opportunities. He also added an even-strength assist, had three shots and was on for both goals New Jersey scored while playing over 23 minutes. There are going to be some growing pains with young defensemen, but for the most part Severson has done a good job of consistently playing well this season. The points haven’t been there of late, but the shots have been and eventually they’ll start going in again.
7. Jon Merrill played a team-high (by a country mile) with over 29 minutes of ice last night. He had a couple rough moments, but overall played quite well. He’s been pretty steady since returning to the lineup.
8. Jacob Josefson had a shift on the PP, played almost 17 minutes and led Devils forwards with 11 shifts in the 3rd period while defending the lead. He also posted the 3rd best possession numbers on the team. Good game from the young Swede.
9. Reid Boucher’s shifts by period: eight in the 1st, three in the 2nd, and just one in the 3rd. I didn’t catch if there was a bad turnover or something, but he was getting crushed in possession all game and Chicago had a huge portion of the chances when he was on the ice so that might have had something to do with it. Still, I’d have liked to see him on the ice in OT and/or the shootout. Whether he was on his game or not his skating ability + shot is a plus compared to rest of the players on New Jersey’s roster right now.
10. Up next for the Devils is a date with the Flyers on Thursday. With the way Philadelphia has been playing that’s a game they need to win. Recent posts Hotstove: Should Paul MacLean have been fired? Hotstove: who will finish last? Consistently Inconsistent Hotstove: biggest disappointment this season? Hotstove: biggest surprise this season? Veterans at the forefront of NJ’s offensive struggles Devils need more from Travis Zajac