I think the New Jersey Devils want to forget tonight’s game as much as the fans do, myself included. It was a mess from start to finish, ending with a really bad line change that resulted in Edmonton’s overtime winner. The Devils were outshot 30-17 in regulation and 4-1 in nearly two minutes of overtime. New Jersey was better in the faceoff circle, winning about 52% of them. Both teams were 0/3 on the power play and both Taylor Hall and Adam Larsson had an assist on the night.
It was a highly emotional game, for obvious reasons, and tempers were flaring, the tension was running high. One of my favorite aspects of this team has always been that they’re so close. When Hall got into a scrum with Zack Kassian, the other four on the ice immediately stepped in to help him out. Whether or not Hall is happy about being traded to Jersey (I’m going to say he’s not), this is a team. They have each other’s backs. The Oilers also showed a great video tribute during the first break, just as the Devils did for Larsson in New Jersey, thanking Hall for his time in Edmonton. He is someone who isn’t great at hiding his emotions so you can tell that it truly meant a lot to him. He was honored as tonight’s third star of the game and saluted the crowd one last time.
But it was not a great game on New Jersey’s end. They managed only 18 shots on goal in 62 minutes of play and a single shot in overtime. A handful of players on the team had two shots on goal but no one had more than that. They spent way too much time in their own zone, especially on their own power plays and in OT. Leon Draisaitl’s goal was allowed to occur because New Jersey executed a really terrible line change and that responsibility lies with Adam Henrique and the coaching staff. Both tonight’s game and Saturday night’s game could have (and probably should have) been wins for the Devils but they take two points.
There were a few good things to come out of tonight’s game: Karl Stollery and Jon Merrill both played really well tonight. Merrill did a great job slowing down Connor McDavid, who has yet to score a goal against New Jersey and will now have to wait until next season. He kept the NHL’s scoring leader along the boards and did not allow him to take more than four shots tonight. If you give McDavid even the slightest bit of room, he will make you pay and Merrill did a great job containing him. I think Merrill takes a lot of crap and (usually) doesn’t deserve it.
My favorite moment of tonight’s game was Steven Santini’s first NHL goal. Hall took a shot on goal and the puck bounced off Santini and into the net. Hall was initially credited with the goal but it was changed to Santini later on. The goal was a nice reward after all the hard work and effort he’s put in since being called up. I don’t think he’s going anywhere (or at least, I hope not). The defense as a whole has really picked up over the last few weeks since Andy Greene’s injury.
Cory Schneider also looks like he’s found his groove. He made 31 saves on 34 shots, including some really beautiful ones. But once again, the offense left him out to dry. I sound like a broken record talking about how the team needs to take more shots and score on power plays and stay out of their zone but it is what it is. The team just doesn’t seem motivated to play, with a few exceptions. Players like Henrique and Kyle Palmieri really need to step up, as do Travis Zajac (who did get an assist tonight) and Michael Cammalleri. You can’t pinpoint certain players as the problem because it’s a team effort but you expect more from veteran players. A point is a point but it won’t be enough as the 2016-17 season is in its second half.
The Devils will look for two more points as they continue their four-game road trip Friday night when they face the Calgary Flames in their first meeting this season. Puck drops at 9PM.