Well, there’s a lot to talk about so let’s get started. The New Jersey Devils (26-31-12) finally, finally snap their 10-game skid against the Philadelphia Flyers (32-30-8), outscoring them 6-2 and outshooting them 29-19 tonight. The Devils improve to 3-0-0 against the Flyers this season (outscoring them 14-3) so what I’m trying to say is, can they play each other all 82 games? A fun fact: the Flyers have played both goalies in all three games this season: the first two because the starting goaltenders were pulled, tonight because Steve Mason was cramping and Michal Neuvirth had to step in. Another fun fact: this loss almost completely eliminates the Flyers from playoff contention, which is always a bonus.
This is the first time the Devils have scored six goals all season long and for a team that only scored eight goals in the month of March coming into tonight’s game, that’s huge and could be a momentum swinger when finishing out the season. The Flyers got on the board first on a Michael Del Zotto goal and it was a really nice, tic-tac-toe, highlight reel goal. But Kyle Palmieri, man, oh man. Kyle Palmieri tied the game up at 1 with a nice feed from Travis Zajac, who had a two assist night. Palmieri now has 23 goals on the season and could make another run to 30 on the season if he continues to stay as hot as he has been. Adam Henrique scored his 17th of the season off of a slick pass from Beau Bennett to make it 2-1. Joe Blandisi got his second of the season on the power play to make it 3-1 but Brayden Schenn cut the lead back to one with his 21st goal of the season. The Devils started to pull away with goals from Henrique and Taylor Hall (2); they both had two goals tonight and led the team in SOG with four apiece. And Hall’s first goal was absolutely filthy.
Henrique, Palmieri, and Zajac were your three stars of the game tonight. Henrique had two goals on the night (four shots on goal, a pair of hits) and has 13 goals, 7 assists, and a +18 rating in 24 career games against the Flyers. He now has 18 goals and 36 points on the season. Palmieri had a goal and an assist tonight, three shots on goal, and a +4 +/- rating. Zajac had a pair of assists, two shots on goal, and a +4 +/- rating; his assists tonight bring him to a total of 431 career points, moving him past Scott Stevens for 8th all-time in franchise history.
A few other notes: this was Hall’s fourth two-goal game of the season. Damon Severson hit 30 points (3 goals, 27 assists) for the first time in his career. Steve Mason is now 0-9-0 against the Devils all-time. This also marks the last time for a while that the Devils will wear their retro uniforms (that I absolutely love) because third jerseys (alternates) will be “banned” next season.
Keith Kinkaid was excellent tonight and made huge saves, including an important one on Wayne Simmonds at the doorstep. The team finally gave him enough goal support to get a win and I’m sure he must be thrilled because I am. Coach Hynes has not yet named a starter for tomorrow night’s game against Pittsburgh but Kinkaid could very well get a second straight start.
The Devils did go 1/3 on the man advantage tonight and killed all three Philadelphia power play opportunities. They found a way to draw penalties, which is a good sign going forward, but they also have to find a way to limit the number of penalties they take. Obviously some of them are hard to avoid but scoring goals with a man advantage is a major key to having a successful team. We’ve seen the Devils’ power play go cold for stretches of time and then get hot right after; it’s streaky and needs to become more consistent.
So it was a happy St. Paddy’s Day celebration but the Devils will look to continue their offensive outburst tomorrow on St. Patrick’s Day against the Penguins in Pittsburgh; puck drops at 7PM.