Tournament. New Jersey Devils (21-7-2; L10: 5-3-2) vs. Florida Panthers (14-13-4; L10: 4-5-1). SBN blog. Litter Box Cats:
Time: 19:30 (not 7:00)
Broadcasting. TV – MSG+/MSGSN
The brunette knows (or should know)
There were several times last season when a struggling Devils team put up big numbers on the Florida Panthers. Andrew Brunet, now Lindy Ruff’s top offensive assistant, was the Panthers’ head coach at the time. The first such game was when the Devils had not yet collapsed; they beat Brunette’s Panthers 7-3 to go 6-3-2 last November. But then the devils did collapse, and when Yegor Sharangovich scored a hat trick for the Panthers late in the second period, the Devils still has a four-goal lead as Andrew Hammond lost 7-6 in overtime.
So Andrew Brunet, I would say, had an interesting career playing with the New Jersey Devils as an offensive assistant and power play coach. To that end, he still has some work to do with the power game. The Devils currently have a slightly below-average power play, despite running what appears to be the best five-on-five team in the league. Part of that has to do with the staff. For example, Tomas Tatar is averaging 1:38 of power play ice time per game and has not scored 5×4 points in 50 minutes. Myles Wood also has 0 power points with 1:32 of 5 v4 ice time per game. Erik Haula has just three points in the same average time as Wood. Meanwhile, pay attention to who is lined up here for the second power play.
Dawson Mercer and Yegor Sharangovich should definitely be on the power play against Erik Haula and Tomas Tatar. Tatar isn’t a big power play producer historically, and forcing it doesn’t seem to be working. Erik Haula is also arguably no more dynamic player offensively than any of the young Devils riding the pine for them. First point of the power play is scoring a lot of goals. Dougie Hamilton, Jesper Bratt and Jack Hughes already have 10 Power Play points.
But Dawson Mercer is fifth on the team with three assists; the drop from first to second point is pretty bad and yet Thomas Tatar still gets that playing time over him. I understand that Mercer has become a solid penalty killer and Ruff can split the ice time that way, but Tatar does all of his work even at strength. Sharangovic, on the other hand, never seems to see the ice of the power play. I don’t know if it’s just because he’s not a one-shot threat, but letting him take wrist shots from the rim sounds good to me. This team needs to see more shots from its third-highest percentage shooter. And given that Andrew Brunet saw Sharangovich walk with his team last year, he would have had some prior knowledge to know Yegor should be on the Power Play unit.
As you may have noticed from Stein’s book mentioned above, Damon Severson worked out yesterday as the backup quarterback. Indeed, Ryan Nowozinski faced a tying turnover involving Damon Severson and Lindy Ruff midway through the third period when the Flyers were at The Rock on Thursday. While Severson said that it was his fault and adopted a more self-critical tone about the play than in his post-play period, Ruff was more light-hearted when asked if Severson would be benched. From Novozinski’s report yesterday.
“I haven’t made any decisions about the lineup,” Ruff said. “Just because he trained there doesn’t mean he won’t play tomorrow. Usually we make those decisions in the morning. We all recognize, and he recognizes, that it was a tough game at that point in the game. It cost us a game of hockey.
“But at the same time we had other opportunities to get back into the game.”
I agree with Ruff here as I thought the worse problem was not scoring in that game. not me too concerned whether sitting or not. If Raph wants to send a message, let him for the game. In no world should Smith-Bahl be the usual third pairing with Severson in the press box; Smith made plenty of mistakes throughout the season that would have had fans calling for Severson’s head. That said, given how well Smith played last game, I’d be surprised to see him scratched. Kevin Bahl deserves to be in the lineup as well, but it’s generally easier to do when rolling seven defensemen, and the four forward lines played well together against Phil, aside. We’ll see how that shakes out later today.
What do you think about today’s game? Will you be attending or watching from home? How do you think the Devils will respond to Thursday’s loss? Will Ruff give Severson a chance at redemption? Will Yegor be forever banned from the power game? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.