The New Jersey Devils dominated the opening minutes of the game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Three and a half minutes later, Fabian Zetterlund converted a penalty kick from Kevin Hayes to send the Devils on the power play. Jack Hughes was twice denied by Carter Hart in the first minute, but Dougie Hamilton blocked a gap in the neutral zone to help him at the end of the first division shift. Hughes managed a flat-footed penalty kill and danced Hart off his skates as he put the Devils up. 1-0, Devils.
Vitek Vanecek made his first save of the game five-and-a-half minutes in when Brendan Smith’s pass down the goal line to Egor Sharangovic, who was on the blue line, went past Sharangovic to Travis Konechny. Konecny sped past Smith and had a brief break on Wanecek. Vitek, however, turned away Konecny’s shot with a great glove save.
With just over three-and-a-half minutes to play in New Jersey’s strong first, Myles Wood took a high-sticking penalty when he tried to lift Noah Cates’ stick as he took a shot into the hole. The Devils went on a four-minute penalty kill and Hischier missed the game-winning layup by McLeod. They did a pretty good job of killing the first minute and a half, pushing the Flyers back several times and leaving them no inch to work with offensively. In the final minute of the period, John Marino blocked a shot on the glass and McLeod pushed Boqvist forward for a one-on-one opportunity. Boqvist cut wide and handcuffed Hart a bit, but the shot was right in the chest. With this strong performance from the man on the double minor, the Devils maintained their 1-0 lead at halftime.
The Devils successfully took away the rest of the penalty kill from Miles Wood and continued to pressure Philadelphia through the opening minutes. However, Ryan Graves got the Devils back on the penalty kill as his stick ended up between the skates of Travis Konecny as he drove to the net. It looked like a dive, but the Devils still went down a man’s second less than four minutes later.
On the kill, the Devils blocked Senheim’s first shot, but McLeod was unable to clear the shot. The Flyers worked it to Owen Tippett, whose shot was partially blocked through a screen, and Wanecek snagged it out of the air. Unfortunately, Scott Luton even played for the Flyers on the ensuing faceoff as his one-timer deflected off Jonas Siegenthaler and into the top corner. 1-1.
After Dougie Hamilton took the Devils down a man again The Devils won their opening penalty in the neutral zone (yes, the neutral zone) and cleared the ball just past the five-minute mark for cross-checking Travis Konecny. Erik Haula received another penalty for throwing his stick at Jonas Siegenthaler when Siegenthaler broke his stick, putting the Devils up five on three with a minute left. Hischier, Marino and Smith did well on the five-three, Marino and Hischier working well until Mercer finished the five-three for Hischier. Vanecek made a big save when the game went back to five-on-four and Brendan Smith found the gap. When the Flyers’ drive broke down, Yegor Sharangovich got loose and broke cleanly, but Hart made the glove. Sharangovich intercepted another pass near the blueline and fired again at Hart.
After the penalty kill ended, McLeod found himself in Deslaurier’s face in the corner as they huddled. Deslauriers and McLeod dropped the gloves and had a marathon fight, and the linemen decided they could lock arms for a while before finally breaking it up when Deslaurier pinned McLeod into the boards. In the replay, it looked like Deslaurers should have been provoked to cross-check McLeod a few times as he looked for his loose stick.
Brendan Smith and Joel Faraby had nine minutes of playing time in their own post, falling well behind the game. Smith looked to be having a fairly easy time of it, throwing a few shots and taking Faraby down before moving nonchalantly into the box. Farabi went to him behind the delivery and lost the wood, dropping the gloves first and Smith obliged.
With the game settled, Carter Hart was forced to make a number of big saves. The first was John Marino, who was crossed by Jesper Bratt at the blue line. His shot went out of play. The second was Nico Hischier, who pounced on a two-on-one and the puck spun before he could wrap the ball around his stick and into the net. Third was Jack Hughes who crossed the lane and had a partial break. Hart had trouble with Hughes’ jab, but stayed with it and covered.
The refs finally decided to call a minor penalty against Philadelphia in the second period with under five minutes to play. Jack Hughes called for a slip. Hamilton, Hughes, Hischier, Holtz and Zetterlund were on the ice for the Devils. The Flyers played low and the best chance for the first point came late in the first minute when Hischier saved a penalty and shot wide of the goal line. The referees gave away a penalty to Konecny for high-sticking early on the power play, but he was called for tripping and/or cross-checking Hughes into the boards with 40 seconds left in the original penalty.
On five-on-three, the Devils replaced Zetterlund with Bratt. Hughes set up Holtz at the edge of the net, but Holtz pounced. Bratt’s shot then went wide. After the puck was deflected to Sealer, who came out of the box, Wanecek saved the breakaway and the Devils kept going. Holtz kicked Hart off the facemask. Severson put Zetterlund on the penalty kick, but Hart made the save. Time ended 1-1.
The Devils started the period with several offensive turnovers. The Flyers iced the puck two minutes later and the game took on a more subdued look than the previous frame. Michael McLeod had a chance to get a layup from Sigenthaler at the end of a back-ice shift, but Hart stuck with it after McLeod’s stick connected at first. Jesper Bratt was later robbed by a gorgeous glove save by Hart that landed on his stomach on the move.
The Devils continued to control the game as Hischier’s line repeatedly turned the Flyers over on a fairly long shift after Jack Hughes made a check on Owen Tippett in the neutral zone to free up a puck for them. Carter Hart continued to make saves and Tortorella’s Flyers blocked tons of shot attempts. Despite. they put little pressure on the Devils, hoping for a cherry pick or a successful bounce.
And that’s exactly what happened. Damon Severson’s pass deflected past Hamilton to Travis Konecny, who slotted past Wanecek with eight minutes to play. 2-1, flyers.
Michael McLeod hit a shot off the post as he won the offensive zone on the next shift and the Devils stayed down. The Devils continued to create opportunities for themselves, but mostly hit straights rather than passing lanes to open up Hart. As a result, their shots continued without a rebound.
With more than two minutes to play, Wanecek left the ice for an extra forward when the Flyers took an ice call. Tatar stole a tie from the Flyers, but Philadelphia pounced on it to ice it again. The Devils stood their six-on-five crew on the ice, carrying the puck for a long time before Hughes set up Zetterlund at the side of the net. Hughes’ pass was on his skates, allowing Hart to make the tackle. Philadelphia won the following tie, 1:17. A timing one by Hughes hit Hart and was kicked out with 1:05 left. The Flyers iced 57.5 to play. The Devils were unable to capitalize on any of their chances the rest of the game, losing 2-1.
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Physics? We had. Shooting. We need it.
I’m only making one section for this review because that’s all there is to know about this game. The Devils beat the Flyers 49-24. Every Devils player, coach and fan should be absolutely furious with the way tonight went. But let it be known that the Devils, unlike in their first game of the year against Philly, met them when the bell rang. They never trailed in the count at any point because the Flyers did something stupid to throw someone out during, after or behind the play. They didn’t even look bad in the fights. They lost tonight because they scored poorly.
The only way the Devils could win tonight is if Wanecek pulls off a shutout.
Could he have? Maybe. Laughton’s goal was tough, and it’s not like he only dealt with two difficult situations during the game. He played well enough to get the win. Even without Severson’s turnover, the Devils would actually have had to score another goal. They had a five-on-three and were going around the perimeter puck, and Vanecek yet had to free them from there.
But Severson’s turnover is what ultimately led to the killer goal, and everyone will predictably pounce and blame him. He should be ashamed of himself for making such a poor decision in a blue line draw, but the Devils still need him. score to win. I’m not going to go too much into the myriad reasons why Vancouver or San Jose would never trade Severson as a UFA (or why I don’t think they should trade him), but I want to get it out of the way now. As for the game winner, it should have been 5-1 Devils by then. Ruff is right that those plays can’t be high risk, though.
Tom Fitzgerald might consider a trade for a finisher regardless of method. If he does, he needs to strike while the iron is hot and figure it out, rather than relying on the hope that Palat and Bastian will be able to stop the bleeding once they’re out of serious injuries. An earlier acquisition would also leave more time to gel with additions compared to the deadline. While I don’t want to trade Fitzgerald for any extremely small forwards, the most this team needs is a finisher, not a bruiser.
Otherwise, the Devils will have to teach Alex Holtz how to handle the puck a lot better than he did tonight, in addition to his good center pass during six-on-5 tackles. He lost the puck a few times on the move and fumbled what could have been a power-play goal. Yegor Sharangovich needs to take the next step he was willing to take with Jack Hughes centering him. Erik Haula will have to return to his goal lines. The scoring depth needs to step up more often if the Devils want to stay at the top of the division. Power play, drives heir Andrew Brunet must deliver.
I’m not sure how many of us there are no angry at the moment. To that end, let’s talk about the game in the comments below.
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