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Nico’s Strike and Zacha Down Sabres

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Window of Opportunity

After a reality check four to one loss versus the perennial Stanley Cup contending Washington Capitals the New Jersey Devils came into Saturday’s matchup going into a Buffalo Sabres team coming off a loss against the Boston Bruins. Lindy Ruff decided to go into Saturday’s game going with the native of Munich, Germany, and dual-citizen of Canada Nico Daws. Daws giving dubbed up to the NHL had an impressive preseason against the Washington Capitals. Daws played in one AHL game putting up a 2.01 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.

The opportunity for Nico Daws to steal the spotlight was. his for the taking due to the absence of Mackenzie Blackwood. Another variable going into this decision was Jonathan Bernier’s day-to-day status. Lindy Ruff went into the day earlier putting Nico Daws in the starter’s net.

Game Day Summary

The adversity for the Devils defence stared on the Dylan Cozens (3:19) power-play goal, but the New Jersey Devils defence stepped up the rest of the competition. Both the Devils and Sabres went scoreless in the 2nd period allowing the Devils to go into the 3rd period with the forward momentum.

For two-thirds of the game, the Devils hit a lot of posts, and the puck luck wasn’t going their way. What was going their way was Daws matching save after save using that 6’4″ 203 pounds worth of frame against Dustin Tokarski. The Devils were looking to capitalize after not being able to capitalize on earlier offensive opportunities.

New Jersey went into the 3rd period with 5:52 into the period tying the game up with the assist of Dougie Hamilton and Tomas Tatar. This was a huge momentum shift after the Devils offence has been adjusting without Jack Hughes since his injury versus the Seattle Kraken.

The big key to the Devils being able to top off Saturday’s big win with a cherry on top was Pavel Zacha ripping one past Dustin Tokarski. It was a snapshot of 3:09 into 3 on 3 with the assists from Damon Severson and Yegor Sharangovich.

Nico Daws was flawless in net with 24 saves out of 25 shots on goal-saving.960% This is a very good start to Nico’s goalie career and it’s very big for Lindy Ruff.

Mackenzie Blackwood New Jersey Devils Goaltending

A sigh of relief per Josh Gold-Smith of The Score.ca recently from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet “New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood is vaccinated against Covid-19 and will be eligible to play by the time the team takes its first road trip to Canada.”

If Jonathan Bernier gets back to good condition and Nico Daws keeps both plays lights out in the net and keep buying time. It would be a big dividend payer allowing coach Rogalski and Ruff to have three very reliable options between Blackwood, Bernier and Daws going in the next few weeks if not a few months.

Having this kind of flexibility in the net and crossing their fingers that Jack Hughes comes back sooner from his recent absence versus that hard-hit versus the Seattle Kraken. There is still a lot of recalibrating for the Devils offence, the penalty kill, and power play are starting to become more reliable.

The Devils should feel very confident going into the next several games versus the Flames, Penguins, and the Blue Jackets. All eyes will be focused on how the Devils’ offence will be able to function without Jack Hughes. There is a lot of games that this really interesting blend of Devils roster can put up some of the next few teams knowing they’re not gonna face another Capitals team.

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Former writer for Pucks and Pitchforks and The Puck Authority. I cover New Jersey Devils hockey and NHL Draft prospects. I have a podcast called Heads Up Hockey on Anchor.fm