Coming In Hot
The New Jersey Devils came into the match off a very big win versus the Florida Panthers at a 7 to 3 victory at the Prudential Center on Lafayette Street in Newark, New Jersey. Devils star defenseman Dougie Hamilton was inserted back to the lineup versus Barry Trotz’s New York Islanders. Lindy Ruff wanted to play fire with fire putting Mackenzie Blackwood in the net meanwhile Ilya Sorokin was summoned in net by Trotz.
New Jersey was short-handed in the first period and they looked to fight off the Islanders’ attack. The Finnish forward Janne Kuokkanen utilized 2-way play during the penalty kill to put the Devils up 1-0 on the shorthanded goal. The Islanders’ offense really tried to keep the Devils’ defense hemmed in their own zone. The Sasquatch squad with the likes of Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Graves, and Jonas Siegenthaler. This line was crucial to keeping the Islanders forwards socially distanced from Mackenzie Blackwood.
The Devils would go 1 for 3 on the power play while Ilava, Slovakia native Tomas Tatar would register his first goal of the season as he created traffic on a Hamilton shot on net. New Jersey in the past 2 games the Devils are beginning to generate more high danger scoring chances from the Hamilton and P.K. Subban shooters. Earlier in the pre-season, I put the Devils blueline to generate 39 goals in 82 games and that benchmark looks to be shattered.
Everyone’s Molding Into Shape
Seeing the emergence of Pavel Zacha gaining confidence this season is proving to his doubters he is not a bust, but a blossoming forward who can do a lot of the important middle-6 wing scoring, and power forward style of hockey that can defend. His style of play tonight helped Hamilton connect on that shot to Tatar that helped give the Devils more of an edge. The youth and energy line with Newfoundland’s very own Dawson Mercer was at it again and proving why he should not only be a finalist but win the Calder Trophy by the end of the season. Swedish wingers Andreas Johnsson and Jesper Bratt brought the speed, agility, and elite hockey IQ that helped Mercer get open and score.
According to moneypuck the Ryan Graves and Hamilton pairing is 8th going 3.71 Goals For Per 60 Minutes while going 1.24 Goals Against Per 60 Minutes. What this really means for Tom Fitzgerald as the General Manager is that his trade package for Graves, and signing Hamilton is paying off juicy dividends. Having Vesey heating up defensively on the bottom 6, and assisting on the 4th goal of the game really sets the Devils up 4 points on the homestand already.
Stats and Conclusions
Since Saturday, November 6th concluded the Devils California road trip the team came up with 3 of 6 points. As the Devils won the last two home games vs Florida and the Islanders the Devils have won 4 out of 6 points before a beer for lunch game on Saturday when they host the Boston Bruins. The Devils have 16 points in 12 games played. They are on pace for 109 points in this 82 game seasons.
What’s mind-blowing is majority of it’s been without Jack Hughes who is out due to a dislocated shoulder since game 2. A few games Hamilton missed, however the Devils AHL affiliate in Utica under Kevin Dineen has been energizing the big club in New Jersey with all the adversity they have dealt with. The Devils are 7-3-2 on the season and are striving to show doubters that they are for real.
The Devils get a day off before hosting the Bruins so it could be Jonathan Bernier’s turn and saving Blackwood for the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. It’s also a possibility to see Bernier getting the nod versus a young and upward trending Senators team that is 3-9-1 as of now.
#NJDevils blocked 23 shots in front of Mackenzie Blackwood: "Yeah, that was big-time."
— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) November 12, 2021
It is unlikely to see many personnel changes with the way Lindy Ruff is pushing the right buttons on this Devils roster. There has been a lot of fight, desperation, and that will to win that has been very contagious. It shouldn’t be long until Alexander Holtz and Tyce Thompson all get going because Holtz is seeing a lot of shot opportunities and Tyce Thompson is playing aggressive winning puck battles.
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