In the preview, I set the goal for the Devils to win with a 60 minute effort. I might have been asking to much. Tonight, the Devils put in a very good effort to win, but with a couple of reviewed goals not going their way and a shorthanded goal against, the Devils manage to lose 4-2 against the Winnipeg Jets. It's their 4th straight loss, and are now in fear of not winning a game on their 4 game road trip. They are also in fear of dropping below 0.500, as they now stand at 12-12-1.
I also mentioned the fact the Jets score early in games. They did just that less than two minutes into the game when Dustin Byfuglien shot the puck from the point and Evander Kane tipped it during it's journey. It looked like he tipped it high, but it was low enough for the call to get overturned after the video review. Adam Henrique scored on a very nice wrist shot passed Ondrej Pavelec's glove. Ilya Kovalchuk skated into the zone and made a quick pass to Zach Parise who made a nice cross ice pass to Henrique for the goal.
In the second period, the Devils were rewarded a 5-on-3 powerplay for 1:44 after controlling most of the period. Patrik Elias scored on a sharp angle and they had a lead in a game for the first time in what seems like forever. Then, just when you see the Devils play well for close to 40 minutes, they let up a shorthanded goal after a bouncing puck along the boards escapes Kovalchuk in the defensive zone which leads to an easy 2-on-1 Jets goal.
The Devils yet again put in a solid effort in the 3rd period, but Evander Kane crashes Johan Hedberg when the puck is thrown to the net mouth from the corner. The puck squeaks in, and the video review deems it a good goal. A good but failed effort to tie it ends with an empty net goal with 30 seconds left.
Here's the video from NHL.com:
After a solid performance the previous game, the Devils continued that in tonight's game. Quickly down 1-0, they did not let that get the best of them. At long durations of the game, they were the better team. Getting the puck in, creating chances, getting to lose pucks and doing ti all over again. Turnovers decreased and the passing was a lot better on the break out. They were sound defensively more times than not, and they managed to wrack up attempts.
I say attempts because one problem tonight was getting the puck to the net. Shots were 25-20 Devils and 18-17 New Jersey at 5-on-5. The Devils Corsi at even strength was +19 (+14 Fenwick). The Devils had 17 missed shots and 14 blocked shots. Goals are not going to happen when the puck doesn't get to the that 6 by 4 feet opening; 60% of the time, an attempt did not.
The Devils managed to get 62 attempts throughout the game to Winnipeg's 40. This and Corsi is good evidence they controlled most of the game. At about halfway through the 2nd period, the Devils had a 10-2 shot advantage in the period (shots ended 12-7 that period). They were rewarded a powerplay and then a golden 5-on-3 opportunity.
Speaking of the powerplay, it was pretty good minus two aspects of it. The good things first. 7 shots in 6:14 of powerplay time and a goal. Their passing in the offensive zone was good and accurate. They made good decisions on where to pass. They had some amazing opportunities where it was shocking they didn't score.
The first bad play was the shorthanded goal. After the Elias goal, Hedberg gets a cleared puck behind his net and wraps it around the boards by the far circle to Kovalchuk. He hugs the boards but it somehow bounces passed him. Bryan Little gets it and feeds Alex Burmistrov for a nifty goal. The other was the shortened powerplay to start the 2nd period. Though it did lead to a great pressure for the next 8 or 9 minutes.
Both top lines competed against eachother. The Parise-Henrique-Kovalchuk line saw Kane, Little and Blake Wheeler trio. They had a solid first two periods with some good puck movement. Kovalchuk finished with over 27 minutes of ice time, 4 shots on goal on 9 attempts. Both Parise and Henrique had 3 shots on 5 attempts. This line however was held shotless in the 3rd period. Credit the Jets defense for slowing them down late in the game. Parise led all forwards in Corsi at +15. Henrique was +11 and Kovy was +6 (he was double shifted on the 4th line as usual and that hurt his number - further evidence this is not working).
Henrik Tallinder and Mark Fayne also saw the best competition playing mostly with the Henrique line and up against Mark Stuart and and Zach Bogosian. They were a phenomenal +23 and+17 respectively. Only the Andy Greene (-6) and Anton Volchenkov (-3) were minus on the blue line.
Mostly everyone played well tonight except for Mattias Tedenby. I'm not even going to say Cam Janssen becuase
you can't really say he played he was injured and went to the hospital after a stick hit him in the chest - x-rays were negative. He had 2 sifts, 1:27 TOI and a missed shot. Tedenby however finished -2 in Corsi and saw Eric Boulton take his place in the final 15 minutes. DeBoer most likely did becuase of his defensive play - but overall I don't think the time was warranted. He wasn't as quick with the puck that I would like he needs to play better defensively to get more time. I know talks of accountability have come up and I have to agree with the writings I saw. I think this is a sign DeBoer of doing exactly that though (and he's done it before).
So are some the highlighted events and stats for tonight's game. The best thing to take away from this game is they played well. They put in a good effort but they can show they can be a completely different team after the Colorado loss if they work hard. They skated hard to pucks, they made good decisions, they won battles - and that's the effort they need to complement their strategies and strengths. They were physical to and overall smart (only two minors), which is something I like to see from a team when in a rut.
I hope they keep their heads high and work on the good things and fix the bad things they did. What did you get from this game? Talk about it in the comments. Thanks for reading.