In the second game in Florida, the Devils fell against Tampa Bay 3-2. Before the game, it was announced that P.A. Parenteau would be moved to the first line, and that Jacob Josefson was substituted with Beau Bennett. The changes didn’t really change the Devils’ play, however. The story was the same as usual; Cory Schneider allowing the Devils to stay in the game, but the Devils still falling.
The game started off incredibly well. Less than a minute in, John Moore took a simple shot from the line which was tipped in by Kyle Palmieri for his first goal of the season. Vasilevsky didn’t have a chance, and the Devils had a nice 1-0 lead.
The next three minutes, the Devils had plenty of great chances to extend the lead. A 2 on 1 with Kyle Quincey and Beau Bennett nearly produced a goal, but Andrei Vasilevskiy made a miraculous save in stopping Bennett. Mike Cammalleri then intercepted a pass in Tampa Bay’s zone and fed it to Adam Henrique, whose shot in the high slot was stopped by Vasilevskiy again.
Then, Travis Zajac took a shot which deflected off Tampa Bay’s Anton Stralman and into the net. Two goals off deflections, and a 2-0 lead.
Taylor Hall then had another incredible opportunity from a pass behind the net, but Vasilevskiy stopped that as well. Without Vasilevskiy, this game would have been over quickly for Tampa Bay.
The game then became more evenly matched, until the thirteenth minute where Mike Cammalleri took a cross-checking penalty. Cory Schneider then made two good saves against Nikita Kucherov to keep the Devils up 2-0. There were no more incredible chances in the period after that Tampa Bay power play, but you got the feeling that Tampa Bay was beginning to wake up.
And wake up, they did. Tampa Bay absolutely dominated the puck, and the Devils didn’t press for the puck or put pressure on the Tampa Bay players. Jonathan Drouin used his speed to dance by the Devils defenders, and then forced Cory Schneider to make a save on his shot to keep the Devils lead. Ondrej Palat then took a penalty, but the Devils did nothing with it, which seemed to give Tampa Bay even more confidence. Brayden Point and Vladislav Namestnikov both then got shots from the slot, but Cory Schneider kept the Devils alive.
Nearly 8 minutes in, the Lightning struck. Jonathan Drouin easy danced by two Devils, and then fed it to Palat. Palat then sent a pass through more Devils, and right to Stamkos, who put the shot in easily. A terrible goal for the Devils to give up, and the blame had to go to all 5 players on the ice. Drouin completely embarrassed Beau Bennett and Pavel Zacha. Then, Palat was able to slide the puck between Auvitu (Who to be fair to him, otherwise had a good game) and Quincey. Too many things went wrong on that play which led to that goal, and all of those things could have been completely avoidable.
Tampa Bay proceeded to then continue dominating the puck, and three minutes later, Alex Killorn scored. This goal wasn’t nearly as bad on the Devils, and just like the Devils’ goals, it was due to bad luck. Andy Greene made a good block on the Nikita Kucherov shot, but it unfortunately bounced right to Alex Killorn, who slotted it by Schneider. There isn’t too much to criticize on this goal, but I felt as if this whole period, the Devils refused to go hard on the puck like they did in the first. This led to Tampa Bay getting more room to move, which you can not let a team like Tampa Bay have.
The rest of the period was better for the Devils, but still more evenly played. Steven Stamkos gave the Devils a power play, and they played well. The Devils were applying pressure, and it looked like an Andy Greene slapshot had given the Devils the lead. However, Tampa Bay challenged the call for offside, and the goal was reversed.
Now, this is what I don’t like about the challenge system. Yes, the Devils were offside on the play. However, prior to the challenge, the Devils had all the momentum, and were applying pressure on Tampa Bay. This assimilated into the near-goal. However, the challenge stopped the flow of the game for 1-2 minutes, and when play continued, the tempo was shifted toward Tampa Bay’s favor again. While I do understand the positives with the challenge system, sometimes a game just has to be played as is. Bad calls need to be diminished, yes. However, basically halting a game to do so, is that worth it? That’s for you guys to discuss.
The third period was again, sloppy play from the Devils. The Tampa Bay goal was off a Devils face-off win, which is annoying. Brayden Point worked harder then the Devils players, and this led to him getting the shot and passing it to Garrison, whose shot was tipped in by Valterri Filppula. Again, no press on the puck, and that led to a 3-2 Tampa Bay lead, which they would keep to the end.
The Opposition: Here’s rawcharge’s gamethread
Tampa Bay is Deadly: Though not exactly happy, I can’t say I’m surprised by today’s results. From top to bottom, Tampa Bay has a great team. Star talents such as Stamkos, Hedman, Kucherov, and Johnson run the team. They also have amazing depth in the form of Palat, Killorn, Filppula, Stralman and Nesterov. They have extremely young talents in Drouin and Point (Who I still get mad that the Devils passed up on him in the draft). Today, the Lightning just played better than the Devils.
Who/what I didn’t like: I don’t think it was just me who wasn’t extremely happy of the Ben Lovejoy signing, and today didn’t exactly help his cause. Paired up with John Moore so as to help Moore’s defensive deficiencies, dare I say today Lovejoy looked even worse defensively than John Moore. Lovejoy gave away the puck a couple of times, with his muff on a pass leading directly to a Namestnikov breakaway chance. However, I do believe Lovejoy is a better defender than he’s shown so far, and I hope he finds his stride soon.
He didn’t play much this game, but Miles Wood surely didn’t help his cause with this game. He looked lost at times, and his penalty looked terrible and unnecessary. He still has time to grow, and perhaps he should be sent down to the AHL for more playing time to help his development.
Taylor Hall again had his moments. He wasn’t bad. However, he wasn’t as good as he could be. He still doesn’t have his first points as a Devil, but it’s not time to panic just yet.
When I heard Jacob Josefson was benched, I wondered how the power play would fare. Although he doesn’t put up many points, his work on the side boards is invaluable to the Devils power play. Today, the Devils power play didn’t have as much fluidity as it could have, and I felt as if this could be attributed to Josefson’s benching.
What I liked: Now, to look at the positives. Cory Schneider was again, incredible. Two of the three goals were unstoppable, and Killorn’s goal would be difficult to save in it’s own right. Another positive was the first half of the first period. The Devils dominated that period, and I was hoping the Devils would hold that pressure the hold game. Yohann Auvitu was solid again, but my early observations are that his defense might be rather hit-or-miss depending on the day. He likes to dive to try to get the puck if an opposing player gets around him, and that is very risky indeed.
Physicality? On the Devils’ defense, they are extremely lacking in physicality. Auvitu, Moore, Severson, Greene, Quincey and Lovejoy all aren’t known for playing physical at all, and I think the Lightning exploited that fact. As mentioned before, they were easily able to enter the zone, and didn’t seem to fear the defenders at all. I personally think Santini needs to get into a game, so as to add the physicality to the mix, but that’s up to coach Hynes.
Your opinions: I’d like to know what you guys thought of the game. What did you guys think of the Devils play? What did you guys think they needed? Did you guys agree with my (possibly) unpopular opinion that John Moore wasn’t the worst defender on the ice today? Do you think they needed Josefson and Santini today? Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you for reading this, and let’s all hope for a Devils victory next game.