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Devils out-muscled by Kings, lose 4-2 in Los Angeles

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The Devils lost 4-2 to the Kings. The first half was bad, but a positive that could be taken was that the Devils played better in the second half of the game.

Boston Bruins v New Jersey Devils
Blake Pietila, the season debut for the Devils this year.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Before the start of the game, the Kings celebrated the induction of Rogie Vachon into the Hall of Fame.

At the end of the game, the Kings celebrated a 4-2 win which, honestly speaking, wasn’t even a question.

From the beginning of the game, it was evident that the Kings were looking to put pressure on the Devils players holding the puck, whereas the Devils were looking to apply pressure on the puck only. This allowed the Kings players to disrupt the Devils rhythm when the Devils were on offense, leading to a lot of broken passes.

Meanwhile, on the Kings side, they were able to easily enter the zone, and penetrate through the defense. If not for Schneider’s heroics, the score would be a lot higher than it ended as.

In the first period, the Kings clearly dominated play, leaving the Devils with only 4(!) shots on goal. However, it was the Devils who scored first. Boucher and Smith-Pelly applied pressure on the Kings’ defenders, with Boucher delivering a massive hit which eliminated a Kings defender from the play. This allowed John Moore to deliver a wrist-shot through a screen and right past Peter Budaj.

Regardless of this lead, I still felt as if the Kings would win the game. Other than that one sequence of plays, the Kings dominated all of the 1st period. They out-hit, out-shot, and out-defended the Devils. Basically, the out-played the Devils in almost every aspect of the game.

In the first half of the second, it was the same story but with different results. The Kings held the Devils in their zone for a minute’s worth of play in the early second, and Alec Martinez capitalized on the Devils sloppiness with a beautiful shot which got by Schneider. The Kings then continued to dominate until halfway through the second. That was when the Devils shifted to the Kings mentality, and started hitting the Kings players more often. This, however, caused the Devils to be more aggressive also. Due to this, near the end of the second period, Severson looked a bit too jumpy, and ended up giving the puck straight to Tanner Pearson in the slot. Pearson’s shot, which Schneider initially saved, ended up popping up behind Schneider and into the net.

In the third period, it was more competitive. However, in the beginning of the period, Andy Greene ill-advisedly tried to pinch the board in order to keep the Devils’ pressure alive. Unfortunately, it got by him and ended up as a 2-on-1 for the Kings. Jeff Carter’s shot was initially saved by Schneider, but Carter was able to get his own rebound and stuff it into the net for a 3-1 lead.

With the empty net, Lappin’s determination led to his goal, but it was pretty much over by then anyway. The Devils were unable to penetrate the Kings’ zone without struggle, and Muzzin was able to deposit a goal into the empty net, leaving the game at 4-2.

Honestly speaking, I was initially annoyed by the Devils effort in the game. They weren’t attempting to physically intimidate the Kings players (who to be fair are a lot bigger), and the Kings players recognized that. This physicality, which was also seen in the Ducks game, caused the Devils to rush passes, and really showed the weaknesses of the Devils without Hall or Auvitu.

Lappin’s here to stay?: Nick Lappin was one of the best players on a Devils team which overall didn’t perform well. While he was a -2 on the night, he would always play with a sense of physicality and desperation, and he also was able to spring offensive plays such as a breakaway pass to Henrique. His goal in the third was the epitome of scrappy. His solid play, and dimension he offers which no other player seems to have, should warrant him more playing time, and a permanent role on the Devils roster.

On the other hand...: Fiddler hasn’t impressed me at all. He was brought in to try to add a scoring touch to a Devils’ forth line that was unable to generate offense last year, and to win faceoffs. So far, all he’s done is win faceoffs. On the year, he has 1 assist, and his ice time is slowly dwindling. He had the least amount of ice-time today, and it’ll be interesting to see if that trend continues, or if he just gets scratched.

The unstoppable defensive pairing?: Today, Andy Greene and Damon Severson had bad defensive games, and it could be argued that the two of them directly led to two goals for the Kings. They weren’t as dominant as they usually are, and all we can do is hope this is just a little blip in an otherwise incredible season for the two.

The Game Stats: NHL’s Gamecenter | Natural Stat Trick | hockeystats.ca

The Opposition Opinion: It’s not up yet, but here’s their site

So what did you guys think of the game? Let me know in the comments below who you thought was the best player, and what the Devils could do to improve.

Take care, and have a good one.