Keith Kinkaid was the star of tonight’s game between the New Jersey Devils and the Washington Capitals. Officially, he was the first star of the game. Unofficially, he was the second, third, fourth, and fifth star of the night. Kinkaid stopped forty-three out of forty-four shots in sixty-five minutes by the Washington Capitals. Add two shootout attempts and it’s 44 out of 46. If you break it down into scoring chances (shots and missed shots) like Natural Stat Trick does, Kinkaid faced forty-eight compared to the seventeen New Jersey generated all night long. Kinkaid denied point-blank shots in the slot, one-timers to his side, mid-range and long-range shots, and even robbed Nicklas Backstrom on a wraparound like he was Dominik Hasek. Kinkaid was dominant. And the Devils took the shootout to run away from the nation’s capital with a 2-1 win.
The team basically owes Kinkaid a lot more than just a dinner and the next start. Not just because Kinkaid played so well but because he saved their bacon more times than I can remember. John Moore alone was a mess in his own end between turnovers and losing his man. Moore owes Kinkaid many steaks. Kyle Quincey’s lack of speed has been noticeable from the beginning and the Caps pounced on that all night long. Too many offensive approaches by the Devils were one-attempt-and-done situations - and many of them were long attempts from the point that didn’t get through to Braden Holtby, so there were plenty of odd-man rushes. When the Devils didn’t ice the puck or miss on a pass or lose the puck going forward, which also happened frequently. Power plays? The Devils had four of them and made the least of them; so much for at least turning the tide of the game with man advantages. The nadir for me was in the last ten minutes of regulation. It was just all Capitals, pretty much all of the time as seemingly every Devils unit just failed to force the Capitals back. The Caps were swarming it up as the Devils looked like they were pylons. The skaters looked like they were being routed even though the scoreboard said it was 1-1. 1-1! And Kinkaid was under siege and somehow, someway, found ways . Again, the skaters pretty much owe him a ton for this result.
Adam Henrique perhaps owes Kinkaid the most. He had a hand in the lone goal that beat him. During a Devils power play, Jay Beagle and Daniel Winnik charge up with Yohann Auvitu and Adam Henrique defending. Henrique had Winnik and went to the crease. Auvitu sticks to Beagle, who is forced to the right post but the Capital made a pass in front from his knees. Kinkaid is sprawled out and an open Winnik just jams it in a shorthanded goal. Winnik was open because Henrique just left him at the crease. Henrique is a veteran on this squad, he knows how to defend, and he was just careless there. I’m still livid about that play. A shorthanded equalizer. Just terrible from #14.
Numbers? I have some for you. The Devils were out-shot 44-27. The Devils were out-attempted 78-50. The Devils were out-chanced 48-17. Those same numbers for 5-on-5 situation are as follows: 28-19 in shots for the Caps, 54-34 in attempts for the Caps, and 32-11 in scoring chances for the Caps. They all point to the same thing: The Caps pretty much controlled this game. The only portions that I could call even would be the overtime period where both sides traded possessions, the shootout, and the start of the game.
Interestingly enough, the Capitals were responsible for the one goal the Devils did score in regulation. After an actually successful breakout that yielded a backhand shot by Travis Zajac, the Devils had an offensive zone faceoff. Evgeny Kuznetsov eventually gets the puck after the draw and is forced into the corner. Without looking, he just flung the puck towards the slot to nobody. The puck was slow enough for P.A. Parenteau to notice it, turn, and then charge at it in the high slot. He took one touch and unleashed a great wrist shot that beat Holtby. It was such a terrible turnover by Kuznetsov that I think the box score should give him the primary assist on it. Good for Parenteau for making the most of that error. I just wish the Devils did more to force more errors or get shots within forty feet of the goalie tonight.
In short, Kinkaid really dragged this team into tonight’s result. He made one last stop on Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin whiffed on a rebound, and a shootout came. In the shootout, Kinkaid was big as he denied T.J. Oshie and Kuznetsov. Michael Cammalleri and Jacob Josefson scored to give the Devils the win. It was ugly; and it was largely the result of Kinkaid being spectacular. It still counts all the same. Thank you, Kinkaid.
The Game Stats: The NHL.com Game Summary | The NHL.com Event Summary | The NHL.com Play by Play Log | The NHL.com Shot Summary | The NHL.com Shift Chart | The Natural Stat Trick Game Stats | The HockeyStats.ca Game Stats
The Opposition Opinion: Geoff Thompson has this quick recap at Japers’ Rink.
Yeah, I Agree: I think Kinkaid deserves the next start against Washington. Which is this Saturday. He was amazing; his performance should be rewarded with more minutes.
If, for some reason, he doesn’t, then that’s a shame. It won’t be long before we see Kinkaid again as the Devils begin 2017 with two back-to-back sets.
No, I Don’t Agree: This game was broadcast by NBC SN so a national audience got to see how bad the Devils were in the run of play against Washington. At least Kinkaid showed up on the relatively larger stage. Anyway, the Washington announcers called this game on NBC SN and I found them to be a refreshing change of pace. The broadcast also meant that Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick had their say at intermission and after the game. After the game, Roenick credited the Devils for their defending and criticized the Caps for just trying to rely on skill to take this game.
I don’t agree with that. The number of shots, attempts, and chances were so much in Washington’s favor tonight. You don’t generate over forty shots in a game without working hard or at least out-working the opposition. And many of those shots were dangerous. I couldn’t tell you who was a good defenseman tonight. Maybe Andy Greene? Damon Severson somehow ended up as the only Devil positive in attempt-differential and I can’t say he was great given his heinous turnovers helped fuel the Caps offense at times. But the other defensemen were either overwhelmed (Auvitu), constantly beaten (Quincey, Ben Lovejoy), and/or punished for bad decisions (Moore). Too many forwards were pinned back along with the defensemen. Particularly the bottom six (e.g. Sergey Kalinin and Miles Wood) were just scrambling in their own end to try and get some relief which wasn’t always possible. Nothing I saw from the Devils tonight would suggest they had good defense tonight and the several big saves by Kinkaid combined with the number of shots and attempts allowed backs that up. So, no, I don’t agree with this notion that the Caps didn’t work hard or that the Devils defended well. They didn’t.
The Capital Punishers: What was amazing from the Capitals was how spread out their offense was tonight. Fourth-liner Daniel Winnik led the forwards with six shots on net and he scored the shorthanded equalizer. Six shots from any player is excellent, it’s astounding when it’s done with only 12 minutes of ice time. He just found ways to get his stuff in regardless of the matchup. Dmitry Orlov on defense was the most active with six shots of his own. He was part of the unit that gave Henrique, Parenteau, Lovejoy, and others a hard night’s work. It’s remarkable his shots did not lead to anything.
While those two aren’t the “name” players on Washington, the “name” players showed up too. Alex Ovechkin had four shots out of seven attempts, including a rebound attempt on a power play that Kinkaid denied him in a stand-up stance. Backstrom had five shots on net, including a wraparound that he probably scores on nine times out of ten, but Kinkaid just threw his arm out on his back to rob him. Backstrom also repeatedly pushed the play into New Jersey’s end. Kuznetsov’s turnover was costly, but he was also a creator on offense and nearly won the game outright at the end of overtime. T.J. Oshie had four shots on net, one of their most dangerous power play shots, and was effective in overtime. The only Caps that weren’t really factors tonight were Marcus Johansson and Lars Eller - and the latter drew a hold from Beau Bennett off an odd man rush. Even so, many Capitals had good games. It just so happened that Kinkaid was amazing tonight.
The Devils Attack: So much from distance. Clearly, the Devils will need better, more offensive defensemen since it’s been clear that the gameplan is to have the pointman just fire away. It would have been a lot better if they did not fire so many pucks into Capitals players. Auvitu, who replaced Jon Merrill, and Greene were the most successful at it. The rest, less so. But too many of these attacks just one attempt and nothing more. There needed to be closer and more pressure. It’s something the Devils will need to really work for on Saturday when they play the Caps again. At least Parenteau’s shot was really good.
The lowest point was the power play. The Devils had four power plays and just did very little with them. In 7:45 of power play time, the Devils had four shots on net, conceded four shots on net, and gave up one goal. Many of the Devils’ zone entries just led to easy clears for the Caps and attempts from distance often ended up blocked, giving the Caps a shorthanded chance. It was just heinous how the Devils just squandered these chances to attack. In contrast, the Capitals’ four power plays yielded eight shots on net and - get this - no shorthanded opportunities. The power play could have provided Kinkaid some great breathing room. It could have pushed the Caps back a bit. Instead, it was wasted time at best and a goal against at its worst.
The Luke Gazdic Experience: Eight shifts, 5:59 of ice time, and did nothing of notice. Why in the world was Pavel Zacha scratched for this guy?
The Return of Jacob Josefson: Jacob Josefson was a healthy scratch for quite a while, played, received a concussion, and then returned to action tonight. How was he? Rusty, I suppose, is the best word for it. He wasn’t very good on the puck on power play and he didn’t really do much of consequence at even strength. He did score in the shootout, which sealed the win for the Devils tonight. Therefore, welcome back, Josefson.
One Last Thought: The Devils’ dads traveled to this game as part of the team’s now annual Dads Trip. The dads got to see a win, and I’m sure Mr. Kinkaid is super-proud of his son, who was brilliant tonight.
Your Take: Keith Kinkaid was sensational and the Devils ran from D.C. with two points. What did you think of the performance? Was anyone on the Devils good other than Kinkaid? What do you think the Devils need to adjust before their rematch in Newark on Saturday? Who on the Caps concerned you the most? How did you react when Josefson scored? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this win in the comments.
Thanks to everyone who commented in the Gamethread and/or followed the site’s account on Twitter (@AAtJerseyBlog). Thank you for reading.