How can you recap a game that wasn’t available locally to watch? How can you recap a game while you were elsewhere? Only in preseason could these questions come up. Only in preseason must I answer them. After all, I cannot pretend to ignore that a game occurred. Just because no one saw a tree falling doesn’t mean a tree didn’t fall in a forest.
I especially cannot pretend to ignore a 3-2 win by the New Jersey Devils over the Montreal Canadiens. Nobody should pretend that Adam Henrique’s two goals and Michael McLeod’s third period trickler didn’t lead the team to victory. Nobody should pretend that Taylor Hall did not celebrate Henrique’s goal. Especially since that is something that Devils fans all over the world want to see a lot of for the next few years. Nobody should pretend that Scott Wedgewood and MacKenzie Blackwood didn’t have to be excellent given that they faced a combined 41 shots on net. I think you see my point.
I will definitely defer to those who have witnessed the Devils’ victory in Montreal. I will try to focus on the basic facts and come to some guesses based on them. This is preseason, so it is more important that the performance was good as opposed to the result. Given that the Devils were out-shot 27-41 and out-attempted 58-71, I’m going to guess the performance was not that good. It certainly did not go as well as the other Devils’ squad that played tonight, a decisive 2-0 win over Philadelphia. Still, let’s jump into it.
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 Natural Stat Trick Game Stats
The Opposition Opinion: Habs Eyes on the Prize is the place you’ll want to visit for more complete coverage of this game. Namely because the game was at least on RDS up there. That’s much better than the no TV or online or radio coverage the game received in New Jersey. Alas, it’s preseason.
Scott Matla has a short summary of bullet points of each of the game’s first three periods. From them, here’s a key conclusion I came to. Montreal’s top line was Artturi Lehkonen, Alex Galchenyuk, and Brendan Gallagher. Those three stormed the Devils a lot. Lehkonen alone had nine shots on net out of eleven attempts. Gallagher had five shots on net and another three blocked. Galchenyuk won a majority of his draws as well as putting up four shots on net out of seven attempts. That’s eighteen out of forty one shots on net - all from one line! The Devils didn’t likely win that matchup.
Special Teams Win: What the Devils did win was the power play. Henrique’s two goals were both power play markers. One in the first period to tie up the game, another in the second to make it 2-1. Yohann Auvitu were involved in both goals as the secondary assister, with Vojtech Mozik and Nathan Bastien picking up the primaries. The Devils’ official Twitter account has a .GIF of the first goal (strangely, not the second).
GOAL! Henrique buries a PPG on a rebound! Credit Mozik and Auvitu with the helpers. #NJDvsMTL pic.twitter.com/Kh9aY2hJHX— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) September 27, 2016
In total, the Devils went 2-for-5 on the power play while they killed all five of Montreal’s power plays. That’s a differential anyone can be pleased with. Plus, Montreal only put up four shots on net on said power plays, so the Devils’ PK was able to give the goalies a respite from the deluge of rubber they saw this evening. Clearly, special teams played a big role in tonight’s result.
The Insurance Goal That Held Up as the GWG: McLeod made his mark with his first NHL preseason goal. He jammed in a pass by Joseph Blandisi that snuck through Charlie Lindgren. the Devils’ Twitter account does have this goal in a .GIF:
GOAL! @MikeyMcLeod9 gives the #NJDevils a 3-1 lead! MacWilliam and @_themagicbullet pick up the helpers. #NJDvsMTL pic.twitter.com/A7YdTNbTqI— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) September 27, 2016
It appears to be the sort of stereotypical, “blue collar,” “lunchpail,” “garbage” goal. McLeod went to the front of the net, had a go at the puck when it came by, and he - and the Devils - was rewarded. While the point won’t mean much in a few weeks, congratulations all the same to McLeod for scoring a goal on Montreal’s rink. Thanks to Zach Redmond scoring late in the game, this goal would stand up as the winning marker. So congratulations to McLeod for his first game winner in a Devils uniform.
A Take from a Devils Fan Who Saw This: In the comments of the Gamethread for this and the Flyers’ game, reader Carterdogg had this to say about the Montreal game:
Great game vs Montreal
First off the best thing about the whole game was watching Vernon Fiddler win 3 straight face offs clean to end the game! Now for my take on the game.
Hall Rico and whomever they decide to make the RW. They found chemistry again after a couple years layoff.
All the forwards I felt played pretty well we had pressure all night and flew thru the neutral with ease. All the young guys stepped it up Q, Speers, McCleod and Bastian had nice games. I’d like to say Blandisi was doing well until he takes his usual cheap shot and slew foots a guy as we enter the offensive zone. Just can’t like a guy who does dumb things like that.
Vernon Fiddler can’t say enough about his work ethic and face off ability. I can see why he got the opportunity to wear the "A" tonight. Young guys should follow his lead.
On D I felt Mozik, Steak Au Poivre and Santini were outstanding. Mozik is an absolute monster and he knocks everyone off the puck and finishes checks. Even before I realized who Steak Au Poivre was I was like wow this #33 kid is good who is he. He’s very good moving the puck offensively. Santini game at times though he didn’t look to have tremendous foot speed. I’ll be keeping an eye on that moving forward.
I’m hoping Hynes isn’t committed to Moore and Merrill cause I felt the other 3 above mentioned were a lot better. Overall great game fun to watch even though I didn’t understand a lick of it lol!
Lets bring it again on Wednesday night
Steak Au Poivre must be a nickname for Yohann Auvitu. With two assists and 20:17 of ice time while playing all situations, I wonder if he helped his stock with this performance. That would be important seeing his direct competition was in this game and maybe even next to him on defense. All the same, I’m pleased to read most of what Carterdogg wrote about the younger players. I’m a little surprised Wedgewood or Blackwood didn’t get mentioned for as many shots as they faced, but it is what it is. I’m a little disappointed that Blandisi had his “antics.” The pass that McLeod put home shows that he’s got skill; he doesn’t need to do the dirty stuff.
Speaking of dirty stuff, as an aside, what did Devante Smith-Pelly do to get a misconduct near the end of the game?
Your Additional Takes: I do apologize for a more lacking recap. I was at the Philly game and even if I wasn’t, I don’t the channel that was broadcasting this game (RDS). Again, I defer to those who did get to see the game somehow. I would keep checking Habs Eyes on the Prize if there’s any further information and/or opinions about the game. I would also highlight any comments from those that did see the game. Hopefully we’ll get past this in preseason and get back to normalcy in the future. Thanks to everyone who commented in the Gamethread for this one, especially Carterdogg. Thank you for reading.