First Period: The opening period started off with both teams trading some shots but not threatening too much until Marcus Johansson made a spin move pass across the crease to Pavel Zacha, which was deflected wide of the goal.
Jimmy Vesey opened the scoring about six minutes in when he got a loose puck tapped to him at a tough angle. Nonetheless, he hit it off the post and in. Shortly after, Rick Nash got a breakaway, but his backhand was gloved by Kinkaid.
Miles Wood took the first penalty of the game 9:19 into the first period. He hooked Jesper Fast’s arms, and it was a pretty dumb penalty to take. The Rangers’ power play was truncated by a penalty to Brady Skjei, who tripped Blake Coleman to prevent him from getting to a loose puck near center ice. The Devils’ minute of power play was pretty bad.
Second Period: A few minutes into the second, Miles Wood got a partial breakaway and Lundqvist got bumped as he came out to challenge. Shattenkirk came after him, and Miles Wood threw punches at him. The Rangers ended up with a power play. Honestly, I have no sympathy for the punches thrown to Shattenkirk. He went after Wood looking to retaliate for his goalie’s self-inflicted bump. He got the violence he asked for.
The Devils did kill the Rangers’ power play, in part thanks to a desperate save by Keith Kinkaid. Andy Greene and Vesey got into it a bit, but no more gloves came off. After the penalty was killed, the refs gave a call to Taylor Hall for hooking Pavel Buchnevich. I'm not sure when he hooked him. Hall might have touched the edges of the fabric of the gloves. Thanks, NHL attempts at player safety.
Brian Gibbons got a great shot during the second kill on Lundqvist which trickled to the goal line, was slapped away by Mats Zuccarello, and followed by Jesper Bratt almost beating Lundqvist.
The Rangers took a 2-0 lead after four Devils could not get to the puck in the corner, and it was passed to Jesper Fast in the slot. Fast shot it past Kinkaid.
The Devils took awhile to answer, but it came in the form of a Damon Severson slap shot. It was a rocket from around the top of the circle. Blake Coleman and Stefan Noesen got the assists on the goal. The Rangers shortly after took a penalty on a delay of game by Brendan Smith.
The power play wasn't good. Aside from a shot that went off the post, a great pass from Severson to Pavel Zacha in front of Lundqvist was fanned on. Severson later gave the puck up to Mats Zuccarello, and the game was 3-1 Rangers on a goal shortly after Smith came out of the box.
Third Period: Wood and Zacha came close to putting the puck into the net, but the Rangers’ scrambling in front kept the puck out. Chris Kreider took a penalty for crosschecking. Early in the power play, Rick Nash got a one timer from Kevin Hayes on a two-on-one rush that was saved by Kinkaid’s glove.
Mats Zuccarello gave the Rangers a three goal lead several minutes into the third. Moore and Vatanen were pretty useless as he took a pass and ripped it past Kinkaid. However, it was answered by a Miles Wood goal on a great feed by Pavel Zacha.
Vatanen later gave the puck away around Kinkaid’s net, and Will Butcher was not able to recover the puck for him. Instead, it got to Kevin Hayes, who shot it into the net. Not much happened for the rest of the game.
The Opposition Opinion: Blueshirt Banter will have a recap.
Mistakes: The Devils made mistakes all over the ice tonight. This led to wide open shots for the Rangers in the slots, breakaways, odd-man rushes - and ultimately not enough help for Keith Kinkaid. Some of them were particularly egregious, and led to goals. Unfortunately for the Devils skaters, the goalie, regardless of which specific goalie is in net, can only make so many desperate saves in a game.
The game wasn't pretty. I heard on the broadcast that it looked like the Devils were having trouble controlling the puck on the ice surface. Frankly, I side more with what Jimmy Hayes said to Deb Placey during the first intermission - they didn't come out of the gates well, and needed to get better. However, that never panned out.
Trouble Finishing: On the other hand, there were several points of the game where the team had loose pucks and opportunities in front of the net and simply could not get the puck in. I can't say I'm surprised that the team didn't have much luck tonight. The forwards after the first line have not looked very good to me lately.
There might be ideas on the reason - or reasons - for that, such as trading Henrique, Palmieri’s injuries, Zacha’s disappointments, or Brian Gibbons’ inability to mimic a 40-goal scorer for an entire season - near-goal tonight aside. Some will point to Travis Zajac and blame him for just about everything.
The team just can't run and gun for an entire season. In the National Hockey League, an utter lack of ability to possess the puck will eventually kill a team. The Rangers were able to at times break down the Devils’ already poor structure - enough times to get five goals on Keith Kinkaid, and probably deserve more.
Fragmented: When I watch these Devils play, sometimes I don't think there's enough chemistry or communication. Ultimately, I think this is a failing of John Hynes’ system. The supportive part of the mantra does not always show, and tonight it led to the mess of turnovers and giveaways and missed passes that the Devils made. I think that something Hynes might need to try would be keeping a line other the the top one together for more than a period at a time.
Keith Kinkaid sums it up: "I don’t think we gave ourselves a chance at all. You look at the turnovers and the chances we gave up. And their PK outworked our power play. It was frustrating."— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) December 10, 2017
Maybe Some Coaching Would Be Nice: Speaking of the power play, the last time the Devils have scored with a man advantage was December 1 versus the Colorado Avalanche. I don’t know what Geoff Ward has been doing with the power play, but it looks more and more like the inconsistency of his reign over it will continue as it falls more towards league average after its hot start to the year. It is too predictable, as usual, and far too often the only things of note on the power play are a single good shot.
On the defensive end, Sami Vatenen has been no savior. After being dropped down to the second pairing for not going too great with Andy Greene, he was on the ice for three goals tonight. I can’t say I was a big fan of his game tonight, but I won’t blame him for not saving the team from its inability to stay structured in the defensive zone. For what it’s worth, Greene and Severson generally did not do well in the run of play their first game back together. The more time goes on without much improvement from the defensive cast despite help being given to them, the more I’m likely to look to the coaching of Nasreddine and Hynes as reason for their inability. They might not even be a league-average defense at best, but they shouldn’t be giving up so many shots every single night, and having so much trouble leaving the zone without turning the puck over. This is the third time in the past four games they’ve let up five goals.
On the Bright Side: This is the first instance of the season where the Devils have lost two games in regulation in a row. The fact that it took 29 games to get to that is pretty good. Unfortunately, playing in the Metropolitan Division can make that seem less good than it is. The Devils will get more chances to fight. Mental mistakes can be corrected, and hopefully they can build more chemistry and be able to earn more success. Losing four out of six won’t cut it, and the team might not be in first place anymore, but Ken Daneyko said something I agree with during the broadcast. It doesn’t matter that much where they are in the standings at this point of the year. As long as the team does not fall out of the race, they are always in position to make the playoffs. So the fact that this is the first time the Devils lost two in a row in regulation means that even their rough patches have been mitigated to allow them to stay with the toughest pack in the NHL. Game 30 of 82 is on Tuesday.
Your Take: What did you think of the game? Were there any standouts, or was it all bad? How do you think the coaching staff should respond to the performance? Are thee any changes you would like to see for Tuesday’s game versus the Kings?
With that, I thank the readers for following at All About the Jersey, whether it be in the gamethread or on Twitter @AAtJerseyBlog. This is Chris - goodnight.