Today, it almost seemed is if Saturday’s game had never ended in a 3-2 Devils win.
Because the Islanders continued their pressure they held in the late third of that game since the very beginning.
Yes, the Devils scored first. However, that was because the Islanders decided to take a break in-between their sustained pressure by allowing a Miles Wood power play goal.
But still, a 6-4 loss? Keith Kinkaid had a game where he made a save-of-the week, maybe even month contender, but also gave up some very very terrible goals.
The defense was invisible (Where were you Damon Severson? What are you John Moore?), and Keith Kinkaid had holes in him tonight. Rather than give a game summary like I usually do to start off a recap, I’ll just annotate what went wrong each period.
Oh, last statement. If I’m honest, I’m not surprised the Devils lost tonight. After all, there were 7 men in Islanders colors (Black and white) on the ice at all times. The refereeing truly was dreadful.
Period One: Having just barely held off the Islanders last night, the Devils should have known that the Islanders would try to apply pressure from the start. Yes, Wood scored. It was a beautiful play by Hall. But what came before and after that? Islanders pressure, pressure, and more pressure. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised at all when Ryan Strome scored. What was frusturating, however was the goal itself. Pavel Zacha made a nice block, and what did the two Devils defenseman do? Not play defense at all! Yes, you can say that the puck got tangled in Severson’s skates, but I still expect him to make more of an effort in clearing the puck, rather than mindlessly waving his stick. At that doesn’t excuse John Moore’s play. He completely let Strome walk into the middle of the ice, and deposit the puck over Kinkaid’s shoulder and in. This was one of the only goals where you couldn’t fault Kinkaid — He was screened and had a right to expect better defense from his team.
Period Two: What went wrong on this period, you may ask? In short, many things. A good place to start would be goaltending. The Casey Cizikas goal was particularly annoying. Those who play the FIFA and NHL franchises will know what I’m talking about. Kinkaid looked like when a player is manually controlling the goalie, and either leaves for a moment, or drops his controller. The goalie then stays still, and the shooter only needs to put the puck on goal to score. I thought Merrill played Cizikas well — If Kinkaid actually had put his pads down, like was expected, the puck would have safely been sent to him to easily save. However, because he was doing who-knows what, the puck goes in on what was a contender for saddest goal of the week.
Next, Strome’s second goal. This was the first of many similar looking Islanders goals in this game. This was Jacob Josefson’s fault primarily, which is a shame. He swept the puck towards Strome, which sprung him loose on the right side. Again, John Moore is standing in the middle of nowhere. On this play, he seemed very indecisive on whether to spring forward an attack or stay behind and play defense. In fact, he shifted over from his side of the rink, which forced Santini to position himself where Moore was supposed to be, and Strome shot it through Kinkaid’s five-hole. If it weren’t for the fact that Kinkaid would allow more of these type of goals later in the game, I wouldn’t be upset about this. Because he allowed three similar looking goals, it was evident his positioning was off today.
Ladd’s shorthanded goal came because for some reason, Blandisi was manning the point. As was probably to be expected, he lost the puck and sprung Ladd forward. Without knowing how the Devils like to handle these type of plays, it would seem like Severson is to blame as well. However, Hynes’s mentality is that if there is ANY chance for a potential 2-on-1, the defenseman should man the other forward and allow for the puck-possessing shooter to try to score on the goalie. Yes, Gionta wasn’t really near the player, but I would rather blame the system than Severson for this goal. Again, Kinkaid’s positioning killed him, as Ladd roofed it over Kinkaid to give the Devils a 4-1 deficit.
To be fair, the Devils did respond. As bad as Kinkaid was, I think it can be safe to say that Berube was just as bad, or worse for the Islanders. Palmieri was able to retrieve the puck and snipe a shot by Berube’s shoulder. The goal entertained me, because Leddy blindly swung his stick at the puck, before watching Palmieri get it and shoot it by Berube.
The Devils then got somewhat lucky with their third goal. Santini blasted a shot which deflected off of Blandisi and then popped up. It was then very entertaining to watch the panic in Berube, as he realized in what seemed like slow-motion that the puck was going to enter the net. It helped my mood that the puck went in as well, but alas my mood would soon be ruined because...
Period Three: Okay what the hell. After scoring two goals to bring the game back to 4-3, you would expect the Devils to play desperately and get back into this game. Instead, because of an idiotic refereeing decision in handing Andy Greene a roughing penalty because he tried to get Tavares out of his goalie’s crease, the Devils defense proceeds to get exposed by some slick-passing by the Islanders. Could Kinkaid have made that save? I don’t know. Watching it at first, I found myself very annoyed with Kinkaid. He was forced to adjust position multiple times, however, so I’ll just call it a very beautiful goal by the Islanders.
But this definitely doesn’t excuse the Jason Chimera goal. First of all, Merrill made a bad decision in shooting the puck right at Chimera. Chimera then skated into the Devils zone. What was irritating was that Chimera wasn’t even close to the net when he shot the puck. He shot it from behind the faceoff circle, which means he recognized the weakness in Kinkaid’s positioning. The puck easily got by Kinkaid, and the Devils then found themselves down 6-3.
Taylor Hall scored a goal by the way. Terrible goaltending on Berube’s shot in letting it in. As a Devils fan, it was a feel-good goal, but that was it. For a team down in the third, the Devils really aren’t good at applying pressure. In fact, with the net empty, the Devils spent a lot of the time defending against the Islanders. The last minute was spent with Greene denying Ryan Strome from scoring his hat-trick, so there’s a small win I guess.....
The Game Stats: The NHL Game Summary | The NHL Event Summary | The NHL Play-by-Play Summary | The NHL Shot Summary | The Natural Stat Trick Stats | The Hockeystats.ca Game Stats
Unfortunate Circumstances?: It’s somewhat ironic and cruel how the two players whose mistakes directly led to goals — Jon Merrill and Jacob Josefson — actually were some of the best performers for the Devils (compared to others). Both of them were given a -4 in terms of Corsi, which was actually better than anyone else not named the Hall line or Steven Santini. I still felt as if Josefson worked incredibly hard to make things happen, and his mistake was unfortunately one of the highlights of this. However, because I didn’t mention his incredible play in my summary, I’ll talk about it here. After the Taylor Hall penalty was killed, Josefson made an incredible diving pass which sprung Hall forward on a breakaway. Hall’s shot was right at Berube’s glove, unfortunately, and Josefson was left with nothing to show for that incredible play. Jon Merrill was the highlight of two goals -- one his fault, one not. The Cizikas goal I refuse to fault Merrill for, and the Chimera goal I can only fault Merrill for. Even with the goals, Merrill found himself as an even-rated player, which shows he did contribute at least somewhat positively. He had two blocked shots, and I still think Merrill has a future yet.
Invisible Players: Will the real Beau Bennett please stand up? His possession game was highlighted prior to his injury, but he’s been really quiet since being separated from Josefson and Zacha. He had no shots on goal, and at this point I have no idea what to think of him as a player anymore.
PA Parenteau can be missing for entire games at times, and this game was no exception. The only time I remember seeing him this game in any meaningful way was when he got crushed by an Islanders defenseman in open ice. He was a -3 on the night, had one shot on goal, and was a horrendous -9 in terms of corsi.
At first, I was going to highlight Devante Smith-Pelly on his own for doing absolutely nothing in his second game back in the lineup. He was a -18 in terms of Corsi, and provided absolutely nothing for the Devils offensively. However, it seemed he had himself a deceptively strong defensive game. As a forward, he threw two hits, and blocked an incredible five shots, most of any player on the ice today. He was a better defender than John Moore! Jokes aside, Devante probably doesn’t provide any offensive value for the Devils at this point, but he seemed to be a solid 4th-line player tonight, so good on him.
Positives: Surprisingly enough, it turns out according to corsi that one line actually dominated the Islanders tonight. Hall-Zajac-Palmieri were a solid +12, +12, +11 respectably, and provided most of the offense for the Devils. Hall and Palmieri scored goals for the Devils, and Hall had three points on the night. Hell, Zajac won 22 faceoffs, only losing 7. He absolutely destroyed the Islanders in faceoffs tonight. If only faceoffs could improve game scores, but so be it.
The kiddies played well tonight. Wood and Blandisi, the two players not afraid to get in the opponents face, both scored goals from the front of the net. They were both physical, and not afraid to draw the ire of Islanders players. Steven Santini played a solid defensive game, and was the highest ratest Devils defenseman in terms of Corsi. Please, Hynes, bench Moore when Quincey comes back, and not Santini like I expect you to. The Devils signed Moore to be a 7th defenseman, so please use him as a 7th defenseman.
Also, this game wasn’t as bad as Ottawa! And we at least have a partial scapegoat in the referees! Hooray forced optimism!
Last Thoughts: Oh yeah, this game sucked in that it also didn’t help determine if the Devils should be sellers or not. They split the weekend series, which only leads to more confusion as to the Devils status. Based on this game, I don’t think the Devils have what it takes to take on the top-guns in the NHL. They couldn’t even handle the Islanders. So, criticize me if you want, but I say sell.
Your Thoughts: You can use the comments to let out your frustration as well. Writing this helped me. Who do you think performed well? Who do you think performed absolutely dreadfully (Other than Kinkaid - or criticize Kinkaid if you want, but I view it as kind of stating the obvious). Do you think the Devils should sell? Let me know in the comments below, and have a good night.