Although the similarities were evident, almost terrifyingly so, the gameplay was not the same as the prior Ottawa game.
Turris and Karlsson scored again for the Devils, and the only Senators penalty was another delay of game. Ottawa was up 1-0 entering the third again, and played a solid defensive game yet again. Ottawa won. However, that’s where the similarities end.
Personally, I thought the Devils played pretty well. They got 30 shots on net, but attempted to take a lot more shots. They only allowed 23 shots on goal, though that may be due to the Senators choosing to hold back. This game had more energy than the last Senators game though, and the Devils only had one really bad breakdown which led to a goal, while Karlsson scored because he’s Erik Karlsson. According to Corsi stats, every Devils player was positive except Zacha and Parenteau. Unlike the other Senators game, multiple Devils showed up and played well, but the Senators defense and Craig Anderson was incredible. The first period was scoreless, but more on the Senators side. Unlike the first Senators game, the Devils actually played with energy. Joseph Blandisi and Miles Wood were everywhere, throwing the body around and continuing to shoot.
The second featured an Ottawa goal one minute into the game, which again coincides with my statement that the Devils don’t start periods well. Kyle Turris scored off some sick passing by the Senators. Riley Dzingel and Jean-Gabriel Pageau made the assists that led to the goal, and it was a 1-0 lead. Blandisi had a chance to tie the game, but shanked the shot. Sadly, Pavel Zacha got injured in this period as well. He did not come back to the game. To end the period, Cammalleri had a glorious chance in front, but sadly could not put the puck in to end his extended drought. Overall, the Devils could’ve gotten more chances in the second period, but it was an improvement.
The third was all Devils... except for the fact that the Devils took a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty. Those penalties are the kind that the Devils can’t afford to take, and Erik Karlsson made the Devils pay. His shot was perfect, right over Schneider and in, and it was 2-0. The Devils continued applying pressure, and got lucky when Tommy Wingels lifted a puck over the glass. Zajac got robbed on his first chance in the powerplay, but was able to stuff one in off a Joseph Blandisi pass later in the power play. After this, the Devils put shot after shot, but the Senators defense would not be penetrated, and the score ended 2-1.
This game didn’t disappoint me -- the Devils actually played well. However, in the NHL, the better team doesn’t always win. In this game, the Devils were the better team for the majority of it.
Sadly for some fans, this might signal that the season is over. With this loss, the Devils may find it too difficult to catch up to the other NHL teams, and start selling now. But, we’ll see soon.
The NHL Game Stats: The NHL Game Summary | The NHL Event Summary | The NHL Play-By-Play | The NHL Shot Summary | The Natural Stat Trick | HockeyStats.Ca
Who Played Well? Many Devils played well today, which is an unusual thing. Miles Wood used his speed to cause mayhem in the Senators zone, with one particular instant where he caused Dion Phaneuf to fall down trying to chase him. Joseph Blandisi and Jacob Josefson were everywhere, which surprises me a bit. Stefan Noesen was a +14 on the night, which was the highest for the Devils. He’s been quiet of late, and it’s unknown what role he’ll play for the Devils in the future. Severson put up four shots, and Merrill put up three shots, with Severson the highest rated player according to Corsi.
It’s not usual for Devils players to have positive corsi ratings, so it’s a shame that they lost. This may be skewed due to the fact that the Senators completely held back after the first goal, and also the fact that the Senators lost a ton of star forwards to injury. In the end, the Devils couldn’t overcome the defense, but it is what it is.
Blocks Galore: The Senators blocked 22 Devils shots tonight, which is a major reason why the Devils were unable to score. With a two-on-one featuring Palmieri, Dion Phaneuf stuck his stick out and prevented an invaluable Devils scoring chance. Shots from the points rarely made it to Anderson, with players like Borowiecki, Phaneuf and Karlsson consistently throwing their bodies in the way. Accuracy was also an issue for the Devils, with Taylor Hall missing four shots, and only getting one on target.
Who Burned Us?: Last game, I highlighted Dzingel, Stone and Hoffman. Today, Stone and Hoffman didn’t play at all, which required other Senators to step up. While not as strong as the previous game, Dzingel and Pageau teamed up well, and caused the Devils trouble before the Senators resigned to all-out defense. Their passing and speed helped lead directly to Turris’ goal, his 20th of the year.
On defense, Erik Karlsson is a star, and showed it tonight. His goal was an incredible shot, and he had himself a solid defensive night as well. Mark Borowiecki played a physical game today. He fought Wood, and delivered seven hits on the Devils tonight. The long-time Senator can be counted on to provide no offensive value, whilst providing steady defense and 100+ penalty minutes a season. He outmuscled the Devils tonight, and his name was called quite a few times.
So What Now?: Does this loss mean it’s time to sell? If so, it looks like goodbye to Kyle Quincey and PA Parenteau. The value of those two is unknown, considering the meager return for Michael Stone, who provides more value than either of the two. NJ.com recently wrote an article talking about how Kyle Quincey could be a match fit for the Penguins, which makes sense considering that the Penguins love obtaining depth defenseman. PA Parenteau could go to any contender and act as a depth piece.
Regardless, Michael Stone going for only a third round pick surprises me. While a UFA in the midst of a bad season, he’s still only 26 and a year removed from a 36 point season. Quincey and Parenteau are rated less in my eyes, so we’ll see what they could be valued at.
Smith-Pelly Role: Smith-Pelly has developed into a player with a role for this Devils team, after being scratched for a long string of games. Now, he’s developed into a reliable defensive player, and a solid fourth liner. He had four hits this game, and set up Wood with passes throughout the game. While he likely will serve no role for the Devils beyond this year, he’s good to keep as he acts as a body the Devils can expose for the Expansion Draft.
Schneider: I’ve said this many times, but it’s good to see Schneider back. Kinkaid had himself an unusually bad night on Sunday, considering his solid performance on the season. Schneider now finds himself 19-18-8, with a .914 save percentage. On paper, this looks below-average, but he’s been incredible if you account his horrendous early-season play. He’s had an amazing .936 save percentage in February, with it being an even better .940 in the last five games. However, at the age of 30, the Devils have to decide whether or not they are going to waste Schneider’s best years.
So... What now? What would you guys like to see the Devils do for the rest of the season? Should we still try to shoot for the playoffs, or give the kids like John Quenneville and Blake Coleman a chance to shine. Do you see us trading Parenteau and Quincey, and what makeup would you like to see the team build for the remainder of the season?
Next game is against Our Most Hated Rivals on Saturday, a game which every Devils fan should hope to see a victory in. So until then, take care, and have a good night.