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History Repeats Itself: Part III

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The Devils fall yet again to the Maple Leafs,

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at New Jersey Devils
Keith Kinkaid tried his best to carry this Devils team to a surprise victory, but fell just short.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Oh boy, it’s deja vu all over again.

For the third time this season, the Maple Leafs faced the Devils. For the third time this season, the Maple Leafs beat the Devils.

The first period started off well for the Devils. Brett Seney was quickly able to get a breakaway, and unfortunately shot it wide past Hutchinson. Even more unfortunately for the Devils, Brett Seney recorded a penalty straight away. After the Devils killed that penalty, Ben Lovejoy and John Tavares took coinciding minor penalties. With it being 4 on 4, the Maple Leafs took advantage of that extra space. Ron Hainsey was able to take a shot at the point, and slapped a great shot past Kinkaid for the first goal. From then on out, the Devils were thoroughly outplayed by the Maple Leafs. While the Devils did have chances, they also were prone to giving away the puck, allowing for even more Maple Leafs chances. John Tavares then scored his first of the game, as a puck that got past Kinkaid was stuffed home by Tavares. Things were around the same for the Devils after that, with players such as Pavel Zacha and Miles Wood having chances to score, but not being able to put it home. Then, in the dying seconds of the first, John Tavares was able to capitalize on yet another broken Devils’ play, in which he was left all alone with an empty net, and recorded his 29th of the season and giving the Maple Leafs a 3-0 lead.

In the second period, the Devils were out to play. They pressured the Leafs, and while they didn’t completely dominate them, they matched the Leafs chance for chance. Players such as Miles Wood attempted to lead play, using his speed to the Devils advantage. Finally, Blake Coleman was able to tally a goal on a rebounded shot from Andy Greene. Then, 26 seconds later, Brian Boyle was able to somehow shoot the puck past the otherwise solid Michael Hutchinson, and the game was 3-2. That, however, would be all the offense mustered by the Devils. Keith Kinkaid did his best to keep the Devils in the game, but the Devils could not solve Hutchinson and the Maple Leafs D. In the 3rd period, the Maple Leafs prioritized their defense, and there weren’t as many great chances available for the Devils as there were in the previous periods.

Take this game how you will. The Devils certainly did not play terribly, albeit they did play sloppily for periods of time. Players such as Miles Wood may be starting to warm up — He now has 3 assists in his last four games. In the end though, this remains the 3rd loss in a row for this Devils team.

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: Read here for a very happy Maple Leafs writer.

The Advanced Stats Show...: Only three players had a CF% of over 50%. These were Blake Coleman, Damon Severson, and Travis Zajac. I can agree with that. Blake Coleman and Travis Zajac, when on the ice together, caused extreme difficulty for the Maple Leafs, and actually caused pressure offensively. Meanwhile, Damon Severson didn’t make any egregious errors, and one of his highlights was breaking up a two-on-one for the Maple Leafs.

On the flip side, Steven Santini, Jesper Bratt and Blake Pietila were rated the worst CF% wise, with numbers barely topping 30%. At this point, it remains to be seen if Santini is anything more than a third-pairing or 7th defenseman, while Blake Pietila is merely offensive depth. It is disheartening to see Jesper Bratt play poorly. He was held in check by the Maple Leafs first-line tonight, and we can only hope he performs better in the future.

NHL Game Highlights: While the game highlights aren’t up yet, some individual highlights can be found here

Your Thoughts?: What is your opinion on the result? Were you upset with the Devils overall play? The Devils take on Flyers Saturday, so let’s hope we can get a win against them!