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Hynes Keeps Nonfunctional Lines Intact, Devils Shutout by Bruins 3-0

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In a game in which a Devils line got zero shots together at even strength, the team should look forward to being booed at home for the next six games if they don’t turn it around.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Boston Bruins
Whelp.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

First Period: The Devils did well at keeping possession in the offensive zone during the early stages of the first period, and the Bruins were having trouble penetrating their neutral zone defense. However, on one of the first shots the Bruins got in the game from Brad Marchand at the blueline, the puck was redirected past Cory Schneider. 1-0 Bruins, with David Pastrnak getting the assist.

The Bruins got some good chances following the goal, as Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci had a two-on-one that included a rebound opportunity about a minute after the goal. Schneider stood strong for both shots.

With about 12 and a half minutes left in the period, the Devils started getting more chances. After the puck came out to Miles Wood in the defensive zone, Wood used his speed to outskate the two defensemen on the ice and get a shot from the right faceoff circle. Travis Zajac followed up with an attempt of his own that created some uneasiness that resulted in the Bruins icing the puck. On the following shift, Pavel Zacha set Wayne Simmonds up for what seemed to be a perfect shot opportunity in the slot, but Rask made the stop.

After the halfway point of the first period, the Devils first line started to have some trouble working the puck away from David Pastrnak’s line. The threat ended with a Torey Krug blast that was blocked away, which was followed by a stretch pass to Taylor Hall, which he used to take a long-range wrist shot before getting off.

On the following shift, the Bruins made it 2-0 off an offensive zone draw. Joakim Nordstrom was wide open as Mirco Mueller left his position and Connor Carrick could not stop a cross-low slot pass, which Nordstrom chipped right over Cory Schneider.

With about five minutes left in the period, right after Miles Wood nearly scored with a wrist shot, the Bruins took a hooking penalty. Sean Kuraly went to the box.

Off the draw, after the Devils’ first attempt went wide, the Bruins successfully left the zone with the puck. Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron took multiple shots shorthanded, but Schneider froze the puck.

Past halfway in the power play, the Devils were having trouble getting into the offensive zone but the second unit got sustained zone time for the last 40 seconds. Nikita Gusev made a great move to the middle that drew Rask out of net, but his shot was stopped by Rask’s skate. Subban’s blast at the end of the power play was blocked high, which resulted in a breakaway that Schneider stopped right after the penalty expired.

The Devils took an interference minor at the end of the first period as Mirco Mueller hit a Bruins forward after he had sent the puck around the boards in the offensive zone. Blake Coleman and Travis Zajac had a chance to make something happen shorthanded, but the pass from Coleman to Zajac on the odd-man rush was stopped by Torey Krug, who closed the gap on Coleman to not give him any room to pass. Because that’s how you defend in your own end of the ice.

After one period, the Devils were being outshot 15-10.

Second Period: On the carryover power play time, the Bruins took advantage of the Andy Greene-less Devils and fired away on Schneider for about a minute (and knocked away his goalie stick) before the Devils got a clear. Pavel Zacha killed the last 15 or so seconds by skating all the way up the ice with the puck past his more tired counterparts on the Bruins power play.

Minutues later, P.K. Subban made a very bad decision to not take the puck behind the net and instead let it roll around to Travis Zajac, who was under more pressure and could not successfully breakout to Blake Coleman. After the Bruins maintained their zone possession for a whole extra shift than they should have, there was a few bodies around Schneider’s net, and the referee’s called a penalty on Connor Carrick for tripping. It was a dubious call, as Carrick went for a hip check.

This kill was far more effective, as the Devils got multiple clears in the first minute. The Bruins did not get much zone time at all in the second minute, and did not get a shot on goal for the entirety of the power play. However, right after the Bruins power play, Will Butcher had to block a shot for Cory Schneider, who was down in desperation as the Devils broke down defensively at even strength.

Jack Hughes very nearly scored his first goal about nine minutes into the period, as Brandon Carlo was poke checked from behind by a diving Taylor Hall. Hughes was hooked, and hit a post on a backhanded shot. The Devils thus went to the power play.

The second wave of the power play struggled against the top Bruins kill wave. Marchand and Bergeron killed about 50 seconds mostly possessing the puck, and spending some of the time in their offensive zone. Hynes should probably know better than to have the second wave go against Bergeron, but he doesn’t. With the first wave, Kyle Palmieri got a great opportunity with space from his preferred spot, but his shot didn’t go. A shot from Taylor Hall at the very end was kicked out by Tuukka Rask.

After the power play, Miles Wood got another great chance to score as he was wide open to skate at the net and got two shots on Rask that were both denied. Pavel Zacha’s skate broke later in the sequence, and he was amazingly able to pass the puck across the zone just before he could no longer hold his balance, before hopping off the ice on mostly one skate.

With the sustained zone time, Taylor Hall got a shot on his off-wing that was just stopped by Rask. On the following faceoff, David Pastrnak took a minor penalty for faceoff violation, which I frankly thought the NHL referees had given up on enforcing. But as it goes, they must call things tightly in the first weeks before selecting which rules apply in the later season.

For some absolutely inane reason, MSG did not air the first half of the power play, and ran an ad that was far too long for the break, so I didn’t see any of the first minute. Coverage returned mid-play, and the Devils second wave gained the offensive zone, but could not get an attempt off.

With under three minutes remaining, the Zajac line was creating sustained zone time with no attempts until a pass came out of the zone, and Damon Severson recovered the puck and promptly sent it into the bench, causing a defensive zone faceoff.

The Devils won the draw and cleared the puck, but the Bruins pushed them back twice before creating sustained zone time that was ended by Nikita Gusev stripping the puck away. Kyle Palmieri was called for tripping as he took out the skate of Charlie McAvoy as the Devils were attempting to gain the zone.

Patrice Bergeron scored on a rebound to make it 3-0 as the Devils could not clear the puck. Torey Krug stopped the clear, sent it to Brad Marchand, who shot it low on Schneider. The rebound came right to Bergeron, who had a mostly empty net to shoot at.

In the second period, the Devils outshot the Bruins 16 to nine, to bring the game count to 26-24, Devils. Progressing without results.

Third Period: The third period got off to a very slow start, as the Bruins were not playing very aggressively and the Devils were having problems stringing together passes. Slightly past four minutes into the period, the Devils got their first shot on goal of the period, as Blake Coleman was closing in on Rask from a sharp angle after getting a pass from Miles Wood.

Jesper Bratt put on a skating display gaining the zone past five minutes into the period, turning his body to fake a pass before going around the net to get Sami Vatanen a one-timer. Had the Devils jumped on the following loose puck, they would have been looking like they were threatening to score.

A penalty was called on the Bruins, with the delay allowing the Devils some six-on-five time before Zdeno Chara was sent off with eight minutes and 45 seconds remaining for holding. On the power play, the Devils failed to get much of a chance in the first half. The second wave had a couple good chances to shoot, but Nikita Gusev and Jack Hughes sent too many passes across the ice to each other and the Bruins cleared the puck. Thus, the Devils had played half a game of the season on the power play, and had not yet scored a goal.

As play wound down, the Devils mostly gave up the final 30 seconds of the game. Thus, the Devils dropped to 0-3-2. The Devils got outshot 8-6 by Boston in the final period, in which they were down 3-0 for its entirety and had a power play and no penalties to kill. That alone is a good reason to include Mark Dennehy in the warming of the seats. Getting outshot in the final period of a multi-goal shutout is what a team that is built badly does. The final shots were 32-31, Bruins.

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: If you want, the winning team’s recap is at Stanley Cup of Chowder.

Jumping right into it...

Stop. Playing. Gusev. With. Bratt.: The Nikita Gusev-Kevin Rooney-Jesper Bratt line would have lost to a line that has Eric Boulton and Cam Janssen on the wings. That’s how bad they are at possessing the puck and playing defense.

10.00 Corsi For Percentage - 0.00 until the final three minutes of the game. Zero high danger scoring chances for. Four against (most of any line in the game). 0.00 expected goals for percentage (xGF%). Zero shots. Seven against.

This line played 7:06 tonight.

Rooney Is Not Free of Blame: The 97-16-63 line had an astonishing 0.45 xGA during the game. The next worst line had an xGA of 0.29. But that line only played 1:34. Who was on that line? Kevin Rooney, with Miles Wood and Blake Coleman on the wings.

Kevin Rooney finished the game with a 23.81 CF%, and an impossibly high 0.82 total xGA at even strength. However, he did not have the worst xGF% - his total was 34.48%. Gusev and Bratt had 7.85% and 0.00%, respectively.

Why is Kevin Rooney on this team? According to John Hynes he can play defense very well, and yet he has already been reduced to almost no special teams time (0:40 on the penalty kill tonight). By comparison, Pavel Zacha, who sat for Kevin Rooney in the second game of the season, played two minutes on the penalty kill - which was the Devils’ most successful penalty killing time, where they allowed zero shots.

The Positive: Jack Hughes did not score tonight, but they found him a line that works. Pavel Zacha-Jack Hughes-Wayne Simmonds had a 69.23 CF% in 8:04, with a 89.52 xGF%. They, along with the Hischier line, were the lines that did not allow any high danger scoring chances. If this team is to move forward, they need to find a place for Hughes to succeed. He has been doing better with Wayne Simmonds on his right, but I’m not sure if Pavel Zacha can conceivably stay with him if an entire line (two of them being players that should be in the lineup regularly) was unable to successfully shoot on goal once.

Which brings me to the main point of the recap.

Break the Lines When Up Three Goals, but Not Down Three: This is inexcusable. A team cannot win when a whole line is so dysfunctional that a coach doesn’t even try to put them in a position to attempt offense. Personally, I don’t think that a line with Nikita Gusev and Jesper Bratt should be getting the most defensive zone starts of any line, and no offensive zone starts. Since nobody on that line can successfully breakout on their own against any forecheck with a physical presence, the line produced literally nothing. Regardless of the terrible situation usage, no line can be that bad. It’s impossible to win when a team gets hemmed in so often it makes them start to give up.

Kowalsky and Nasreddine: The power play has played half an hour without scoring. This team has Taylor Hall, P.K. Subban, Kyle Palmieri, and has not scored in 15 opportunities. With the one-for-three that Boston put up on the power play today, the penalty kill has finally reached 50.00% efficiency! 8 goals against in 16 opportunities.

The system is broken. Fire them.

Your Thoughts: What do you think Ray Shero should do before they hit the ice next? How should the Devils reorganize their dysfunctional bottom nine? Were you even disappointed watching tonight? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Whether you followed along in the gamethread, or on Twitter @AATJerseyBlog, thanks for reading. This is Chris - goodnight.