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Prospect Challenge: Devils Can’t Solve D’Orio, Fall 2-1

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A good performance by the Devils prospects unfortunately can not result in a win, as they fall 2-1 to the Penguins.

Game Recap: Today’s game featured a Jack Hughes-less Devils, with the Baby Devils looking to come back from a 6-4 loss to the Baby Sabres. The Devils started the shots off, with Jeremy Groleau getting the first shot of the game.

The first power play went to the Devils, with Penguins the undrafted Bellerive getting called for hooking. Jesper Boqvist proceeded to then wrist a bullet at the net, hitting the post from the left side. Just a few seconds later, 2019 3rd round pick Graeme Clarke picked up his first goal of the tournament, shooting low past the undrafted Alex D’Orio, with assists from Boqvist and Joey Anderson. Later in the period, Graeme Clarke sent a beautiful backhand pass to Boqvist, who unfortunately was unable to get a shot off.

After a couple of other chances, including a blocked shot from Joey Anderson, Pittsburgh was the next to score. 2017 5th round pick Jan Drozg sniped one past Akira Schmid to tie the game. The Devils tried to respond immediately, with a shanked shot from Nathan Bastian and then a low shot from Xavier Bernard.

After a short lull period, the Devils’ Mitchell Hoelscher was awarded with a great scoring opportunity from a nice Mikhail Maltsev play. However, D’Orio was able to get his glove on Hoelscher’s shot to negate the opportunity.

Late in the 1st, 2018 2nd round pick Calen Addison was called for hooking, giving the Devils their 2nd power play.

Starting off the 2nd period with the power play, the Devils ran with Graham Claerke, Jesper Boqvist and Brandon Gignac. Throughout the powerplay, the Devils maintained possession but with no real chances, aside from an in-close opportunity for Nathan Bastian.

A little later in the 2nd, Mitchell Hoelscher was called for boarding, giving the Penguins their first power play opportunity. Joey Anderson of the Devils, however, got the first opportunity shorthanded. However, the Penguins would prevail, with 2014 5th round pick Anthony Angello scoring in front for a 2-1 Penguins lead. The Devils defenseman then felt the pressure of the Penguins, with a Devils defenseman sending a terrible pass allowing Nathan Legare to have an open shot in the slot, which was saved by Schmid.

After a good amount of time with nothing of note, former Edmonton draft pick John Marino was called for a boarding penalty. While there were some flashes of skill, particularly some stick handling from Nikita Popugaev, no real chances occurred for the Devils.

Shortly after, Anthony Angello was called for a minor penalty, with undrafted Ludvig Larson missing a one-time pass while on the delayed penalty. Chances were more evident in this power play, with Bastian missing a slapshot and Graeme Clarke trying a wrap-a-round.

A few minutes later, undrafted defender Nicolas Canade fought Penguins minor-leaguer Brandon Hawkins. Canade, who is one inch shorter, 30 pounds lighter, and 5 years younger, was able to take down Hawkins with a trio of right hooks.

Sharangovich followed the fight with a few backhand chances in front of the net, with nothing coming out of it.

Starting the 3rd, Jesper Boqvist got called for a holding minor, giving the Penguins their 2nd power play. Nothing of note happened on the Penguins power play, but the real opportunity came immediately after. With Boqvist coming out of the box, he received an outlet pass which forced John Marino to hook Boqvist. Just a few seconds in, Chris Brown received a delay of game penalty, to give the Devils a 5-on-3.

There were plenty of chances on the long 5-on-3, with the first coming off a Ty Smith one-timer. Boqvist then snapped a shot top left into the glove of D’Orio. Bastian then received a setup in front, but barely got any power on the shot. Then, with 14 seconds left, a pass in front deflected off a Penguins skate, forcing D’Orio to make a diving save. The final shot on the 5-on-3 was a wrist shot from Gignac, into D’Orio’s body.

A scary incident occurred a bit later, with Joey Anderson having to be helped off the ice, leading to the announcers to ponder whether he injured his leg.

After this, the Penguins nearly scored on a harmless looking shot, with Schmid not seeing the puck as it luckily hit off the post and out. Immediately after this, Marian Studenic was upended, resulting in Jeremy Groleau cross-checking a Penguin and a third Penguins power-play. Schmid made a couple of saves on Penguins shots around the ice, while Michael McLeod had the best chance on a partial-breakaway.

After the penalty was killed, Hoelscher and Maltsev were sent for a 2-on-1, with Hoelscher sending a nice pass to Maltsev which was unfortunately saved by D’Orio. A few minutes later, with the Penguins trying to hold on to the lead, Xavier Bernard received a delay of game penalty. While nothing came of it, precious time was killed.

With time ticking on the game, and the Devils searching for that last goal, John Marino gave up another penalty, this time on a delay on game, giving the Devils one last chance. With Schmid on the bench, Ty Smith fired a shot which Ludvig Larsson tried to rebound off the boards. However, D’Orio was able to glove it, yet again denying the Devils. The Devils could not find another opportunity, as they fell 2-1.

My Thoughts: I’ll be the first to say I don’t know much about the Devils prospects, and how well they did or what was expected of them, so take these comments with a grain (or many grains) of salt.

Graeme Clarke stood out on the ice for me today. The 2019 3rd rounder was creative, smart, and always seemed to be at the right place at the right time. He scored the only goal, which is nice, but seemed to always make noise whenever he was on the ice. I’m excited for his progression.

Jesper Boqvist, heavily touted as an NHL ready player, stood out with his speed and heavy shot. However, I hesitate to say he is NHL ready. While his skill trumped many players on the ice, he didn’t stand out in any way, and it remains to see if one more year in Sweden could help bring him to the next level.

Ty Smith has obvious offensive ability, with good puck-handling skills and outlet passes. His wrist shot seems to find it’s way through traffic, and I’m excited to see if he makes the team.

Mikhail Maltsev and Yegor Sharangovich stood out among the announcers of today’s game, with both announcers complementing their defensive game and ability to strip the puck from opposing players. To me, Maltsev seems like a solid prospect, with the ability to read the game affectively and set himself up to react to opposing team’s offenses.

Akira Schmid had a good game. It would be hard to put the blame on Schmid for both goals scored on him.

Your Thoughts: For those who watched, what did you think of the Devils prospects? Who stood out to you? Do you think Boqvist and Smith are ready for the NHL? Let me know in the comments below, and take care.