All optimism the Devils gained from previous weeks was obliterated in the last two games’ loss to the Capitals and Blue Jackets. After falling 5-2 to the Capitals on Thursday night, the Blue Jackets demolished Cory Schneider 5-0.
The Opposition Opinion: The Opposition Opinion can be found here. I don’t think any of us would want to read this.
First Period: The Devils, which may be surprising to those who only see the score, actually completely outplayed and dominated the Blue Jackets play-wise in the first period. Seth Jones started off the game ringing a wrist-shot off the post, setting up the first signs of the Devils demise. The first shot of the game came 44 seconds in, with a Damon Severson shot from the point, and the first Devils chance came from an Andy Greene shot from the slot, which was stopped by Blue Jacket netminder Elvis Merzlikins.
Connor Carrick recorded the first penalty of the game, hooking Duncan Robinson two minutes into the game. The proceeding Blue Jackets power play saw New Jersey rather safety neutralize a potent Blue Jackets offense. Then there was a period of lull, where the Devils had more opportunities than not, including two Nico Hischier wrist-shots in a span of 5 seconds, and a period where Pavel Zacha, Andy Greene, and PK Subban all had hard shots stopped by Merzlikins (try spelling that 5 times, because I’ll have to).
Blake Coleman took a tripping penalty, which was rather easily killed, and an onslaught of shots by all of Hischier, Vatanen, Severson, Bratt and Simmonds all stopped by Merzlikins. After this, the Blue Jackets unfortunately hit the board, with a Cam Atkinson snap-shot from 47 feet out ripped past Schneider for the first, and game-winning goal. Was it easily stoppable? Yes.
Alex Wennberg received a roughing penalty almost immediately after this goal, and the Devils did absolutely nothing with it. Schneider was able to stop a dangerous Emil Benstrom shot with two minutes left, before Jack Hughes was robbed twice by Merzlikins with a minute to go while on a breakaway. Miles Wood followed up with a turnaround shot and a close Backhand chance, but Merzlikins would let nothing past him as the Blue Jackets ended the 1st up 1-0.
Second Period: This is when the horror part of the broadcast, which all Devils fans are used to this season, began. The Devils, teasing the audience, started off strong, with a PK Subban slapshot and Nikita Gusev wrister both stopped by Merzlikins. Jesper Bratt tipped another shot on goal, which was stopped by Merzlikins, before Schneider stopped a Kevin Stenlund wrist shot. Nick Foligno tripped Pavel Zacha somewhere along the way, and the Devils did nothing yet again. Emil Bemstrom then closed his hand over the puck, giving the Devils another power-play, and Merzlikins stopped shots from Zajac, Gusev and Severson. After the power-play was killed, Cam Atkinson struck again, with a snap-shot delivered past Schneider for a 2-0 lead. Merzlikins then made stops on Sami Vatanen and Jesper Bratt from up close, and Will Butcher then gave the puck away to to Jakub Lilja, leading to a 3-0 Blue Jackets lead. Only 16 seconds later, Nick Foligno scored off a close backhand shot, and the score became 4-0.
This marked the end of Schneider. A formerly great player, unfortunately dealing with injuries and age, a shell of himself.
In came Blackwood, and he proceeded to rob Boone Jenner on a close shot. Jack Hughes and Miles Wood were able to create some offense, but, as I have said multiple times to the point where it may be annoying both you and me, Merzlikins stopped the Devils again. Alexander Wennberg was able to snap a shot past Blackwood with a minute left in the period, and the period ended with nothing else.
Third Period: With the game already over, the Blue Jackets played more conservatively and the Devils seemed to just want the game to end. There were no real chances until four minutes into the period, when Boone Jenner rang a shot off the post. Zack Werenski and Boone Jenner were both stopped by Blackwood, before Merzlikins returned the favor by stopping Gusev and Blake Coleman. PK Subban ran a shot off the post, and the game ended nondramatically with a comfortable 5-0 Blue Jackets win.
Schneider’s Woes: In Schneider’s first start since being recalled, he did not inspire much confidence as he was yanked from the game after giving up four goals, some of which were debatably soft. It’s a shame how fast his career has fallen.
Who Played Well?: According to Corsi Stats, the only players that played particularly bad were Jesper Boqvist - Kevin Rooney - John Hayden — in other words the 4th line. That makes sense. Boqvist doesn’t play the same as Rooney and Hayden, and Rooney and Hayden take the brunt of fan criticisms. PK Subban, while under 50% Corsi, was not particularly terrible.
Who Played Well?: Hischier, Simmonds and Bratt played particularly well, and Severson and Butcher played well as well (aside from Butcher’s giveaway). Unfortunately, no one could stop Merzlikins, who was by far the player of the game. Not a bad game, but one which the benefits of a strong goaltender really dictated the results of the game.
Your Thoughts? Who played well? Who struggled? How did you feel about the game? Let me know in the comments below, and take care!