The Time: 7:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+
Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes should be getting the top minutes for the New Jersey Devils. However, Lindy Ruff has trended in the direction of giving fourth line center and penalty kill specialist Michael McLeod more time at five-on-five than the two centers locked up long-term for the team at a high price tag. Despite the amount of time McLeod is given, he has not shown much of anything at evens this season.
5v5 shot contributions for NJD forwards vs OTT. Jack Hughes and Tomas Tatar led the way in shot contributions. 4th line played quite a bit and didn't do much of anything. pic.twitter.com/GIBGHK4Uy7— Todd Cordell (@ToddCordell) December 7, 2021
This is ridiculous. As CJ pointed out after the game on Monday, McLeod played 14:10 at five-on-five compared to 13:19 for Hughes and 12:46 for Hischier. Lindy Ruff needs to stop wasting time with McLeod taking up a spot on the ice, as he only wins a draw (most of the time) and then either speeds off or stays on for too long and hurts the team both defensively and offensively.
The fourth line does not have Miles Wood this year. Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, but Lindy Ruff has the idea that just anyone in that spot - whether it be Kuokkanen, Vesey, Geertsen, or some AHLer - can make the fourth line work. Well, I am sorry to say that the fourth line has just simply been bad this season. McLeod only has one even strength point, and he usually does not have the puck possession skills to work a shot down low.
Shots on Goal
The Devils only had 24 shots on goal on one of the worst goaltending teams in the league on Monday. Against the Flyers, who just recently fired Alain Vigneault, the Devils need to be much more aggressive with the puck. Though, a simple change in deployment - where Hughes, Hischier, and Mercer dominate the five-on-five ice time - might be enough to correct the team’s issues with not getting the puck on net.
I would like to see improvement from a few players. Pavel Zacha, who has been the victim of a few posts lately, needs to generate more shots on goal. Yegor Sharangovich, playing with Jack Hughes, needs to get more shots on goal. Janne Kuokkanen has had a rough season as well, but I would prefer to see him play with Hughes and Sharangovich and see Johnsson take Vesey’s spot on the third line next to Mercer. That is just me though, and there’s no indication that Lindy Ruff plans on shifting the lines at all tonight.
Tonight, we will start to see if the team will continue to have bad third-jersey luck or if they will perform as bad as the jersey looks. Fun stuff.
What do you think of tonight’s game? Will you be watching? How do you feel about the Flyers moving on from Vigeault? How are you feeling about Lindy Ruff? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.