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Holtz Scores First NHL Goal but Devils Fall to Flyers 5-2 in Season Opener

The Devils heavily outplayed but ultimately lost to the Flyers 5-2. On the bright side, Alexander Holtz scored his first NHL goal, and hopefully tonight’s underlying numbers will represent the Devils season more than the actual score.

New Jersey Devils v Philadelphia Flyers
Alexander Holtz scored his first NHL goal in what unfortunately ended up a 5-2 loss to Philadelphia
Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The game started with the puck dropped and Kevin Hayes winning the opening faceoff. He sent it back to Travis Sanheim who sent the puck forward and here it is at last, the beginning of the 2022-23 New Jersey Devils season.

The Devils 4th line started the game.

At 19:34 we had our first stoppage and icing of the season

Next up was first line vs first line, but neither team had a chance. The Devils second line followed. At about 18:00 Braun blasted a shot off the post from the right point

Laughton had a chance alone in front. Blackwood made the stop, and a scrum followed behind the net

Tippett shoved Smith from behind into the boards for the first Devils power play of the season

The power play had some good puck movement at first, but the Flyers got in the shooting lanes. The middle part of the power play looked depressingly like last year. The end had some quicker puck movement but no good chances except for Holtz fanning on a one timer

The Devils drew another power play. They had to regroup a couple times, and then on the rush Mercer on the right side passed to Bratt in the middle who fed Holtz streaking down the left side and he fired a shot that squeaked between Hart’s glove and pad, the first Devils goal of the 2022-23 season.

The next play ended with a faceoff in the Devils zone. Provorov took a shot off the faceoff and the rebound bounced right to Allison who put it in to tie the game just 23 seconds after the first goal.

Tatar and Holtz had some chances on the next shift but did not score. At this point in the game, the Devils had twice as much possession time as the Flyers, although I’m sure the power plays helped.

The Devils then took a penalty, giving the Flyers their first power play of the season, which was the worst in the league last season.

The power play had a few chances at first, including a broken stick for Siegs, but then fizzled out and the Devils killed it.

The Flyers had a 2 on 1 but Marino blocked the pass. The Flyers had some good zone time but eventually the puck came out of the zone.

The Flyers took another penalty, Laughton for cross checking Tatar.

The Devils had some chances and the Flyers had a 3 on 1, but a pass hit Severson’s skate.

In the last minute Bastian forced a turnover from Hart. Severson passed to Graves who one timed it from the point. Hart made the save. During the play, Palat and Tippett accidentally ran into each other and Palat was shaken up. After the save, DeAngelo cross checked Bastian and they roughed each other up, each getting 2 minutes in the box.

The last few seconds had the Devils and Flyers rush back and forth but no one scored.

The Devils were the better team but could do a better job of keeping things away from the front of their net, as always.

2nd Period

The Devils had possession off the faceoff on the 4 on 4 but nothing happened. Palat and Smith were back, but Tippett was not.

At 15:19 Dougie got called for interference because he ran into Konecny in the blue paint

The Flyers iced the puck on their own power play.

Coming out of the box, Hamilton had a 2 on 1 with Hughes. Hughes gave it to Smith the trailer whose shot was saved by Hart. The Flyers had a 2 on 1 the other way and Blackwood made the save.

Hughes passed across to Mercer but Hart stopped him

Konecny scored to make it 2-1 Philadelphia, getting a pass from Hayes past Graves pinching and using Smith as a screen. 23 seconds later Philadelphia scored again. Frost was alone in front and Marino, Mercer, and Palat were all in no man’s land. Right after the following faceoff the Flyers once again had a chance right in front of the Devils net. Disastrous.

Severson hit the post. The puck came to Graves and he shot it and the rebound came to Tatar but Provorov made the leg save.

With 2 minutes left Hughes walked in alone but was stopped

Wood took a hooking call at the end of the period

3rd Period

Cates had a chance alone and Blackwood made the save. Konecny had a chance in the slot and hit the post. Konecny got another chance and this time he scored

Hughes was alone and he passed it to Sharangovich who was stopped

The Devils only had 2 SOG in the first 9 minutes and all hope seemed lost when Severson fired a wrister top corner from the right circle to make it a 4-2 game.

The Devils followed this up with more pressure for a while but didn’t score. They regrouped and got Hughes and Bratt on the ice. Severson and Siegenthaler had some shots and the puck came out to Bratt in front of the net with Hart out of position but he had to spin around and then the puck jumped over his stick.

The Devils continued pressuring the Flyers, with Hughes, Bratt, Hamilton, Severson, Palat, and Mercer getting lots of ice time. Even the McLeod-Wood duo got a chance and had a good shift.

The Devils emptied their net and Hughes was tripped up but there was no call. The Devils had good pressure and kept possession. Hughes set up Mercer for a one timer in the slot but Hart made the blocker save. The puck came to Holtz who made a blind pass to a Flyer, who went the other way. Eventually Hamilton knocked the puck into his own net, making it 5-2 Flyers.

Final Thoughts

Once again, how many times have I said this in my time recapping games, the Devils outplayed the Flyers in every metric except pucks in the net. The Devils were the better team at everything except goaltending. Hart had more xGA than GA and Blackwood had more GA than xGA. 4 goals on 24 shots vs 2 goals on 37 shots. .833 vs .946. I don’t know what to say about it anymore.

The first period was pretty good, except for the goal Blackwood gave up to Allison. He shouldn’t have allowed that rebound.

The second period was not great. Overall the stats were pretty good but several terrible turnovers/missed coverage lead to 2 Flyers goals and a couple more great chances for Philadelphia. Blackwood didn’t help things on those goals either, but I’m not going to judge a goalie too harshly on just game 1.

In the third period, the Devils were slow to get things going. They gave up a ppg to make it 4-2 Flyers and had just 2 shots on goal in the first 9 minutes while trailing. They woke up in the last 11 minutes, with Severson scoring a goal and the Devils dominating play, but it was too late. If they’d played like that earlier in the game it would’ve been much harder for them to lose a game they still should’ve won.

The power play scored a goal and had a couple nice puck movement plays, but it didn’t look that far improved from last year. They did score a goal and it is only game 1, so I’m not going to berate the power play yet, but if it starts looking like last year’s power play, I sure will.

Overall the game was the same old story. I got 2019-20 vs the Jets vibes from the game even though the Devils were the team trailing 4-1.

Still, there is hope. Nico Hischier, the captain, was not a participant. The power play scored a goal! The roster is definitely improved from last year with Palat and Marino added and Ty Smith gone. Goaltending will probably once again be the difference. Pray to whatever god(s) you want for good goaltending for the Devils, and if they answer we’ll have a very good chance at making the playoffs. Also, 2018-19, 2020-21, and 2021-22 all started with wins and they didn’t go so well. Maybe this season will flip the script.

The Game Stats: The Game Summary | The Event Summary | The Play by Play Log | The Shot Summary | The Natural Stat Trick Game Stats


What did you think of the game? How do you think this bodes for the future? Do you expect another season of out in December or will the Devils be playing meaningful games in March and April? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and thank you for reading.