5 Takeaways from the New Jersey Devils’ Season Opener


It was an up and down opening to the season for New Jersey, as the Devils toughed out a 6-4 win over Philadelphia Thursday night. With so many question marks still surrounding the roster, it was nice to see the team respond with a victory. Here are a few takeaways from the season opener:

Fast Start to the Campaign

It took New Jersey 8 games to tally their first win of the 2013-14 season, but this new group for Peter DeBoer took no time getting in the points column in 2014-15. A lot of people credit the Devils extremely slow start to last season as one of the many reasons the team missed the playoffs for the second consecutive time. With one victory already under their belt, the team has to feel good heading into Saturday’s matchup against a relatively young Panthers squad.

No Shortage of Offense

One of the developing story lines after last season’s disappointment was if the Devils would be able to score enough even-strength goals. It’s only been one game, but notching all six of their goals at even-strength last night is encouraging. Not only was the scoring plentiful, but it was incredibly balanced, seeing goals from each of the top three forward lines. It will be interesting to see if newcomer Mike Cammalleri and the enigma that is Michael Ryder can consistently find the back of the net. Do take note that the Flyers were playing a back-to-back and most of the goals came off of no-chance deflections past Steve Mason.

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Concern on Special Teams

The Devils spent last season as the league’s top penalty kill unit, while boasting an impressive top 10 finish in power play percentage. Perhaps the biggest concern from Thursday was poor performances by both groups. While shorthanded, the Devils allowed Philadelphia to convert 2 of 5 power plays, which ultimately helped the Flyers get back into the game after going down 3-0 early in the second period. The New Jersey power play was able to develop some chances, but ended the opener 0 of 3 on the man advantage. With Bryce Salvador and Marek Zidlicky looking lost on the kill at times, perhaps it would be best to get some of the youth experience on the kill while it’s still early in the season. An injection of speed into the lineup may help the Devils power play a bit as well…*cough* Damien Brunner *cough*

“[Severson] was composed, not overwhelmed, he made plays. When the game turned and it became 3-3, I thought he got better, which is saying something for a young guy.” — Peter DeBoer

The Young Defense Held Up

With the majority of the Devils blue line under the age of 23, its fair to say they held their own Thursday night. Unfortunately none of them got on the board scoring-wise, but they didn’t take any penalties either. Jon Merrill looked fine after sitting out most of the preseason with a concussion scare. Eric Gelinas, while not as productive as DeBoer would have liked, wasn’t a liability in his own end. Perhaps the most impressive of the group was Damon Severson, playing in his first career NHL game. The rookie looked poised throughout the night and contributed nearly three minutes to the power player. It will be hard to see a scenario where Severson sits on Saturday, so expect Gelinas to be the odd man out if Adam Larsson rotates in.

Cory Schneider Looked Fine

It was the first season opener since 1992 where the Devils started a goaltender not named Martin Brodeur, and things weren’t a complete disaster thanks to Cory Schneider. In his first official game as the franchise goalie, Schneider looked like his usual self, making all of the saves you would expect from him. Two goals came from the Flyers power play, while another was the fault of the defense after allowing a 2-on-1 to develop. Schneider also saw a volume of shots that he normally isn’t accustomed to, as New Jersey allowed a whopping 39 after having the least shots against (25.5 per game) all last season. If the Devils limit the bad penalties and shots allowed on Saturday, it should make Schneider’s job in net a lot easier.

Final Thoughts

It wasn’t the prettiest of openers, but a win is a win. We saw the offense produce more than enough scoring, while the young defense showed no cause for concern. A lot of the big question marks from training camp and preseason, like the forth line and Adam Larsson, shouldn’t even play a big factor in the team’s success. As long as the Devils score and clean up on special teams, this is a squad that should have no problem staying in the playoff hunt throughout this season. Keep it here with Pucks and Pitchforks for all your Devils coverage during the 2014-15 season!