Brick City Breakdown: New Jersey Devils 2, Tampa Bay Lightning 1, F


There was a reason the Devils gave Cory Schneider a seven year, $42 million contract. In all fairness, he’s probably underpaid. The Devils’ elite netminder was everything and more tonight as he and his team downed the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 to move to a perfect 3-0-0. The Devils started the game off very slowly and it was thanks to Schneider that they stayed in the game. Tampa Bay was flying out of the gate and the Devils could not hang with them. Sloppy turnovers, a story of the evening, led to some high quality chances and Schneider was there for every one of them. Schneider was making ridiculous saves all over the crease and made a sprawling pad save on a wrap-around with some help from Tuomo Ruutu. Schneider did get beat late in the third after a brutal turnover by Bryce Salvador (shocker), but other than that, the other 26 saves were incredible. He was easily the #1 star tonight.

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In all fairness, there wasn’t much good to talk about tonight aside from Schneider. The Devils played a very poor overall game and I’ll get into that in a bit, but first I want to talk about one line and one defensive pair that really stood out and, in essence, won the game for the Devils. The forward line that was leaps and bounds above everyone else was the trio of Mike Cammalleri, Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr. Patrik Elias and Marty Havlat get honorary mentions, but those three were terrific. Jagr didn’t get on the score sheet but he was a monster along the boards and had a couple of breakaways where he could have potted a goal. Cammalleri is looking like the steal of the offseason. After the Devils gave up the equalizer, Cammalleri put home a rebound goal on the power play to restore the one goal advantage. It was his fourth goal of the season in three games. He’s well on his way to 30 and maybe even more. Cammy also picked up an assist tonight on Zajac’s goal. Zajac picked up a rebound and was denied by Evgeni Nabokov, who I must tip my cap to because he was superb, but then found the puck again and slid it into the net. Zajac was also huge in the final minute where he won a pair of faceoffs to seal the victory. Those three are the Devils’ top line and tonight they were terrific.

On the defensive end, the pairing of Andy Greene and Damon Severson were also great tonight. Severson did take a pair of penalties, which he needs to clean up, but other than that he was just as good as he’s been up to this point. He is so composed in his own end that I always forget that he’s only 20-years-old; he looks like a seasoned veteran. Aside from Greene, he’s the defender I trust most defending a lead. Speaking of Greene, the real captain of the team. Andy Greene deserves the “C” on his jersey and for good reason. Greene is everywhere on the ice, both offensively and defensively. He picked up an assist on Zajac’s goal but it was his play to keep the cycle alive leading up to the goal that was impressive. He instinctively pinched down and batted the puck off the glass to himself and chipped the puck deep to a teammate. Then, in his own end, he rarely ever makes a bad play. Those two are great together and it truly is the Devils’ top D-pair.

Unfortunately, as I said, this was not a pretty game by the Devils. If it wasn’t for Schneider, they would have lost. They have been credited with nine giveaways and that feels like it’s low. They were extremely sloppy with the puck and it should have cost them much more than it did. The lone Tampa Bay goal was because Salvador couldn’t play a puck he lost in his skates and allowed Tyler Johnson to walk in alone which led to Alex Killorn’s game-tying goal. Devils fans are far from smitten with the team’s captain and it’s painful to watch him on the ice. I know you can’t bench the captain, but it’s very frustrating having a talent like Adam Larsson sitting in a suite watching the debacle that is Bryce. Salvador is a nice guy and all, but his good days are behind him.

Forget the bad, though, the Devils won the game and that’s all that matters. Picking up all six points on the road to start the season is more than anyone could dream of. The team sure has things to clean up, but the Devils are a force this season. They’re going to make some noise in the divison, the conference and the entire league. I can’t wait until Thursday night in Washington. As always, stay tuned to Brick City Breakdown recaps after each and every game.