New Jersey Devils Lose After Promising Start To Tampa Bay Lightning

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 21:The Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the New Jersey Devils in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 21, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)"n
TAMPA, FL - APRIL 21:The Tampa Bay Lightning skates against the New Jersey Devils in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 21, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)"n /
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The New Jersey Devils knew after their home win vs Florida that they had a really tough road ahead of them. A daunting seven-game road trip looms, beginning against one of, if not the best team in the NHL, the Tampa Bay Lightning. In the game, the Devils played one of their worst games in recent memory. They lost 8-3.

First some positives, and this will be quick. Miles Wood opened the scoring one minute into the game, recording his first goal of the season. That’s some good news for Devils fans to see him on the board. Wood is one of the biggest potential bottom six contributors.

Travis Zajac scored his third of the season just a few minutes after Wood scored, after not scoring since opening day in Sweden. The Devils will need Zajac and Wood to both contribute some offense if they want to end the season in the playoffs.

Kyle Palmieri scored his NINTH goal of the season on the power play. It is good to see the big guns staying hot, and it might not just be that their hot at this point, this group might be that good. Taylor Hall picks up his TENTH assist of the season on the goal, extending his point streak to eight. Maybe we are doing this whole crazy point streak again?

Now, lets get real. This was an abomination of a game by the Devils. Other than the first five minutes already mentioned, and one good play by Hall and Palmieri with the man advantage, the whole team was terrible.

The Lightning are one of the best teams in the NHL, but that is no excuse for the way this game was played. They were straight up dominant in this one. We’ve seen the Devils lose to Nashville, a team about equal to Tampa, and it took a great OT effort by the Predators to beat them. This was different. The Devils had a mistake fest, and Tampa Bay took advantage of every opportunity.

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Even in missing Norris Trophy defenseman Victor Hedman, they still have a crop of very good players led by Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. They will make you pay for poor efforts, and that is exactly what happened tonight. You might not beat a basement NHL team playing this way, let alone the Lightning.

I wouldn’t even consider blaming this one on goaltending. The team in front of Keith Kinkaid was that bad. The Lightning fired 44 shots on goal in this game. John Hynes finally took him out and gave Cory Schneider his first action of the season, as he dressed as the backup. The Devils greeted him by continuing to play bad and they allowed the eighth goal just a few minutes into Schneider’s season.

The Devils better not let this type of play continue on this road trip, because seven games is a lot, and by the time they get back to the Prudential Center, it will be mid-November. You do not want to be chasing from November on, it is very hard to come back from, just ask the Florida Panthers.

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The Devils are in action next on Thursday night, as they visit the Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit Michigan as they have a date with the Red Wings. The Red Wings are likely going to be a lottery team as they are 3-7-2 as they begin the season, but as mentioned before, you can’t take any team lightly in the NHL. They have to come out strong and play well if they are going to want to beat a free flowing Red Wings team.