The New Jersey Devils came out with a big win on Thursday night. The team was hot right out of the gate taking it to the Buffalo Sabres. This was exactly what they needed to do and the whole team should be feeling good. If the Devils can build off this and stay out of the box, they have a good chance of getting back on track.
Line one with Jesper Bratt, Nico Hischier, and Pavel Zacha looked good again. The best news is they finally got the points they deserve. Bratt especially was all over the ice and dangerous each and every shift. He was rewarded with his first goal of the season. His hands and those of Pavel Zacha were almost hard to see with the speed and skill they had Tuesday night. It was a thing of beauty for Devils fans to watch. Being robbed early by Linus Ulmark, who is amazing against the Devils, could have thrown Hischier off, but the way he shrugged it off and kept pushing all game before netting his first of the season showed poise and maturity. This bodes well for the young captain. They should be sticking together now for sure and will be fun to watch.
The fourth line was all over it again and made a lot of small plays that nearly worked while Miles Wood was able to bang in the puck for his now team-leading sixth of the season. The ice time is increasing for them and deservedly so. They should be given more than the third line moving forward.
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Dmitry Kulikov and P.K. Subban had some troubles throughout the night including the first goal which could have sunk the team’s confidence after dominating early. Subban panicked a little and knocked the puck to the slot area putting the Devils down early. Everyone can have a rough night every once in a while though, so expect them to get back on track Saturday against the Capitals.
Damon Severson made one bad play that led to a 2v1 in the first followed up by a pointless slashing penalty. Why players make that play every time when being beat is beyond comprehension, but every team does it. Tapping the gloves is an easy call for the referee and makes no impact on the opposing team’s chance so is frustrating to see. Let the player take the shot and trust in your goalie, especially if your penalty kill is pushing hard towards a 50% success rate.
The penalty kill once again went a not-so-fantastic 2/4 and is holding the team back in a huge way. The Sabres managed yet another tap-in goal with no defender near him and the only solution at this point is to switch up the entire system for these specific 2 minutes or change who is in charge of it.