New Jersey Devils: Be Patient With Timo Meier

New Jersey Devils right wing Timo Meier (96): Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils right wing Timo Meier (96): Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports /

On Tuesday night, the New Jersey Devils played a brutal game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Everyone joined in on the fun in tanking the Devils’ chances outside the third line of Jesper Boqvist, Erik Haula, and Ondrej Palat. They were great. Everyone else was part of the problem.

That includes Timo Meier, who went from the most dominant player in the game in the first period to switching lines by the third. Meier might get most of the blame from some because of two plays that decided the game.

The first was a turnover on a power play that led to a shorthanded goal. This goal made it 2-1 early in the third period. The Devils eventually tied the game on that same power play, but Meier took out the entire value of the goal when he let Mitch Marner take his lunch and score.

Then, as the Devils and Maple Leafs fought to a 3-3 tie, Meier made his biggest mistake. He skated in the middle of the ice with about three minutes left to play in the game with his stick up in the air. It eventually hit a Maple Leafs player in the face, leading to the most obvious penalty imaginable.

Of course, Auston Matthews scored on the power play, which ended up being the game-winning goal. It’s no wonder Devils fans are upset with the new acquisition. It was a rough third period for Meier.

Now, let’s calm down when talking about the blame game. Meier is getting used to a new system with very little practice time. He’s had trouble making headway, but there were some good moments in the first period with Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt. Then, the second period was rough. Lindy Ruff eventually split the line, and Meier played even worse.

Still, we saw some of the great plays that made Meier the biggest trade of the deadline. He had two individual high-danger chances at 5v5. Only Erik Haula had more. He was the only player on the team with multiple rush chances, and he was second to Jack Hughes in shots. Meier showed true superstar abilities despite the mistakes.

Beyond joining a new team, Meier is returning from an injury. Even if it wasn’t serious, it takes time for the Devils and Meier to catch up.

Beyond all that, the Lindy Ruff system takes time. It’s very quick, one of the quickest in the league. Meier will catch up, but it will take time. This was never going to happen overnight. GMs know that upending the roster to add superstar players can lead to losses in the short term. The hope is to win in the long term.

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There are 19 games left. The Devils watched as the Carolina Hurricanes came back to win while they let a third-period lead go to an injury-riddled Maple Leafs team. It’s fine. If getting Meier up to speed costs the Devils the Metropolitan Division, it will be worth it if they are a cohesive unit in the playoffs. It might be time to prepare for the New York Rangers, but that’s a much easier hill to climb with Meier on the team.