New Jersey Devils Blow Lead To Toronto Maple Leafs

Mar 7, 2023; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New Jersey Devils left wing Erik Haula (56) celebrates his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 7, 2023; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New Jersey Devils left wing Erik Haula (56) celebrates his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New Jersey Devils had another up-and-down game Tuesday night, this time against a strong Maple Leafs team. The result this time was unfortunately a loss. At this point, these losses are going to cost them any chance at the Metropolitan Division, and the Devils could let the New York Rangers back into the race for home-ice advantage in the first round.

The Good

The Erik HaulaOndrej PalatJesper Boqvist line was strong again and carried this team on the scoresheet. They scored all the team’s goals. Palat was a beast fueled by grit and heart scoring a goal on his own rebound driving the net. It made Haula’s hit that split his mouth open totally worth it. The last two games have been incredible for the third line, and they were the best line again on Tuesday night.

Vitek Vanecek might have had an awful .840 save percentage, but he got left out to dry a few times. Mitch Marner scored on a shorthanded breakaway. Michael Bunting‘s cross-ice one-timer beat Vanecek pretty easily, and Auston Mathews doesn’t miss in the slot on the powerplay.

The Bad

The top six was pretty much invisible on the night and produced nothing while all going negative in +/-. There was a little bit of line shuffling late but it did not end up working out and they should probably be getting the blender next game.

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Jesper Bratt has been off lately and hasn’t been touching the puck as often or driving play like he was earlier in the year. It is time to move him from Hughes’s wing and let him get more puck time with Nico Hischier and let him be the one dictating the pace.

Jack Hughes was having an off night again as well. Despite leading the team in shots, the quality was not there. He was caught puck watching at the end of the game on the Bunting goal. The other guy who was supposed to be on his man there was Damon Severson, who will no doubt get a lot of flak for it. Kevin Bahl clearly had the guy covered and was pressuring the shot, which was probably an easy save with the positioning and angle for Vanecek but both the other defender and center left a sniper open. Bad play.

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Timo Meier looked pretty mediocre again, and maybe he just hasn’t adjusted yet. It is also worth pointing out that him, Hughes, Bratt and Hischier had 5 minutes of powerplay time and managed to not only not score but allow a shorthanded goal.