New Jersey Devils Disappoint In Playoff Opener

Apr 18, 2023; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86) scores on a penalty shot past New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) during the third period in game one of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 18, 2023; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86) scores on a penalty shot past New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) during the third period in game one of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New Jersey Devils put together a great performance all season long to get where they are, the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They earned their spot and home-ice advantage but lost it on night one. The Devils were never a real threat the entire game. There were plenty of chances, and they kept the Rangers away from their net, including a ten-minute stretch in the middle of the game, but they were not getting the big opportunities that we are accustomed to seeing.

The Rangers also played old-fashioned playoff hockey, and while they were not looking great skill wise, they had an A+ goalie and blocked everything the Devils were trying to toss at the net. It is only Game 1.

The Good

Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier were the two best offensive players on the ice, doing everything they could to create offense. Hischier almost got one five-hole with slick hands early on, which would have turned the game around. He almost roofed one later on driving hard to the net. Hughes was flying like always, and it was very cool to see a penalty shot in the playoffs. At least that will be an interesting bit of Devils trivia in the future.

Damon Severson had a pretty solid game. He was moving the puck well, threw a couple of hits, and didn’t have any of the giveaways that can be frustrating. He also had the most time on ice for defenders. While surprising, it was earned.

There are not a lot of other positives to point out. Michael McLeod was 82% in the faceoff circle. If he just keeps being good at this one skill, the Devils can use him to get possession in important situations. It obviously wasn’t a factor on this night but is something to keep an eye on.

The Bad

The powerplay was awful, and after getting 0 shots on 2 they should have mixed things up a little bit. Passes weren’t connecting, shot attempts were clearly not getting through and a temporary shake-up was needed. After the fourth powerplay with no shots, they should have just started with the second unit because it was clearly not going to work on the night.

The big players not mentioned above such as Jesper Bratt, Timo Meier and to a lesser extent Dawson Mercer and Ondrej Palat needed to be better. None of them generated a thing on the night, and they need to next game because Hughes and Hischier can’t do the offensive lifting alone against a good team.

Next. Devils Final Regular Season Grades. dark

Vitek Vanecek was not great on the night. The bigger problem was that the Rangers hit a crossbar immediately after then popped in a second goal within five minutes, five minutes in which they did not have a lot of pressure on the team. He looked incredibly nervous in the net right away and his calm demeanor from the regular season was gone so hopefully he can shake it off and get back to form, or this series is in deep trouble.