The New Jersey Devils are a young team, and it felt like the world was against them going into the playoffs. However, with some great effort all around, this team is finally on to the second round of the playoffs ending a drought that goes all the way back to 2012. They beat the Rangers 4-0 in Game 7 of the first-round series.
The Devils won a big game, and while the die-hards will always be watching, seeing incredible regular season and now postseason should make it easy for fans to fill up the Rock. The place should be jumping as the team prepares to face the division-winning Carolina Hurricanes.
Akira 3:16 seems like it is about to be a big thing because he stoned the other team cold again! Fans are really getting behind Akira Schmid. He deserves all the praise. What more can you say about a Game 7 shutout?
Michael McLeod had his legs going all game and was flying like he was in juniors again. The move he put on Igor Shesterkin was slick, and it was so nice to see a guy that has played well all series and done the little things right get a big game and series-winning goal.
Nico Hischier was great all night. He drew a penalty to even it up in the first period with a good net drive. He always does whatever the team needs, even without scoring. He was a big factor, especially with a team-high 3:15 shorthanded from forwards.
Erik Haula continues to be scorching hot, and this just isn’t about him leading the team in goals this series. He is a tenacious player, and his effort is exactly what you want from depth. The guy hasn’t shied away from any contact, shot block, or scrum.
Ondrej Palat was the most up-and-down guy on the ice this series. He went from frustrating to game-changing. He had two awful giveaways when the game was tied at zero and got the team hemmed in for the most time the Rangers had offensively at 5v5. After that, however, his effort on the first goal was just top-tier. He out-battled the Rangers to get McLeod the winning goal. In the third period, it was also just hard work on the boards and him winning that battle that let Hughes get the puck and move it up ice for the Haula goal that really put it away.
Yegor Sharangovich slotting into the lineup was the right call. He had good shots but more importantly he can play a solid defensive game and be moved around the lineup and fit in anywhere. He had 2:10 shorthanded time on ice, the second most of any forward. That was where the team struggled this series in other games.
John Marino’s drive to the net on the Tomas Tatar goal was a rarely seen thing from him but was an incredible pinch. It is also worth pointing out that he was on the ice for all four goals, and Ryan Graves was +3 with 5 blocks. The two also had matching 4:07 seconds of shorthanded ice time and when they are good they are good.
The NHL officiating is a joke, and it has not just been in the Devils’ series. The Oilers, Leafs, and Stars series all had some insanely bad calls. On Monday night, it just looked bad on the league. Bratt getting high sticked clearly in front of everyone and getting nothing is a joke, and those stick infractions are incredibly dangerous.
Want your voice heard? Join the Pucks And Pitchforks team!
There is no excuse for missing another one of these calls, and when it’s one second after a faceoff five feet away, it is ridiculous. Jack Hughes getting hooked on the breakaway might be called a soft call but they call it 10 out of 10 times. Tatar’s stick was knocked out of his hand right after which were two missed obvious calls. Also, the hit on Timo Meier was a clear headshot and it was hit before any other contact was made clear as day. Not a lot more to say on this, but the NHL needs to stop saying they are the best in the world because it is clearly not true and maybe new refs would help the product.
Putting Miles Wood in was super risky, and we should just be glad he didn’t take a penalty in just over six minutes of ice time. Boqvist has been good so hopefully, he gets back in.