The New Jersey Devils had an up-and-down night in the win against the New York Islanders. While some things were consistent with their play this season, they have taken a good number of steps in the right direction again. The team is still on the outside looking in, but with how things are going and the team getting healthier, fans should be feeling better about things especially if they stop letting in so many goals.
Depth scoring was what got the game started and what finished the game for the Devils. Michael McLeod and Curtis Lazar both got their fourth goals of the season and had very solid games. Both of them were aggressive on the forecheck and backcheck again, and even when moved up the lineup haven’t looked as out of place as a fourth liner should. This team is lucky to have them playing the way they are.
Brendan Smith is a way better forward than a defenseman. Since he switched, many are waiting for him to regress but he looks like he should be on the fourth line. The dude is physical, isn’t getting skated by like he can’t move, and looks rejuvenated out there. His hit and fight against Anders Lee was great to watch, and it fired this team up right before they put the game away when they already had a ton of momentum.
Akira Schmid saved this team going 8/8 and did not let it snowball into a big loss in the second period after the team let in three goals in five minutes.
Dawson Mercer has got it going and kept it going since Jack Hughes returned and came together on a line. He put up another two points on the night, but more importantly, he was engaged all night all over the ice and is looking like himself again. On top of that, the other top players were having good nights all around, and the team got goals from both top centers.
Vitek Vanecek had a rough night yet again, rocking a .778 save percentage and putting this team behind again. One of these guys needs to show some consistency, or the season is going to be a struggle no matter what the rest of the team does.