The New Jersey Devils emerged victorious in their Saturday night tilt against the New York Islanders, but it was no easy effort. Although the Devils never trailed once the entire night, their final go-ahead goal came in the game’s closing minutes. It was New Jersey’s second power play goal of the night.
Out of the three preseason contests held at Prudential Center, Saturday’s was the Devil’s sloppiest and weakest effort. A winning effort doesn’t erase the fact there are things in this team that need addressing. At the same time, it doesn’t mean the Devils can’t be happy with their 4-1 record so far.
Boqvist Puts On A Show
Jesper Boqvist found himself on the top line centered by Nico Hischier and fellow Jesper, of the Bratt variety, on the opposite wing. Boqvist scored the game’s opening goal less than three minutes into the first period on a power play. His goods were just as described, as he scored with heavy traffic in front of the net off a Hischier rebound. Boqvist would also score the game-winner in the third after a Coreau holding penalty on fellow linemate Jesper Bratt. While I expected Boqvist to walk away with tonight’s top star, he settled for second to Hischier, who came off the night with three points.
Shoot Your Shot
Saturday’s game was dominated by puck possession, but not shots or scoring opportunities. It took until midway through the game for the Islanders to reach double-digit shots and the Devils didn’t go past ten shots until the end of the second period. The team brought some patience to its fans with the early goal from Boqvist, but fans began to get relentless as the game went on. The Islanders drastically increased their aggressiveness and shot attempts for the game’s final period, which they entered down three to two. Even though they came away with the victory, New Jersey was outshot over the course of the game by a margin of over two to one.
Hayden and Wood Provide Some Muscle, But Not Enough
In my pregame report, I suspected the lack of Wayne Simmonds from the lineup would mean the Devils would lack a physical element from their play last night. The Islanders were the more physical team, but a few Devils tried to fill the void. Wood attempted some physical plays throughout the night, without much success. John Hayden, acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks for John Quenneville, tried himself at a physical audition. His most notable contribution of the night was dropping the gloves at center ice after Kevin Rooney was laid out on a hit around the boards behind Schneider’s net.
On the power play, the Devils went two for four, with both extra-man goals coming off the stick of Boqvist. The Islanders were held scoreless on the man advantage, once again continuing the Islanders’ power play struggles from last season.
A pleasant surprise for the Devils on the penalty kill was Will Butcher. Butcher, fresh off re-signing as a restricted free agent, emerged as an excellent penalty killer. Two of the teams best penalty killers from last season, Travis Zajac and Pavel Zacha, were out of the lineup.
Goaltending and Defense
Although Schneider entered training camp with multiple question marks, he put on a successful showing Saturday night. Granted, aside from Barzal, Lee and Eberle, he was seeing action against the Islanders AHL squad but still put together a winning effort. Unlike his opponent at the other end of the ice, Schneider played all three periods for 60 minutes of action.
The defense, minus P.K. Subban, did a good enough job Saturday, but Ty Smith has yet to move the needle. He entered camp with everyone’s expectations that he would make the roster as the Devils’ top defensive prospect. So far numerous misplays and less than spectacular showings have us thinking his season might start in the WHL once again.