Writer’s Twitter: @ChrisMottHockey
The New Jersey Devils were smoked at home last night by the Toronto Maple Leafs to the point where Keith Kinkaid was pulled and MacKenzie Blackwood saw his first NHL action. The final score was 7 to 2, and much of the dominance from the Leafs began in the first period. All the big offensive players for the Leafs scored. Tavares: check, Matthews: check, Marleau: check, Marner: check.
The Leafs were winning 3 to 0 with just eight shots on goal at one point in the first period. Sami Vatanen and Nico Hischier tallied goals for the Devils, and Mackenzie Blackwood did not look bad during his debut. Those were probably the only bright spots of the night. The Devils also struggled to find an answer against Frederik Andersen as well, even though the Leafs played well defensively for much of the night.
The Devils were sloppy all night. Whether it was Hischier not shooting on a 2-on-1 where passing was not the best option. And he completely showed his intent, which turned into a goal the other way from a 3-on-1 for Toronto. Severson was hit into Kinkaid by Auston Matthews and then tried to clear the puck out of the crease but hit it right to Matthews stick in front. The Devils play was sloppy, and a team like the Leafs not only can make teams pay every time but did so during the game.
MacKenzie Blackwood saw his first NHL action last night and played well. Blackwood made some big saves on chances from the Maple Leafs, including stopping grade-A scoring chances from players like Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. The pair of goals Blackwood gave up were both ones that his athleticism made seem closer to being stopped than they actually were. Overall, Devils fans got a glimpse of the potential future in goal from the number one overall ranked North-American goaltender in NHL’s Central Scouting’s rankings for the 2015 NHL Draft.
The Devils never seemed to give up throughout the game. No matter the score, they were constantly trying to generate offensive chances. The problem was that the Devils did not generate enough consistent scoring chances to keep up with the Leafs. And when they did generate chances, Andersen seemed to have an answer for most of the night and picked up where he left off against the Devils last time they met in Toronto.
The Devils will have to put this game in their rearview mirror and get ready for the back-to-back they have coming up. They’ll play the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road Thursday and then come back to The Rock to take on the Ottawa Senators on Friday. A MacKenzie Blackwood start would make sense in one of those games, especially with the fact that the back-to-back consists of a road and home game.
However, if the coaching staff feels Blackwood is not ready, it would not be surprising to see him not start. The coaching staff may fear him being lit up in net and messing with his confidence and thus his overall development. Either way, the Devils cannot afford to play like they did against the Leafs when they take on the Blue Jackets Thursday at 7PM ET on MSG.
Final Score and Stats
Score: Devils 2 Leafs 7
Shots: Devils 29 Leafs 31
Hits: Devils 15 Leafs 9
Power Plays: Devils 0 for 3 Leafs 0 for 3
Faceoffs: Devils 32 (52.5%) Leafs 29 (47.5%)