The Devils had split results with their split squad games that saw half the training camp roster take on the New York Islanders in Brooklyn, while the other half faced the Ottawa Senators in Prince Edward Island. Although it’s only preseason, the Devils had an offensive surge in the first period where they scored five goals and wound up blowing Ottawa out 8-1. Pavel Zacha, John Quenneville, and Drew Stafford scored two goals each, while Marcus Johansson and Nico Hischier found the back of the net. For Hischier, this was his third preseason goal in as many games, while Johansson enjoyed a four-point night in his first exhibition matchup playing the wing.
While the victory in Ottawa was exciting, most of the team’s A-squad was in Canada, while an AHL-esque lineup with a few veteran defensemen faced the Islanders. Although New Jersey was dealt their first preseason loss in the form of a 3-0 shutout, the Devils held their own against a veteran-savvy Islanders team that featured the likes of John Tavares, Jordan Eberle, along with some of New York’s young phenoms like Matthew Barzal and Josh Ho-Sang. The Islanders got goals from Brock Nelson, Matthew Barzal, Johnny Boychuk, and outshot the Devils 45-25 in the process. After a shaky first period where Keith Kinkaid surrendered two easy goals, the Devils stabilized their play throughout the game’s remainder.
Devils Versus Senators
- While he hasn’t really wowed anyone this preseason, Will Butcher has continued to hold his own. In addition to eating big minutes, Coach Hynes has been utilizing the 22-year old on the point during power plays, and hasn’t shied from deploying Butcher in defensive situations at even strength. In addition to making some marvelous breakouts from the Devils zone, Butcher looks very confident when he handles the puck on the point. While he’s susceptible to shooting more, Butcher appears capable of quarterbacking a power play unit, and makes great passes to his teammates who are positioned down low.
- First-year Devils forwards Marcus Johansson and Drew Stafford have been instrumental to New Jersey’s preseason successes. Both players combined for three goals and seven points in last night’s win, tallying onto their impressive preseason point totals. As mentioned earlier, this was Johansson’s first stint at left wing this preseason after playing the last two games as a center. Both forwards were brought in with hopes of boosting New Jersey’s offensive numbers. Granted it’s early, Johansson and Stafford seem to be fitting in well with Coach Hynes’ system and their new teammates.
Devils Versus Islanders
- The Devils dressed an extremely watered down lineup against the Isles, but that didn’t seem to matter for Damon Severson, who had the strongest game for the Devils. He was on the ice for 20 shot attempts as opposed to 15 against, the best margin for a Devils player on the night. Severson logged 16:43 minutes at 5-on-5 and 22:12 for the game, both team highs. If there was any question to his role on the team, it’s been answered now. He plays a strong two-way game and has been the Devils strongest defenseman this preseason. Expect John Hynes to give him top pair minutes come October 7th.
- Last night was most likely a final audition for a majority of the Devils younger players who dressed in Brooklyn. Of those players was Blake Speers, who did not do much to help his cause. He struggled at 5-on-5 and was on the ice for only 4 shot attempts as opposed to 10 against. Speers did not have the greatest camp and preseason, so it appears very likely that he’ll head to Binghamton to begin his season.
- It was a rough night for Ben Lovejoy to say the least. He was buried at 5-on-5 and was absolutely cooked by Mathew Barzal on the Islanders second goal. Lovejoy will end up making the team, but what the Devils planning on doing after that remains a bit of mystery. The performances of defensemen such as Mirco Mueller and Steven Santini this preseason should help the Devils deploy Lovejoy in a manner more suitable for him, but if they give him top pair minutes again, things could go awry quickly.