Recap: Reasons For Frustration, Hope In 7-3 Loss Versus Senators

Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid looks up disappointed that he wasn't able to make the save on a 2 on 1. Photo credit to Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press via AP

Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid looks up disappointed that he wasn’t able to make the save on a 2 on 1. Photo credit to Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press via AP

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Game Summary

The New Jersey Devils experienced their first back-to-back of the season on the road, with games against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators. The results of each game fell at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Devils were dominant in Pittsburgh as they limited the big guns and neutralized their speed game which, Pittsburgh likes to play. The Devils continued their success against the Penguins from last year, winning by a final score of 5-1. Last night, the Devils seemed to be picking up in Ottawa where they left off in Pittsburgh by jumping out to an early 2-0 lead, but the game quickly changed after about the first eight minutes. Ottawa was able to tear the Devils apart by capitalizing on so many opportunities New Jersey gave them, resulting in a final score of 7-3. The game was frustrating to watch and while there were some bright spots, they were greatly overshadowed by the negative events.

Bright Spots

Neither goaltender is to blame at all for the outcome of the game. Cory Schneider started in goal and was replaced by Keith Kinkaid after Ottawa’s fourth goal.

The first line for the Devils was able to consistently generate chances in the offensive zone throughout the game. Palmieri and Hall scored the first two goals for the Devils. Unfortunately, New Jersey experienced the classic hockey adage of “a two goal lead being the most dangerous lead in hockey.” While the line looked good offensively tonight, there were a couple shifts where even the Devils’ first line was stuck in the defensive zone for a vast majority of a shift.


The Devils’ penalty kill ended the night three-for-four with big saves from Schneider and Kinkaid. The only time Ottawa scored on their power play was from a bit of a crazy ricochet that left Kinkaid no chance of keeping the puck out of the net.

Why This Game Was So Frustrating

The fact that New Jersey appeared to have snapped out of their funk they seemed to be in after starting the season so hot is not what made this game so frustrating, although it was certainly a contributing factor. What made this game frustrating is how Ottawa scored the majorities of their goals which was off of turnovers and bad fundamentals by the Devils.

Ottawa’s First Goal: The Senators red hot defenseman Thomas Chabot scored off a shot from the point where Schneider was screened completely by both Chris Tierney and Brian Boyle who was tying up Tierney in front. Screens happen no matter how much teams try to avoid them and Boyle was tying up a guy in front, it happens.

Ottawa’s Second Goal: Matt Duchene comes out from behind the net and threads a pass through Damon Severson’s legs back door to Mark Stone which Schneider had no chance on, though he made a good effort. This was a break down in fundamentals as Severson was caught looking at Duchene for just a split second instead of tying up his man Stone in front and letting Cory focus on Duchene.

Ottawa’s Third Goal: Ottawa scores off another pass through the slot back door leaving Schneider no chance. This time however, instead of one Devil in front, there were five Devils’ players and four of them were caught looking at the puck with no one tying up the man back door. Again, a fundamental breakdown of lessons taught even at the youngest age levels of hockey.

Ottawa’s Fourth Goal: This goal is one where as the goaltender, you just tip your cap to the shooter. Mark Stone sniped top left blocker side on Schneider who was in good position but there are times where goaltenders can be in good position and they just get beat by the shot. John Hynes made the decision to swap goaltenders afterwards and typically in situations such as this game to this point, the swap is intended to light a fire under the players and wake them up and change momentum or that they are leaving their goaltender’s out to dry. In the case of this game, the message could have been both.

Ottawa’s Fifth Goal: Ottawa’s only power play goal came off a crazy sequence of redirections where the puck appeared to hit off of Dea’s stick, then Vatanen’s face, and then bounced back door redirecting off Colin White’s skate after Kinkaid had already pushed to move from left to right for the initial shot and redirect. Kinkaid had no chance on the play. The whole reason the Senators’ were on a power play however was because Miles Wood took an unnecessary penalty where he made the initial check on a player and separated him from the puck with the Senators’ player on the ice. Instead of following basic fundamentals though, Wood cross checks him towards the upper part of his body around his shoulders, neck, and head area, which the NHL is cracking down on, when he was already separated from the puck and still laying down on the ice. Notice that there is a trend this game of an extreme lack of fundamentals leaving both Schneider and Kinkaid out to dry.

Ottawa’s Sixth Goal: Vatanen ends up turning the puck over in the neutral zone due to a backcheck from Matt Duchene when Vatanen is trying to skate the puck up instead of head-manning the puck up to Johansson who had enough room to receive a pass and skate or dump the puck in. The puck always moves faster than the skater. The turnover leads to a two on one the other way with Will Butcher displaying great fundamentals by taking away the back-door pass and letting the goaltender take the shooter. While the shot was another situation where one could argue Kinkaid could’ve possibly made a stop on it, the whole sequence of events could have been avoided.

Ottawa’s Seventh Goal: John Hynes pulled the goaltender down six to three and I’m sure that on top of fighting until the end, he was most likely also trying to use the situation to practice for the future if the Devils were to need to pull the goalie late. Ottawa ended up potting the empty netter after killing a six on four.

Put the Panic Buttons Away

The Devils had a phenomenal game against Pittsburgh and dropped the game against Ottawa pretty bad. While the Devils are now last in the Metropolitan Division, the season is also still young and the roster has a lot of solid young talent to compete and continue to develop. The core of this group is close enough and strong enough where they can work together to try and fix issues in their play to get where everyone wants to be. Devils fans are not happy about losing this game to Ottawa in this fashion but with this group of players, they feel the same way, if not even more so. One can take solace in the fact that the loss stemmed mostly from a lapse in fundamentals for one game which are easily correctable. The Devils will look at both games and compare what they did right versus wrong and make the adjustments they need to before taking on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday at 7PM ET.


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