The Devils fell 3-0 to the New York Islanders in a game where they actually had a strong start. A few early power plays gave New Jersey hope for an early lead and momentum at the Barclays Center, however they were unable to capitalize and shortly after gave up a power play goal. Brock Nelson would score late in the third following a turnover between Hall and Palmieri that sealed the deal, with the Islanders adding an empty netter in the final minutes. The struggle to score goals continues now that Palmieri has cooled off following the red hot start, and the lack of depth is really showing. This game didn’t feel like a 3-0 loss, but there were some poorly timed penalties, and goaltender Thomas Greiss was absolutely phenomenal.
- The offense needs help. If the first line isn’t leading the charge by generating opportunities, offensive possession and zone time seems hard to come by. The Wood-Zajac-Johannson unit looked strong, and you can argue that the duo of Miles Wood and Travis Zajac has been the most consistent in terms of pressure and quality chances.
- Miscommunications continue. Game after game, there are passes made or opponents left open, seemingly because the player in the area assumed the opponent was being covered by someone else. On the first goal, Lovejoy completely lost track of Jordan Eberle, who was sitting back post, and had an easy tap-in. On the second goal, Hall swung a cross-ice pass to Palmieri that he seemingly let go, assuming there was a defenseman behind him to grab it—but that wasn’t the case. There are numerous other occasions where passes are missing their mark or players are completely whiffing on plays.
- Kinkaid played great. Sometimes you can find things to critique when a goalie gives up a goal, no matter how poor the play was in front of him. In this game, however, it’s tough to put blame on him for either goal. The first was a wide open rebound on a power play where all Lovejoy had to do was tie up the stick of Eberle, and that puck slides harmlessly to the corner. The two-on-one attempt was a poor decision by Palmieri, followed by an incredibly indecisive play from Sami Vatanen, who was trying to play both the shot and pass.
- Predictable power play. While New Jersey has had a decent amount of success so far on special teams, tonight it seemed incredibly scripted. Too many passes, trying to force the puck up top to setup Palmieri for the one-timer, rinse and repeat. Credit has to be given to the Islanders penalty kill, but the Devils just couldn’t get anything going. On the plus side, Nico continues to draw penalties left and right so New Jersey will have plenty of chances to get back on track with the power play.
- Sloppy penalties continue to haunt the team. The Eberle power play goal came following a hooking call in the offensive zone taken by Dea—the ultimate no no in hockey. New Jersey has found themselves in penalty trouble early and often this year, which makes it incredibly difficult to get into the flow of the game or establish any type of consistent pressure. It also cuts down on the ice time for some of your best players who aren’t part of the penalty kill. There are good and bad penalties that can be taken during the course of a hockey game, and more often than not the Devils end up taking bad offensive zone penalties or just lazy penalties.
The Devils will now travel to Pittsburgh to square off with a Penguins team coming off a 5-0 beatdown courtesy of the Maple Leafs. New Jersey matched up well against the Pens last season, so hopefully they can rekindle some of that magic to stop the slide and get back to playing successful Devils hockey.