The New Jersey Devils had their second game of the season against the Boston Bruins at 1:00 pm. After a close 3-2 shootout loss on Thursday, the Devils would come out looking fast and organized. Lindy Ruff‘s early impression on Devils fans should be extremely positive. After two battles with the experienced Bruins, the Devils impressed their fans with how sound and organized they look.
The Devils came out of the locker room with a fast and organized pace. The team looked light-years better than the first period of their first game. 19 seconds into the game, Miles Wood dropped the gloves with Kevan Miller, likely due to the two goaltender interference penalties that Wood took in the first game. The Devils had the first powerplay of the game but only registered one shot on goal. The powerplay was not successful again in the first period, and continue to struggle. The Bruins got the next powerplay chance, and the Devils penalty kill looked terrific. They spent most of the penalty kill outside of their zone and even had more shot attempts than the Bruins. 16:15 into the 1st period, Jack Hughes carried the puck into the zone and passed the puck to Ty Smith on the blueline. Smith shot the puck, and Wood was there to deflect the shot past Jaroslav Halak. Hughes notched his 3rd point, while Smith gets his 2nd. Miles Wood scored his second goal in 2 games. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped seven shots on goal, none that were very high scoring chances. The Devils outhit the Bruins 10-3 but only won 35% of the faceoffs. Scoring chances were 8-4 in favor of the Devils, and the shots on goal also favored New Jersey with 8 to Boston’s 7. The Devils played an immaculate and organized the first period.
The pace at the start of the second period was slower for both teams. The Bruins started to heat around 5 minutes into the second. The Devils were able to control the offensive pressure and clear the puck quickly. The Devils had their fair share of offense in the 2nd period, but the Bruins had the edge. New Jersey tallied another eight shots on goal while the Bruins added 13 shots on net. Blackwood made good saves and was able to keep the Devils in the lead. With 5 minutes remaining in the period, the Bruins put one in the net, but it was immediately called off for goaltender interference. Bruce Cassidy challenged the call and received a delay of game minor after the interference was confirmed. The Devils notch a few chances on the powerplay, but a broken play results in a short-handed Boston goal. Patrice Bergeron scored the short-handed goal after Brad Marchand fought off a check from Kyle Palmieri and made a beautiful pass to Bergeron. New Jersey’s second period was not as good as their first, but they were able to withhold Boston to just one goal.
Both teams played hard and fast in the 3rd period. The Bruins had a slight edge in the first half, getting some powerplay chances but being shut down by the Devils penalty kill. The Devils had more of the changes in the second half of the 3rd period. Jaroslav Halak was able to stand tall and save high chance scoring opportunities on Palmieri and Hughes. Both teams seemed to settle down and make fewer mistakes as the 3rd period went on. With 1:24 left to go in the 3rd, the Bruins took a penalty. Unfortunately, the Devils powerplay was unsuccessful in the 3rd and were not able to end the game. The penalty would carry over into the overtime period.
The Devils powerplay did not do anything in the overtime period. After the penalty was over and the teams were back to 3 on 3, the Bruins started to control overtime. The Devils were able to defend well, and Blackwood made vital stops to help the Devils. The most noticeable player on the ice was Hughes, who controlled the play and made multiple scoring chances happen. With under 5 seconds left in the overtime period, Palmieri forced the puck up ice, and Damon Severson made a beautiful pass to spring Yegor Sharangovich on a breakaway. The 22-year old Belarusian was able to beat Halak and buried the puck with 1.7 seconds left in overtime.
After two games into the season, it is still very early to make conclusive assumptions about the team. However, early signs showed significant improvement from the team last year. The defense is clearing pucks quicker and making less sloppy plays. The Bruins scored three goals against the Devils while two were on the powerplay, and one was short-handed in the two-game series. Jack Hughes looks like the player he was made out to be and is controlling the Devils play. He is confident on the puck and is noticeably stronger on the puck. Ty Smith‘s offense and defense are extremely promising and already had two assists in two games. Besides some poor penalties, Miles Wood is playing well and has a goal in each of the Devils games. Mackenzie Blackwood is a great goaltender and has the skill to keep the Devils in games. On a lesser note, I would like to see more positive impacts from veteran players Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac. The Devils second line is looking better, and Pavel Zacha, Nikita Gusev, and Andreas Johnsson seem to be settling in more. Adding Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, and Sami Vatanen will only improve the team. The Devils are showing promising signs of progression and are getting very fun to watch. The next matchup will be against the Rangers on Tuesday!