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Devils Takeaways: Lack of Discipline, Structure Hinder New Jersey in 6-3 Loss



Devils Takeaways: Lack of Discipline, Structure Hinder New Jersey in 6-3 Loss
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

There were certainly no friends on the ice between the New Jersey Devils and Colorado Avalanche.

Despite Miles Wood catching up with his old Devils buddies on Monday night, Tuesday night’s tilt brought a very different dynamic. Wood was part of an aggressive Avalanche forecheck that saw tempers flair in the second period. He certainly planted Jonas Siegenthaler in an aggressive puck battle and continued to assert himself physically for the remainder of the night.

Dougie Hamilton retaliated sometime later, returning the favor to Wood, shoving the former Devil to the cold surface.

Wood’s physical presence helped the Avalanche take New Jersey out of the game slowly but surely.

Let’s dive into New Jersey’s 6-3 loss in Colorado in Ondrej Pavel’s NHL debut.

Devils Quick Wrap

The NHL’s best power play scoring twice on Wednesday wasn’t enough to propel to Devils to victory. Timo Meier and Hamilton cashed in on the man advantage, each tying the game at their respective times. However, a trio of goals for Colorado in the third period by Ryan Johansen, Nathan Mackinnon, and an empty-net goal for Mikko Rantanen (his second of the game) secured two points for the Avs. Vitek Vanecek did all he could to keep New Jersey in the game making 26 saves on 31 shots. Alexander Georgiev’s 20 saves on 23 shots was a bit of an easier night, however.


Strong Start Squandered by Lack of Discipline

New Jersey had quite a strong start in the first period of the last contest on a four-game road trip.

Rather than coming into Colorado with tired legs, the Devils took control of Tuesday night’s contest looking more like their 2022-23 selves.

They opened the scoring on the stick of Toffoli who scored his eighth goal in New Jersey’s 12th game. Unfortunately, the Devil struggled to stay out of the penalty box. Curtis Lazar took a holding penalty toward the midway mark of the opening frame. New Jersey was able to kill the penalty after a strong special teams effort.

However, the Devils went back to the penalty kill after Timo Meier was called for hooking. This time, the Avs found their game and Mikko Rantanen tied things at one.

Colorado’s power-play goal severed New Jersey’s momentum and the opening frame ended tied at one. According to Natural Stat Trick, at 5-on-5, the Devils controlled the chance share 19-17, a 52.78 CF%. However, that drastically when toggling the fancy stats to all situations, as Colorado controlled the chance share 25-19.

It’s a shame as that was probably New Jersey’s best start of the season thus far.

Hung Out to Dry

A REALLY physical second period had New Jersey out of sorts.

The Avalanche scored two goals on odd-man rushes, one by Ross Colton, and the other by former Devil Miles Wood.

A shot from the point by Kevin Bahl was blocked by Logan O’Connor sprung the Avalanche for a  2-on-1 chance the other way. Vanecek made the initial save on Wood, however, a trailing Colton buried the rebound for Colorado.

Later, and while on the power play, Valeri Nichuskin recovered the puck in the Avs end of the ice. Dougie Hamilton, sleeping on the blue line, didn’t pick up Wood who read Hamilton out of position. The speedy forward broke out for a breakaway after receiving a pass from Nichuskin and beat Vanecek clean for Colorado’s third goal.

Those were just two of — at least– five odd-man rushes that New Jersey allowed in just the middle frame.

“We didn’t do a good enough job with our puck management and staying above guys, and the end result is odd man rushes against,” Meier explained. “That’s not how you are going to win games.”

The Devils were fortunate to come out of the second period tied, despite Colorado collecting 21 penalty minutes in the middle frame (including a game misconduct for Colton).

Making the Extra Save

Make no mistake, this loss was not on Vanecek. Defensive woes continue to hinder New Jersey.

There’s a reason why Vanecek has started six of the last eight games. He’s giving the Devils the best chance to win.

It seems like it’s become a nightly ritual that at some point, the Devils’ goaltender is making a potential game-saving stop.

Vanecek did it again on Tuesday, stopping Arturi Lehkonen in a high-danger area in the Devils’ slot despite Colorado prevailing by the end of 60 minutes.

Had New Jersey’s defense not given up so many odd-man rushes leaving the 27-year-old goaltender out to dry, Vanecek played well enough for the Devils to secure a win.

Quick Shifts

  • Toffoli’s eighth goal in 12 games has him scoring at about a 55-goal pace in 82 games.
  • Jesper Bratt recorded an NHL-leading 14th power play point on his second-period assist.
  • Dougie Hamilton recorded his 36th career regular-season goal with New Jersey. He’s tied with Ken Daneyko for 10th place all-time in franchise among defensemen.
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