The New Jersey Devils wasted a brilliant effort by goaltender Nico Daws.
The 23-year-old goaltender did all he could to fight off the Boston Bruins, however, a lack of creativity and untimely penalties from the team in front of Daws ultimately ended in New Jersey’s defeat.
Despite the Bruins scoring just once on the power play, the Devils sat in the penalty box far too many times on Monday afternoon which forced New Jersey to play without the puck.
Let’s dive into the Devils’3-0 defeat by the Bruins.
The Bruins couldn’t score on Devils goaltender Nico Daws despite the plethora of pressure. Following the 17-shot first period, it only took Charlie Coyle 30 seconds in the second frame to give Boston a 1-0 lead. More brilliance by the Devils’ goaltender kept the Bruins from scoring any further through the first two periods of play. However, on the power play in the third period, David Pastrnak scored on a one-time chance from the left circle. Trent Frederic hit the empty-net goal to send the Devils packing back to New Jersey.
Daws turned in another incredibly strong performance making 33 saves, accruing a .943 SV%.
Daws Ja Vu
New Jersey started Monday’s tilt much like the way they ended on Saturday against the Florida Panthers.
New Jersey didn’t have their legs and the Bruins certainly took advantage. Boston peppered Devils goaltender Nico Daws with a plethora of shots. 17 to be exact by the end of the opening frame.
Fortunately, Daws — once again — came up huge for the Devils. New Jersey didn’t only lack pace in the first period, but they lacked discipline too. John Marino sat for two minutes after he was called for boarding. The Devils couldn’t kill off that penalty before Simon Nemec sent the puck out of play and was called for delay-of-game. In the process, the Bruins thought they scored. However, head coach Lindy Ruff won an offside challenge that brought back the score to zeroes.
Regardless, Daws came up with five big saves on the penalty kill and 12 more at even strength for a total of 17 in the first period.
The Devils might have picked up from where they left off on Saturday, but so did Daws. There’s a reason we saw the German-born goaltender in the net for consecutive games. He’s starting to separate himself from the pack as the most reliable goaltender the Devils own.
By the end of the Devils’ 3-0 defeat, Daws still turned in an incredible 2.66 goals saved above expected.
Found Their Legs
Despite the Bruins scoring in the opening 30 seconds of the second period, the Devils certainly found their legs.
The shot differential read 10-9 in favor of the Devils in the second, however, in terms of puck possession and chances, the difference was even greater for New Jersey.
The Devils accrued a 62.16 CF% and a positive 5-8 scoring chance differential in the second period, according to Natual Stat Trick.
Their best chance came on a play that was orchestrated by captain Nico Hischier. From below the goal line, Hischier fed Nathan Bastian at the top of Jeremy Swayman’s crease. However, the Boston goaltender stoned Bastian’s point-blank chance to maintain the Bruins’ 1-0 lead. In fact, Bastian had a secondary chance in the same sequence that was again denied by Swayman.
Through the first two periods of play, Swayman was strong for the Bruins accruing a 1.31 goals saved above expected. The Devils certainly found their legs in the second period and pressured the Bruins despite their inability to get on the scoreboard.
The Devils’ ability to find their way back into the game rather than fold was certainly a good sign, especially in the wake of key injuries.
The Devils kept their foot on the gas in the third period playing with the puck on their stick more often than not.
The problem was that they struggled to create significant scoring chances against the Bruins that held New Jersey scoreless.
According to Natural Stat Trick, the Devils’ 64.52 CF% suggests that they out-possessed the Bruins in the final frame. Yet, their negative 6-10 scoring chance differential shows that the Devils couldn’t penetrate the Bruins’ defense. Meanwhile, their 48.88 xGF% suggests the few scoring chances that were created weren’t all that significant.
That certainly checks out via the eye test. The Devils lacked the ability to create secondary scoring opportunities nor could they set up the cycle in the offensive zone. Much of their primary offense was developed via the rush and Boston’s defense outmatched the Devils in the fight for a secondary scoring chance.
This is where New Jersey misses Jack Hughes the most. Hughes’ ability to gain the opposition zone and set up the offense is unmatched on the Devils. Had the Devils had their franchise center in the lineup, the outcome certainly might have looked different.
- New Jersey lost Brendan Smith to injury halfway through the first period, seemingly to a lower-body injury.
- Luke Hughes’ 28:10 time on ice is a new career high.
- Michael McLeod was a rare negative in the faceoff dot, losing 60% of draws.