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Devils Postgame

Devils Takeaways: Timo Meier Shines, Power Play Comes Through in 4-3 Victory Over Canadiens

Timo Meier collectd two points (one goal, one assits) in the Devils’ 4-3 victory.



New Jersey Devils
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Newark — The New Jersey Devils are tasked with collecting as many points as they can this weekend following a tough week where they dropped four points to in-division rivals.

Head coach Lindy Ruff clarified the source of the pressure his team was feeling before puck drop with the Montreal Canadiens.

One of those questions was about Timo Meier and his performance that has been lacking for New Jersey. However, the Devils’ power forward came through against the Canadiens.

Let’s dive into the Devils’ 4-3 victory over the Canadiens.

Devils Recap

The first period between the Devils and Habs didn’t see anyone find the scoresheet. Montreal won the shots battle 10-5 and peppered Devils goaltender Nico Daws with a few quality chances that were turned aside. The second period essentially started where the first ended. Montreal controlled the puck and Brendan Gallagher gave the Canadiens an early 1-0 lead. The Habs and Devils proceeded to trade three goals by Timo Meier, Nick Suzuki, and Ondrej Palat to enter the second intermission tied at two. In the third, Nico Hischier converted on the power play and Jesper Bratt scored the game-winning goal when Suzuki scored his second of the game to bring the score within one.

Daws, starting his seventh game in a row, made 23 saves on 26 shots turning in yet another strong performance.


Bahlin’ Out

Devils defenseman Kevin Bahl has struggled to solidify his identity this season. He was essentially bridged this summer to replace the void Ryan Graves left when he signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

It hasn’t exactly worked out that way.

Graves was a big, physical defenseman who made a pretty good habit of clearing pucks from danger in the Devils’ zone and asserting himself physically. Bahl doesn’t exactly utilize his large, 6-foot-6 frame in the same way, but you could see the tools of a solid two-way defenseman in him in Saturday’s second period.

On one end of the ice, Bahl received the puck at the Canadiens’ blue line. He read the play really well, identifying Meier who was crashing the net, and with a well-placed shot-pass by Bahl, Meier was able to deflect the puck past Habs goaltender Jake Allen.

On the same shift after the faceoff that followed Meier’s goal, the Habs began an odd-man rush up the ice toward Daws and Bahl was the lone man back. In a 3-on-1 situation, Bahl didn’t bite too early to make a defensive play and broke up a cross-ice pass that would have resulted in a high-danger Montreal scoring chance.

If Bahl can maintain that level of poise on both ends of the ice AND assert himself physically, the Devils will have a helluva defenseman in him.

Power Play Pulls Through

Ignore the fact that the power play goal the Devils scored on Saturday afternoon wasn’t a traditional special teams goal.

With the Devils and Canadiens tied in the third period and the clock dwindling, Suzuki went to the penalty box for hooking. The Devils’ power play actually went quite well for the first minute-plus before the puck was ultimately cleared from Montreal’s end of the ice. Allen even made a big stop or two to keep the Devils off the board.

However, the puck was cleared, Luke Hughes quickly found Tyler Toffoli at Montreal’s blue line, and No.73 set up Hischier to split two Canadiens defensemen and the Devils captain scored on a semi-breakaway. That was as crucial a moment for the man-advantage to come through as any.

The Devils have now converted on just three of their last 48 attempts on the power play. But, they have to start somewhere, right?


A Little Bit of Everything from Meier

The Devils’ highest-paid forward has not quite been up to snuff.

It’s been a roller coaster of a season for Meier who has been the victim of two separate injuries that have kept him out of the lineup and severed any momentum he’s created for himself. As a result, Meier had just one goal in his previous 17 games coming into

However, Saturday’s afternoon looked a lot like the player general manager Tom Fitzgerald paid for.

When the Devils found themselves down 1-0 in the second period, Meier did one of the things he does best. He drove the slot and deflected a shot-pass by Bahl into the back of the net. In fact, Meier made a home for himself in most of the contest against the Canadiens at the top of Allen’s crease.

Before the tilt, Ruff said he needs, “More from everybody, including Timo.”

Meier certainly delivered. The Devils’ power forward was strong on the puck all night, facilitated the offense, and transitioned the puck with power and speed all game.

On the defensive end of the ice, Meier blocked a huge shot that wound up springing Bratt for a rush that resulted in the game-winning goal.

This was a game in which Meier looked and performed like one of New Jersey’s best players. He absolutely will need to build off this performance for a desperate Devils team down the stretch of the regular season.

“I thought Timo really skated well,” Ruff explained. “Obviously, he scored the goal and then set up another one. And, he had a couple of big blocked shots for us. So you know, I think with the bodies we’ve had out, we need a lot out of everybody.”

Short Bench

Ruff shortened the Devils’ bench quite early Saturday afternoon. Brendan Smith didn’t play in the second or third period, and Chris Tierney and Alexander Holtz were held out of the third period.

In all honesty, that’s when the Devils really started to take over the game.

“When you look at it, we only dressed 11 forwards, really,” Ruff explained. “We gave Brendan a couple of shifts up front. But, I really felt the importance of this game was whoever was going well was going to play and I thought the top three (lines) gave us a good (game). I think we’re going to need more bodies tomorrow on the back-to-back. So those guys that didn’t play as much, they need to be an important piece tomorrow for us.”

Smith ended the night with just 2:05 of time on ice and Holtz just 5:57. Tierney played just 7:16, however, it’s not atypical to see him receive limited minutes.

Whether you agree with it or not, however, once Ruff frontloaded his lines, the top-9 dominated the Canadiens. Sacrificing Holtz’s time isn’t ideal, but perhaps Ruff should consider rolling with the top-9 he ended the game with moving forward.

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