Connect with us

Devils Postgame

Devils Takeaways: Sloppy Start in Loss to Panthers, Encouraging Adjustments from Travis Green

Interim head coach Travis Green makes encouraging adjustments despite loss to Panthers.



New Jersey Devils
(AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

NEWARK — New Jersey Devils interim head coach Travis Green walked into the postgame conference calm, cool, and collected after the Devils’ 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers.

In one hand, Green was holding a cup of coffee. In the other, he was holding a dry-erase marker. Green explained he had just finished talking to the Devils about certain areas of their game that resulted in the loss against Florida before attending to the media.

That’s certainly new, and something that could potentially be a major part of a potential turnaround for the Devils.

Yes, the Devils lost this game. It’s also true their defensive deficiencies were still present. However, this loss looked far better than some of the previous ones from this season.

If the Devils are going to climb their way back up the standings, it starts up top. Put the loss aside, Green showed a different approach than what we saw previously both before and after the game and the players certainly showed a boost in energy as a result.

Let’s dive into the Devils’ 5-3 loss to the Panthers.

Devils Recap

Old habits die hard. The Panthers scored twice and took an early 2-0 lead over the Devils on the sticks of Nick Cousins and Evan Rodrigues. Jack Hughes later answered with a goal on the power play, cutting Florida’s lead to one after 20 minutes of play. Timo Meier tied things in the second period, recovering a loose puck in the slot and bullying his way to a goal. Eetu Luostarinen, however, took advantage of some questionable defending and regained the Panthers’ lead by the end of the second period. Cousins’ second goal of the game started the scoring in the third period. Colin Miller’s wrister through traffic brought the Devils back within a goal, however, Sam Reinhart hit the empty net to seal the victory for Florida.

Akira Schmid made 26 saves on 30 shots in the loss.


New Coach, Same Start

It’s only been 24 hours since the Devils relieved Lindy Ruff of his head coaching duties. As a result, the Devils’ habits still need some sharpening.

That was evident in the first period of Green’s tenure as interim head coach, although that’s not on him at this time.

The Hughes brothers got off to a rough start in Tuesday night’s contest against the Panthers. On one shift in less than 10 seconds, Jack turned the puck over the Florida twice. The second turnover happened to spring Cousins for a breakaway and he roofed the puck over the shoulder of Schmid.

Jack’s turnover forced Brendan Smith and Kevin Bahl out of position. Neither took the best routes to get themselves back into the play, however, if Jack doesn’t turn the puck over in the first place, they’re not out of position to begin with.

Later, the Panthers sent the puck deep into the Devils’ zone. Luke Hughes, with pressure applied by Florida, attempted to clear the puck from the Devils’ zone, however, it went over the glass and Luke sat for delay-of-game. Rodrigues scored on the Panthers’ power play to give Florida a 2-0 lead.

The Devils wound up coming out in the second period a much stronger team. Had they not started the game the way they did, perhaps they collected two points.

“I thought we looked a little nervous, to be honest, in the first 10 minutes of the game,” Green explained. “We made some uncharacteristic mistakes on passes more with the puck, which is usually a strength of some of our players.”

Unreliable Veteran Defense

On Tuesday morning, Green spoke about the changes to the Devils’ defensive structure even before the coaching change.

“We have changed some things with our (defensive) zone coverage and we will continue to work on it,” Green explained. “Obviously, at this time of year, defending is a big part of it. And little details in the (defensive) zone coverage can cost you major mistakes and major goals. When you have new young players, making them understand that part of the ice is important and vital to win.”

But what about the veteran players?

In the second period of a tied game between the Devils and the Panthers, Jonas Siegnethaler certainly cost New Jersey a goal.

Luostarinen received a pass in the neutral zone that sprung him for a rush past the Devils’ blue line. Siegenthaler totally misread the rush by Luostarinen, opened his hips, and gave away a shooting lane to the Panthers forward that found the back of the net.

The reason general manager Tom Fitzgerald relied on some of the Devils’ youth to step into larger roles this season was due to his confidence in veterans like Siegenthaler to take on the responsibilities of a reliable defender.

“Yeah, he was backpedaling a little bit,” Green explained. “We actually just watched the goal. I’m sure it’s a play that he’d probably like to have back. We really talked to our (defense) at different parts of the game about skating up the ice and getting your gap so you don’t get caught standing flat-footed. I think that’s what happened a little bit there.”

Unfortunately, this has been a recurring theme with Siegenthaler, John Marino, and Kevin Bahl which has largely contributed to the Devils’ deficits this season. However, there is a bit of a silver lining here. Green seems to be trying to nip these issues in the bud right away which will hopefully soon translate to the on-ice product.

As an aside, perhaps Simon Nemec isn’t the one who needed to sit.

They Need a Goaltender

If the Devils had a legitimate NHL goaltender in net, the Devils might win this game. Of Florida’s five goals, just one of them was scored in a high-danger area. That was Rodrigues’ power play goal in the slot.

The rest? Each of the four goals had an xG shot that had a 0.16 or less chance of finding twine. In other words, Schmid allowed four low-danger shots by him that contributed to the loss.

The Devils’ first period was what it was. New Jersey managed to claw back on a power play to bring the game to within a goal thanks to Jack. Then, Meier ties the game in the second period and all of a sudden the Devils have a plethora of momentum.

That was until Luostarinen’s goal — despite Siegenthaler’s awful read — regained the Panthers’ lead severing the Devils’ momentum.

“I thought they started to really feel good about themselves,” Green stated. “But anytime when you’re down 2-0, we come back and get a couple of goals, you can feel momentum, especially in your own building. You start to feel the crowd get behind you. And our guys were engaged tonight. They wanted it. Anytime that something like this happens, you know your team wants to win badly.”

Schmid made -1.32 saves above expected on Tuesday according to MoneyPuck. However, if the Devils can potentially make Jacob Markstrom happen by March 8th and continue to play the way they did against the Panthers, Green might be cooking with gas.

For more Devils news, visit New Jersey Hockey Now and like our Facebook page.
Follow us on 𝕏:


And on Threads:


Copyright © 2023 National Hockey Now LLC. NJ Hockey Now is in no way affiliated with the New Jersey Devils or the National Hockey League.