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Devils Takeaways: Matt Rempe Ejected, Careless Puck Play Costly in Loss to Rangers

The Devils’ power play fails again, fall to Rangers 3-1 in regulation.

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New Jersey Devils
(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

BROADWAY — Unfortunately for the New Jersey Devils, a new goaltender isn’t going to help them score goals.

The Devils actually played decently well against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. However, they couldn’t generate much in terms of offense as they were limited to 20 shots all game.

The power play wasn’t great, they were in the penalty box far too often, and as a result, their scoring chances diminished.

In his first start for New Jersey, Kaapo Kahkonen played well, however, with no goal support in front of him, the Devils fell to their rivals.

Let’s dive into the Devils’ 3-1 loss to the Rangers.

Devils Recap

Kurtis MacDermid tried to draw blood from Matt Rempe early, however, the Ranger rookie denied the Devils enforcer just under five minutes into the first period. The Rangers believed themselves to score first in the rivalry tilt after Brendan Smith made a risky play pinching high to intercept a pass and failed. However, Devils interim head coach Travis Green won an offside challenge to keep the game scoreless.

It took until halfway through the second period for the game to find its first goal. Mika Zibanejad received the puck in the slot and put a backhand shot through Kahkonen to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. In the closing moments of the middle frame, a floater from the blue line by Erik Gustaffson found its way behind Kahkonen to double New York’s lead. Simon Nemec cut the Rangers’ lead late in the third period, however, Vincent Trocheck hit the empty net to seal the Rangers victory.

Kahkonen made 23 saves on 25 shots in his Devils debut.

Takeaways

MacDermid vs. Rempe

The Devils didn’t forget what Matt Rempe did to Nathan Bastian the last time these two teams squared off.

Despite Kurtis MacDermid being a member of the Colorado Avalanche, he kept it in the back of his mind as well.

MacDermid tried his best to get Rempe to drop the mitts with him early. However, the Rangers rookie forward denied the Devils enforcer while the Rangers had to puck in the offensive zone.

It appears someone in the Rangers organization is trying to mentor Rempe on choosing his spots more wisely.

MacDermid continued to let Rempe, chirping at him over the between-bench area, seemingly trying to lure a fight out of him at some point.

A physical tilt between the Devils and Rangers commenced and toward the end of the middle frame, things got ugly.

Rempe caught Devils defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler with an elbow to the face. It caused MacDermid to B-line right for Rempe, however, the referee and linesman separated the two giants before they could clash.

Rempe was assessed a five-minute major for elbowing and game misconduct. His night was over, but not before he could taunt the Devils’ bench by waiving goodbye on his way to the locker room.

We didn’t get a MacDermid vs. Rempe tilt. However, make no mistake that Monday night’s events just made April 3rd at Madison Square Garden must-see TV, if it wasn’t already.

Unacceptable Power Play

It’s certainly interesting that the guy who was running the power play before Lindy Ruff’s release received a promotion and is now the interim head coach.

One of the Devils’ issues that’s been a major factor in their downfall has been New Jersey’s inability to score on the man advantage.

Once again, the Devils received four power plays in a close, winnable game. Yet, they failed to convert on any of their chances.

The Devils seemingly fail in one of two ways. They either struggle to carry the puck over the blue line and maintain puck possession and if they do, they seemingly make five passes before they take a shot that’s ultimately blocked and cleared.

The Devils’ fourth and final power play was a five-minute major as a result of Rempe’s ejection. However, the Devils could only muster up one shot on goal which deflated them for the remainder of the third period.

The power play efforts in a rivalry game when the Devils are supposed to be at their most desperate was completely unacceptable on Monday night.

“We weren’t getting to the to the areas to shoot,” Jesper Bratt explained. “We were kind of getting there and then we were kind of holding on to pucks a little bit [too long] or trying to make the next best play instead of making the simple play. When you look at some of the goals that we have taken, there are usually shots and some rebounds or some second opportunities. We didn’t really get to those today.”

Careless Puck Play

Perhaps the most frustrating part of the Devils’ loss against the Rangers after the Rempe ejection was Jack Hughes‘ careless play with the puck late in the game.

After Green pulled Kahkonen with the clock dwindling, Nemec’s wrister on net cut the Rangers’ lead by one goal almost immediately.

The Devils had just about two and a half minutes to tie the game after Nemec’s goal, and after New Jersey established the offensive zone, Kahkonen went off the Devils’ bench once more.

Yet, the Devils’ struggles to maintain puck possession, even with an extra man on the ice, continued. The Rangers pressured the Devils’ puck carrier all night, and with the clock running down late while the puck was on Hughes’ stick, Jack turned the puck over to Trocheck on a careless no-look pass behind him to no one.

The Devils’ interim head coach credited the Rangers with playing defensively well and limiting the Devils’ opportunity, but New Jersey’s best player simply cannot turn the puck over like that in a crucial moment.

“He did, yeah,” Green responded to New Jersey Hockey Now regarding Jack’s turnover. “He competed hard. You know, one thing about Jack is you can tell tonight his compete level was very high. With skill players, you don’t always grade them on goals and assists. There wasn’t a lot of room out there. Either way, there weren’t a lot of shots.

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