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Devils Postgame

Devils Takeaways: Devils Dominate Jets with Near Perfect Power Play, Defensive Structure in 4-1 Win

Luke Hughes collects three assists, Jack Hughes pots two power play goals in impressive 4-1 win over the Jets.



New Jersey Devils
(AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

NEWARK — The New Jersey Devils almost certainly played their best game of the season on Thursday night against the formidable Winnipeg Jets, spoiling Tyler Toffoli and Colin Miller’s potential revenge game.

On the back of the Hughes brothers and another good goaltending performance, the Devils dominated the Jets en route to an impressive victory at a crucial point in the season.

The Detroit Red Wings also collected two points tonight, ringing up the New York Islanders for six goals. Therefore, the Devils remain six points out of the second wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference.

Regardless, it was the most impressive victory of the season. Interim head coach Travis Green has New Jersey playing with confidence.

Let’s dive into the Devils’ 4-1 victory over the Jets.

Devils Recap

If you can believe it, the Devils have scored the first goal of the game in three straight contests. It took until halfway through the second period, but Jack Hughes collected a rebound and scored on the Devils’ first power play of the game to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead. Later in the middle frame, Nikolaj Ehlers turned on the jets through the neutral zone, crossing the Devils’ blue line with ease, scoring on a well-placed shot.

The Devils took over the game in the third period, collecting a pair of power-play goals from Jack, his second of the game, and captain Nico Hischier. Timo Meier hit the empty net to seal the 4-1 victory for New Jersey.

Jake Allen wasn’t called upon too often, however, stopped 18 of 19 shots he faced collecting his third victory in four starts with the Devils.


Brendan… Buddy…

The Devils played a really good defensive game against the Jets on Thursday night. More on that later.

It wasn’t without a blunder or two, however, most notably when Ehlers scored in the second period to tie the game at one.

To his credit, he was at the end of his shift and gasping for air, but Brendan Smith made a poor decision against the speedy Jets forward and was burned for it.

With Ehlers skating over the Devils’ blue line with speed, Smith tried to step up on the Winnipeg forward who promptly juked the New Jersey defenseman out of his skates leaving him all alone in front of Allen.

Being the veteran that he is, Smith should know Ehlers has the wheels to zip past him at will, even if it’s at the beginning of one of his shifts. The veteran defenseman should have instead retreated further back into the Devils’ zone and forced Ehlers to shoot the puck more toward the perimeter of the Devils’ side of the ice.

That’s certainly a shift that Smith will look back on and want to take back.

Defensively Strong

One of the most impressive things about the Devils on Thursday was their ability to suppress the Jets, who average 30.5 shots per game, to just 19 shots.

It looked a lot like the Devils of 2022-23. The forecheck was aggressive, they played with a lot of pace, and as a result, the Devils collected nine takeaways and forced four turnovers by the end of the 60-minute contest.

When the Jets had the puck on the Devils’ end of the ice, they made it easy on Allen, clogging shooting lanes and blocking 19 shots in the process.

Interim coach Green explained that the structure has always been there. However, the commitment was lacking until recently.

“I just thought the structure in our game was really great from our forecheck all the way back to our D-zone coverage,” Green explained. “And they’re structuring their game, but it means nothing if you don’t commit to it as a team. You’re always gonna have a few plays that you want back. But I thought for the majority of the game, we did a great job with our structure.”

Powered Up

You can’t ask for a much better night on the power play than that one.

The Devils went 3/4 on the man advantage and for the first time in a long time, looked dominant on their power play.

Again, it looked like last season’s team skating the puck into the offensive zone with possession as a result of confidence. Then, setting up the offense, cycling the puck, and creating havoc at the top of the opposition’s crease to lure the goaltender’s eyes away from the shooting lanes. And it worked.

Moving Timo Meier up to the first power play has paid its dividends. If he’s not scoring, he’s dishing, and he served an excellent assist on a platter to Hischier to break a 1-1 tie in the third period, then followed that up with a second primary power play assist on Jack’s goal.

Green pointed to the Devils’ efforts in getting bodies and pucks to the net as a major contributor for more pucks crossing the goal line while playing with the upper hand.

“You know, it’s not always just one guy getting in front of the net,” Green explained. “[Assistant coach Chris Taylor] has done a good job in the last little bit here working with them, getting a little more movement, but also having people around the map and getting pucks to the net.”

Quick Shifts

  • Luke Hughes collected three assists in what was likely his best game in his young career thus far.
  • Jack Hughes (10) and Luke Hughes (6) combined for a total of 16 shots on net.
  • Erik Haula won 13 of 16 faceoffs (81.3%).
  • Simon Nemec led all Devils in time on ice with 22:10.
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