Half of the New Jersey Devils took on the Montreal Canadiens, while the other half took on the Philadelphia Flyers, to open up their preseason Monday night. This was the first time Devils fans have been able to watch their team since being eliminated in the playoffs, and many were excited.
Superstar Jack Hughes had a strong showing with a three-point night, netting one goal and putting up two assists. He was able to put on a show with his creativity and speed throughout the game, especially when he assisted on Dawson Mercer’s goal. Not only did he put up points, it is noticeable he has been working on his face offs. As seen in practice, he has been putting in extra time on his face offs which seems to be paying off. He finished the night going seven for thirteen on the dot.
Second overall pick Simon Nemec also put up a power play goal. Not one many were expecting, or one that is seen on a daily basis. Nemec scored from center ice after dumping the puck in and the puck taking a weird bounce in behind the goalie. He had a strong game as he is fighting for a roster spot with the Devils.
Mercer and Joe Gambardella also put up goals in their preseason showing.
One key factor to this game was special teams. The Devils were able to convert on three out of four power plays while killing two out of three. This is something important to look at because the first power play unit was split up. Nico Hischier, Timo Meier and Jesper Bratt, who are all key parts in the first unit, were all back in New Jersey playing against the Flyers. The penalty kill is also impressive because some of our best penalty killers, Hischier, Mercer, Michael McLeod and Erik Haula, were all also back in Jersey.
Akira Schmid seemed to be back to his composed self as he stopped 13 out of 15 saves. He played 40 minutes and then switched with Keith Kinkaid. Kinkaid ended up getting hurt and Schmid had to come back in for the last few minutes. He even picked up an assist on Nemec’s goal.
Overall, it is exciting to see the Devils perform this way after what could have been a knock to their confidence after their second round loss last playoffs.
The Devils will hit the road on Thursday and head across the Hudson to take on their rivals, the New York Rangers, at 7 p.m. This will be a better chance to see the future lineup as this will not be a split squad game.