New Jersey Devils
Photo by Mark Fischgrund

New Jersey Devils Opening Week recap

As the opening week for the Devils has come to a close, it is time to recap how the first two games went for Jersey’s team.

The Devils opened up their season on Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings. As the first period began, the Red Wings pressed the Devils, not giving them much time or space to do anything. Simply put, the Devils were outworked in the opening 20 minutes.

Vitek Vanecek looked like his usual self as he stood like a wall in net. He shut down key opportunities as he gave the Devils the ability to stay in the game. Without his stellar play, the end of the first period could have easily ended with the Devils being down three or four goals.

Superstar Jack Hughes came to play in the second period. His effort seemed to spark the other Devils as they were quicker on their feet, making crisper passes and seemed to work better as a team. The special teams continued their preseason success and helped the Devils remain in the game.

Hughes scored two goals while Dougie Hamilton and Erik Haula both found the back of the net once. Underrated defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler added three assists on Opening Night and Vanecek made 32 saves. New Jersey defeated the Red Wings by the score of 4-3.

Although it was not their best game, they were able to pull off the win. Good teams are able to win games even when they are not playing their best hockey. The two points might not seem like a lot but down the road when playoffs in the near future, the two points will mean a lot more.

The next night, the Arizona Coyotes were in town at The Rock. After a penalty filled night, the game ended with the Devils losing in a shootout.

Jesper Bratt seemed to find his momentum as he found the back of the net twice. Hamilton was also able to find the back of the net. Special teams went to work during this game as two goals came on 5-on-3 advantages. Hughes continued to put a show on as he assisted on each goal during the game. It is hard to say if the amount of penalties given in the game messed with the Devils momentum, or if the game just got away from them.

Two similarities in the opening games are the sluggish start from New Jersey. This is not a new theme for the Devils as this happened many times last season. The Devils seemed to always have to dig themselves out of a hole. Will this theme continue throughout the season or will head coach Lindy Ruff make changes?

Without looking at the scores of these games, there are definitely improvements that can be made, but there are also very good signs. Both goalies seem to be confident in themselves, Hughes is doing Hughes things, our depth is being shown and our special teams seem to be working well together.

The Devils take on the reigning Stanley Cup champion the Florida Panthers on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Prudential Center.

Gabrielle Nordstrom

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