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(Photo by Mark Fischgrund - JSN)

Devils Speed and Schmid Too Much For Rangers in Game Seven

The team with the better performance from their goalie won Game Seven. The New Jersey Devils rode a 31-save shutout from rookie Akira Schmid to a decisive 4-0 victory to clinch their first round series against the rival New York Rangers.

Schmid said he was less nervous than in his first start, “I definitely felt the pressure but we got off to a great start so that loosens you up a little bit.” Schmid’s stellar play kept the Devils in the game as they wore down the Rangers and then closed the door once they grabbed the lead.

Erik Haula felt Schmid kept them in the game early when they were trying to find their way. “Zibanejad had a one timer early, I didn't know where it went, but surely it was in (Schmid’s) glove. The timely saves, those are the things that calm our group down, I'm very impressed by his play.”



 “Stone Cold Schmido was a big part of this series.” -Tomas Tatar


As with all of the games in the series special teams play was dispositive. The Rangers concluded the series 0-4 in games where they did not score a power play goal. The lack of power play success was not for want of opportunities. The Devils took four penalties over the first two periods before playing a clean third. On the resulting 5:45 of power play time the Devils would actually outscore the Rangers 1-0 on Michael McLeod’s shorthand goal.

The Devils broke through in the second period when Ondrej Palat would not be denied. His forecheck dispossessed Adam Fox then Chris Kreider, leading to him sliding the puck to an onrushing McLeod who deftly maneuvered past Shesterkin to give the Devils the lead they would never relinquish.  Hischier said the goal gave the team the momentum it needed, “what an effort there from Pally and finish by Mikey, it was a lot of momentum for us, it really got us going, after that we stuck with our game plan and it was just a really good 60 minute game.” 


Ondrej Palat described his effort, “I was trying to pressure Fox, I saw I had a little bit more space, Mikey was there, I just tried to pass it, and what a play by Mikey, what patience, what a player, a great goal.” Erik Haula described the goal after the game, “Pally, that whole shift if you watch it back, how many battles he wins but just his determination, and Mikey McLeod, has got quite the mitts on him, what poise and a great goal.”


“Those (McLeod and Marino) are really fan favorites in the locker room. All the players were really pumped about it. For Mikey to go out there and light it up, score for us, get the lead was huge. That’s what playoffs is right? You need your big dogs to be big dogs but you also need guys to chip in.” - Jack Hughes 


Once they got the lead the team and the building seemed to relax. Five minutes later the Devils would double the score. John Marino took the puck at the right half wall, stickhandled through three Rangers and pushed a shot wide. He followed his shot, corralled the puck in the corner and found Tomas Tatar in front of the net. Tatar was ready and roofed the puck over Shesterkin setting off bedlam in The Rock and a memorable celly from Tatar, who later admitted he was just trying to find his mouthguard. “It was an amazing move, I actually thought for a second that he scored. After I saw he continued the play, I just tried to get ready and he shoveled the puck right to me.” 


After going up by two the Devils dug in and played even more disciplined while not being passive. They had to know that the only path back for the Rangers was through the power play and they made sure the Rangers would not get another opportunity with the man advantage. After taking four penalties in the first 30 minutes of the game, once the Devils took the lead they played infraction free for the remainder of the game. It was the more experienced Rangers instead who seemed to unravel in the third period taking a costly roughing penalty. 

The Devils entered the third period with a two goal advantage. Despite both teams having come back from two-goal deficits in the regular season series, neither team had overcome such a deficit in this round of the playoffs. The Devils knew they couldn’t sit on their heels and try to defend for 20 minutes and they continued their attack. 

They would be rewarded for continuing to attack. First round hero, veteran Erik Haula cashed in a 2 on 1 one-timer off a perfectly slotted feed from Hughes to ice the game at 3-0. 


After Haula’s goal the game was all but over until Jacob Trouba took a run at Timo Meier. Trouba laid out Meier with a plausibly clean hit that appeared to be directed at Meier’s head. Meier laid on the ice for several minutes before leaving under his own power. He would later return to the bench but not re-enter the game. Lindy Ruff said he would have an update on Meier’s status in the coming days. To the credit of the Devils they did not lose their composure and never retaliated against Trouba, choosing instead to allow the scoreboard to send a message. 

The Devils would add an empty net goal by Jesper Bratt to finish the scoring in the game. The only suspense was whether “Schmido” would be able to earn the shutout. Fortunately for Schmid, the Rangers had all but waved the white flag and finished the game with shifts from their bottom six, not even threatening the shut out. Once the final horn sounded the celebration was on and the team set their sights to Carolina.


After the game Coach Lindy Ruff was effusive in his praise for his team and the fearlessness they showed in playing their game despite it not being cautious. “They did an unbelievable job right from the start, the way we skated, the pressure we put on them right off the bat, we talked about not being afraid to play as hard as you can and play our game, nothing safe about our game but to be on our toes and play…This was a tough series, two good teams going at it.” 


“We showed up to play, proud of the way we played tonight. We knew it was a big game, we did the little things right and played as a team.” Nico Hischier


Devils Notes

  • Despite not scoring a goal, Captain Nico Hischier had an assist in the final five games to close out the series.
  • For goalies who played more than 1 game in the first round, Akira Schmid leads all in Save Pct (.951), GAA (1.38) and Shutouts (2)
  • The Devils were 4-0 in the series when they did not allow a power play goal.
  • At 5v5 the Devils were dominant with a 55% Corsi For, 58% of the expected goals, and lead in high danger chances 93 to 54
  • This was the Devils first Game 7 win at The Prudential Center and first Game 7 win on home ice since the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals (per Devils PR) Which was also the last time the Devils earned a shutout victory in a Game 7
  • With two assists in the game, Ondrej Palat now has 22 multi-point playoff games. 
  • Lindy Ruff is now ready to have that beer with the fans


The Devils will travel to face the Carolina Hurricanes in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Several Devils have history with the Hurricanes including Erik Haula and Curtis Lazar who were on last year’s Bruins team that was eliminated by the Hurricanes. Haula, though, is confident that the Devils will be ready. “We have the belief in our group that when we play our game we can compete against anyone.”