The New Jersey Devils losing skid continues, falling to the Arizona Coyotes, by a score of 4-1 Wednesday night at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Karel Vejmelka saved 35 shots while Nico Hicshier netted the Devils only goal. That marked his 8th of the year and 2nd on the power play. The Devils’ were 1-2 on the powerplay. The Devils are 29th in the league when it comes to scoring on the man advantage. The Devils connected quickly on the first power-play off of, Christian Fischer’s holding penalty. They were 2-2 on the penalty kill. The Devils’ are in 12th in the league when it comes to killing a penalty (81.7%).
This is a type of game Devil fans will want to forget quickly. Falling to the Coyotes who currently reside in last place in the Western Conference. The Devils lead the way for shots 36-17. The Devils’ had 12 shots in the first; 15 in the second; only nine in the third. Sloppy turnovers and costly mistakes lead to Coyote's goals.
In the first period, the Devils were aggressive, forcing Arizona to play a lot of defense.
The Devils’ all season have had a problem with high shot totals, and not scoring. Coach Lindy Ruff said, “we need to score dirtier goals.” They failed to do so in many ways and couldn't finish off rebounds and tip-ins.
In the second period, at the 6:50 mark, Dysin Mayo, scores off a hard slap shot. Nearly almost 5 minutes later, the Coyotes, light the lamp again with a fast snapshot by, Lawson Crouse. The Coyotes played a lot of keep-away in the 2nd period and made the Devils’ chase in their own zone. The Coyotes scored again off a tip-in at the 16:13 second mark. Coach Lindy Ruff spoke about the second period saying, "That second period was not good enough to win a hockey game."
“That second period was not good enough to win a hockey game.”
Lindy Ruff speaks after the 4-1 loss to Arizona. pic.twitter.com/HJ8Tw3svd4
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) January 20, 2022
A positive to look at in the 2nd period is that the Devils’ killed a great power-play opportunity for the Coyotes. Jesper Bratt got called for high sticking on Shane Gostisbehere. This penalty kill kept the game 1-1. The Devils’ didn't allow a single shot on the penalty kill.
Early in the third period, Jimmy Vessey had a few scoring opportunities but missed. The Devils couldn’t generate any type of offense in the third period. It is eye-opening to see the Devils, sorta sit back and not get aggressive down three in the third period. There were no electric hits or any type of momentum-shifting moments. This team is young as we know, but the veterans need to step up and take control of these moments. Knowing not to roll over and give up. Halfway through the third, the Coyotes started sitting back and playing very defensively. All to show for having the puck in the Coyotes zone for the last few minutes was a snapped stick from a Subban's, one-timer, and Jimmy Vesey, hitting the post.
At the 16:55 mark, the Devils pulled Mckenzie Blackwood, not much sparked a comeback or even a single goal. The coyotes kept taking the empty net shots that led to icings. They didn't seem to mind the devils having the offensive zone faceoffs. Failing to score at least one goal with the extra man advantage the coyotes went on to win 4-1.
This is obviously the most frustrating loss of the season so far. Blackwood struggled in net last night allowing three goals in only seven shots in the 2nd period. When asked about how he felt about this game he said, “it was a weird game overall,” continuing on he mentioned how there were also some weird tips and screens.
Nico Hicshier said, “We need to learn how to play with the lead.” Meaning to keep playing the game the right way. The Devils need to lessen mistakes and counter the other team's mistakes into scoring opportunities.
Another interesting discussion you could have is what are the Devils going to do about Mckenzie Blackwood? They really have no other option than benching him. He fairs near the bottom of the league in almost every category. Maybe they need to get a goalie who can compete for the starting goaltending job. Wednesday's performance was just plain bad. It was like a car crash you wanted to look away from. In just 17 shots he allowed four goals. Hopefully, with the midway point of the season coming up, Blackwood can turn it around. You could make the argument he is playing sore or even hurt. If that is the case why not sit him and let him become 100%. The Devils received Jon Gillies in a trade just last month from the St. Louis Blues. Gillies could start for a few games, allowing Blackwood to get rested and healthy.
Wednesday, the National Hockey League (NHL) announced 95 rescheduled games. Most of these rescheduled games will be played during the winter Olympics. The NHL was originally pausing the season so players could go play for their respective countries. with the recent COVID cases spike, and the league having 3/4 of the league test positive. They have decided to not allow the players to play in the Olympics. With the planned pause, and a whole open month. The league rescheduled most of all the games during the stretch of February. The Devils had eight games rescheduled. Including three home games.
What's Coming Up For Devils?
Within the next week and a half, the Devils will be playing a tough stretch of hockey. They have two against the Hurricanes, two against the Maple Leafs. Also, the Devils will travel to Tampa to play the Lightning who currently sit at the top of the league standings with 59 pts.
The Devils' next game is against the Hurricanes on Saturday, January 22. The puck drops at 7:00pm.