The 4-2-1 Devils looked to be having a great Halloween weekend.
They had their team party on Thursday, beat Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on Saturday, and dominated the Blue Jackets for most of the game on Sunday, except they still can’t score goals, get consistently good goaltending, and win shootouts.
For the last few years, they’ve been dominated by the Blue Jackets. While the rosters are entirely different, Bjorkstrand continues to have field days against the Devils, and they still can’t beat the Blue Jackets. The part-owner of the Devils, Bjorkstrand, continues to massacre them as he scored his 9th career goal against them in the 4-3 shootout loss.
Rookie Dawson Mercer continues to be one of the Devils’ best players, scoring again in today’s game. He now has five points in six games, which is tied for 3rd most among rookies.
Since being benched on Tuesday, Jesper Bratt has been the Devils’ best player. Registering three points this weekend, he’s been everywhere on the ice, creating chances with his passing and skating ability.
On a negative note, the Devils got a below-average outing from Scott Wedgewood as he posted a .885 save percentage while the league average is around .910.
In-zone turnovers continue to kill the Devils. Just ask Ty Smith, whose turnover cost them a possible win. They continue to flounder on the powerplay, going 0-3 and failing to cash in a 5-3 with about two minutes to go in the third. Not to mention, the same team who went 0-5 in shootouts last year picked up right where they left off by not scoring a goal and losing.
The Curse of the Missing Goal Scorer
While the Devils dominated this game, they walked away with one point. They continued the trend of outshooting and out-chancing teams but still could not put the puck in the back of the next. Outside of Dawson Mercer, Andreas Johnsson, and Pavel Zacha, only Jimmy Vesey and Dougie Hamilton have more than one goal this season. Guys like Tatar and Sharangovich were expected to be among team leaders in goals, have none through seven games.
Between the lack of goal scorers and lack of success on the powerplay, it’s made it difficult for the Devils over this stretch without Hughes. Although they’re 2-2-1 over this stretch without Hughes, they could have a few more wins if Hischier, Sharangovich, Kuokkanen, and Tatar played to their potential.
It’s only a matter of time till a few of the names mentioned above find their groove. Last season, Sharangovich and Kuokkanen both got off to slow starts before having their successful rookie seasons. The first-year Devil Tatar has five seasons of 20 or more goals, meaning it could be an early struggle of getting acquainted with his new team. The big question mark is Hischier. He needs to take a big step this season if the Devils want to succeed, but he’s done anything but. Nico only has three points through seven games and has yet to look like the same Hischier we saw his rookie year. If Hischier doesn’t begin taking steps soon, a slight panic may start to set in the Garden State.
Need an Upgrade in Wood
In back-to-back seasons, the Devils have gone into the beginning of the season with a different goalie tandem than they had in mind. Last season, it was the surprise retirement of Corey Crawford that sent the Devils goaltending situation spiraling.
This season, Mackenzie Blackwood has been battling a heel injury that’s kept him out the first month. The big difference between the two years has been Jonathan Bernier. Bernier has been a godsend for the Devils so far, posting a record of 3-0 with a .923 save percentage.
In the three games Scott Wedgewood’s appeared in; he’s 0-2 with a .880 save percentage. The other wood, Blackwood, is expected to return to the lineup this week, and if he can perform as a 1A goaltender, the Devils will be miles ahead of where they were last year on the backend.
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