September 08, 2023

Bryce Salvador

I'm interviewing the newest Devil, Curtis Lazar, during warmups!
Game 1 of this mini-playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning didn't go well for the New Jersey Devils, which is saying things nicely. In the first period, Vasilevskiy kept his team in the fight as the Devils were clearly the better team. The Devils came out with a noticeable jump and lots of energy. They played high-tempo and fast, and Severson scored 5:55 into the game. Then Ryan Graves scored under 6 minutes later, but that was overturned at the 11:28 mark into the first period, which was very suspect, in my opinion. Tuna (Tatar) was trying to stop before hitting Vasilevskiy, as evidenced by the snow being sprayed by his left skate (I mentioned and showed this point on the broadcast). 
Yet, the Refs/league overturned this goal, which shows you never know what the final call will be on goalie interference. The more significant issue was that the Devils allowed this call to kill their mojo and energy, and then they conceded a shorthanded goal about 5 minutes later. 
Vasilevskiy continued to backstop his team and got them out of the 1st period tied 1-1, a "win"in my book for TBL. Then came the second period, which was all Tampa Bay, and Vitek could not match Vasilevskiy's 1st-period performance. Yes, the Devils' skaters had some defensive letdowns in front of him, but Vanecek should have stopped the first two TBL goals in the second period, and I'm sure VV would say the same. 
I'm most excited to see how the Devils respond after losing a game they initially thought they were in control of. Situations like this are why this 3-game mini-series will prove to be invaluable. The Devils will learn what areas of their preparation and execution need improvement and whether they managed their energy and emotions appropriately throughout each game, both on and off the ice. They can specifically point back to their lack of response and noticeable drop in their energy levels after their second goal of the first period in Game 1 was overturned. And, that they can’t let their bench become a morgue, quite frankly, after TBL scored their SHG to tie the game at 1-1. In fact, there was talk after this game by the Devils players saying that the bench became flat, and their energy wasn't there after their overturned goal, which I would agree with because I even felt the drop between the benches. 
I welcome these great teaching moments because you need to experience them firsthand, as talking about "possiblesituations" that could happen with players who have never been through them is all great and dandy, but, in reality, talk is cheap and doesn't substitute having lived and played through the real moments. In the playoffs, there will be ups and downs, and you need to remain even-keeled and quickly move on from bad plays, situations, and calls that don't go your way. Being able to do this on the fly is essential to winning.

With Bastian and Wood expected to be out, Sharangovich should return to the lineup tonight. He is a player that needs to find the back of the net. Zero goals in his last eight games and 4 in his last 30 games is not the production rate that keeps you in the lineup when you are considered a 20-goal scorer.

The Haula line and Severson/Smith pairing were solid for the Devils 5v5, just no goals to show for their effort, eating their matchups for dinner all night. On the other side of the puck, the Point line single-handily beat the Devils, scoring all three goals (the SHG is not reflected below, 5v5), and the Sergachev/Raddysh pairing had their way against the Devils when on the ice. It will be interesting to see how game 2 goes after each team makes their lineup adjustments, as Stamkos skated in practice yesterday and might return tonight.




Subscribe to my newsletter

Subscribe for the latest highlights and content