Armchair Analysis: Devils Take Care of Vancouver

Vancouver Canucks v New Jersey Devils

New Jersey took to the ice last night in what turned out to be quite a chippy affair. These two teams don’t play against each other very often but the number of scrums and fights that broke out during the game would make one think otherwise.  The Devils exposed issues in the Canucks’ penalty kill, goaltending, and ability to keep possession of the puck. The Canucks’ defense also suffered once Philip Larsen was removed on a stretcher after a train wreck of a hit by Taylor Hall but given Larsen’s importance to their defense, that was expected. Of course, Hall did the other things he usually does, as he scored a goal, assisted on another and continued to prove to NJ how complete of a player he really is.

    • The Devils struck early in this one as the puck came out in front of the goal after a Quincey shot. Taylor Hall took control of it and fired a wrister past off the post past Markstrom. We’ve seen that type of play a thousand times and most of the time, the puck stays out of the net. Taylor Hall isn’t your average player and he displayed nothing but skill on that goal.


    • Not sure what caused the fight between Gaunce and Severson because there were only clean hits up to that point but it was obvious that both players aren’t competing in the Heavyweight Division. After a few small punches, both fell down and then headed to the box to cool off.


    • So, let’s address the hit on Zajac. The arena (as I was there) completely lost it with the no call on this hit. For me, it was actually borderline and a call that really could have gone either way. Sure I would have liked to see something or at the very least for the refs not to have thrown the book at Moore for jumping in to defend his teammate. It does look like a hit from behind but the part that makes me say it was borderline was that I’m not sure Zajac was defenseless. I was more upset at the penalties given to Moore than I was of Chaput not getting one for the hit. Was glad to see Zajac come back in the 2nd period.


    • The Sedins must have spent a lot of time passing the puck to each other in the driveway as kids because that is what the spent the first few minutes of the 2nd period doing. With the help of Brandon Sutter and the refs for putting NJ 2 men down, the Canucks were able to move the puck around with ease and eventually buried the puck through the five-hole.


    • So, while the hit on Zajac was scary for a moment as he was lying there, the hit that Hall delivered on Philip Larson didn’t even compare. Larson was fed the puck around the back of the net, turned and started to skate and then was absolutely leveled by Hall. I’m not sure he was even conscious by the time he hit the ice. It’s a tough price to pay for any hockey player but a good lesson for all the kids out there. Keep your head up at all times, especially as you get older and the game gets faster. So, there’s Larson, lying unconscious on the ice and the Canucks team decided this would be a good time to jump on Hall. I think Larson ended up also getting hit by sticks and skates and his own teammates. Thankfully Markstrom  and Granlund rushed in to try and protect him from the melee and while I understand the need to defend a teammate, there is also a need to be smart about it. You never want to see a player leave the ice on a stretcher and I was glad to hear that he was awake and responsive before going to the hospital.



    • Things got quite heated after the Larson hit and it eventually cost Vancouver time in the box. During that PP, Palmieri one-timed a goal on a gorgeous cross-ice laser pass from Hall, literally adding insult to injury.


    • Lovejoy scored his first in a Devils uniform on a bomb of a shot that found space underneath the Canucks big goalie. Palmieri created a beautiful screen that many complained was interference but Markstrom had the room he needed and the puck grazed off the top of his blocker. It was just an absolute bomb.


    • The Canucks would strike again in the 3rd to make it interesting and certainly applied a lot of pressure from that point on but the Devils were able to answer the call every time. The Canucks were able to pin the Devils in their own zone a few times in the 3rd but thankfully it didn’t result in the game-tying goal. I don’t like when the Devils play with a 1-goal lead late in the game, especially if they are playing some rather uninspiring hockey but they made it work and they kept from having to play extra hockey this time around.


Final Thoughts

I thought this was the best game I’ve seen from Quincy and Moore and hopefully, they are starting to figure out how to play with each other. I applaud Moore for sticking up for his teammate as well since he’s not much of a fighter. I was glad to see the Devils win their first game in regulation in 23 days. Schneider has been the recipient of some criticism over the last few weeks but I think tonight showed that if you give your goalie support, good things will happen. Miles Wood looked good and has earned his spot on the ice. He has things to work on, like his shot, but his speed is giving him and the Devils opportunities.  DSP on the other hand was a guy that made me really happy at the end of last season but so far, this season, I’m not seeing much.

The comeback win in Nashville and the continued success at home should build some confidence as the Devils head north of the border to face a tough Canadiens team tomorrow night.

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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