The Devils came in to the match up with the (Columbus) Blue Jackets on a 4 game win streak, the Blue Jackets having a horrible start to the season but finally getting their first win. What also made this an interesting match-up is a meeting with an old foe: John Tortorella.
John Tortorella is well known to Devils fans due to being the head coach of the New York Rangers for several years. Even most hockey fans outside of that rivalry are aware of him as a coach and person, especially due to his antics; case in point his suspension during his reign in Vancouver due to going in to Calgary’s locker room.
From the outset of the game, the Devils continued their dominating style of play which is becoming prevalent under new head coach John Hynes. Considering their bad start to the season, the Blue Jackets matched the Devils at every turn and shot. It was going to be one of those games of whoever scored first would win the game.
Early in the game and even up until the middle of the second period the Devils were definitely the dominating team, however the tide slowly started to turn. The Blue Jackets began to mount a counter offensive and began getting opportunities.
Through 50 minutes of play the Devils had their chances but then the Blue Jackets struck first, and from there it seemed to fall apart for the Devils which in quick succession suddenly became a 3-0 deficit.
With little time remaining the Devils feel short 3-1 at the end with a consolation goal by Kyle Palmieri on a power play goal with an empty net.
Whilst it was a tough loss considering how the Devils played for 50 minutes, it wasn’t a 60 minute game. John Hynes from early on with the Devils has said repeatedly a team needs to play 60 minutes and the result was evidence that it did not occur this game. That will happen from time to time and they can’t win every game, so on to the next one against the Flyers.
Before we go there however, there were a few moments from the game that caught my attention.
John Tortorella’s influence as a coach was quite evident early in the game. His players have a certain style when playing under him. Let’s just call this the Rangers style. For example, Sergei Bobrovsky put his arm out to slow a Devils player. Jack Johnson lashed out after the play had stopped. A dirty style of play, and possibly a continued rivalry from his time as the Rangers coach.
Considering the Devils will be playing the Blue Jackets a total of four more times this season, it will be interesting to see if this style continues.
The Devils next travelled to Philadelphia and the game began similarly to the Blue Jackets game; it appeared another stressful evening was in the books (well day time for me).
The Flyers struck first with only a few minutes left in the second period and it definitely send like another tough night.
This feeling was short lived however when Travis Zajac came up big with a power play goal late in the second to tie the game and the teams headed to second intermission tied.
The Devils’ “Relentless” motto kicked in to high gear in the third period where another two goals were scored, the Devils locked down the zones, and resumed their dominating play they’ve been adopting this season.
The Flyers pushed one last time at the end when the Devils gifted them a power play however not only did the Devils kill it off, Andy Greene the great captain scored a goal of the year candidate (in my biased opinion, see highlights below) on a clearing shot during the Flyers power play from behind the goal line – a 200 foot shot. A sight to behold indeed.
With that, the Devils win 4-1 and had back home in a wild card spot against another division rival, the New York Islanders on Halloween.
I mention the wild card spot even though it’s still very early on the season (only ten games played) just due to the fact the Devils have struggled at the start of the season the past couple of years and whatever points and position they can get early on will help them down the stretch towards playoffs.
I’m not suggesting the Devils are a guaranteed playoff team, especially after such a turnover of front office staff and players, but it’s good to see them playing with more determination and passion than what we as fans have been seeing in more recent years.