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Five observations from New Jersey vs Montreal:
1. The Devils did just enough
Though their shot total (32) was respectable, I think it was a little misleading. The Devils really struggled to generate offense against the Canadiens. They couldn't get into dangerous areas with much frequency and had to settle for a lot of outside shots as a result.
At 5v5, they were credited with less than 10 chances for just the third time this season – and first of this calendar year – while they tied a season-low with just 14 overall.
Truth by told, not a lot was happening for the vast majority of the game. The Devils, and Taylor Hall, were just opportunistic when they did get good looks.
2. Another quality start from Keith Kinkaid
The first 40 minutes were pretty routine for Kinkaid. The Canadiens didn't generate a ton of good looks, and they don't have much shooting talent in their lineup, so he wasn't really tested that much. The 3rd period was a different story. In large part due to a wave of power plays, the Habs generated 13 chances in the final frame. Kinkaid came up with all the stops he needed to and kept things level so the Devils had a legitimate shot to win the game. Obviously, they took advantage of it.
Kinkaid has now won 13 of his last 17 starts and posted a .930 save percentage in that span. That's an impressive run by anyone's standards.
One point and two shots on goal is a pretty quiet game for Taylor Hall, which feels crazy to say, but I thought he had another solid night.
It wasn't so much that he had a ton of chances himself. He didn't. He still created for his teammates, though.
In particular, I think he did a good job of driving to the middle of the ice and drawing attention. He pulled Canadiens to him. That led to teammates – such as Kyle Palmieri – being left unguarded in good positions of the ice.
With the year he's had, opponents have to give him so much respect. That opens things up for his teammates and he continues to make them pay for that.
4. Jesper Bratt provided a spark
He has had a rough go at it over the last couple months. I thought he was terrific last night, though.
The 4th line was able to generate sustained pressure in the offensive zone on a few different occasions and Bratt was a big part of it. Despite his small stature, he won his share of battles down low and made some passes with defenders all over him to keep plays alive.
Though he didn't find the scoresheet, he posted a game-high 73.68 Corsi For%.
5. Shoot the puck
Michael Grabner was mostly good, especially on the penalty kill. He was really aggressive at the points and forced a couple turnovers as a result. Unfortunately, he completely botched the best opportunity his speed created. He forced a pass on the rush, rather than taking a shot and getting off, and Montreal immediately took the puck the other way and buried their only goal of the game.
I get not wanting to be a selfish player but part of the reason the Devils paid for Grabner is for some goals. It's pretty hard to score when you won't take a shot regardless of the situation.
Marcus Johansson has played better than given credit for