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Five observations from New Jersey vs San Jose:
1. Kyle Palmieri remains scorching hot
Death, taxes, and Palmieri scoring two goals every night.
The veteran winger has put together three consecutive multi-goal games and is off to an early lead in the Cy Young race (six goals, zero assists) as a result.
He is not going to continue shooting 42%, of course, but it's no surprise he has been filling the net with great regularity thus far. He skates on the top line with a pair of elite talents, the Devils funnel him pucks on the power play, and he has been very trigger happy – (clearly) as he should be. Palmieri is averaging almost five shots on goal per game, many of which were heavy and from pretty dangerous areas.
I think he is a really good bet to score at a 30+ goal pace for the third time in four years as a member of the Devils.
2. The 2nd line was cratered
The Marcus Johansson - Pavel Zacha - Stefan Noesen line did a lot of good things in the first two games, even if they weren't necessarily rewarded for it. That was not the case vs the Sharks.
From start to finish that trio was out of sync. They spent a lot of time running around chasing play in the defensive zone. When they did manage to recover the puck and take it up ice, they continually shot themselves in the foot and erased any chance of accomplishing anything offensively.
Stefan Noesen, in particular, struggled. He completely botched a pass on a 3-on-1 and the Devils didn't even generate a shot attempt out of it. He also nullified another odd-man rush by going offsides.
Suffice to say, it was not shocking to see the Sharks controlled better than 80% of the scoring chances when that line was out there.
3. Nico Hischier's finishing still needs work
As fantastic, and productive, as Hischier already is, it's hard not to leave wanting more sometimes. He is so good at consistently finding space and creating chances in close. He just struggles to put them away.
Sunday, Hischier was credited with three high-danger chances, which tied him with Tomas Hertl for the game-high, but was unable to convert on any of them.
This has been a re-occurring theme in the early going. He already has eight HD chances (no other Devil has more than three) and yet he remains goalless. Hischier has left some goals on the table, which was the case last year even though he still managed to pot 20.
The sky will be the limit if he can ever improve his conversion rate.
4. Devils answered the bell
Though the Devils were spectacular in the first couple games of their season, you could put somewhat of an asterisk on their success.
Beyond Connor McDavid, the Oilers are a mess. Beating them is nothing to write home about.
The trouncing of the Capitals was impressive, however, they were in the latter half of a back-to-back and starting a goaltender who posted a sub .900 save percentage in the AHL last season.
Sunday's game against the Sharks was the first time the Devils faced a legitimately good team with a fresh lineup. And they held their own controlling 47% of the attempts and 48.3% of the expected goals. There really wasn't much separating the two sides, which is encouraging given the Sharks are considered by many to be one of the Stanley Cup favorites.
5. Keith Kinkaid was excellent
The Devils didn't ask Kinkaid to do a whole lot in the opening two games. They gave up very few shots and did a fantastic job of making sure the ones they allowed came from low-danger areas. It was a different story against the Sharks. They put 39 pucks on net and generated more high-danger chances than Edmonton and Washington combined. Despite this, Kinkaid was only beaten twice. He stepped up and gave the Devils quality goaltending in a game they really needed it.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com and Corsica.Hockey.
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