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Five observations from New Jersey vs Toronto
The Devils were playing to clinch their first playoff berth since 2011-12. The Maple Leafs were playing for nothing. It showed, especially early on. New Jersey came flying out of the gates and peppered Frederik Andersen from anywhere and everywhere. He has struggled over the last month or so but you certainly wouldn't have known it watching last night's game. He's the only reason the Maple Leafs didn't get their doors blown off in the opening frame.
It evened up a bit over the latter two periods but the Devils were still the better team overall. They won the high-danger chance battle 10-4 at full-strength and were mostly in control territorially throughout.
They earned the win.
2. There were hiccups
Defensively, the Devils were stout. They didn't give Toronto's collection of skilled forwards much breathing room to make plays and forced them to spend more time defending than attacking. It was pretty impressive.
Unfortunately, the Devils made a few horrible plays with the puck that led to easy scoring opportunities for the Maple Leafs. There were at least three or four blind/soft passes over the middle that were intercepted and resulted in excellent looks from the slot area. If the Devils don't get that part of their game cleaned up, they won't last long regardless of their opponent.
3. Keith Kinkaid showed up again
Another game, another solid performance from Kinkaid. He wasn't tested much in terms of volume. Still, he had to be on his toes as the Devils handed the Maple Leafs a handful of Grade A looks on a silver platter in effort to make his life a little more difficult. He answered the bell and bailed the team out with a key stop each time.
It's good he's heading into the playoffs playing the best hockey of his career. We don't know who the Devils will face but we do know they'll be going up against plenty of firepower regardless. He'll need to be excellent for the Devils to have a chance.
4. Miles Wood was solid
That was the best game I've seen from Wood in a long time. From start to finish his speed was a big time factor. He won a lot of races to loose pucks and blew the doors off Toronto defenders while skating through the neutral zone. He forechecked hard, he was impossible to move in front of the net, and he piled up a game-high 11 shot attempts to go along with his goal. His speed will always create him opportunities so if he wants to play defense, and John Hynes can rely on him to be responsible, he is a really good player.
5. Patrick Maroon continues to impress
Maroon looks like a better deadline addition with each passing day. You wouldn't think a big guy with limited foot speed would be a great fit for a Devils team that loves to crank up the pace but Maroon has fit in wonderfully. He's not fast on his feet but he's fast with his head. He knows where to be on the ice, he has good vision, and he has the hands and puck skills necessary to make plays once he reads them.
He also has the size and puck protection ability to do this.
Another monster night from Hall leads Devils past the Rangers
Marcus Johansson has played better than given credit for