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Five observations from New Jersey vs New York (R):
1. Devils' attack remains lifeless
It's become crystal clear scoring more than a couple of goals – forget winning – is a mountain-sized ask regardless of opponent. Last night was yet another good example of that.
The Rangers are a bad team that entered play in truly horrendous defensive form. In 10 games prior to last, they ranked bottom-4 in attempts, chances, *and* high-danger chances against per 60 minutes. Team defense has been a massive issue.
Yet, after a somewhat shaky opening frame, they held the Devils to just 12 shots and zero(!) high-danger chances over the final 40 minutes of play.
Eric Tangradi, Drew Stafford, and Damon Severson were the only three Devils to record multiple 'Grade B' chances over the entire duration of the game.
With Henrik Lundqvist in net, it's no wonder the Devils only scored twice. They were probably lucky to get that many.
2. The tank is on
I have no doubt John Hynes and the coaching staff does everything they can to try and win games, and the same can be said of the players. Win or lose, the effort can't be questioned. With that said, it's apparent their best efforts are rarely going to be good enough.
Again, the Rangers are not a good team. At all. They have no incentive to win games, either. Yet, they still had it in them to outshoot the Devils 31-12 and out-chance them 29-8 (15-0 in terms of high-danger) over the final 40 minutes of play. They turned it up a notch after a somewhat sleepy opening frame, and the Devils didn't have it in them to stop the bleeding remotely.
It's good news for #TheTank but, man, it's hard to watch on a nightly basis.
3. Cory Schneider was exceptional
I thought he was the best player on the ice by a wide margin. Simply put, the game isn't even close without Schneider's stellar play. The Rangers fired 40 shots on net and won the high-danger battle 17-3. The Devils had no business being in the game, however, they were right down to the wire because of Schneider's ability to make big save after big save.
I still don't think we're going to see another .920SV%+ season from Schneider, as was the case annually in the past, but he's giving reason to believe the gas tank isn't empty. After more than a year of the worst hockey imaginable, that's a big step in the right direction.
4. Damon Severson stood out
Beyond Schneider, there wasn't a lot of encouraging individual performances from players on the Devils. Severson was one of the exceptions.
In a game where the Devils were out-attempted by 28 at 5v5, Severson posted a minus-2 differential while logging big minutes. Not bad! He also scored a goal, although Lundqvist should have had it, recorded a pair of chances, and led all Devils with .64 expected goals.
Given all the key forwards out of the lineup, the Devils need defenders like Severson to step up, get involved, and take on some extra responsibility offensively. He did that.
5. Crazy but true
In large part due to an abundance of injuries, 31 players have logged at least 100 minutes at 5v5 for the Devils this season. Among them, Gabriel ranks a distant last with a 33.17 Corsi For% and 27.85 Scoring Chance For%. But fear not because every dog has its day, and Gabriel's came against the Rangers.
In ~7 minutes with Gabriel on the ice, the Devils out-attempted the Rangers 12-11 (52.17 CF%). Without Gabriel, the Rangers out-attempted the Devils 44-15 (25.42 CF%).
How Gabriel, of all people, managed such numbers in a game the Devils were caved in is beyond me but hats off to him.
Numbers via NaturalStatTrick.com
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