New Jersey Devils Recap: Week 2
Week two of the ’21-‘22 New Jersey Devils season saw the Garden State boys finish off their five-game homestand to start the year. In just two games, the Devils went 1-1-0, including another fun overtime win. Let’s get into the games for the weekly New Jersey Devils recap.
10/23/21: vs. Buffalo Sabres [2-1 W/OT]
After Dylan Cozens scored a powerplay goal from Jacob Bryson and Kyle Okposo just 3:19 into the game, it looked like the Devils were in for a let down to a Sabres team that had aspirations for the first overall pick again, despite their shocking 3-1-0 start. Before puck drop, New Jersey was faced with some adversity as it was announced that 20-year-old Nico Daws would start his first NHL game in net. With injuries to Mackenzie Blackwood and now Jonathan Bernier, Daws and Wedgewood were the goalies for the week.
It wasn’t until a powerplay goal by Devils captain Nico Hischier with just over 14 minutes left in regulation that tied it at one. Assisting on Hischier’s goal was Dougie Hamilton and Tomas Tatar.
This game was kind of a snooze fest, and even though the Devils put up 39 shots on Dustin Tokarski, there weren’t a whole ton of high-danger chances for either team. I found myself watching college football for most of regulation because they were flat out more interesting. Not all 82 games are going to be fun from start to finish, but thanks to Hischier, the game was sent to overtime – setting us up for some fast paced 3-on-3 action.
Jack Hughes was the overtime hero on opening night, but without him in the lineup because of a dislocated left shoulder meant someone else needed to be the hero. Pavel Zacha took a fantastic no-look, behind-the-back pass from Damon Severson and sniped a wrist shot far side to win the game 2-1 with 1:51 remaining in overtime. It was Zacha’s second goal of the year, with Severson and Yegor Sharangovich being credited with assists.
I let out a huge sigh of relief when that puck hit the twine because losing to Buffalo at home is simply inexcusable. Even without Hughes, the New Jersey’s roster is better top to bottom. Very glad and relieved to see a Devils win Saturday night.
10/26/21: vs. Calgary Flames [3-5 L]
Goals from Milan Lucic, Elias Lindholm, and Andrew Mangiapane (2) had Calgary up 4-0 at the end of the first period. After Daws was dynamite in his first career start, he struggled in his second, but it was not much of his fault. The defense and offense were atrocious in the Devils’ worst period of the young season.
Zacha scored at the 7:01 mark in the second period to avoid the shutout, but Matthew Tkachuk would score on the powerplay at 11:18 to go up 5-1 and essentially put the game out of reach. Zacha and Dawson Mercer would score in the third, but it was too little, too late, and the game ended 5-3 in favor of the Flames.
Though it was nice to see a little bit of battle in the Devils after falling down big, this game was over quickly thanks to the ugly first period. The Flames are a good team, and now sit at 4-1-1, but if the Devils want to make the playoffs this year, they have to be able to defeat good teams on home ice.
We received an update on Jack Hughes’ shoulder injury this week. Hughes suffered a dislocated shoulder but, thank the Lord, won’t need surgery. His timetable to return is still undetermined, but doctors will re-evaluate him in five weeks as he continues his physical therapy and process to a full recovery. If he returns right as the five weeks ends, Hughes could play December 3 in Winnipeg against the Jets. That’s not entirely awful, as the Devils have less than 20 games between now and then.
P.K. Subban was fined $5,000 for a slew foot on Flames forward Milan Lucic, which is the maximum amount allowed under the CBA. Subban got away with a similar play against Ryan Reaves of the New York Rangers in the preseason. Reaves went down very awkwardly, but thankfully only missed a few games and avoided what could have been a serious knee injury. Lucic remained in the game on the 26th, and it looks like he won’t be missing anytime. I know he’s giving up size to both players, Subban needs to be a little more careful. There’s no need for all of that.
Like I said, Nico Daws made his NHL debut against Buffalo. He was excellent – saving 24 of 25 shots on net while posting the win. Don’t look at the numbers from his first period against the Flames, though. This dude is going to be really good for New Jersey and should serve as Mackenzie Blackwood’s backup for the long-term future. Daws doesn’t turn 21 until December 22, and me being a 21-year-old that isn’t in the NHL is really killing my mood.
- Pavel Zacha netted the game-winning goal in overtime versus Buffalo and had two more against Calgary. He is going to be a very important piece to New Jersey’s offense this year. I think he has the best shot on the team.
- Dougie Hamilton continues to show the NHL he is well worth that $9 million salary he was given by the Devils in free agency. He had three assists and a +1 rating this week.
- Dawson Mercer is so electrifying. He is everywhere on the ice and creates turnovers and chances out of what seems like nothing. He also just gives 150% every shift, and he’s been rewarded for his effort by adding a goal and an assist in week two.
The New Jersey Devils are down to eighth place in the Metropolitan division, but just like at the end of week one, it’s because they have played fewer games than every other team. At just five games, the Devils don’t just have the least games played in the Metro, but also the entire NHL. Carolina, Washington, and Philadelphia occupy the top three spots in the division, while the Rangers sit in the top Eastern Conference wild card slot. The Devils’ record is now 3-2-0.
The Week Ahead
The Devils have three games in the upcoming week, and since this article won’t be up on the site until at least Sunday, two of them might already be done. The team will hit the road for the first time this season, but it will be a quick trip to Pittsburgh to play the Penguins Saturday. Pittsburgh will see their superstar captain Sidney Crosby play his first game of the year after recovering from offseason wrist surgery. Then, on Sunday afternoon, the Devils host the Columbus Blue Jackets. It’s the first back-to-back of the season for New Jersey, and both being against Metropolitan opponents could be a big swing for the Devils if they can win both. On Tuesday, the boys travel out to California for their first true road trip. They play the Anaheim Ducks in the first of a three-game west coast swing that will see the Kings and Sharks in week four.
Read the New Jersey Devils recap from week one here.
Read the New Jersey Devils season preview here.