As Geoffrey Chaucer once said, all good things must come to an end. It is safe to say he was not talking about hockey, but it still applies as the New Jersey Devils winning streak was stopped at three after they suffered a 5-3 loss to the Boston Bruins last night at TD Garden. MacKenzie Blackwood had a rough night in goal, allowing five goals on 34 shots.
The Devils were forced to make some changes and hit the ice with some new faces. Forwards Alexander Holtz, Tomas Tatar, and Mason Geertsen played their first game of 2022, while defenseman Christian Jaros returned to the lineup for the first time since Dec. 11. The team came out with energy and put up a good fight before ultimately losing, and here are three takeaways from the Devils’ latest loss.
New Jersey Is Dealing With a Depleted Roster
Ahead of last night’s game Devils fans were hit with the news that Nico Hischier would be out with a lower-body injury, while both Yegor Sharangovich and Pavel Zacha were placed in the NHL’s COVID protocol. Long-term injuries include Jonathan Bernier, who will miss the remainder of the season after a successful right hip surgery, and Dougie Hamilton, who is scheduled to have jaw surgery today and has been placed on injured reserve. Some good news came later as play-by-play announcer Steve Cangialosi stated Hischer would join his team today, and could possibly play on Thursday when the Devils battle the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Devils found themselves in an all too familiar similar situation hitting the ice with a depleted roster, battling both COVID and injuries, and the additions of Sharangovich and Zacha now makes three players in protocol. The loss of Hamilton affects all areas of New Jersey’s play, including the power play. The team had one opportunity on the man advantage, and for the second consecutive game were unable to convert. Every team in the league is dealing with injuries and players being placed in protocol, and New Jersey needs to find answers, especially when it comes to replacing Hamilton on the blue line.
Devils Continue to Have a No Quit Attitude
As I stated in my previous article, attitude reflects leadership, and this team continues to have a no quit attitude on the ice. The Devils came back three times to tie the game in Boston, and were in it until the end. If fans take a look at the Devils of three or even five years ago, it was known that if the team fell behind by two or three goals, they would not make a comeback. This season that is not the case, as the team has been overall successful in the third period, and has been able to force overtime when necessary.
Blackwood had a strange night in goal, and after the game told the media he doesn’t recall having as many flukey goals go in. Of course, there were some he would like back, including the first goal he gave up 2:53 into the game.
Oskar Steen’s first career goal has to be one of the strangest I have seen, as the Bruins center knocked the puck from off of the top of the net and then it bounced off Mackenzie Blackwood’s mask and went in. The Devils responded minutes later, courtesy of Tatar, and it was a back-and-forth game until Brandon Carlo scored Boston’s final goal of the night with under a minute to play.
A Valiant Effort From New Jersey
Considering their situation, the Devils played well. Nathan Bastian and Damon Severson both scored on breakaway opportunities, and Tatar scored his first goal since Dec. 16.
“We’re pretty happy with the performance,” said Devils assistant Alain Nasreddine. “Did we make mistakes? Yeah. But did the guys put in the work? Absolutely. The game was tied, and we ended up with a mistake that we’ve talked about all game: protecting our net front. That ended up costing us in the end. It’s frustrating, but we’re all proud of the effort we put in, especially with the situation we’re in.”
As disappointing as the loss was, the Devils played better than expected. Ryan Graves and Janne Kuokkanen led their team with five shots on goal, while Bastian and Mason Geertsen combined for 10 of the team’s 25 hits. Reinforcements are on their way, as Hischier could be an option for tomorrow’s night’s game. With this game behind them, they will hit the ice this afternoon and prepare to battle the Columbus Blue Jackets at Prudential Center tomorrow night.
Kristy has been contributing to The Hockey Writers since March of 2021. She is thrilled to be putting her journalism degree to use and covers both the Nashville Predators and New Jersey Devils. Kristy is also a co-host of Chicks & Sticks, a weekly Youtube show produced by THW. You can follow her journey on Twitter @InStilettos_NHL and Instagram SkatingInStilettos.