Islanders 5, Devils 1: Getting Sorokin'd
The Devils generated a lot of chances against New York. Unfortunately, Sorokin ensured they didn't amount to anything.
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A few notes following New Jersey’s disappointing 5-1 loss against New York:
Ilya Sorokin was a wall
The Devils didn’t play a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination – they gave up quite a bit – but I thought they did enough to win or, at the very least, have a close final score. Ilya Sorokin was by far the biggest reason that didn’t happen.
With the Devils having just clinched a playoff spot, there was a chance of a letdown effort against a desperate team. To their credit, the Devils avoided that trap.
They came out with purpose and were ready to put in the work to create chances against this Islanders team. They didn’t try and play a run-and-gun perimeter game. They put on their hard hats, grinding the puck down low and working it into the home plate area time after time.
While the Devils only generated nine shots on goal in the opening frame (there were at least two that weren’t scored, but who is counting?), the chances were there in bulk; and it was their best players taking them.
In the 1st period, it felt like every time over the boards a golden chance ended up on the stick of one of the team’s big guns. They just couldn’t beat Sorokin; a sign of things to come.
New Jersey absolutely suffered a crash in the 2nd frame but they were able to get right back on the horse in the 3rd. All in all, they generated 16 Grade A chances and 3.64 expected goals. No, not across all situations. At 5v5 alone.
Against a playoff-style opponent that is hellbent on taking away your team speed, and making you fight for every opportunity, the Devils generated a ton of them. They simply couldn’t convert.
I know some will have concerns about the Devils getting goalied, worrying about a lack of finish. I don’t. I mean, Sorokin has saved nearly 40 more goals than expected this season. This is what he does.
Maybe not to this extreme every night, but Sorokin consistently holds opponents to a goal or two less than deserved.
Tack a couple goals on the Devils’ total (they generated 4.15 xG, scored once) and remove the empty netters and you’re talking about a game where hairs are being split. Instead, a four-goal defeat.
As frustrating as things played out, there was still plenty of good to come from the game. Like Vitek Vanecek’s play, which brings me to my next point…
Turning a corner
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