Wild 2, Devils 1: Gustavsson stole the show
It took a herculean effort from the Wild goaltender to keep the Devils from getting two points.
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A few notes following New Jersey’s overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild:
Tip your hat and move on
In the game preview, I noted that essentially every Devils loss these days comes down to the opposing goaltender standing on his head. I feared we could see that again vs Filip Gustavsson, who is having an all-world season. We did.
Gustavsson made a whopping 47 saves, coming up big time after time to ensure the Devils couldn’t get a deserved second point from the game.
While some would look at getting goalie’d again in a negative way, I’m going with a glass half full approach.
I don’t think goaltenders stealing the show is a common theme because the Devils can’t finish. Correlation is not causation, after all.
The Devils rank 5th in goals per game and only just acquired another 30+ goal player in Timo Meier. They have a ton of weapons and can score with pretty much anybody.
Instead, I’m going to look at this trend in a different way. It legitimately takes a Grade A, top-tier performance to beat the Devils almost every dang time.
Why? It’s almost impossible to prevent them from getting buckets of shots and high-danger chances. The same can’t be said about everyone.
For a little perspective, let’s take a look at the shot volume other top teams in the East have put up over their last six losses – random cut off, I know; I wasn’t sure how far to go considering all these teams added at the deadline – and compare that to New Jersey:
Devils: 50, 33, 23, 35, 35, 48 —> 37.3 avg.
Hurricanes: 29, 53, 26, 33, 32, 34 —> 34.5 avg.
Bruins: 40, 25, 28, 28, 32, 43 —> 32.6 avg.
Rangers (lmao): 31, 26, 32, 26, 29, 31 —> 29.16 avg.
Maple Leafs: 35, 28, 37, 28, 18, 27 —> 28.8 avg.
The Devils are leading the way by a healthy margin, which stems from their consistency. They have generated 33 shots or more in five of the last six defeats. The Hurricanes and Bruins have done so three times, and the Maple Leafs only twice. The Rangers are at zero because they’re putrid. I kid…maybe.
Anyway, there are games – even if not frequently – where those other teams can be slowed offensively and they’ll go down without a hefty fight, so to speak. That’s not the case with the Devils.
They’re going to attack in waves and essentially put the game entirely in the hands of the opposing netminder. If said goaltender is not at the top of his game, the other team isn’t going to win. It’s as simple as that.
Obviously, the Devils aren’t going to win every game. Nobody does (except for the Bruins). That they consistently pile up insane volume in losses isn’t a sign that they can’t score. It’s a sign that other defenses can’t slow them down.
TLDR: I’m not worried about almost every loss coming down to the opposing goaltender making 500 saves. I don’t think you should be, either.
The makings of something special
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