The New Jersey Devils opened their season on Thursday night in Pittsburgh with a 3-0 loss.
The morning of game-day the Devils activated forward Patrik Elias off injured reserve and announced that Cory Schneider would be starting in net. Coach Peter DeBoer explained that he wanted to give Martin Brodeur more time after everything he has dealt with in the past two weeks.
The Devils scratched Mark Fayne, Rostislav Olesz, Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby for their season opener against the Pens.
The Devils and Penguins remained scoreless through almost half of the first period until Chuck Kobasew (9:26) and Sidney Crosby (12:16) scored within a few minutes of each other. The second period was scoreless, and in the third, the Penguins finished it off with a goal by Craig Adams (11:42).
Two big opportunities presented themselves throughout the game, but the Devils were not able to capitalize. Early on, the Penguins’ forward James Neal left the ice and their offense was clearly struggling. Pittsburgh only had three shots in the second period.
Later, Adam Henrique was given a penalty shot with about four minutes left in the third after Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen dragged him down. Henrique could not squeeze the puck between the post and the quick right pad of Marc-Andre Fleury.
Yet again, the Devils outshot their opponent but couldn’t get anything in the back of the net (this was a very common theme in the latter half of the season last year). With a lot of new faces, we can assume (and hope) that the players are just working out their chemistry. Especially considering a few big names did not participate much in preseason.
One positive to take away from the game for Devils fans was the presence of a few new names. Ryan Clowe provided some physicality the the Devils were in search of. At the end of the first period, he dropped the gloves with Pittsburgh’s Tanner Glass. He also had four hits and one shot on goal. Recently signed Damien Brunner also made an impact with a team-leading eight shots on goal.
As far as Cory Schneider goes, he looked like he was getting back into the swing of things. He was a little shaky with a few big rebounds and one or two shots that went off the top of his glove. He ended with a .857 save percentage and saved 18 of 21 shots faced. Veteran Marty Brodeur will be in net for Friday’s home opener against the New York Islanders.
Fortunately, the Devils faced one of their toughest opponents in Pittsburgh, so transitioning to play the Islanders might feel a little easier (Sorry, NYI fans). And being home at the Prudential Center with their long-time goalie back in net might provide a little better feeling of security.
Photo courtesy of NHL.com