Another game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, another loss for the New Jersey Devils.
This was the third and last meeting between the two teams for the rest of the 2018-2019 NHL season and in those 3 games, the Devils have lost to the Lightning 18-6. To make matters worse, over the past 22 games the Devils have only won 5. The season started off strong, winning 4 straight but something has gone awry and the fans want answers.
Usually, when the Devils are playing at The Prudential Center, they start off with intensity and play hard, but this start felt different. It seemed like both teams started off a little sluggish, with the first 13 minutes going scoreless. However, the hot Nikita Kucherov added to his point streak by scoring the first goal for Tampa. After that, it all went downhill for the Devils. The Lightning would add another goal by the end of the period.
The second period was dismal for the Devils and that’s being polite. It was dominated by the Lightning and the Devils couldn’t dig themselves out of the hole. The one positive from the second period is the first career goal with the Devils for Egor Yakovlev. Despite that goal, the Lightning added 2 more goals and the period ended 4-1 Lightning.
Third period started with Cory Schneider starting in goal, replacing Keith Kinkaid. In the first 20 seconds, the Lightning scored, making it 5-1 and sealing the deal. The Devils couldn’t generate any momentum in the third period. What shocked and angered many fans was the surprise benching of Taylor Hall by head coach John Hynes during the period. In fact, Hall only played less than 4 minutes in the final 27 minutes of the game. The third period came and went and the final score was 5-1 Lightning.
Something Needs To Change
With another bad loss only one question remains for the Devils: How do they change the tide? Well, there’s a few ways. There are many good players down in Binghamton that could be called up to get their NHL debut. Michael McLeod was recalled for Friday’s game against the Capitals, but was sent back down immediately. Making major line changes could potentially find the spark amongst the players that could turn the tide. What about a top line of Jesper Bratt (if he’s healthy) – Nico Hischier – Pavel Zacha? What about scratching your go to players to send a message?
With nothing left to lose at this point, something needs to be change in Jersey. The season isn’t over, there’s a lot of hockey left to be played. The Devils could still stand a chance, but major changes need to be made and those star players (Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, Kyle Palmieri, Damon Severson) need to step up to the plate and drive the team to victory.