It wasn’t the Stanley Cup Playoffs start the New Jersey Devils were hoping for, but the learning experience/process continues to grow after a Game 1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
If game one showed the New Jersey Devils anything, it’s that Tampa Bay is a very dangerous team.
New Jersey really wasn’t overmatched or outplayed throughout their game one matchup. They weren’ outshot by a crazy amount. They weren’t out hit and they actually blocked more shots than Tampa did. But the lesson for the Devils is that they need to be better defensively, evident on Tampa’s first goal.
Watch how Ondrej Palat broke the Devils defense down getting past Hart Trophy candidate, Taylor Hall. Not only did Palat completely go through the Devils defense without being noticed by a Devil, but he got to the net without being untouched.
Tampa would only continue to find the open ice really taking advantage of the Devils playoff inexperience.
This time the Devils let the pass from Palat find Tyler Johnson who was all alone in front Keith Kinkaid. No goalie is making a save when a player like Johnson has that much time to make the shot he wants to make. That’s what Johnson did here, he was able to get the shot he wanted, completely breaking down the New Jersey defense.
The Devils are still relatively a young team and plays like these serve as teaching moments. They are still ahead of the curve and deserve to be in the playoffs. This is where fans can see how this team can rebound. They showed it in the game getting the deficit to within one.
Now is the time for New Jersey to watch the game film and make the necessary adjustments so Tampa won’t be able to find that open ice again in game two. That is what the playoffs are all about, adjustments.
The good teams make them quicker and now it is time to see just how good New Jersey really is.