Devils look to catch up in Game 2 of Eastern Round 2

RALEIGH, North Carolina — The New Jersey Devils learned a hard lesson in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round on Wednesday: When someone takes away the things that make you feel special, it’s no fun.

Their speed on offense and ability to defend in layers was vaporized in a 5-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, especially in the first period, when the Devils were outshot 10-1.

But the Devils also know it was just one game. After all, they lost 5-1 to the New York Rangers in Games 1 and 2 of the first round and won the series in seven games.

“We can’t be too frustrated…they obviously spotted us, watched the video and realized the things that we do well,” the Devils defenseman said. Damon Severson said. “We created chances with speed, but there were other things that didn’t look so good for us. They’re going to be happy with their game but, for us, we just have to focus on what we can do. to weather their storm and find a way to beat their tough forecheck and get out of our zone.

“We have such talent that we can do it when we play in their zone and use our skills; it takes over.”

[RELATED: Complete Hurricanes vs. Devils series coverage]

New Jersey will look to turn the tide in Game 2 here Friday (8 p.m. ET; TNT, SN, TVAS).

‘They haven’t seen our best yet’, Devils forward Miles Wood said. “I think our puck competition wasn’t really there and man versus man we know we can give a lot more. When we throw the puck we have to create more speed to get there first, get the first keys.

“It’s a structured group, which likes to get the pucks out as fast as it can. We’re also a fast team, that’s our strength, so transition play is huge for us. department so hopefully we can get back to our speed game.”

The Hurricanes are a team built for playoff hockey. Devils ? This is something that remains to be determined. Carolina offers a heavy forecheck and, shift after shift, has created a lot of pressure and chaos in the New Jersey zone. They might be the most structured and fundamentally solid team left in the playoffs.

Video: Jarvis, Skjei propel Hurricanes to 5-1 win in Game 1

“They’ve won more battles 50-50,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “When they win puck battles they can create and if we win we have to go the other way or step in quicker. You have to give them credit because that’s one of the things they’re really good.”

What might be most alarming in eight playoff games for the Devils, however, is that they’re averaging a league-low 2.25 goals per game, and are second-to-last with 28.0 shots. per game. That’s down from the 3.52 goals per game (fifth in the NHL) and 34.4 shots per game (fourth) they managed during the regular season.

“I don’t think those numbers hold up after coming up against (the Rangers keeper) Igor Shesterkin, which was amazing, in the first round,” Ruff said. “Even looking at our (4-0) win in Game 7 against Rangers, I thought we could have scored five or six goals in that game. I would like to see the decision to shoot more. We gave up opportunities early in the game; there were more opportunities there to funnel more pucks, get pucks there and we didn’t and we need to focus more on that. We were trying to be too cute. Sometimes you have to make a hockey game. »

Since many of their key forwards have sacrificed offense to play a better defensive game, the personal stats aren’t what you’d expect from some of the top players on the roster. Jack Hughes (three goals) hasn’t scored since game 4 of the first round, Nico Hischier scored zero on 23 shots, and Jesper Bratt only has one goal in an empty net in the playoffs. Timo Meier, who missed Game 1 with an upper body injury sustained in Game 7 against Rangers, is also aiming for his first goal.

Ruff also gave no indication of his starting keeper, instead saying that question suited Friday better. Akira Schmidwho took the starting job in Game 3 against Rangers, was replaced by Vitek Vanecek 1:55 into the second period of Game 1 after allowing three goals on 11 shots.

“They’ve been a great team all year and we respect that, but at the same time they haven’t done our best and we hope to get there,” Wood said. “We can’t give them too much respect where we turn off the gas, but we respect them as a group and hope to match this next game.”

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