Home Hockey jerseys Devils 2022-23 Home Opener: The Highs and Lows

Devils 2022-23 Home Opener: The Highs and Lows

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The stage was set for New Jersey Devils fans to have a fun Saturday night at the Prudential Center. It was the team’s first home game, and captain Nico Hischier was set to make his season debut along with Vitek Vanecek who was acquired last summer.

It was their second game of the 2022-23 campaign, and the club were looking to turn things around after losing their first game of the season at the Wells Fargo Center by a final score of 5-2 on Thursday. Unfortunately, last night’s score mirrored Thursday’s and the Devils lost their second straight game 5-2. Jesper Bratt got another assist, now bringing his points total to three in two games. Miles Wood scored the team’s second goal, which marked their first since April 27, 2021.

The New Jersey Devils wave to the crowd at the Prudential Center (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

As I sat down last night with all my notes of the night’s activities, I realized there was a lot to unpack. Between the game on the ice, the celebrations off it, and the energy of the crowd moving throughout the game, I decided to take a different approach for this article. Instead of providing takeout, I’ll break down the highs and lows of the Prudential Center starting with Fan Fest and the arrival of the team.

High: Fan Fest and Red Carpet Arrivals

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I headed to Championship Plaza on Saturday afternoon. Fans took to social media to express their frustration after the team’s disappointing loss to Philadelphia, and I was intrigued to see how things would turn out as the Devils took to the ice Saturday for their season opener. at home at the Prudential Center. As I approached the red carpet, I was greeted by optimistic fans lined up wearing their favorite jerseys waiting for the players to arrive. It looked like the emotions surrounding Thursday’s loss had evaporated and fans were ready to celebrate a home win.

Cum on the noise from Quiet Riot echoed over the speakers before Glenn “Chico” Resch and Matt Loughlin took the mic to introduce the first two players to arrive, who were Dougie Hamilton and Ryan Graves. Fans cheered as defenders took photos and signed autographs as they made their way to the arena.

Elevated: honoring Greene’s career

At 6 p.m., former Devils captain Andy Greene was scheduled to meet the media. The 39-year-old announced his retirement by signing a one-day contract on Wednesday to retire as the Devil. He spoke for about 10 minutes to explain his decision to call it a career and what his next chapter might look like.

Nico Hischier Dylan Larkin Andy Greene
Nico Hischier and Dylan Larkin face off ceremoniously with Andy Greene (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Greene has always been known to be a class act and concluded his press conference by shaking hands with each member of the media before leaving the press room. Prior to the game, he and his wife Rachel and sons Maddox and Colton took to the ice for a face-off ceremony between Hischier and Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin. Chants of “Andy” filled the arena along with applause and cheers for the former defender.

During the second intermission, I caught up with him while waiting for the elevator and asked him which song best described his time with the Devils. After a few laughs and thoughtful consideration, he chose Van Halen’s book. run with the devil and even sang a chord before entering.

Low: a surprising line-up for New Jersey

After morning practice, Hischier announced he would be in the lineup against the Red Wings, which meant a corresponding move would have to occur to remove the team captain from injured reserve. The move resulted in Andreas Johnsson being sent to the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League. The 27-year-old Swede didn’t feature in the Comets game last night, but Mason Geertsen did, playing on the third row with Aarne Talvitie and Brain Halonen.

Related: The Devils’ 2022-23 roster by the numbers

One decision affecting the roster that wasn’t too surprising was the coaching staff’s choice to drop Nathan Bastian in favor of Fabian Zetterlund. The 6-foot-4 forward was limited to just 8:25 of ice time Thursday and sat out part of the third period. Here are the lines Coach Ruff rolled out against the Red Wings.

Tomas Tatar – Hischier – Bratt

Ondrej Palat – Jack Hughes – Dawson Mercer

Wood – Erik Haula – Fabian Zetterlund

Yegor Sharangovich-Michael McLeod-Alexander Holtz

Jonas Siegenthaler-Hamilton

Graves – Damon Severson

Brendan Smith – John Marino

Vanecek

After the game, the team’s head coach explained why he chose to round up certain players, including why he used Sharangovich and Holtz on the fourth line with McLeod.

“It wasn’t really [that] they were on the fourth line, they were going to do a double shift with Jack [Hughes],” he said. “We were going to try to get these top players to play more of a three-line game. We were going to use Michael [McLeod] a lot on special teams, killing penalties and using Holtz on the power play.

Noticeable time on the ice

  • McLeod: 3:59, he spent 1:56 of that time shorthanded.

  • Marino: 11:00 p.m., which led all defenders.

Low: Vanecek’s debut with the Devils

One of the biggest questions coming into last night’s game was which goalkeeper would get the nod to start. Some thought Mackenzie Blackwood needed to play to restore confidence after Thursday’s performance, while others were ready to hand over the reins to Vanecek.

New Jersey Devils Vitek Vanecek
Vitek Vanecek, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The former Washington Capitals goaltender led the team on the ice and unfortunately didn’t get the debut he was hoping for. By the end of the game, he had 17 saves on 22 shots and finished the night with a .773 save percentage. The defense in front of him struggled similarly to their opener in Philadelphia, and like Thursday, there were a few goals the Devils goaltender would like to see back.

High: The energy inside the Prudential Center

Before Vanecek led the team for the game, some of the players, including Hughes, participated in their pre-game football tradition. The guys looked loose, laughing and screaming as they kicked the ball back and forth through the tunnel. Fans upstairs lined the glass where the Devils were warming up, holding homemade signs and chattering anxiously about the night ahead.

Fans are absolutely thrilled here at The Rock… game on

When it came time to introduce the players, the energy within the walls of the Prudential Center was at an all-time high. Fans cheered every member of the Devils with Hischier, Hughes and Vanecek receiving the loudest applause of the group. There was a fast pace in the first half and within the first five minutes Hamilton scored his first goal of the 2022-23 season. Things were going well for the home side, until the second half.

Weak: The energy inside the Prudential Center

Things happened pretty quickly for New Jersey and by the end of the second period they trailed their opponent by a score of 4-2. Fans booed the players and coaching staff as they made their way to the locker room for intermission, and in the third period they sang “Fire Lindy!” loudly echoed throughout the arena. For a night that started with so much promise, the game ended as most did last season; with angry chants, an echo of boos and fans heading for their cars before the final horn.

Notable quotes

When I walked into the locker room after the game, I was greeted by several players sitting in silence. The only noise we heard was the noise of the equipment being removed. Marino and Smith were sitting at their stalls and their expressions of frustration and disappointment told me everything I needed to know. Members of the media flocked to Hischier and then Smith for their post-game reactions. Here are some of the most notable quotes after last night’s loss.

Lindy Ruff on the “Fire Lindy!” Songs:

“We have passionate fans here. They are used to winning. I mean, it’s part of my job. I take full responsibility for this team’s loss. Great story here. Fans want W on the board. As simple as that.”

Erik Haula on what changed from the first to the second period:

“You know, it’s the little things we do that get us in trouble and that’s why we don’t win games. It’s consistency in our game, it’s not enough. It’s too high and low. Until we can address these issues and play a consistent game, it will be difficult.

Message from Nico Hischier to his teammates:

“Don’t be too low, it’s two games. We fought hard, and if you look around, there is definitely frustration. There are 80 left and we can’t get too low… We have to look to win the next one, that’s our mindset right now.

General thoughts from Brendan Smith:

“I know we work hard and I’ve seen it. I think we did a lot of good things, but the areas we lost were because of our own play in our own area. I thought we were good in the neutral and offensive zone. For me, it was just in our own zone, getting the pucks out and covering the zone. It’s the only area, so if we can clean it up, I think we’ll be very good. Our own end is the only area in which we need to improve. What excites me is that this is an area you can solve. The talent, you either have it or you don’t, and we have it… Yes, it’s frustrating to lose those two points, but I think if we can clean up our end, we’re there.

Brendan SmithNew Jersey Devils
Brendan Smith, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Devils are out today and will return to the drawing board Monday before hosting the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday night at the Prudential Center. After a difficult and frustrating start, the club will be looking to pull themselves together quickly, because as Wood said: “If you lose one, you can’t lose two, and you certainly can’t lose three. We have to stop him now.