3 Takeaways From New Jersey Devils’ Game 7 Win Against Rangers

New Jersey Devils, Akira Schmid #40, New York Rangers, Igor Shesterkin #31. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
New Jersey Devils, Akira Schmid #40, New York Rangers, Igor Shesterkin #31. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils did what they had to do in Game 7: win on home ice. Devils goaltender Akira Schmid shut out the Rangers 4-0, advancing the Devils to round two against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Devils played a perfect Game 7, not allowing the Rangers to have time and space to create offense. The Devils now move on to play Carolina, who has a similar style of play. Both teams have a lot of speed and skill and it will be interesting to see how the defenses play against an opponent with an open offensive style.

The Devils have now made the second round for the first time in over 10 years, focused on eliminating one of the best teams in the NHL. Here are three takeaways from Game 7.

The New Jersey Devils are heading into round two.

Ondrej Palat continues to shine

Signed in the offseason, Palat came to New Jersey with one thing in mind, a Stanley Cup. He and the Devils are on the right path as they move on. Palat has been everything they hoped he would be, and now he takes his playoff experience and puts it to good use.

Palat has won two Stanley Cups and played 150 playoff games with the Tampa Bay Lightning, so this is not unfamiliar territory for him. The playoffs are the moments in which he shines, both as a scorer and as a mentor to the younger players.

In seven postseason games this year, Palat has two goals and three assists for five points, including two goals and two assists in his last five. He has eight blocks and 13 hits along with his five points in an average of 17 minutes of ice time.

Palat does supply offense, but he gives more than offense. He can be a leader, a motivator, and a player to turn the game around in favor of his team with a big hit.

The New Jersey Devils defense continues to play well

One thing that has led to the New Jersey Devils’ success in the playoffs, besides Schmid, has been the play of their defense. In their three losses, they have given up 15 goals. However, in their four wins, they have given up two goals.

The defense has given up chances in the opposition’s offensive zone but has been consistent in their physical play and shutting down passing lanes. The system has worked in the playoffs thus far and they look to continue their stellar play in the defensive end in round two.

New Jersey plays an in-your-face style, blocks shots, hits, and controls the play to their liking. They allow few rebounds and are extremely aggressive on the penalty kill. The Hurricanes are a fast group, but the Devils have a great opportunity to shut that speed down with their style of play.

Is Schmid an early Conn Smythe favorite?

It is no secret that Schmid has been a star in the 2023 playoffs. He has come in and nailed down the position, allowing the Devils to move on in their quest. He has been amazing between the pipes and is surely an early favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy with his play.

Regardless of how the rest of the playoffs go for the New Jersey Devils, did Schmid play his way into a number-one goaltender role for the 2023-24 season? Vitek Vanecek came into this season as the number-one goaltender, but Schmid has badly outplayed him in the playoffs.

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Schmid is currently 4-1 with a GAA of 1.38 and a save percentage of .951. Vanecek does have two years left on his deal that has an AAV of $3.4 million. What do the Devils do with Vanecek in the offseason? Is Schmid the starting goaltender for game one next season?