The Detroit Red Wings took on the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. The matchup pitted two young and upcoming Eastern Conference teams against each other.
In the game within the game, it also saw Jakub Vrana take on close friend Vitek Vanecek — two close friends who grew up in the Capitals’ organization together and work out together over the summers. Vanecek was making his Devils’ debut after being traded by the Capitals over the offseason.
V scored early in the second period on VV, beating the Czech netminder short side over the shoulder.
Vrana’s goal was the first of four consecutive tallies the Red Wings would score on Vanecek in the second period.
V GOES TOP 🧀! pic.twitter.com/HmNS1hf1um
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) October 16, 2022
Vanecek made 17 stops on 22 shots total – good for a .773 save percentage – and earned several sarcastic cheers from Devils fans during the team’s Home Opener. Money Puck says that Vanecek stopped -3.4 goals saved above expected on the night.
The Red Wings would go on to win 5-2.
The goal and the game itself appeared to be something the two friends feared — at least in the past. Vanecek was with Vrana when he was initially traded by the Capitals for Anthony Mantha in 2021.
“I was with [Vrana] at the time, we were in a car,” Vanecek said shortly after the trade. “It came out of nowhere. He didn’t know about it either, [his] agent didn’t know about it, they just called him that he’s been traded. Both of us have to come to terms with that and we might play against each other now.”
As for the game itself, Devils head coach Lindy Ruff said of the team’s goaltending that, “You need some keys saves. Our goalies are capable of getting that done. They have to believe in themselves.”
During the night, Devils fans also made several chants towards Ruff encouraging management to fire him.
“We all know it’s not where we want to be, to a man,” Ruff said. “Not one guy in that locker room wants to accept where we’re at. Everybody cares. I think you saw that with the effort that was going in the second period. If you look at some of the mistakes that they made that we didn’t convert on, that’s probably the difference in the game.”
The Devils are now 0-2 to start the season and have been outscored 10-4 early in the season.
Meanwhile, Vrana and Mantha continued their somewhat mirror-like experiences in different uniforms. They both scored on the same night as Mantha potted his second goal of the year for the Capitals against the Montreal Canadiens. Last season, both players missed most of the season due to shoulder surgery.
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