By Annie Ross
Damon Severson made the Flyers sit up and take notice Thursday night.
Severson, the New Jersey Devils’ rookie, played his first NHL game in their 6-4 victory over the Flyers and may have delivered the most impressive performance of anyone on the team.
And Severson, who is only 20 years old, stole the show.
“I thought he was fantastic,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “He was composed, not overwhelmed, he made plays. When the game turned and it became 3-3, I thought he got better, which is saying something for a young guy.”
And when the Devils were trying to protect a one-goal lead in the third period while shorthanded, Severson was sent out on the penalty kill.
“I think it shows (DeBoer) has confidence in me to kill penalties or be on the ice late in a game,” Severson said. “Obviously that was my first game, so anytime you get thrown out there in situations where your team is up by a goal and you need to play solid defense, it shows he has confidence in you to really play strong defensively in your own zone.”
Severson was on the PK with Bryce Salvador. It was an unusual move for a coach to rely on a kid playing in his first game at that point of a game.
“He deserved to be out there,” DeBoer noted. “He was playing well enough.”
Severson also nearly scored his first NHL goal on a one-timer during the third period.
“Too bad he didn’t score on that one I passed to him,” Salvador said. “I would’ve liked to assist on his first goal.”
Actually, Severson said Cammalleri would’ve gotten credit for it.
“That was close. Cammalleri got a tip on that puck,” Severson said. “I was hoping that was going to go in. Hopefully I get another chance like that some game here and find the back of the net.”
Amazingly, Severson said he wasn’t very nervous in his debut.
“I think I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I was going to be. I was excited more than anything,” he said. “I played in those five preseason games. I think I’ve adjusted a little bit. I was just more excited than anything to get things going.”
He will remember the night for two reasons: 10 goals scored and a win in his first game.
“It’s not much Devils hockey. Devils hockey is usually a little tighter defense and lower scoring games, I think, but all in all we got the win. That’s what matters,” Severson said.
“I thought it was awesome. A good experience. First shift I don’t think I touched the puck once. We neutral zone forechecked a few times, but I got out there and got my feet underneath me. After that I was fine.”
He was close to brilliant and he left with a souvenir: The last puck used in the game.