I clearly made two mistakes in my preview of last night's game.
First, I misunderestimated the Phoenix Coyotes. They welcomed the return of Mike Ricci, Nick Boynton, and Shane Doan back in their lineup. Jeremy Roenick, who I forgot at the time was still playing, most definitely played. Georges Laraque learned how to do a toe drag, and I'm not talking about a stance in the middle of a fight. The Coyotes clearly got their act together and outplayed the Devils in all aspects. When the first period ended and the Coyotes were out-shooting the Devils 11 to 4, I had a bad feeling about the game. So I apologize to all the Phoenix Coyotes fans for doubting the quality of their squad. They can definitely play well. This leads me to my second point.
The Devils were absolutely horrible.
Look at the official box score from NHL.com. Look at the super stats if you're so inclined.
Let me count the things I was disgusted with from last night's performance.
- Outshot 27 to 15.
- 6 power play opportunities all with 0 goals. At least three of which yielded no shots.
- While the Coyotes were moving and grooving, the Devils consistently skated in a fog for 60 minutes. Consistency was the one thing Devils had going for them last night: they were consistently BAD.
- The Puzzle Line lived up to their name in the sense that they could not penetrate the Coyotes' defense at all. Puzzling in that they have been very successful against a number of different teams recently.
- Forechecking? You must be kidding me, the Devils didn't accomplish anything with the forecheck last night. Backchecking and clearing puck out of the zone looked to be too difficult for the Devils last night. Sickening.
- The return of Gomez clearly meant NOTHING.
- A SHORTHANDED GOAL! It was almost EXACTLY like the one given up to the Rangers about a month ago. No one minding the blueline on the power play and, whoops, Owen Nolan's got a breakaway when his team is DOWN a man.
- The defense! The only one who looked kind of decent out there was Johnny Oduya, and he likely have caused that first goal to happen (Derek Morris' shot may have gotten a lift due to Oduya's stick). Martin, White, Hale, Lukowich, and Rafalski looked like they couldn't cover an ant with a tank out there. Terrible, just terrible!
I'm not going to look or link up any postgame articles or anyone else. They're likely going to tell you about the same things I just listed. The most frustrating thing about this one is that we know the Devils are a good team. They remain at the top of the Atlantic Division despite not even scoring 50 goals. They went 7-1 without their top center in Scott Gomez. They've beaten the likes of Montreal, Toronto, Carolina, and Ottawa. But they didn't give one semblence of a damn out on the ice last night. I'm not going to blame Claude Julien or any specific player. This was a total team effort, in that the entire team gave none and got soundly beat by the 7-14-0 Phoenix Coyotes.
The Devils play in Anaheim tomorrow. A team who has given up 6 more goals than NJ (58 to 52) and has scored 33 more goals (82 to 49). A team who is 10-1-4 at home and has a total record of 15-2-6. A team that knows how to move the puck on the power play, on offense, and especially on defense (having Scott Neidermayer AND Chris Pronger back there will almost guarantee near-flawless first passes into the neutral zone). A team who is the first of back-to-back games, as the Devils take on the Sharks (16-7-0) in San Jose on Saturday. It's going to be tough for NJ.
I hope the Devils are about to step on the ice right now as I type this. They clearly need the practice.
Labels: Devils Postgame