Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Postgame: Kings 3 - Devils 2 (SO)
Which leads me to what I want to talk about today. The offense has been a growing problem. The team is averaging approximately 2.3 goals for per game. When watching the game on Versus, it was said that the Devils have not scored more than 2 goals in the last 12 games. That's a franchise record for offensive futility. While the games themselves have been excellent in terms of a game - I can not stress enough that it's offensive production not effort that I'm focusing on - it's frustrating to watch. We know the Devils can score goals. We've seen it last year. We've seen it in prior seasons. Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, and Jamie Langenbrunner. Those are the top 6 forwards. We've seen them all be productive to some degree in the past or earlier this season. Head coach Claude Julien has tried switching up the lines to try something different. He's tried only putting EGG and PZL out on the power play. He's tried switching up line combinations during the game. Clearly, it's not working well enough which is frustrating because the talent is there - just not the expected performance. I disagree with Joe, though, I don't think Julien is being too conservative. Yes, he's defensive-minded; so has every coach who was not named Kevin Constantine for NJ in the last 11-12 years. I think the on-ice decisions by the players are the cause of the poor offensive showings.
The Kings played firewagon hockey for 65 minutes, bringing up Lubomir Visnovsky (among other defenseman) up on the offensive play to varying success. Why NJ did not try to immediately counter when the LA D drops in is beyond me. You don't need to design plays for that, the players should be smart enough to realize that Mike Cammalleri is all alone on the blueline, get the puck and drive as fast as you can down ice. Hell, I still don't understand the decision by whoever is on the point to take a slapshot when there are at least 3 Kings in front of you and the probability to fire the puck on net is low. You can't blame the coach for, say, Johnny Oduya launching bombs from the point that never hit the net. You can argue that the Devils really need a coach like Pat Burns (or their GM/CEO/President Lou Lamoriello) behind the bench constantly chewing them out. I think the players have been through enough that they should realize these things on their own; they are on the ice, aren't they?
Collapsing defenses continue to give the Devils fits and I hope in the 3 day break (including today) prior to Friday's home game against Pittsburgh, the team figures out how to beat collapsing defenses, how not to just blindly pass into the slot or shoot from the point, and how to generate effective counter attacks that the Devils are normally known for - there's a reason why the team's overall speed is generally fast.
Most importantly, I hope the guys getting the big money (Elias, Gionta, and Gomez) start picking up their games on offense. I know they got some points last night, but they could be so much more productive - split up or not. With the way EGG dominated teams last season by themselves, it's mind-boggling that their performance is inconsistent and so generally unproductive.
Labels: Devils Postgame