I'm a little late on this one because I wanted to assess the last game properly. That and I've been in a bit of a funk since Rutgers lost to West Virginia in not one, not two, but three overtimes. Rutgers reward for going 10-2 and being ranked #16-17 by the two polls? The 5th best team in the Big XII Conference, 7-5 Kansas State. Much discontentment to the people who decided that would be proper.
If this is how the Devils have to win games on the road, they'd better pray for home ice in the playoffs.
The Devils did outshoot the Flyers 32-25 and out-hit them 21-14. But take a closer look at the game's boxscore
and super stats
from NHL.com. Again, the Devils gave up 2 goals within the first 2 minutes of the first and third periods. The Devils initially came out sloppy and getting outworked by Philadelphia. The Flyers were most definitely flying and it was their fourth
line of Todd Fedoruk, Boyd Kane, and Ryan Poutlney who got quite a bit of ice time but also some points. Todd Fedoruk, people! He should NOT be getting any points against the Devils, and he came away with two. The Flyers were intense all night long, hungry for a win, and I'd almost go as far as to say that the Devils were outworked. I clearly underestimated the Flyers and at points in the game, so did the Devils. When the you giveaway the puck 18 times in a game, that's a clear indication that the other team is looking for the W.
Now look at those super stats again. MS, I assume, stands for missed shots. The Devils missed 22 shots. 22! Devils have to do a better job at hitting the net. More to the point, the Devils' 3 goals in regulation were all in some way or form flukes. Parise's goal was a deflection off a Flyers' skate that fooled Niitymaki. Elias' slapshot in the second period was hard, but it trickled through due to Niitymaki not being able to close his arms. The equalizer was a shorthanded goal from, you guessed it, Brad Lukowich with the help of, you guessed it, Jay Pandolfo on a SCREEN. Shorthanded! It is the first shorthanded goal NJ has scored all year, but when you read quotes like this from scorer (Tom Gulitti's article in the Bergen Record), it doesn't exactly inspire confidence:
"I noticed Johnny had his feet going and Pando was going hard [to the net]," Lukowich said. "Their guys started to backcheck, so I basically just took off, closed my eyes and shot."
Who knows what would have happened if he kept them open. This leads me to point #3. The power play. 3 opportunities for the Devils, 0 goals. No big deal, these are the Devils, right? Well, no, because on each of those power plays the Devils not only generated very little offense but also gave up a juicy scoring chance for the Flyers. Thankfully, Martin Brodeur is who we all think he is and robbed them all - particularly Mike Knuble. Thankfully, I was wrong and Brodeur actually started and played this one (and made some nice saves to go with some "uh..." goals). This should not happen, Devils! With a man advantage, it is crucial that one actually gives a full effort at both ends of the rink. This is how New Jersey has given up 6 shorthanded goals this season (2nd highest in the NHL). When watching games like these, I am surprised that this has resulted in the league's 15th best power play with a 16% efficiency.
But, I must be positive. The Devils did work and hustle hard enough by the later stages of the game to tie it up and win it in a shootout. The Devils didn't mess around on the shootout, with Zach Parise and Brian Gionta scoring some huge goals and Martin Brodeur making some big saves. Especially with a crucial pad stop on Simon Gagne, who I still think wants another crack at it. They did win, albeit ugly, and accomplished two big goals: winning on the road and winning the second of a back-to-back set. The Devils have 4 more sets of back-to-back games this month and all 5 sets in the month are all home and then away games. I do not know how the Devils did record-wise in those second games, but I do remember that they did not perform as well. The Devils will play their next game on Wednesday, hosting the Montreal Canadiens. They will face the Philadelphia Flyers again this Friday in New Jersey, the first in another back-to-back set as the Devils go to Boston on Saturday for the other half of that set. Hopefully, the Devils sharpen up their overall game and especially their power play for Wednesday. Montreal leads the league in both penalty killing (89.7% efficiency) and shorthanded goals scored (7).
IN OTHER NEWS: Alexander Mogilny will play in a charity game in Red Square on Saturday.
Rich Chere's article in the Star Ledger has the information on that game. I don't think this will be problem with respect to Mogilny being on Long Term Injured Reserve as it's a charity game - there won't be any hitting and it won't be intense at all. I mean Paul Coffey and Mark Howe will be in this game, no one would seriously suggest they can handle the NHL by virtue of playing in an outdoor charity game.
Labels: Devils Postgame