Monday, January 08, 2007
Postgame: Devils 3 - Montreal 0
I could be lazy and simply cite Tim Mo's recap of the game from RaReMaDev and say the Devils steamrolled the Canadiens. I could take a larger point of view and simply reference Tom Lycan's assessment of the weekend for NJ from Devils Due - that the Devils were strong in winning two tough away games up in Canada. But I won't. Except for what I just did there. Anyway.
The Devils are simply on fire at this point. Let's start with the goaltending. Martin Brodeur stopped all 28 shots and looked good doing it. He earned that shutout, his 7th for this season and his 87th shutout in his career. The last time I remember Martin Brodeur being this dominant in the first half of the season was back in 2003-2004 when he got about 9 or 10 shutouts in the first 41 games. Granted, he ended the season with only 11 - which was still good for the league lead, if I recall correctly. The NHLPA has a feature story on Martin Brodeur, highlighting his awesome play through the first half of this season. He even reveals (sort of) the secret to his longstanding success!
The defense played very well. While I am not keen about coach Claude Julien giving Paul Martin, Brian Rafalski, and Brad Lukowich another heavy day and double shifting them at seemingly every turn whilst Mark Fraser gets a mere 3 shifts, they did their job. They collapsed down low, allowing Montreal to take low percentage shots from the outside. Even then, they took advantage whenever Montreal blew it in their zone. Great game.
The offense was a tour de force, par excellence. 35 shots on Huet, 3 goals, and it could have been a lot more if Cristobal Huet did not stand on his head. I personally counted 12 shots on the power play for New Jersey, and most of those were tough saves to make for Huet. While they only scored one power play goal despite two 5-on-3 situations, Huet robbed the Devils of goals on each power play. Did the Devils give up or pack it in when holding the lead? Heck no, they kept pressing and ultimately ended the game 3-0 that could have easily been won 1-0. The EGG and PZL lines were flying whilst the Canadiens had struggled as time went on, despite the return of Saku Koivu and Guillaume Latendresse to regular duties (each got 20 and 16 shifts respectively). If it wasn't for Huet, the Devils would likely have scored at least two more goals, in my opinion. Even the fourth line got in on the scoring action, as Mike Rupp finished a beautiful move by Paul Martin early in the first. The other goals came from Brian Gionta, who is catching fire with his second consecutive 2-goal game. Too bad Zach Parise had his point streak busted, but like I said, if it wasn't for Huet standing on his head, he surely would have scored.
Ultimately, fatigue and frustration plagued the Canadiens. Yes, the team was hit with the flu bug recently; but they had trouble maintaining possession on offense and putting pressure on Brodeur. By the third period, they were skating like they were in a fog for much of the last 20 minutes. No wonder Canadiens fans started booing en masse, their team was sucking it. The frustration stemmed from undisciplined play, as shown by the 6 penalties they took - including a scary high stick on Brad Lukowich that drew quite a bit of blood. (Note: Lukowich did return after the high stick, but Brad, please wear a visor. You're too valuable to lose.)
Essentially, Tim Mo and Tom Lycan were right: The Devils did play strong in their past two games and steamrolled the Canadiens. I mean, a complete domination of Les Habs. Out-shot, out-scored, heck, the Devils even did better on face offs! With a 6 point lead in the Atlantic Division and a record of 7-1-2 in their last 10 games, they get a bit of a break before playing St. Louis on Wednesday. They earned it.
Labels: Devils Postgame