The loss was only the second loss in regulation for the Devils so far in 2007, they've taken at least one point in their last 6 games (5-0-1). That said, the Panthers simply wanted this game more than the Devils. They came out hustling, they continued to out-hustle the Devils, and they simply looked to have more energy via their hustle. They won a lot more fights for the puck, out-hit the Devils by a margin of 28 to 17, and made more of their chances while they both had the same amount of shots (32).
The game was not one Martin Brodeur's best; he got burned by Rostislav Olesz' second goal which tied up the game early in the second period and again by Joel Kiwatkowski which ended up being the game winner. I don't think Brodeur was tired, it was just an off night. More to the point, it was an off night for the Devils in general. Again, I saw Devils forcing bad passes when they should be shooting, I saw Devils squandering power play opportunities (only two tonight, it was a well-disciplined game), I saw the Devils defense simply let Florida get deep into their zone with their speed, and I saw the Devils just seemingly a step behind Florida for much of the game. That's no way to win.
The offense was poor. Tim Mo's recap of the game at RaReMaDev is on point
: the Devils offense needs to pick it up. As mentioned, the power play yielded little and the Devils remain to be too patient with the puck. I'm not wishing that head coach Claude Julien tells the forwards to give up playing two-way hockey and/or play fire wagon hockey sans patience; I just want to see more aggression in putting the puck on net. Right now, it isn't working with a man advantage and not working all that well in even strength situations. Even the two goals the Devils got were the result of luck as opposed to hard work: Gionta tipped in a shot that was already deflected by Jay Pandolfo and just bounced into the net. Johnny Oduya's slapshot was deflected by Ruslan Salei's stick which beat goaltender Ed Belfour. Forget the playoffs for a moment, Tim Mo, the recently lackluster Devils offense - in terms of production and intensity - will hurt the Devils for the rest of this season. I know Brodeur is the best around - he's already going to be the Devil of the Month - but even he needs offensive help. Something has to change, and I wish I knew what it was but I don't. Hopefully Julien and the Devils coaching staff has some ideas to spark the offense once again.
I think the Devils in general were a bit tired; but last night was the second half of the many back-to-back games they have had this season. They should be used to it by now and past games have shown that the Devils can play hard in those second games. Last night was not one of them, obviously. The Panthers seemingly wanted it more, played the game with fire, and got the win as a result whilst the Devils did not play with fire and came out flat. Hopefully the Devils take last night's game into account prior to visiting Atlanta on Tuesday; because another lackluster effort like this will all but guarantee a loss to the Thrashers. Or pretty much every other team in the NHL. That said, I think they won't come out as flat on Tuesday. I hope not, at least.
Labels: Devils Postgame