First, an apology. Yes, I should have done this a bit sooner; but I wanted to wait to see how the rest of Saturday's games would play out as well as Buffalo's game against Atlanta. The Sabres picked up a point in an overtime loss to the Thrashers, Ottawa defeated Philadelphia yesterday, and Pittsburgh is currently up 3-2 with Ottawa at the end of the second period. Buffalo remains ahead of the Devils in the Eastern Conference by three points. The Penguins have a chance to really start breathing down New Jersey's neck in the Atlantic Division if they win, they are 4 points behind the Devils. Should the Devils not win the division, they will likely end up facing the Ottawa Senators - the team who has given the Devils their worst loss this season: an 8-1 loss at Ottawa back on October 21.
The link takes you to a recap of the game on NHL.com
As far as the Devils did, well, there's not a lot I can say while keeping my language clean. Things started off well, some hitting, some fire, not bad. But after the first Carolina goal - Chad LaRose shot beating Martin Brodeur short side - things fell apart. A perfect deflection by Josef Vasichek, two near-goals literally cleared off the line, a Ray Whitney blast, and another deflection by Rod Brind'Amour later and Brodeur was pulled. The offense? The Devils managed a mere 6 shots before halfway through the second period. Despite a somewhat more "inspired" third period, the Devils finished with 20 shots, Scott Clemmensen in net, way too many penalties - worst of all being Jamie Langenbrunner getting tossed for saying something about a referee's mother and a duck - and a 7-2 loss.
Everyone on the team - yes, even David Clarkson despite scoring his first goal - failed miserably. The Hurricanes played very well, obviously enough, and by the third period continued to pour misery on the Devils without much effort. The Devils were the opposite of good in almost all aspects of the game. You can not just blame the head coach Claude Julien or particular players. The Devils win as team, and they lose as a team. Clearly, the team lost and lost big.
There is a glimmer of a silver lining in this dark cloud that was the Devils' fifth straight loss at home. That is that they bounce back fairly well. After the miserable 3-0 loss to Pittsburgh last week, they dug deep without three of their top forwards - Patrik Elias, Brian Gionta, and John Madden - and got a 3-2 win on the road against Carolina the very next night. Go back a month to a 5-4 loss against Pittsburgh that featured giving up 3 goals early to the Penguins. The Devils responded with a shutout in the next game against the Islanders.
Is it time to worry? Maybe a little, considering the standings. The next three games are crucial. All of those games on the road, in fact, the Devils next five games are on the road - their last home game this month is against the Flyers on March 30 (and they should win that one - I hope). The first being Toronto on Tuesday, and the Maple Leafs still remember that Cam Janssen (indirectly) caused Tomas Kaberle's injury. Then it's Tampa Bay and Florida also on the road. Amazingly, the Devils have lost a total of 3 road games - only one in regulation - since Christmas. Will that last without Elias, Gionta, and Madden? It won't be likely, but you can be sure the Devils will skate a hell of a lot harder on Tuesday; showing some fire and something resembling effort on the ice and all that.
At least, I hope so. If they don't, then
it's time to start seriously worrying.
Labels: Devils Postgame