The New Jersey Devils lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 at the Air Canada Centre. As always, NHL.com has the official score sheet
and the official super stats
from that game, linked respectively. Note: I only caught the last 5 minutes of the first period on radio and the rest of the game on TV; so I apologize that I did not see the entire game, but I feel I seen enough of it to comment on the game.
Needless to say, the end of the result of the game was not good. The Toronto Maple Leafs get two points the Devils could have used to expand their lead at the top of the Atlantic Division. The Devils could have used a win to bounce back from that terrible 7-2 loss to Carolina from Saturday. It would have been very beneficial to start a big road trip with a win. Alas it was not to be.
The good news is that as the game went on, the Devils took more control of the game. They didn't give up after the Kyle Wellwood power play goal late in the first. They didn't give up after Nik Antropov put home a rebound after a tough wraparound save by Martin Brodeur. In fact, the Devils put on more and more offensive pressure - not necessarily shots - and even got their only goal of the game right after the Antropov goal. Travis Zajac burying a big, juicy rebound off a Jamie Langenbrunner shot. Despite the Leafs defenders looking sloppy, the Devils could not get the equalizer. The fact that the Devils went into Toronto's house, against a team that needed points for their own playoff push, and stayed competitive for the entire game is a good improvement over the Carolina debacle from Saturday. I was pleased with the overall performance with the game to some degree, the Devils worked hard and were unfortunate to not put another one past Raycroft.
Well, maybe unfortunate is the wrong word to use. The Devils did have opportunities that they did not take advantage. They hit the post 3 times, which is unlucky. I can't criticize the Devils - Zach Parise, David Clarkson, and Langenbrunner to be precise - on that. Scott Gomez forechecking got a gift wrapped puck from Andrew Raycroft; who played it behind him right to the Devil. Gomez had a sharp angle, a diving Raycroft and two Leaf defenders; but clearly an open net and Gomez missed it. Horrible. The Devils also enjoyed 3 power plays and did very little with them, which is also not good. Lastly, while the Devils kept the puck in the Leafs zone quite a bit in the third, they only put 7 shots through on Raycroft (25 total in the game). When you're down by one and you need a point, the shots have to go through. To be fair, the Leafs defense did scramble well enough to deflect and block shots; but the Devils missed 24 shots in the game (led by Parise's 6 missed shots). I don't know whether that figure is a result of that or whether that is a total of all Devils' shots that went wide; it's still a sign that the Devils could have done better in that regard.
I must give respect to Martin Brodeur and the Devils defense for playing well. The defense blocked 18 shots and made a number of crucial plays late to prevent the Leafs from pounding Brodeur with shots. The only major criticism I have is that someone should have knocked Nik Antropov right on his bottom before putting home that loose puck. Antropov had a clear chance at it, it's not as if he's hard to miss.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming the defense for this game. The Devils were unfortunate to not tie it up in the third period to some degree, but the special teams and the offense really could have done more. More shots, a more threatening and fruitful power play, and Scott Gomez not missing a goal that maybe I could have scored were all signs of missed opportunities. Good on the Devils to not give up during the game and continue to play hard and with more urgency as the game went on even when down by two goals. However, there is much to be improved. Hopefully, the Devils can resolve that on their next stop on this road trip: Tampa Bay (who beat the Islanders 4-3 in overtime to improve their own chances of making the playoffs tonight).
I FORGOT, MORE INJURY WOES: Erik Rasmussen left the game before the third period with what Steve Cangelosi told Doc and Chico with an "upper body injury." Yes, that makes it four injured forwards. No idea what the injury actually is nor how long Rasmussen will be out for. I don't know whether this means the Devils will be forced to play with 11 forwards until someone is healthy once again. I hope Rasmussen is OK and his injury, whatever it is, heals properly and quickly.
Labels: Devils Postgame