I apologize for not getting to this postgame recap sooner, but I just have so little to say. The Devils played a solid hockey game in all aspects for all 60 minutes. They came out strong, they skated well all game, and I can think of only a handful miscues: Colin White taking a hooking penalty in the second period which was quite dumb of him, Brian Rafalski drifting away from Marc Savard in the slot on the resulting powerplay - which led to a wicked one timer goal by Savard, and Andy Greene had some trouble with the puck sometimes. Other than that, there isn't much to criticize. Even the power play (fortunately) showed up, converting one of the five chances the Devils received.
Brian Gionta returned to the line up and his impact was felt immediately. Scott Gomez did not play so the first line featured Sergei Brylin centering Patrik Elias and Gionta and Gionta looked good all game long. Gionta also returned to the first power play unit, back at right wing and pounding the net. A Zach Parise shot trickled through Tim Thomas and fell right on the goal line. Before you could say "GET IT!" at your television, Gionta and Elias pounced on the loose puck and Gionta (getting to it first) knocked it in for the power play goal. Yes, Gionta returned to the line up and scored a power play goal; that's enough to say that his return from injury was a success. In general, the Devils forwards looked good despite being without Gomez and Cam Janssen, who did not play due to "soreness." The Devils did play with a short bench, but you couldn't have noticed that short of looking at the roster or the bench and counting players. Fatigue was not a factor in hurting the Devils.
The most impressive players for the Devils, however, were Brian Rafalski and the Goal Scoring Machine Jay Pandolfo. Rafalski's assist on the power play goal set a new career high in points with 53 and continued his point streak to 6 games (7 assists in that time span). Rafalski led a defense that only allowed 18 shots on net from Boston, largely quelling the force that is Marc Savard except on that one penalty kill. Rafalski had a great game, but more impressive was Jay Pandolfo. He didn't just score once, he scored twice and both were very pretty goals. The first came on an Erik Rasmussen feed across the slot; Pandolfo was in the right place and right time to knock that puck home with ease and authority. The second came in the third period via a blazing wrist shot that just beat Tim Thomas and put the proverbial nail in the proverbial coffin. I'd like to say it's usually rare to see Pandolfo score in a game much less twice, but not quite this season as he has 14 goals. OK, he isn't be the Rocket Richard of defensive forwards; but it's still praise-worthy, Pandolfo had a great game.
The Devils remain undefeated with a less than full roster, Brodeur has win #46, and most importantly the Devils now have a one point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Atlantic Division lead. Tuesday will be crucial as they host the Ottawa Senators. A win against this possible first round opponent would be huge for the Devils confidence and really put the screws to Pittsburgh's hopes of winning the division. If the Devils play Ottawa as well as they did today, that is most definitely possible.
Labels: Devils Postgame