The New Jersey Devils tried a little harder in Game 4 but could not complete the comeback in a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators. As always, NHL.com has the official scoresheet
and official super stats
of the game, linked respectively.
The Devils played like garbage for the first half of the game. The second half was better, but the offense was still lacking, the defense was still too passive, and Brodeur being beaten by a fluke goal from Dany Heatley to break the tie halfway through the period didn't help. Neither did the four guys in Devils jerseys not closing down Mike Fisher prior to his long shot beating Brodeur (a weak one, admittedly). Richard Matvichuk did play, but wasn't a major factor. David Clarkson replaced Mike Rupp on the fourth line, but that didn't mean much in the big picture. The second line was invisible for this game, the checking unit did not shutdown many Senators (though Lou Lamoriello eventually stopped trying to match lines at points, which was wise, I think). At least the EGG unit showed up with a power play goal (the first goal) and a strong flurry in an attempt for an equalizer. Good on the Devils' Paul Martin for his slap shot and Jay Pandolfo for his tip. Nevertheless, it was too little, too late by then.
Of note, with respect to offense, I would like to point out that Ray Emery gives up rebounds like it's the hip new trend among goaltenders. Problem is that the Ottawa defense has been adept in getting to those loose pucks first. Especially Anton Volchenkov, who has also been adept at being in the right place and the right time to block shots from the Devils. They need to work harder for the puck. Not just in rebounds, but also along the boards on defense and in the neutral zone when a play breaks down. It's a desire issue as well as a bit of luck, from what I've seen so far this series. Ottawa wants those pucks more, and lo and behold, they get them.
Ottawa gifted the Devils plenty of power plays early, but they only threatened and converted on one (Elias driving to the net, and Gionta following him who put home a rebound) - that needs to improve. The Senators continue to out shoot and out skate the Devils in their own zone, and that clearly needs to happen less often. If you want to point out a particular player for this loss, fine; but I won't join you. The Devils didn't play as bad as they did in Game 3, but they were definitely not good enough to win this one.
Now they have to collectively raise their game to a new heights to simply survive. I certainly hope they do so on Saturday.
Labels: 2007 Playoffs, Devils Postgame