Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Devils 5 - Pittsburgh 4

The Devils won an incredibly weird game against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight by a score 5-4. The Devils put 35 shots on Marc-Andre Fleury and made more of their chances than Pittsburgh. But it was different in that we saw Zach Parise play center and pick up 3 assists, Jay Pandolfo getting a goal, and seeing both Travis Zajac and John Madden get braces. They also took far less penalties with the Penguins playing absolutely undisciplined as the game got on - especially in the second period. There was also controversy with Travis Zajac's second goal of the night - and the equalizer - as Brian Gionta was shoved into the net while the puck was being put in. Not to mention a 2-on-0 breakaway goal being taken away for a too many men on the ice call on Pittsburgh, helping the Devils dodge a bullet.

Nonetheless, I will be brief. The offense was good. I have no real issue with how the forwards played. OK, their passing and possession on offense could be better; and the power play could have been a lot more effective at times despite going 2 for 7. Still, they did their job. Patrik Elias did well. Zach Parise did well. Aaron Asham did well. John Madden did well. Travis Zajac did very well and probably was the best player on the ice tonight. Etc. Etc.

The defense needs to get better. Martin Brodeur was either screened, had a defenseman try and cover an open man without a stick, and got beat by two deflections. Brodeur did what he could, but those are ridiculously hard to stop. The defense played very porously. I really would not like to see Karel Rachunek get serious time on the penalty kill until he gets better, period, end stop. The defensemen group as a whole looked a bit lost all night long and they had trouble at times with playing the puck which led to costly turnovers or further Penguin offensive pressure. I felt that Paul Martin in particular played very poorly tonight. I know he got an assist tonight, but he really could have played a lot better on defense. For someone who will likely be playing 24-26 minutes a night (and he played 26:06 tonight), he needs to step it up.

The Devils won two games in a row and scored a total of 11 goals in doing so. That's good. But both games weren't strong wins and New Jersey succeeded in spite of their defense. That's ugly. That can't continue to happen. That needs to get better. Perhaps it'll be better tomorrow when the Devils will play Philadelphia. Best of luck to them and to the expected starter, Kevin Weekes. (Note: link goes to Gulitti reporting on the line-up changes, further proving that Gulitti's blog may be Fire & Ice, but he's still on fire from his excellent preseason coverage.)

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