Since I'm confident someone in the Devils organization reads this blog, I have a question about tonight's game:
What the hell was that?
Let's break it down: the Devils were in control in this game in period 1. They got the early goal, an absolutely fantastic shot from Patrik Elias hitting the inside of the corner, the back post inside the net, and out. It started with Mike Mottau leaping to keep a puck in the zone on a power play, a dish to Elias, and Elias inched and inched and WHAM it's in. Elias had a big night, he picked up the second half of his brace with a great put-back from a cross ice pass by Mottau. So far, so good right?
Well, somewhere in the second period, the Montreal Canadiens found some holes. They found some openings. They found that Martin Brodeur wasn't at his normal, Montreal-owning self for some reason. They found they could get in front of the crease without much impedance - a key to Montreal's success. After being out-shot 6-3 in the first, Montreal puts up more shots in the second, leading 9-4 in that period and even got a goal. But, Jamie Langenbrunner hammered home the Devils' second power play goal of the night to have the team lead 3-1. A two goal lead. 20 minutes to 2 points, 20 minutes to catching up with the Ottawa Senators, 20 minutes to secure a bit of a lead in the division, and 20 minutes to victory. After all, it's Montreal! A team who hasn't won in New Jersey since 2002! Hell, forget that it's Montreal, you got a two goal lead! This should be a win or at least a point.
It was 20 minutes to absolute and total failure. Montreal put up 3 goals to come from a 2 goal deficit to win 4-3 while the Devils looked like a fish out of water.
Like some meltdowns, it came slowly but surely. A little sluggish to start expanded to absolute disarray, especially on defense. The one goal Montreal got in the second was from a deflection in front of the net; Montreal would go on to score 2 more goals right from in front and another off a deflection. Les Habs had their pick of shots, though, putting up twenty - twenty - to the Devils' three. I don't want to hear about how the deflection by Saku Koivu was high or how the refs hurt the Devils with 5 penalties against. They may not have been obvious save for Elias' goaltending interference infraction, but all five of them were stupid, undisciplined, and avoidable. When you're being outshot in your own building 20-3 in the third period, the other team is literally surging in the entire third period with little response, and you put up an absolute joke of a defensive effort as we saw by New Jersey, you're going to lose!
Every defenseman in this game was poor at best (this include Mottau, who was invisible on the last two Montreal goals). In particular, Karel Rachunek and Vitaly Vishnevski were pathetic in their coverage. The whole team sucked in the third - including captain Jamie Langenbrunner - but Vishnevski and Rachunek were particularly brutal. Still, the Devils played Statue too many times when Montreal had the puck and they paid for it. They should be ashamed of themselves at this. The Devils were pylons in front of the net allowing Montreal to do set up wherever they wanted and control the play however they needed. Gifting them five power plays and developing an inability to counter attack or lead a break out to provide any offensive pressure adds up. Why Sutter didn't call a time out or adjust the game plan to change things up is absolutely beyond me. Maybe it wouldn't have mattered. It all contributed to the meltdown.
The entire team needs to get on their exercise bikes and ride for an hour. They turned what should have been 2 to 0 for the second time this month. In recent games, the Devils have been prone to losing leads in the third period and this game is a gigantic example of that. This is unacceptable and the Devils clearly need to improve their performances in the third period and their focus. To sum it all up:
The Devils should be embarrassed at what happened tonight and this has to end
Labels: 2008 Postgame, Devils Issues