Saturday, January 19, 2008


Florida Disappointment


Yes, that is the exact word I would describe the Devils' 2-1 loss to Florida last night. It was a disappointing game to watch. It wasn't so much the loss alone as it was how the loss came about. The Devils did very well to start the game, putting pressure on Florida's defense and their back-up goaltender Craig Anderson early. While the Devils were the better of two teams, the signs of the Devils' offense sputtering came early. The most notable was a lead pass to Zach Parise. Had Parise taken the pass, he's all alone on a breakaway. Instead, he mistimed the puck and it bounced ahead of him off his skates for Anderson to easily handled.

I'd like to single out Parise for a moment. Amazingly, the Devils have played very well in spite of their forwards - with some doing well for spells while others are cold. Parise is clearly in the cold mode in spite of his assist on the lone Devils goal tonight. He did well in the Carolina game, but those were 2 of his 3 assists for this month - his only points. Parise, among other Devils forwards need to step it up.

In any case, back to the game, dread mounted in spite of Travis Zajac's goal early in the second period. The Devils received four power plays in near succession and did very little with them all. Bad passing, non-challenging shots, and the team gave away While the Devils outshot Florida all night long, their shots weren't very challenging and it was Martin Brodeur who had to sweat and make ridiculous saves all night long. And Brodeur made some absolutely ridiculous ones - including one in the second period where Brodeur snatched a rebound out of thin air and smothered it to keep it from going over the line. It was awesome.

But the disappointment fully manifested itself in the third period. Florida hit the Devils with two goals off rebounds that no one could stop and the Devils spent the rest of the period trying to get something on net. The Devils' passing was terrible, decent scoring chances couldn't be had against Florida, and ultimately the Panthers won the game. Good on the Panthers, they didn't get discouraged by being down after two periods and capitalized on a legendary goalie with some opportunities that even a legendary goalie can't stop.

Bad on the Devils for doing so little with the opportunities they did have. 4 power plays in a row in the second period, a back-up goaltender in net, being at home - the Devils really needed to put Florida to the sword and expand on that 1-0 lead. Instead, they were shocked with a quick-fire double by Florida, and they ended up paying for that. What's more, the Devils were simply inept on offense in getting the puck onto and in an attempt to get it into the net in spite of their 32 shot-on-net count.

To see such a game as a fan of New Jersey, this was hard to watch. They had the lead but instead of adding it and securing two points with the W; Florida was allowed to get back in it, they did, and the Devils floundered. In such a tight race in the Atlantic Division, this in addition to the losses to the Islanders and the Rangers could and will bite the Devils should they find themselves looking up the wrong way in the playoff seeding.

And that all of it could have been different, and that's a disappointment.

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