Well, the Devils won a game in overtime against the Washington Capitals, 2-1
, today in DC. If I don't sound enthused it's because I'm not. I'm surprised and somewhat relieved because the Devils really should not have won it based on how they played throughout much of the game.
The Devils essentially lollygagged through the first two periods. The Capitals were hustling, moving up the puck up with energy, and peppering Martin Brodeur with shots - the exact opposite of New Jersey's performance. The Devils looked slower, they didn't fight (and win) the battles along the boards, they sat in their own zone, and they couldn't do anything right on offense. At one point through the middle of the second period, the Devils were outshot 18-6. 18 to 6! The Devils were getting rolled. Only thing is, the Capitals couldn't solve Martin Brodeur. I was wrong at the end of yesterday's post; Alexander Ovechkin's unit can only be contained (it didn't help that I felt Jay Pandolfo could have played better) and I'm very, very, very glad Brodeur was in net. Were it not for him, the Devils do not even come close to winning the game.
Yet, the lack of finishing doomed the Capitals. The Devils scored early in the third off a Jamie Langenbrunner bomb from the point on a power play. That goal was enough to wake up the Devils and they played much better in comparison to the first two periods of the game. Mind you, they weren't necessarily good - just better than they were within the game. Alexander Semin pulled off a great move, capitalized on some poor defending by Mike Mottau, and beat Brodeur wide for an instant equalizer. The game opened up as both teams combined for 28 shots in the third period alone, with NJ leading 18-10. The Devils looked a lot better, but they couldn't solve goaltender Brent Johnson a second time in regulation. This in spite of some good shifts led by Patrik Elias, Zach Parise, Brian Gionta and Travis Zajac. Those four players in particular combined for 18 shots on net - about 58% of New Jersey's shots on net total in the game.
Nevertheless, Brodeur saved the day - literally - for New Jersey and the Capitals held on for the game to go to overtime. The game literally opened up with numerous end-to-end rushes by both teams. However, in overtime, the Devils got a fortunate chance. John Madden drew about 3 Capitals to his position with the puck, who dropped it off to Patrik Elias. Elias shot a hard puck that hit the post, dropped right to Madden, and Madden snuck it through Johnson's leg for the winning goal. The Devils came to DC, played poorly for a majority of the game, didn't show that they wanted it more, but they did enough to hold off Washington and to get the win anyway. Good teams win these types of games, and it gives the Devils first place in the Eastern Conference for the first time since 2001.
I like the result, but Sutter needs to really drill the point home to the team that this kind of performance is unacceptable. The East is very tight and no one can win for long playing that kind of lackadaisical hockey. Good thing Brodeur had enough in him to make all those saves and the Devils did enough to get it done. Hopefully we will see a more complete performance against Carolina later this week.
Labels: 2008 Postgame