Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Changes? What Are These...Changes?

Tom Gulitti is reporting today at Fire & Ice that the Devils do not plan to change their lineup for Thursday's game against Our Hated Rivals.

I struggle to understand this decision, to be honest. Sheldon Brookbank has been actively bad for the past two games and he was clearly the worst player on the ice in last night's game. Given that Pittsburgh regularly has Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi on defense; that's pretty bad. As an aside, I'm amazed Gill and Scuderi played 20 minutes - they just aren't that good. Regardless, while I don't think it would completely spark the offense, giving Karel Rachunek another chance on the blueline wouldn't be a bad idea. He'd have to try real hard to be unconfident with the puck and slow in getting into position at both ends, as Brookbank has been in recent games. Plus, Rachunek has a better shot - something New Jersey could use.

That said, there's something to be said for keeping the same players and having them work through the adversity. On the other hand, I think it's time to stop using Mike Rupp as a featured forward. Patrik Elias is back, Rupp hasn't been taking it to the net as he has been last week, and so I think his resurgence has plateaued. Still, a nice run from Rupp. Of course, should Rupp break out and have a game such that Pierre McGuire would proclaim him to be a MONSTER, I will gladly eat my words.

Anyway, I digress. That something to be said about keeping the team together has been well said by Josh Burnett at 2 Man Advantage. Josh thinks the best way for the team to get scoring again is for the team to relax. I'm inclined to agree. We've seen the Devils put up 35 shots on the Islanders, 25 more shots in a terrible game, and then 31 more on the Penguins last night. While they are missing and getting blocked in a Dikembe Mutumbo-esque manner, they are getting shots. Clearly, it's getting into their head, they're frustrated, and so scoring becomes even more elusive. The old saying of "gripping your stick too tightly," I fear, is holding true. So Josh's advice is apt in that regard. Should the team not freak out and play with too much self-doubt or play with absolute panic, they could find their way to get back into scoring. And not a moment too soon with Our Hated Rivals tomorrow and Our Favorite Punching Bags on Friday. Oh, how I would love to make a post like this again.

Regardless, I'm happy to say that the team recognizes that they miss the net too many times, as Tom Gulitti informs us:

**During one drill in which players curled around a glove to take a shot from between the circles, six of first seven fired wide and had to do pushups. "It tells you they're not hitting the net," Sutter said. "They've been doing that all year. We know we miss the net more than we like. You talk to them about it and yet it's something you have to be better at."

Unfortunately, in the comments, we learn that the Devils are doing a lot of push-ups. The first step to solving a problem is to recognize it, so at least they got that far.

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