Saturday, March 08, 2008


Devils 2 - Tampa Bay 1, OT

The New Jersey Devils re-take the lead in the Eastern Conference with an overtime win last night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. This was a bit of an odd game. The Lightning, sitting in last in the East with 59 points prior to last night, had nothing to lose.

Yet, you wouldn't know it from their effort. This game seemed to be a perfect example of why they are so hapless this season. It's not just that Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis - their two remaining studs at forward - were shut down. But they played over 23 minutes each and they only got 4 shots on net between the two of them. St. Louis played 24:38 of last night's game and got only 1 shot on net. Nick Tarnasky was more of a threat on the ice than St. Louis. It's not that the Devils defense was totally dominating; but the Lightning only put 22 on Brodeur, who didn't think he got much of a workout. It's not that the top defenseman, Dan Boyle, did poorly - but he was seriously bad last night. He attempted a slew-foot on Zach Parise, instigated a fight, gave the Devils a 4 minute power play, got a misconduct, and got dispossessed in overtime which led to the play that got the Devils the game winning goal. The only bright spot for Boyle was his pass to Michel Ouellet which led to Tampa Bay's only goal of the game. Still, after that fat contract extension, you'd like your top defenseman to be a lot better than he was.

The Devils put 33 shots on net in comparison. Unfortunately for them, it was against Tampa Bay's back-up Karri Ramo. Ramo did well and the offense wasn't as efficient as I'd like it to be. 11 blocked shots against, 12 missed, and while they threatened on the power play with 10 shots - they couldn't crack the code. Nonetheless, the Devils didn't give up or fall asleep in the game for too long. The only real time was during a penalty kill, which led to Ouellet's goal - something I felt Brodeur should have had. The finishing just wasn't there. They hit the post a number of times, which was unfortunate, but they didn't really break through for great chances except for the two goals.

Nobody told that to Zach Parise, Brian Gionta, or Patrik Elias, however. Parise scored the game's first goal by picking out Elias' pass in the air to just blast it past Ramo's right in the first period. A very nice move. He also got into a fight; but I think he should just stick to producing points. Gionta had 6 shots on the net in the game and helped set up the play that led to the game's first goal. Elias was the star, though. He had a mind-boggling 9 shots on net and scored the game's winning goal by cutting to the middle, shooting at Ramo's left which was hard enough to bounce off him and get in the net. Elias was pretty good and while you can't say the offense was a show-stopper, his performance suggests it's better than what the scoreboard says.

Anyway, it's a win, those are good and now the Devils get to embark on a road trip. First, they go back to Toronto. Then they visit Montreal, Minnesota, and Colorado. If they do well on this road trip, such as getting at least 5 points out of it, then they should be in good shape in the division. If not, then it's going to be another wild end, I think. There is a concern on defense. Gulitti has noted that Colin White was injured last night and Paul Martin is still too hurt to play tonight. Good thing Bryce Salvador is settling in fairly well in New Jersey. Not to mention that the team has more than enough defensemen for some short-term cover.

In any case, tonight's game will be the last one under the network name Fox Sports New York. As of March 10, the channel will be rebranded as MSG Plus. Yep.

For additional thoughts about last night's game, check out IPB's live-blog of the game and Devils Daily's recap.


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