Saturday, April 05, 2008
Devils 0 - Philadelphia 3
I'm glad the players agree with Sutter's proclamation that the Devils were terrible and, what's more, they displayed a lack of professionalism. It certainly isn't professional or wise to pretty much take the entire game off - Martin Brodeur excluded - in a big game at the end of the season. Philadelphia coming out strong was to be expected. They are on the bubble for the playoffs, the Wachovia Center was filled with fans and thundersticks, and they have every reason to go out there and get two points. The chairman of the Flyers was pleased, according to the NHL recap - as he should be. It was a crucial game where the Philadelphia Flyers actually outplayed their opponent and won. A rarity for the Flyers. You would think the Devils would at least play a competitive game of hockey, but they didn't even do that. They were walked on like a cheap rug. That's unacceptable at any time of the season, and it's not a good sign with the playoff so close.
However, what I feel really doomed the Devils is the distribution of the puck. I'm not a hockey player or an expert. I admit this. However, you can not win hockey games if you can't distribute the puck properly. This means failing to make clearances out of your own zone when the other team is pushing - which is what the Flyers did for much of the game. This means failing to make passes in the neutral zone and on the attack. So many passes either missed the receiver entirely, hits a skate instead of the stick, or it's easily taken away by the Flyers. It's the chief reason why the Devils struggled to generate many attacks or complete any counter attacks. The Flyers' defenders played aggressively and it resulted in many more possessions for Philadelphia in conjunction with the inaccurate dishes. Why Sutter didn't think to change the approaches on offense to compensate for the bad passing and this (e.g. allowing a player to carry it in themselves) is beyond me. Shots? Goodness gracious, the Devils seemed to been confused by the black worn by Flyers that night. They hit the Flyers' skaters just as much as they hit Martin Biron with the puck. 22 shots on net and 22 shots blocked. 22! Blocked! Shots! That's amazing in it's horribleness! The only real bright spot on offense was John Oduya carrying the puck deep into the zone, getting tripped up rounding the net, still getting a pass off - only for it to be duffed by Aaron Asham. The resulting power play? Negated by a stupid decision by Travis Zajac abouta minute in.
Outside of goaltending - Brodeur and Weekes didn't lose this game - it was a terrible game all around. Now, the Devils have a must-win game at home to Our Hated Rivals. Oh boy.