Wednesday, April 09, 2008

 

Game 1: Devils 1 - Rangers 4

Our Hated Rivals came into the Rock and came out winners by the tune of 4-1. Don't let the score fool you, it was a close game up until the third period. I suppose the story will be all about Scott Gomez and how he is awesome and how the Devils miss him and so on and so forth. That would also not give you the whole story.

See, this game is a frustrating loss not just because the Devils lost to Our Hated Rivals in a crucial playoff game but because they didn't really play all that poorly. The Devils had the better run of play in the first period, in spite of the shot counts being even. The team was skating hard, out hitting Our Hated Rivals 18 to 11, performed a great penalty kill, and getting a some scoring chances (e.g. Sergei Brylin shorthanded on a breakaway). The second period resulted in a goal against, but the Devils finally broke through with a power play goal by Paul Martin. Patrik Elias just dished it across to Martin, who lined up his shot and put it home. The game was equalized. The period ended 1-1; optimism would still be valid.

And then the third period came where it all went wrong. Well, not all wrong; but the Devils had two very bad breaks. One at the end of a power play, where the Devils broke down and the Rangers responded with an odd-man rush. That in of itself is unacceptable. Then the initial shot was saved; but no one picked up on the rebound or the trailing skater. The puck trickled wide, Martin Brodeur stretched out, then stood up, and then made a last attempt to poke it away. It wasn't enough as Ryan Callahan had an easy put-back. A series of errors by New Jersey and that ultimately doomed the Devils. While the Devils pushed on and had numerous opportunities - including three straight power plays in the game as well as a number of scoring chances with 13 shots in the third period - they could not get it through. Either being robbed by Henrik Lundqvist, getting the shot blocked (16 blocks against) or missing the net (15 missed shots).

Instead of calling a time-out to sort things out, the Devils kept pushing on. Then a horrific bad break late in the third. Gomez fired the shot off Brodeur's right, whilst Brodeur was sliding. There was a rebound that Sergei Brylin was about to get. Only it hit his skate, leaving it wide open. Sean Avery had the whole open net and scored the easiest goal possible. It was so easy that anyone could have scored there. Me. You. Avery's ladyfriends. My dead grandmother. Etc. The Rangers faithful - and there were an embarrassing large number of them at The Rock - were pleased as they could be. Devils fans like myself were all of angry, unhappy, and besides themselves.

The Devils need to win. They need to score on those chances; they need to put them away; and they need to avoid those costly breakdowns in game. I'm still optimistic - being a fan and all. But even I have trouble in thinking the Devils will win this series by being down 2 games when going across the river. Game 2 is now a must-win game. Let's go Devils. Please.

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Comments:
hey man, enough with "our hated rivals." it was kind of okay the first couple of times you did it...actually, no, it was always kinda dumb. just call them "the Rangers," okay?

As for the Devils missing Gomez, well...we did. Not so much Gomez as just a number one center. I'm not saying this series is over, and they did play well for the majority of the game. But, the Devils need to make some significant changes in the offseason. They overachieved to get into 4th, and they just don't have the talent to go deep this year. This being said, hopefully they will beat the Rangers.
 
I don't want to talk about the offseason just yet. Nothing is over.

Also:

Regardless of how you're legion, anonymous, I'll refer to the Rangers however I'd like to refer to the Rangers.
 
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