Saturday, April 12, 2008


OK. About Last Night.

Alright. Last night. Colin White bumps Martin Brodeur for the first goal against; the Devils were caught in shock for the Rangers to go up 2 goals; the Devils get one late on a John Madden deflection from Patrik Elias; and a wild end with some garbage officiating at the end. It was garbage. Jamie Langenbrunner thought as such. John Madden said as such. Brent Sutter threw a stick and proclaimed as such. Fans like me were hurling all kinds of 7 and 8 letter words that rhyme with "Schucking Hull Bit" (which sounds like what St. Louis did to Hull as his contract ended). Lou Lamoriello nearly pulled a Schoenfeld according to Tom Gulitti. Other, similar opinions were offered at 2 Man Advantage and IPB.

But to be honest, I am the most upset and frustrated by how the Devils played last night. Despite the horrific refereeing at the end, I can't excuse the Devils' effort. They lost Game 1 at the Rock and they came nothing happened. Oh, the teams were physical and there was all kinds of passion expressed with scrums, shoves, and lots of yelling. But not in the Devils' attack. For the most part, their idea of taking the puck in had two options:

1) Dump the puck in at the blue line into the corner/behind the net. Fight along the boards for possession.
2) Pass the puck off the boards and attempt to get at the puck by blowing by the defender, but fail and fight along the boards.

Only a handful of times did the Devils attempt to drive the puck into the net and try to get what some would call a "garbage goal." Bizarrely enough, each of those times, the Devils were close in getting a goal even having one of the three "crashings" of the net result in a video review. Did they score? No. But they applied a lot more pressure than what they did for most of the night. Win the puck on the boards, take the puck outside to a defenseman or a forward on the perimeter, pass it around looking for an open shot/pass, and try to force a shot through a lot of bodies. Even when a shot did get on net, was there anyone in the slot set up to pick up a rebound? No! Why utilize Brian Gionta that way instead of having him just stick to the right? Why utilize big bodies like Dainius Zubrus or Mike Rupp to set themselves up in front? Why do any of that when you're using screens and forcing shots through traffic for most of the game! Just like Game 1.

And just like Game 1, that style resulted in the Devils missing the net 15 times and getting blocked another 13 times. Combined, they blew more attempts than they had actual shots on net (27). I said on Thursday that the Devils need to be more accurate, and yet again, they were not. And many of those shots weren't particularly difficult for Henrik Lundqvist. The only line getting consistent shots on net was the top line of Parise, Elias, and Langenbrunner. Those three combined for 13 shots, 48% of the Devils' shots all game long. But again, most of them weren't quality shots and the team blew a lot of chances.

Watching them, you notice that the team was looking for the great chance, passing up the good chance. That may be fine if you're winning or not slumping in the scoring department, but it's definitely not fine now. I mean, the one goal the Devils did get was a deflection. A low shot by Elias from the left faceoff circle, deflected by Madden - who was in the vicinity of the slot. The Devils need to do more of that. They need guys in the slot. The constant reliance on long shots and screens isn't working. Consider this. When you're ordering a Double Whopperâ„¢ at Burger King through the drive-through, you don't drive your car out 50 feet and yell for the bag. You drive to the window. When the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (of 2007) has the ball on the first yard line in the red zone, the first play is not Mike Teel throwing an out to the fullback - it's Ray Rice taking it inside for the touchdown. In many things in life, you need to get into it to get it - be it earning a job, making a friend, writing a blog, etc. You can't be passive. The Devils need to drive to the net to succeed.

This has plagued the power play, which was a massive waste of opportunity. A power play early in the game. A power play at the end of the first that carries over into the second. A four minute double minor for Christian Backman cross-checking Parise into his teeth. A power play late in the second period that carries over into the third period. All power plays when both teams weren't doing much offensively. All opportunities to score, or at least, apply pressure on the Rangers. All 10 minutes of it absolutely wasted. The stats tell me the Devils got 4 shots on net. They weren't very good shots, I can tell you that much. The penalty killers were great; but the other half of special teams were miserable. It's bad when you don't even threaten with 4 minutes of a man advantage. How did this happen? The Devils approached it the same way they do regularly. A dump into the boards. Fighting for possession. Trying to set up a long shot. All that failed.

And so the Devils really blew this game with their tepid and tired attack. I am pleading to the Devils organization to mix it up on offense. Take the puck inside. Drive it to the net more often. Take some "OK" shots instead of waiting for the "great (if no one was in front of me)" shot. Go low (it worked last night) on Lundqvist sometimes. The Devils had at least two periods and advantages to take control of the game. The Rangers were playing patient, 1-2-2, opportunistic hockey; they played like the Devils played a few years ago. And instead of pinning the backcheckers back and going with a more aggressive, inside-style offense, they only really felt the urgency to score late in the third period after the Rangers realized that attacking the net is a good idea (and they succeeded, hint, hint, Mr. Sutter) and scrambled for offense then. They got one, but it was too little too late. All in a crucial Game 2 - killing off the home ice advantage and half-digging their own grave. Knowing full well the Rangers have never blown a 2-0 playoff series lead and the Devils only came back from one of those once.

I'm unhappy. I'm angry. I'm frustrated. And now NJ has to do it all on the road. All I want now is just one win.

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Well said, sir! Well said! I wish the Devils would read this before Game 3.
I hate the "dump and chase". The Devils have 2 D-men capable of rushing the puck (Martin and Oduya) and I'd like to see them or someone on the team carry the damn puck into the offensive zone. Every time they dump, sure our forward gets there first some times, but then they get hit. Carry! Don't let the Rangers set up defensively! Do something they won't be expecting!
Thanks Pookie. You're absolutely right Wayne.
More hitting, just like tonight too!
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