They aren't wrong, in that the root causes was the same. The Devils, as a collective whole, did not play anything close to a complete game. I would argue they didn't even play a collective good 20 minutes. The start was OK, the second half of the second period was more of what we wanted to see from New Jersey: the defense stopping the Rangers stone dead, the forwards upping the tempo and getting more on Henrik Lundqvist, and a goal. But that's...17-18 minutes? The rest of the game was controlled by the Rangers. They performed much better on special teams, they controlled the puck better more often than not, they held off New Jersey from getting a shot for significant portions of time, and they even got some of the breaks as a result of their hard work and play on the ice. I hate typing this, but the Rangers were the better team last night and the game's final score reflects this.
It's not that Brodeur fumbled a Brandon Dubinsky shot or Aaron Voros was allowed to set up one too many times right in front. Yes, those were flaws and those need to be addressed. But the underlying cause is that pretty much the entire team didn't bring the effort they needed. Only the fourth line of Mike Rupp, Bobby Holik, and Dainius Zubrus was who I felt played consistently well - and a large part of that is because they sparked the Devils to play much better in the second period and get some momentum going. Even then, this wasn't a game that warrants high praise for anyone on this roster. It's not one player or one line, but the 19 guys (I can't really criticize Kevin Weekes, can I?) active in the game and the coaching staff lost this game.
They said the Devils were ready
(h/t Gulitti). Yet, the penalty kill forgot that they can move Voros from the slot. The Rangers did it well on their penalty kills when Sutter tried to set up two people in front of Lundqvist in third; it is
possible. However, until the Devils realize that they need to set the tone early, diversify their offense, tighten up their special teams play, and don't get discouraged when the Rangers have a few good shifts, we could see this repeat again. Next time it may not be Voros screening Brodeur; but maybe Nigel Dawes bombing up the wing to much success or the Rangers defense (who did a good job styming New Jersey's offense along with Lundqvist) just shutting the Devils down in the neutral zone. The particulars will change, but the root cause and general result may not.
Labels: 2008-09 Postgame, Devils Issues, Devils Rivals