Déjà Vu All Over Again

For the second season in a row, Lou Lamoriello found himself behind the bench for the playoffs. For the second season in a row, Devils lost in the second round in five games. For the second season in a row, a weak defense plagued the Devils and lack of scoring hurt them.

Taking a step back, look at the Devils and what is wrong? They are successful, they are competitive, but they aren’t getting past teams they should be able to in the playoffs. They are the square peg trying to fit in the round hole known as the new NHL.

As much as it pains me, it is time to change. Sure they have a new home for next season, but venue is not going to change the mentality of the franchise.

The Devils defense is too young and can’t compete like this. Martin Brodeur has played very well, albeit giving up a few goals he should have had. But when you look at the grand scheme of things, some of his best season occurred with guys like Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer in front of him.

Without a veteran defense, the Devils defensive style falls flat in times of pressure.

Lou mentioned that he does not regret any decision he made, especially regarding his coaching decision. I agree, in that I don’t believe the Devils would have performed any better under the direction of former coach Claude Julien.

“At a time like this, there are a lot of disappointments, and there is a lot of feelings that are going through everybody’s mind, and it’s not a time to look at anything negative. It’s a time to dwell on the positive things that transpired and reflect on that, and only that. But never accept defeat. Never learn how to lose.” These words, spoken by Lou Lamoriello, were said at his post-game press conference.

Devils have Mountain to Climb

With the series at 3-1 in favor of Ottawa, the Devils find themselves in a bleak position, but not out just yet.

If any team can come back in the round and wind three games in a row, the Devils can. They’ve done it in the past and they can do it now.

Now, taking off the rose-colored glasses, this is going to be a tough sell. The team needs to show off every skill at 100% in order to discourage the Senators enough that they won’t rebound in the next game.

It starts with one, though, so let’s focus on winning tonight.

First, penetration in to the Ottawa zone: the Devils need puck possession in the Ottawa Senators zone in order to make scoring chances. They need to crash the net, they need to make crisp short passes, and they need to get the puck on Ottawa net minder Ray Emery.

Second, defense: as a whole, all teammates must play defense at certain times of the game. They need to keep their sticks down and not expose any holes that will allow the Senators to get a good scoring opportunity. They need to keep the box in tight and push Ottawa to the extremities of the Devils zone. Furthermore, make sure to watch the short side from the corners and keep Ottawa out of there.

Third, goaltending: there’s no question – Brodeur has not played up to his potential so far in the postseason. We’ve seen a few games in which he’s played well, but he needs to be at the top of his game, remain focused, and follow his gut instinct. Ottawa has scored over and around Brodeur’s glove hand one too many times. Expect them to continue to shoot up there.

Last but not least, the fans: yes, that’s right, you! For those of you attending the game, don’t let up in chanting “Let’s go Devils” and keep the noise level high. Cheer on the Devils and try not to boo them when something doesn’t go as planned. Feel free to boo Ottawa when appropriate. The excitement of having the fans in the arena helps to keep the team motivated; silence is deadly to the home team.

As always, let’s go Devils!