Unacceptable

These are the words echoed by Devils coach (for the time being anyway) Brent Sutter. He gave the Devils the day off on Sunday to rest, but the Devils came out Monday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins flat.

Although some blame it on poor coaching, poor goaltending, and poor officiating, fact of the matter is this was a team wide failure. No aspect of this game went well.

You can’t pin the blame on just one game, either. This is the fourth time in 14 games that the Devils have been shut out. What’s so unfortunate about this is the fact that the Devils have a brand new home which can draw well, but producing a struggling team like this is going to seriously detract from fans coming out to games, especially since ticket prices are so much higher.

Now I’m no one to panic, but this is looking pretty bad for the Devils right now. One thing the Devils also were known for in their “modern” era is the fact that key players could move or be lost and the team would still operate well as someone else took their place. It appears as if now that is no longer the case. The Devils have lost too many “key” players over the past 4 years to be able to stay competitive. I can’t blame new coach Brent Sutter when the team is missing so much talent it once had, plus the loss of Colin White and Jamie Langenbrunner due to injury.

Only 14 teams don’t make it in to the playoffs. If the Devils don’t start seriously looking to acquire some anchor players, we may be clawing tooth and nail for the remainder of the season to get out of one of those 14 spots.

In the Stands: Friday vs the Leafs

The game was slow for the Devils. Through the first and second periods, the Devils had 9 shots on goal. Toronto had 20. David Clarkson did receive his first goal this season thanks to an initial pass by Devil’s net minder Martin Broduer up the ice.

Martin Brodeur was on the ball. Coming off of a great win Wednesday night against Tampa Bay boosted his confidence and it was obvious with some of the classic Brodeur-ean saves he had made.

Interestingly enough, this almost looked like the old Devils – slow, patient, not much offense, and a whole lot of time playing defense. They made some good opportunities but for the most part the teams were just playing pong bouncing the puck back and forth.

Toronto had the better attack, and it caught up to the Devils in the second period when Leaf forward Alexander Steen scored to tie things up at 1.

Devils Penalty Kill played well, and had to play for about 10 minutes during the entire game. John Madden was able to capitalize during a hooking penalty taken by Sergei Brylin. Down one man, Madden was able to get nice break and score a shorthanded goal to take the lead in the third period.

Zach Parise helped get the insurance, which the Devils needed, as Mats Sundin scored on yet another penalty of the Devils; Jay Pandolfo – which has 8 penalty minutes this season and had a total of 8 penalty minutes in 82 games last year – sat out for tripping Leaf defenseman Ian White.

Thankfully the last goal by the Leafs to make the score 3-2 came with only 32 seconds left in the period, and Toronto just ran out of time to keep the pressure on the Devils.

Some final notes:
* Olli Malmivaara is huge, but I don’t see him doing much during the game. Granted he only played 7 minutes Friday night, but I think he needs some more time in the minors. The Devils can certainly use his size though.
* I am calling Patrik Elias “Patricia” from now on until he scores a goal. Plain and simple, he needs to pick up his game.
* John Oduya yet again fails miserably during the 14 minutes of ice time he got.
* Attendance at the game reminded me of the Continental Airlines Arena – lower section had many seats empty and the upper tiers were packed.
* Why, if the soft pretzel warmer is directly behind the cashier at the beer stand, can she not sell me a pretzel?!?