On Saturday I had the honor of going to the Devils game and watch in horror as everything that could go wrong went wrong. I hate you Murphy…
Monday night’s game didn’t start out much better. The first period was just bad, and the Devils were being outplayed by the Tampa Bay Lightning. They were being beaten to the puck, out played, out muscled, out maneuvered, and out face-offed.
By the end of the first period, Tampa Bay had a 1-0 lead and a pretty strong grasp of a game that still had two-thirds left to play.
I was reminded of a chant I heard in front of me on Saturday: “We want Janssen… We want Janssen.”
Cam Janssen, the Devils official scrapper and resident payback guy, has been scratched by the great and powerful Lou, probably because he feels he can get more out of the fourth line without Janssen sitting in the penalty box for ten minutes a game.
Previously, scratching Cam didn’t seem like such a bad idea, because he was a good guy to pump energy in to the team and the Devils at Game 2 and now 3 of the playoffs shouldn’t need energy at this point.
Wrong. They need to turn the tables against Tampa Bay and get things straightened out soon or else they are in danger of finding themselves down 3 games to 1 and in such a big hole mentally you should start getting your golf clubs polished.
Interestingly enough, the Devils had some wiggle room in the roster tonight due to a back spasm Colin White was suffering from and thus scratched 25 minutes from the start of the game. Devils coach Lou Lamoriello decided to write in Richard Matvichuk, and player who played 1 game, the last game, during the season, and who showed even he could find a way to sit in the penalty box and put the Devils behind at crucial times.
In any event, the Devils managed to dig themselves out of their miserable play and tied things up in the second period.
Scoring and offense really came from the Z. Z. Pops line (coined by “Doc” Emrick for the Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, and Jamie Langenbrunner), which has been the case during the past three games. Tampa Bay has been able to pretty much shut down and eliminate the Gomez, Gionta, Elias line since Game 1.
The third period, however, didn’t bring much joy as crazy plays and referee missed calls and bad calls continued, as they did in Game 2. The Lightning broke the lead early in the third. Zach Parise tied it up at two, getting his fourth playoff goal in three games minutes later. But the clinching goal for Tampa Bay came from Vaclav Prospal on a shot which fluttered over Devils net minder Martin Brodeur’s right shoulder.
The Devils played stronger in the second and third, better than the entire game on Saturday. Nevertheless, they could not come back after the late goal by Tampa Bay, and the late penalty by Richard Matvichuk pretty much sealed the deal to put the Lightning ahead in the series 2-1.
The Devils must come out strong in Game 4 and push Tampa Bay around like they did to the Devils in the first period. They must come out strong and continue strong for 60 minutes if they wish to tie the series up.
The next match-up will be on Wednesday when the Devils and Lightning meet up for Game 4. The game will start at 7:00 PM ET and again be broadcasted on FSN NY 2 and WWDJ 970 AM.