Devils Drop the Ball

The Rangers are now 1 point from passing the Devils in the Eastern Conference. That’s 1 point from eighth place in the conference. Last week the Devils sat in second place and have lost five of their last seven games to plummet through the standings.

Friday night’s match-up marks the 5th consecutive loss against the Rangers this season, and although the game play was close, the Rangers still managed to get the upper hand and subsequently the win.

You can’t say the Devils played poorly, but their drive wasn’t completely there. They made some good offensive chances but were unable to capitalize when they needed to. They didn’t take too many penalties, but the 5 they did have cost them valuable attack time. They didn’t make too many bad plays but Colin White’s giveaway lead to a Ranger’s goal and a late Too Many Men on the Ice penalty kept the Devils from having an extra attacker when Martin Brodeur was pulled.

In other words, the Devils didn’t throw the game away completely, but rather played with mediocrity. The same mediocrity that the Devils have struggled with the past two seasons is rearing it’s ugly head during an important stretch in the 2007-08 season.

Devils netminder Martin Brodeur was quoted before the game by Chico Resch saying that the their problem is they are simply not scoring. He was right. Only Zach Parise was able to score a goal to cut the Rangers lead in half during the second period. But pulling Brodeur in the third to even up the sides allowed Ranger Chris Drury to score an Empty Net Power Play goal.

In the past 7 games, the Devils have scored an average of less than 2 goals a game. This is a no brainer; this is simply not going to cut it, and the Devils know that very well. They’ve have two and a half seasons to learn that fact. And yet they still show no signs of beating the mediocrity bug that continues to plague them.

The trade deadline is quickly approaching; will New Jersey Devils’ General Manager Lou Lamoriello make some trades to keep the team playing consistently well? Is it possible for a team to play an entire season consistently well in the “new” NHL (a phrase I am really getting sick of saying)?

Perhaps these questions should not be answered now merely because they may just be going through a bit of a dry spell, and may snap out of this funk as quickly as Saturday against the LA Kings.

But one thing I am sure of, is that Brent Sutter will not sit idle and watch as his team drops position after position in the standings. He will stand up and make sure each and every member of team understands their responsibility and ensure they learn from their mistakes. It’s one of the reasons why I continue to believe in him as the Devils head coach. And he’s the reason I believe the Devils have done as well as they have this season.

Consistency – they still lack. But the talent is there. They just need to figure out how to use it.

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