The Devils find themselves in a five game losing streak with only five games remaining. They have now lost seven games in a row against the New York Rangers. And the Devils find themselves in a three-way tie with the Ottawa Senators and the New York Rangers for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference with 91 points.
The worst part of it all: the Devils played well tonight.
Patrik Elias made a fantastic deflection to get the Devils tied with the Rangers midway through the second period. Then, Zach Parise scored at the end of the second to give the Devils the lead for the first time in a game since March 19. And in the past 5 games the Devils now average 1 goal a game.
I am not bringing back the big red panic button, but I’m very tempted. This is the worst stretch of games the Devils have seen the 2004 season.
Brent Sutter summed things up nicely during his post-game press conference: “We did enough good things to win here tonight, but we still found a way to lose the hockey game.”
The Devils are 1-9-4 against the Metro teams (Rangers and Isles). Rangers are 9-3-1 and the Isles are on top with 10-3-0
Devils color analyst Chico Resch also made the point that the Devils penalty killers have given up a power play goal in each of the last four games, two tonight against a team who was 1 in their last 30 before the game started.
Right around now is when Devils GM Lou Lamoriello fires the coach and steps behind the bench to take over for the playoffs. He’s done this is the prior two seasons, and it didn’t get the Devils any further than Round 2.
It should become increasingly evident to Lou that perhaps it’s the players’ physical ability and limit, not the coaching or coaches, which is to blame here.
Each season that passes the Devils lose key players to free agency. The Devils make do with what they have, and post a competitive team year after year, but it’s not the type of team that has confidence throughout the year, which is probably one of the most important facets when entering the playoffs.
When the Devils lost Scott Gomez and Brian Rafalski, I was initially mad at Lou Lamoriello for not being able to re-sign them. The anger soon wore off during the off-season and I once again had hope for a strong run. The run has now slowed to a crawl with five games remaining in the season and the importance those players had on the ice for the Devils, Gomez with his play-making ability (which he showed again Thursday night) and Rafalski with his defensive ability, is becoming more and more evident.
So once again Lou, I think the burden of the Devils recent demise at the moment rests on the available talent we have on the ice at the moment.
Perhaps I am being too cynical, and, as Chico pointed out, the Devils will soon find themselves as the underdogs and perhaps that will give them a lift in the playoffs. And perhaps that’s just trying to put sprinkles on your melted ice cream sundae. But frustration is extremely high and desperation turning in to frustration is not something the Devils can afford to go through with five games remaining.
This rant has been brought to you by the number 7, the letter L, and the sound of a toilet flushing.