I’m not going to beat around the bush. In the past two games, the Devils did a lot of good and a lot of bad, a lot of ugly, and some just plain unacceptable.
The Good: The Devils are coming out swinging. They are not being bowled over and really at no point during the games have the Devils been out of it for a period. They’ve been fighting every step of the way and really making the Rangers earn these past two wins. In fact, tonight the Associate Press even wrote that “the Devils had most of the good scoring chances.” Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner was quoted after the game, stating, “Again, like a broken record, we played well for most of the game. One goes in that normally doesn’t, and we have a mental lapse and they score again. We fought hard, showed some character to get one at the end but it was too little, too late.”
The Bad: The Devils need to score. You can say a lot about breaks, how the Rangers have gotten a lot and the Devils can’t seem to get any. But nevertheless, when it comes down to it, the Rangers have gotten the goals when the Devils have made a mistake here or there, and the Devils are simply not capitalizing on anything the Rangers have given up. In fact, in looking at how the Rangers are playing, they are playing like the Devils of old, with great defensive ability, not giving up much, if anything, and capitalizing on the opponents mistakes. It may just be coincidence, since the Devils continue to play hard throughout the 60 minutes, but so far 5 of the 6 goals scored against them in round 1 have been scored in the third period.
The Ugly: Friday’s night game was riddled with poor officiating. I could complain that the Devils were getting all the calls against and no calls for, but fact of the matter is, the officiating was simply inconsistent. There were questionable calls on both sides, and it seemed like calls were being made on assumptions of what a player looked like he was about to do, not what actually is happening. I’m sorry, but in the playoffs that’s unprofessional, unlikely, and simply unacceptable. For those of you that missed Sunday’s game, you missed the Devils being shorthanded on a questionably call with only a minute left in the game. Then, with Devils netminder Martin Brodeur pulled (so the Devils are still shorthanded but have an equal number of players on the ice), an icing gets called against them. If you have spent 30 minutes watching a hockey game, you know that when you are shorthanded, you can’t get an icing. Well the officials recognized the mistake very quickly, but the faceoff must come to center ice when that happens. This is extremely upsetting because if it were not for that call, the Devils would have most likely been able to keep the pressure in the offensive zone and at the very least made a few more scoring chances.
Now if you read the title and are questioning the teeth comment, Zach Parise was cross checked in the mount by Christian Backman. Parise immediately went down, and a 4 minute penalty was called. The Devils failed to get a shot on goal. This too is unacceptable. Zach Parise was on the ice for his next shift, but he did require dental work after the game.
The Devils haven’t lost the series, they are only down two games, but the next two games will be played at Madison Square Garden.
This may be presumptuous, but I am going to start the blame game for Game 2. And trust me; I have plenty of blame to go around.
Officials. I am sorry, but this is the playoffs. There is no need to make assumption like calls. Sure, there is a ton of emotion in this game, but let them go after each other. They earned it, and they should be allowed to go a little over the line. They will police themselves.
Devils Offense / Devils Power Play. I am grouping these two because they are aiming towards a common goal: scoring. For the past month, scoring has been an issue, and they must step up their game. It starts with getting shots through on the net. I have simply seen way too many shots fly wide when there was no deflection or interference – it just goes wide. Get it on net, keep the shots coming, and please for the love of New Jersey, get someone behind you when you shoot the puck eager to scoop up rebounds. The Devils are having a tough enough time transitioning in to offense and they can’t simply dump, shoot, and run back to play defense. They need to put pressure on for longer than 5 seconds. They must get those rebounds and keep Henrik Lunqvist, the NY Rangers netminder, moving.
Devils Defense. Twice now the Devils defense has made some type of error in either judgment or positioning and cost the Devils a goal. In both cases, it was the tie-breaking goal. This is simply unallowable.
Devils Coaching. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m not behind the scenes, but I don’t see players being held accountable. The anger and frustration Brent Sutter showed towards the officials in Friday night’s game should also be exposed to the players. They need to get their butts kicked especially with the lack-of-scoring funk they seem to be in.
Devils GM Lou Lamoriello. We all love Lou to an extent, but this makes the third consecutive season that the Devils have missed a vital component that they need now to be truly a threat in the NHL: scoring. Lou, we need offense, and we needed it 4 months ago. I’m not saying the Devils don’t have the ability to go all the way, but please look over the depth of this team and really consider what we need in order to make this team a Stanley Cup caliber team.
And last, and feel free to yell at me, THE FANS!!!!
This is pathetic, but there is no excuse for letting Ranger fans out-voicing you in the chants at the Prudential Center. I find it disgusting that fans would taunt Martin Brodeur screaming “Mar-ty” and no one attempts to start a “Lets Go Devils” or even a “Rangers Suck” whistle. This is OUR home, and you know that you would never hear that at the Garden, or at least live to tell about it. If we get to a game five or even a game seven, we better turn that around. We need to support our team in the good times, but now more than ever – the bad times.