“A Mystery Team”

The quote which makes up the title of tonight’s post is courtesy of Chico Resch, Devils color commentator.  And I don’t think the team can be described any better than that.  It’s strange, but for part of the game the Devils looked like they were in control, but then collectively broke apart.

The offense wasn’t able to keep the puck on their sticks, and was not testing Duck net minder J.S. Giguere.

The defense wasn’t stopping the Ducks from rushing in and making good scoring chances.

Scott Clemmensen was letting a couple of weak goals in the net.

To elaborate on the above points, the Devils only had 21 shots on goal, 11 of which came in the third period; this means the Devils had a combined 10 shots on goal divided in the first and second period.  Giguere has also been having some trouble as of late, and the Devils offense and fore check needed to be testing him by getting everything on net.  The amount of blocked and missed shots was low for the Devils as well, and this is a pure indication the Devils were just not shooting the puck.

The Devils defense allowed the Ducks to take 34 shots on goal.  They were leaving too many shooting lanes open, and didn’t get there sticks between Anaheim passes.

Scott Clemmensen was hot and cold as well tonight.  At first I thought he looked shakey in net, bobbling the puck a little, but later it became evident that he was making some stops that really kept the Devils in the game.  Unfortunately he let in one too many and the Devils were not able to recover even after pulling Clemmensen for the extra man.

The Devils didscore one goal without Scott in net, but they were down by two so they still needed one more before they might tie things up.  They appeared to pick things up in the third, as evident with the Shots on Goal tally, but it was too little too late.  That, plus the fact the Chris Kunitz scored twice to double the Ducks original lead made things difficult for the Devils to come back from.

One last thing – although the Devils didn’t take an excess of penalties, nor did Anaheim score on the power play, one can only hypothesize that the eight minutes the Devils were down a man may have hurt the Devils and keep them from continuing some of their stronger surges during the course of the game.

The Devils are not playing all that badly though.  In fact Saturday night the Devils played one of their best games beating up on the LA Kings with a 5-1 victory.  Goals came from across the whole team, including Travis Zajac, Patrik Elias, Zach Parise, Brian Rolston, and Jamie Langenbrunner.

What’s interesting was that three of the goals Saturday night and one of the goals Sunday night were scored on the Power Play.  Another interesting note: Kevin Weekes played on Saturday.

Aside from the fact the Devils won on Saturday and lost on Sunday, I still rate Kevin Weekes as outplaying Scott Clemmensen these past two games.  It’ll be interesting to see how the remaining stretch of away games is played out goaltending-wise.  There is nothing wrong in seeing which net minder has the winning touch – after all, Clemmensen won out on that race earlier in the season, but with the Devils play down the past few weeks, it might not be a bad idea to try it again.

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