Game 4: Unfortunate…

I saw only bits and pieces of this game; I had work tonight covering the School Elections here in New Jersey (I hope everyone went out and voted!).  But the parts I saw were the first period and the end of the third.

All parts in which the Devils were scored against.  Maybe I shouldn’t have turned on the TV.

In any event, the Devils certainly did not play well in the first, but the late goal in the second period by Brian Gionta gets the Devils motivated and moving.

Then goals by Brendan Shanahan and David Clarkson got the Devils and ‘Canes tied up at 3.

The parts of the third period I saw left the impression that the Devils were significantly outplaying Carolina.  But near the end the tables were wobbling and both teams were making good chances, but you could tell things were about to unwind quickly.

Sure enough, it happened when Carolina had the puck deep in the Devils zone.

The ‘Canes scored with 0.2 seconds left in the third period.  The puck went in to Martin Brodeur’s left side and slid just past him.

There is a bit of controversy surrounding the goal, not because they weren’t sure if the puck crossed the line before the buzzer, but because Brodeur was "bumped" by Jokinen.  Brodeur was livid after the goal became official and swung his stick into the boards.  He was in rare form about this play, as he believes the interference was what knocked him off-balance and prevented him from being able to stop the puck.

 

Okay, now I love the Devils, I love Brodeur, but I need to dissent from the public opinion that this should have been called back.  At no time would you normally see interference called on this type of play.  Broduer did not fall down because of the hit, he was not knocked out of position in the complete opposite direction from where the puck was traveling, and Brodeur skated out as much as Jokinen skated across, meaning both players collided and it was incidental contact.

Incidental contact, as the rule reads, is permitted as long as the player made an effort or was not provided and method of avoiding the such contact.  The ruling is made by the closest referee cannot be reviewed by video tape.  The referee does have the option of waving off the goal without calling a goalie interference penalty; the official at the net did not believe that was warranted.

Moreover, the replay shows that Jokinen was almost completely screening Brodeur when the shot was taken, meaning Brodeur had little or no view of the shot which is, in my sole opinion, the reason he was unable to stop the shot.

 

With all that said, it’s the Devils defensemen’s responsibility to clear out players from in front of the net – they didn’t.  It was the Devils responsibility to clear the puck out of the zone, they didn’t.  And the Devils did not play well the entire game – they fought extremely hard in the third and played very well, but you are not guaranteed to pull out a win with only a 20 minute effort.  To elaborate on the point, the stats clearly show that in the first two period, the Devils gave up a combined 37 shots on goal and only took 17.  It’s clear they were being outplayed.  Ken Daneyko also pointed out after the game that "they didn’t play to that last second; you gotta play ’til the whistle."

Brent Sutter admitted that during his post-game press conference, stating "[Carolina] dictated the play."  He continued with, "it is what it is," and you can’t argue with that logic.  Even Martin Brodeur in his interview after the game made that statement.  Martin Brodeur, however, was much more vocal on his displeasure of the officials interpretation of the rules. 

 

Last note on my soap box – this is not necessarily a bad thing.  Sure, the 3-1 series lead would be nice to have.  But the Devils are livid right now.  The team as a whole is angry.  And playing angry isn’t a bad thing – it got Carolina the win tonight.

Here’s what you need to be careful about, though: don’t take bad penalties.  They took four penalties in the first two periods and it affected their ability to mount an offensive early on.

The Devils need to come back home to the rock with passion for taking the series lead once again.  Game 5 will take place Thursday at 7:30 pm in Newark.  The Devils will need to come out guns firing and just take Carolina to task for a complete 60 minutes.

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