Devils Stuck Between The Rock and a Hard Place

Warning: I’m not happy about this loss.  The following article is being written in this unhappy state and thus may sound like the game was much worse then it actually was.  My bias should be considered when reading.  Thank you for your attention to this warning.

 

Not much has changed on the Devils front.  In the past 6 games, the Devils have a 3-3 record.

This may not sound too bad, but in the 6 total games, one of them was a great game.  The Devils – Washington matchup was perhaps the best game they’ve played in a long time.  But the wins against the two Florida teams I don’t consider a strong win.  Against competitive teams, like the Flyers, Rangers, and now the Thrasher, the Devils fail.

Yes, Washington I also count as a competitive team – that’s the silver lining to this cloudy season.

 

Power Play – still sucks.  They went 0 for 6, including a brief 5 on 3.  In fact Atlanta scored a short-handed goal on one of the last power plays the Devils had.

Fact is, they are not getting in the middle of the ice, their passing the puck around looking for an open lane and not making opportunities.  To be successful, you cannot simply wait for a mistake, you must make them make a mistake.

Their over passing lead to the giveaway that eventually lead to the short handed goal that did the Devils in during the third period.

 

Defense – still sucks.  The defense was on their heals while Atlanta passed and skated the puck around them.  One of Atlanta’s goals came from a play in which two Thrashers skated down on one Devils defenseman – Johnny Oduya.  The correct play in this situation is to prevent the pass to the other rushing forward and let the goalie handle the man with the puck.

Instead, Oduya let the pass go right through him, Brodeur couldn’t get over to the opposit side, and the shot went in.  Oduya was spinning trying to recover and never had a chance of helping Brodeur out.

Oduya wasn’t the only man in trouble.  Bryce Salvador (I believe) was caught in an obvious set play in which the Atlanta Thrashers plant a man in front of Brodeur – Antropov, Peverley passes the puck to him, Antropov quickly passes it back and Peverley shot it in to the now out-of-position netminder.  Salvador was the monkey in the middle of this play and literally had his back to the man making the shot because he was too confused as to where the puck was going.

 

This was just abysmal.  Thankfully, I can’t put much of the blame on Brodeur.  There was a goal by their young draft pick, Evander Kane, who shot one that appeared to drop just below Brodeur’s glove and into the net.  That was, from my point of view, the only goal he should have really stopped.  Say he did, the Devils still lost 3-2.

 

Penalties – bad penalties – added salt to the wound.  The Devils took way too many penalties, including their third "Too Many Men on the Ice" penalty of the season – giving the Thrasher not just the man advantage for two minutes, but also the momentum.

Colin White took a tripping penalty that was just lazy – in going to reach from the puck, he instead pushes a player’s skate out from under him.

 

In total, the Thrashers only had three power plays to work with, but the Devils penalty killers let them score two goals.  The Penalty Kill, as crazy as this may sound, didn’t seem that bad to me, but Defense overall needs work.

 

 

The Devils will take the ice again tomorrow night against the Carolina Hurricanes.  There is no word yet on who will be sitting in goal.  Martin Brodeur would love to, and Jacques Lemaire wants to hold off on installing Yann Danis until he’s certain the team can support Danis.

To be honest, the team can’t support Brodeur either right now.  I’d say throw in the backup netminder and give Brodeur a rest.  There’s no need to overwork him this early in the season.  And maybe without the assurance of Brodeur in net the defense will kick it up a notch.  I guarantee if you look at tape from last year, when Scott Clemmensen was in net, the Devils defensemen looked a whole lot better.

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