If you told me before the game that the Devils were going to win, I might be a little skeptical but, heck, anything is possible. After all I know I’ve seen some Devils games when the Devils were sitting high up in the standings and managed to drop one or two against some lowly teams.
Granted, tonight we’re talking about the best team in the NHL losing a game against the team tied for last place in the league. Yes, its far fetched, but no it’s not impossible.
Now if you told me the Devils would score five goals, I’d say I’ll believe it when I see it. And if you told me they were going to shut out Ovechkin and the Capitals, I’d might consider taking you up on a bet.
Like a good fan, I continued to watch these games, as painful as they may be. The Devils have a number of issues that need to be resolved, including scoring, special teams, defending, forechecking, and their transition game. This list, of course, doesn’t include things like injuries or coaching, because those aren’t issues the player can work on. But all of the aforementioned issues combined do culminate in a struggling team that has had significant trouble in conjuring up wins.
What occurred tonight was overcoming these issues. For a brief 60 minutes, the Devils came together to do everything right. We’ll ignore the fact that the Capitals didn’t appear to be 100% in sync. But fact of the matter is Devils got goal scoring from a number of players, transitioning they moved the puck well, the forechecking kept the play alive, and defending they kept the Capitals chances to a minimum.
My theory: Pat Burns was with them. For tonight until December 2nd, the Devils will wear a small black patch on their sweater with a white "PB" sewn in. Pat Burns, the coach of the Devils when they won their third Stanley Cup, lost his third battle with Cancer last Friday. He was, in my opinion, the Devils best coach that I can remember since 1996, and made the Devils fight for their victories up until the final buzzer. Something the Devils have had trouble with for a few years.
Theories aside, emotion, luck, and confidence was with them throughout the entire game. Two pretty impressive goals from veteran Jason Arnott, a penalty shot goal from rookie Mattias Tedenby, Dainius Zubrus and a deflection off the pants by Patrik Elias gave the Devils what they needed to grab a hold of this game. And when Washington was able to get a few shots on net, Marty Brodeur’s replacement Johan Hedberg (whose nickname is "Moose" for those of you curious what fans were saying when he made a great save – they weren’t booing him!), helped to make the combination needed for a strong victory.
One final point that needs to be aired out – is this the turning point? Could this be what the Devils needed to get themselves out of their current funk? It is way to early to tell. I’m not going to lie, I’ve seen quite a bit of "good" going on for the Devils with the exception of goals or victories. Take a step back and look at the last four games. They had five goals tonight, and in the three games prior to tonight, they had only three goals. If you’re going to talk about the turnaround of the Devils this season, remember tonight because this may have been it. We’ll known more in the coming weeks.