Another game and another loss for the New Jersey Devils, the Pittsburg Penguins extended their winning streak to ten games and the Devils extended their losing streak to three. The Penguins without Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal were still able to control most of the game and out play the Devils all night. The reason for this? The Penguins defense is solid top down. Lead by former Devil Paul Martin the Penguins can roll top defenseman at you each shift, proving that defense wins games.
Head coach John MacLean split up his best offensive line of Jason Arnott-Patrik Elias-Mattias Tedenby, moving Tedenby to the fourth line. The rookie winger has displayed outstanding offensive ability and has fit in great with the Arnott-Elias duo. A very questionable move, to say the least.
The Devils were able to jump out to an early 1-0 lead when Brian Rolston cashed in on a loose puck but that lead did not last long as Sidney Crosby set up Chris Kunitz a minute and a half later.
Despite several scoring opportunities in the second period the Devils were not able to beat Fleury. Danius Zubrus was robbed twice and Travis Zajac missed a mini breakaway. Crosby eventually buried a rebound home after he slipped behind Colin White to be all alone at the door step. Pretty amazing that Crosby can go unchecked right at the side of the net.
In the third period the Devils had two power-plays to try and tie the game. They continue to force things to Kovalchuk who was double teamed at the point all night, never making the necessary adjustments.
For whatever reason the Devils never seem to be in sync or prepared. There is mass confusion on the ice, the defenseman rarely have a passing option breaking out, the forwards always seem to be outmanned fighting for loose pucks. Like most games this year nothing seems to go right and they don’t capitalize on the limited scoring opportunities they had. Fleury was rarely tested.
In addition to another disappointing night for the Devils, for the first time all season Ilya Kovalchuk looked uninterested and lackluster all night. Never really noticed him out there unless he was turning the puck over or causing offside’s by getting in the way of a linemate. His bad pass in the skates to Andy Greene caused the turnover that lead to the Penguins second goal.
As Andrew pointed out earlier, the internet rumors are circulating that a loss tonight would end the short head coaching stint for John MacLean. With four days off until their next game, now would be the perfect time to shake things up. As I stated in several posts, one man makes those decisions and the Devils and their fans will wait and see what happens the next few days while Lou Lamoriello has some decisions to make.
I wanted to point out the lack of drive the Devils have in the offensive zone in one particular play and really all night. At the end of the first period with about a minute left. I’m not sure who was on the ice but a shot inside the zone was taken and a save was made by Fleury. A few seconds went by and no Devil crashed the net or even skated towards the crease. The puck squirted by Fleury towards the back of the net and the whistle blew. Where were the forwards driving the net, easy save or not why not crash the net and get in the face of the goalie? At the very least maybe the refs hesitate to blow the whistle and when the puck comes loose someone hits it into the net. We all know opposing teams have no problem crashing into our goalie.
photo source: nytimes.com