Just 24 hours after being routed by the Calgary Flames” href=”http://flames.nhl.com/?navid=nav-teamnav-cgy” target=”_blank”>Calgary Flames, the Devils would continue their road trip facing another Canadian team, the Edmonton Oilers” href=”http://oilers.nhl.com/?navid=nav-teamnav-edm” target=”_blank”>Edmonton Oilers. Johan Hedberg would get the start for New Jersey, after finishing the game in Calgary as the Flames chased Martin Brodeur from the crease in the first period. The Devils as a team allowed 6 goals in just 14 shots in Calgary a statistic that both the goaltenders and the defensemen would prefer to forget.
The game in Edmonton was very different as the Devils played an extremely solid defensive game, supplemented by excellent goal tending from Johan Hedberg. After a scoreless first period, Ilya Kovalchuk was the first to strike with a shorthanded breakaway goal in the second period. The Devils would hold their 1-0 lead until the third period when Ales Hemsky would tie the game on the power play. With the game tied at the halfway point in the third period neither team was able to post the game winning tally. Resulting in a low scoring contest that would remain 1-1 through regulation. Further supporting the Devils trend of not finishing games in regulation.
With Overtime underway it was the captain Zach Parise who would seal the deal just over a minute into overtime, with a tap in on a set up from Patrik Elias. The Devils would win the game and perhaps gain back some confidence after the crushing loss to Calgary.
The Devils so far in 2012 have been a bipolar team to say the least. There have been games where they have shown up and played a 60 minute game whether dominating on the score board or pulling out a win in a tight game the team has had success so far. However, there also is the Devils team who got pounded by the Calgary Flames in a game that was pretty much decided in the first period where the Devils trailed 4-0 after the first 20 minutes of play.
This is the same Devils team that suffered a total collapse in a 6-1 loss to the Boston Bruins just a few games ago. It appears that if the Devils can mentally keep themselves in the game they can compete with any team in the league and whether they dominate or squeeze out a win they can remain a threat. However, when the Devils loose focus and their confidence seems to fade they suffer a total breakdown and stray from their game and get dominated by teams that they typically could compete with.
All teams have their ups and downs throughout the season. The most important ability for any team to possess is the ability to respond to their downfalls. So far the Devils have done an excellent job in doing so. After being dominated by the Bruins on home ice the Devils were able to respond with wins in their next two games over the Panthers and Penguins.
The Devils have the talent and skill to be competitive with any team. This is irrelevant however when they take themselves out of games by allowing 4 goals in the first period or 6 unanswered goals after leading 1-0 at home. If the Devils can figure out a way to prevent such collapses there is no reason they can not find themselves competing with the top teams in the league, if not securing a playoff position among them.
The Devils will finish off their road trip Saturday at 3pm when they visit the Winnipeg Jets” href=”http://jets.nhl.com/?navid=nav-teamnav-wpg” target=”_blank”>Winnipeg Jets. This will be the first game of a home and home the Devils will have with the Jets, as the teams will meet again in Newark on the 17th. The Jets currently sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference with 45 points, and are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games. New Jersey on the other hand is sitting in 6th place in the East and holds a 6-3-1 record in their last 10 games.