Brick City Breakdown: New Jersey Devils 3, Pittsburgh Penguins 8, F


Throughout an NHL season, every team has some games that they just want to throw out the window and forget they every happened. Tonight was one of those nights for the New Jersey Devils. Jersey’s Team fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins 8-3 in a disastrous game for pretty much all involved. It was such a deflating night because the Devils started out with a bang by scoring just nine seconds into the game. Dainius Zubrus took a feed from Travis Zajac and beat Marc-Andre Fleury clean from outside the left circle. Then after the Penguins tied the game, the Devils would get a pair of quick goals from their fourth line. Jacob Josefson scored on a short-handed breakaway and Tuomo Ruutu put home a Stephen Gionta rebound to give the Devils a 3-1 lead. That’s where the good news ends because the rest of the game was brutal to watch.

More from Pucks and Pitchforks

Starting with the man between the pipes, Cory Schneider. He wasn’t able to make it to the third period… That’s how his night went. Schneider was not himself tonight by any meaans. The first Penguins goal was entirely on him as he misplayed a puck behind the net and allowed Blake Comeau to score into a yawning net. After that goal, Schneider would allow four more in the second period and got pulled during the intermission. While Schneider was not as good as he needs to be, it would be silly to pin this loss entirely on him. The second goal was the product of an Evgeni Malkin rocket that went bar-down on a 5-on-3 power play; Schneider had no chance. Then there was a great shot from the wing, a breakaway and Sidney Crosby left all alone at the side of the net after a deflection. Cory Schneider is a #1 goalie and needs to make more saves, but it’s not fair to leave all the blame on his shoulders. There are aspects of this team that are far more worthy of blame than Schneider.

The one part of the Devils’ game that needs to be ripped apart is their penalty kill. Not only do the Devils take some of the worst penalties in the history of the sport, they have a penalty killing unit that’s the worst in the league. The Penguins were 3-7 on the power play tonight and it’s a miracle they weren’t 7-7. The unit as a whole is terrible. Schneider, or even backup Scott Clemmensen, have no chance on half of the shots the team allows to be fired at them. Josefson did get a short-handed goal, but that isn’t enough to look past how awful their PK has been this season. For a unit that was the best in the league last season, it’s inexcusable that they would be the worst this season. Part of it is on the PK unit and part of it is on the numerous amounts of bad penalties the team takes. Both things need to be fixed now.

One player that stood out for how badly he played was Travis Zajac. Jon Merrill gets an honorable mention for being -5, but Zajac was at the forefront of the poor play. Zajac is one of the most consistent Devils and he’s a solid two-way player, but tonight may have been the worst game he’s played in his career. After his assist nine seconds in, he fell apart. He took a terrible penalty at center ice, jumped on the ice early for another penalty and then threw a bad pass across ice that led to a breakaway goal for Pittsburgh. Zajac was so bad that he got demoted from the top line to the fourth line. While I love that kind of move to send a message, the coach needs to be consistent. Zajac isn’t the first player to have a bad game this season and he won’t be the last. Bryce Salvador, Marek Zidlicky, Jon Merril and many more have had terrible games this season and nothing happens to them. What kind of message is the coach really sending then? If he isn’t consistent with his punishment, no one is going to listen and he will lose the room.

Overall, tonight was a train-wreck. The only positive that came from the game was the play of Jacob Josefson who finally seems like he’s figured the NHL out. Otherwise, everyone was terrible and the Devils need to regroup and take out their anger on Winnipeg on Thursday night at the Rock.