New Jersey Devils start Western Canada road trip with a dud in Winnipeg


After blowing a late lead in their last tilt, the last thing the New Jersey Devils needed was to lay an egg in Winnipeg to start their four game Western Canadian road trip. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the Devils did as they were defeated 3-1 by the Jets. Not many people in New Jersey are used to hearing win and Jets in the same sentence, but Winnipeg played an aggressive game and really took the action to the Devils. Winnipeg was by far the better team on the ice last night and the score line reflected that. New Jersey dropped their record to an unsatisfactory 8-9-2 which somehow sits them tied four fourth in a very weak division with 18 points. If the Devils can figure it out, there’s no reason to think they can’t make the playoffs… but something needs to change and soon.

Shoot the Puck!!

The Devils finished the night with 22 shots which is underwhelming on its own, but digging deeper, they were only able to muster up four shots in the first and five in the second. Nine shots through 40 minutes of play is unacceptable on every level imaginable. They were lucky to be down 2-0 after two and still in the game. As usual, the Devils showed up when it was too late and turned it on in the third period. They were able to fire 13 shots in that frame and managed to score their only goal. This is what is so frustrating about this team; they show up when they want to and refuse to play for 60 minutes.

Damon Severson (5), Patrik Elias (4) and Jaromir Jagr (3) combined for 12 of the 22 shots. Over 50% of the team’s shots from three players. That says it all.

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Block Party

One positive that the Devils displayed last night was their ability to block shots. As a team, the Devils blocked 20 shots… almost as many shots as they took! You could look at that stat in a negative light and say the Jets had much more puck possession and the 20 blocks plus the 34 shots that got through is a ridiculous amount of attempts at goal. However, I want to try and stay positive and look at the 20 blocked shots as a sign that the Devils do give effort. They refuse to play 60 minutes, but at least they were willing to get in front of shots and try to help out their goaltender. Adam Larsson and Andy Greene led the way with three each, while Steve Bernier had two on one play.

Patrik Finally Gets One

It took forever, but Patrik Elias finally remembered what it was like to score a goal. Elias hadn’t scored since the opener and it had to feel good to finally see his name in the goal column again. The goal, however, was a bit lucky as Elias’ original shot was saved by the Jets netminder and laid loose in the crease until Martin Havlat came in and kind of pushed the puck into the net. Havlat never touched the puck, only the goalie’s gear, so the goal was eventually changed to the rightful scorer in Elias. Patty has been playing really well since Havlat returned to the lineup and the Devils need him to keep it up. Hopefully, the line of Elias-Adam Henrique-Havlat gets a chance at some point.

Special Teams Clicked

For just the third time this season, the Devils were able to score a power play goal and not allow the opposition to score one of their own. 19 games and only three times that both special teams units had a successful evening. This is the biggest reason the Devils hover around .500 at this point in the season. Granted, Elias’ goal wasn’t a beauty but a struggling power play will take a 1-2 performance and run with it. As far as the penalty kill, they stayed perfect in the absence of Bryce Salvador moving to 16-16 in the last four games. The PK was 5-5 last night and it’s hard to remember a quality chance Winnipeg had with the extra man. If the power play and penalty kill can click together, the Devils will win more than they lose.

Blame Cory?

Cory Schneider made 31 saves last night, but it’s hard to win games when you have a poor effort most of the night and only score one goal. No goalie can be perfect every night; the team in front of him needs to offer support. On the first goal, Schneider was screened and had no chance to save Mathieu Perreault’s backhand. The second goal, Schneider gave up a bad rebound combined with a poor backcheck by Stephen Gionta so he can take some blame on that goal. Then on the third goal…

The third Winnipeg Jets goal was scored because the defense was stuck on one half of the ice.

That picture says it all. Five defenders and not one covered Michael Frolik. Schneider was blamed for a bad rebound on this goal, but that is incorrect. Schneider put the rebound out to where his defenseman was supposed to be and there was no one there but the eventual goal scorer. The defense didn’t do its job and the Devils conceded a late goal that killed any chance at a comeback.

The New Jersey Devils are off for two days and return to action in Edmonton on Friday night to play the Oilers. Let’s hope they give a full 60 minute effort against a team they need to beat.