New Jersey Devils Drop First Contest After Coaching Change


The New Jersey Devils played hard, but they could not overcome some crucial mistakes and fell 3-1 to the New York Rangers. This was the first game the Devils played since firing former head coach Peter DeBoer and going with the three-headed monster of Lou Lamoriello, Scott Stevens and Adam Oates. For the most part, I thought the team was coached properly and the energy was definitely there. The Devils were just up against one of the best goalies in the league and they needed more skill to beat him. This is far from a finished process and more changes need to be made, namely a trade for an offensive minded forward. There were plenty of things to be optimistic about, even though the Devils did lose their third straight.

Cory Schneider Was Great

Schneider has been the brightest aspect of the team for some time now. The Devils’ star netminder was fantastic once again as he stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced. Some of those saves included big stops on Rick Nash, who is having an amazing season, among other strong glove snares. Schneider was tremendous keeping the Devils in the game and giving them a chance to win, as he’s done virtually all season. The two goals he allowed were to Derek Stepan, who netted a hat trick on an empty netter, and Cory cannot be blamed. One goal came on a shorthanded breakaway and the other on a favorable deflection on a power play. Any negative comments directed at Schneider are ridiculous.

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What a Gorgeous Goal

The one goal the Devils did score was a thing of beauty – at least for this team. Tuomo Ruutu entered the zone and dropped a pass to the oncoming Eric Gelinas who was geared up to unleash his devastating slapper, but decided to dish to the wide open Steve Bernier who scored on a yawning net. It was one of the best passing plays of the season, which says a lot, and it was great to see Gelinas thrive after being in DeBoer’s dog house for a long time. Gelinas made some mistakes, but he was allowed to play through them under the new regime and that paid off. Overall, the entire team made some mistakes, but no one was benched unnecessarily and it was a nice thing to see.

One Complaint

Overall I was happy with the way Lamoriello, Stevens and Oates coached tonight. There were some things I would have done different such as playing Seth Helgeson over Peter Harrold, but it was just their first game in-charge behind the bench so they must be given some time to adapt. The one thing I cannot overlook is the fact the power play personnel was atrocious. There is no reason that Stephen Gionta should ever be on the power play. Adam Oates should know that, regardless of it being his first day. Oates was here in 2012 and he knows Gionta’s game. Bernier on the PP I can understand because of his net-front presence but Gionta makes zero sense. Even Harrold on the PP over guys like Andy Greene, Jon Merrill and Adam Larsson is perplexing. Then there’s Travis Zajac playing on the point which should never be a thing and that mistake led to the Stepan breakaway. Oates is supposed to be a power play guru, but tonight was amateur hour. Hopefully that never happens again because it really cost the Devils tonight.

As I said, overall I was pleased. The team played hard for 60 minutes and was engaged all night. They had good energy and created some nice chances. The coaching staff getting a better feel plus some personnel changes and the Devils can truly turn this around. We need to be patient, but at the same time there isn’t much time to wait around.

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