New Jersey Devils: Lindy Ruff’s Comments On Jesper Bratt Make No Sense

New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Jersey Devils‘ power play looked very bad on Thursday night against the Buffalo Sabres. Nobody should be devoid of the blame for how bad it looked. Somehow, Jimmy Vesey even deserves a little blame for how it all went. We don’t know why, but everyone is getting blamed for the worst power-play performance of the year. The Devils had four power plays, and they scored zero goals. Meanwhile, the Sabres scored two goals while the Devils had the man advantage.

Head coach Lindy Ruff was obviously going to be upset with his team at the end of the night. They didn’t have a great effort, and they lost to one of the worst teams in the league. Giving up two shorthanded goals on the same power play is just unacceptable.

It’s not a surprise that Ruff had some blame to go around during the postgame press conference. However, it was surprising that the head coach seemed to blame Jesper Bratt. Bratt missed the next game on Saturday with a non-COVID-related sickness and returned on Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings.

With the Devils dealing with a sickness and on the second half of a back-to-back, they showed very little offensive ability. They only had 10 high-danger chances at even strength. It’s no surprise that the Devils didn’t add any high-danger chances when the team was on the power play. With no Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier in the lineup, it’s not a huge surprise they found little offense throughout the game. They did score a goal, but it was called back because Damon Severson was an inch offside. They had other chances, but they seemed to be allergic to hitting the net.

So, let’s take a look at the Jesper Bratt comments from Lindy Ruff after the game.

"“We needed the Zachas, Bratts, those type of guys. Shar to get to the net-front a couple times and we didn’t get there. And then I thought what really hurt us was some of our puck play wasn’t sharp.” — Lindy Ruff in Sunday’s postgame press conference."

Obvious, Pavel Zacha deserves to get condemned for how he has been playing. Sunday was a microcosm of two months of underwhelming results. He missed the net on a glorious opportunity, took a penalty on the same shift, and then when he returned from the box, he got a breakaway opportunity. He predictably missed the net on that one, too.

Yet, somehow Bratt (and Yegor Sharangovich who was clearly the Devils best offensive player on Sunday) was in the line of fire from head coach Lindy Ruff. It seems like Ruff is pointing the finger at the wrong player. Then, he doubled down on the negativity towards Bratt.

"“I played a guy that was coming off being sick. I didn’t think Bratter… he decided to play. I don’t think he had very much.”"

Ruff said he thought about sitting Bratt for the game in case he couldn’t go anymore. That wasn’t necessarily a benching, but more because of the sickness. Still, it seemed unnecessary to bring up. The Devils faced a lot of adversity on Sunday, but that was when Ruff decided it was the right time to bring up his team’s transgressions.

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Ruff is responding like a desperate coach, and that never works. He has just three games left in the season, and the Devils will have a huge decision to make when it comes to Ruff’s future with the franchise. Calling out their most overachieving player a day after he got sick isn’t a smart move. Doing it twice in a week makes even less sense. Doing it to your best example as to why you should stay just seems like a terrible idea.