The New Jersey Devils fell 2-0 to the Boston Bruins tonight at The Rock. Let's go through the goals first. The first goal started from a broken Travis Zajac stick, due to a Zdeno Chara shot. And unfortunately the puck bounced right to Milan Lucic who was already in the slot. Right place, right time, and Lucic applied the right finish to slot rebounded puck through Scott Clemmensen's legs. And the second goal was an empty-netter from David Krejci.
In my opinon, that the only goal scored against a goalie in the game was scored that way sums the game up. It wasn't completely Clemmensen's fault; he had to recover on a changing point of attack and he just missed on getting across the net mouth. The defense really didn't have a chance to clean up that loose puck and Lucic just finished a fantastic chance. You can't fault Zajac because it's not like he wanted his stick broken - he just tried to block the shot. A bad break for the Devils, a good one for the Bruins, and they capitalized.
In total, this game was a lot like the 2-1 loss to Detroit back in November. In that one, the Devils played a superior Red Wings team and kept the game rather close. I remember Patrik Elias having a fantastically wide open net to shoot at, but Chris Osgood made one miraculous stop with the stick to prevent the puck going in. A wonderful chance gets denied at literally the last second, and had it go in, we may be talking about a different result altogether. Elias was vicitimized in a similar way tonight against Boston. A two-on-one with Elias and Jamie Langenbrunner developed; Langenbrunner chose correctly to shoot and goaltender Tim Thomas gave up a massive rebound and was well out of his crease. Elias was going to put it home, but Thomas got a piece of it right at the last possible moment. Another robbery where if things had gone a little different, we'd be talking about a different result.
Unfortunately, the great scoring chances were few and far between for both teams. Lots of credit goes to the defenses on both side - especially Boston's for how well they sat on that 1-0 lead late in the third period. After this game, I can see why Chara is so well regarded; he was a force in his own end cleaning up loose pucks and ensuring the Devils wouldn't have an easy chance (and on offense with 5 shots!). I also saw that Dennis Wideman was good in his positioning and reactions all night, as well. On the Devils end, you wouldn't have known that Bryce Salvador was missing - Paul Martin had a good defensive game despite being on the ice for Lucic goal. Jay Leach looked solid, you could have fooled me that this was his first season with New Jersey from what he did tonight. The unit as a whole (and that includes backchecking forwards) were excellent to keep the involvement of Phil Kessel, Marc Savard, Michael Ryder, David Krejci (empty net goal aside), and Blake Wheeler to a minimum. And both team's goalies had solid games. Clemmensen remained steady in net, and made many tough saves. And Tim Thomas just stopped it all, save for a Dainus Zubrus deflection that beat Thomas but unfortunately right into the post.
And there it is again: unfortunate. The Devils held the Bruins from running wild on offense, and they did many things right on defense and in killing penalties - which was huge considering the Bruins have been very successful on the power play this season. Going 4 for 4 on kills was great. And if I can go on an aside, the penalties called in this game were all legit calls. OK, you may think some of those hooking calls were ticky-tacky; but the refs have been calling the stick on the hands or around the back for the last 4 seasons. If you don't know that by now, I don't know what to tell you. Other than keeping your stick down. The rest of the calls, I have no issue with - all fairly called. But despite 3 power plays and a number of strikes into the zone, the Devils couldn't break through on offense both on the rush or with sustained possession. The Bruins were ironclad in their own end and did well to keep Zach Parise, Elias, et. al. quiet.
According to Gulitti, the team feels the same way - that this one really could have gone either way. I would certainly agree with the sentiment. Given how good Boston has been, that's got to be some kind of moral victory: playing real close and competitive to a team that has only lost 5 games in regulation this season and all that then. Yeah, they hung with the Bruins. Yet, there was no actual victory, no gain in points, and so we (you, me, the Devils) can't really be happy with a 2-0 loss. At least, I'm not. Especially in front of a big crowd at the Rock. But I'm not upset or angry or distraught over it either. It's not like they gave up, say, a 4 goal lead to lose the game in overtime. Maybe next time, the breaks will go the Devils way and they'll get it done. Hopefully, the Devils will get wins in their next few days. This game, I just shrug my shoulders and move on.