In their third game on their four game road trip, the New Jersey Devils fell to the Phoenix Coyotes 5-3. In a game where the Devils really didn't get their game going - they surely did pay for their lack of consistency in the third period. The Devils showed signs of life here and there, but never controlled the game for a long period of time. They got off to good starts after each intermission, but failed to continue that success. The 'Yotes however worked very hard throughout the game and got awarded with some goals on a ton of pucks thrown towards Johan Hedberg. Credit Phoenix for their play and sustainable pressure.
The Devils failed to build on their win against the Kings, yet their performance was more alarming. This team is becoming bipolar. It wasn't the Pittsburgh game bad - but it did have its rough spots for a period of time. I saw no urgency in their game. There was no 60-minute effort. The things they did well last game that they improved on did not continue. These are things I'm sure Pete DeBoer and the coaching staff will address.
This was just a mediocre performance by the Devils. No one player really stood out. No one aspect of their game was well executed. When the Devils did get the puck into the zone, they did have good movement. But failing to get a shot off or a good scoring chance negates that. Captain Zach Parise scored on a individual effort with some help from Mike Smith. Mark Fayne scored on a blast from the point through some bodies, and Nick Palmieri added a meaningless goal with 5 seconds left in the game when the decision was decided.
I have more on the game after the jump. From more on the Coyotes side - please visit Five For Howling.
Here is the video recap from NHL.com:
The Reviewed Goal: A little over 6 minutes into the game - David Schlemko dumps the puck in deep from the point and the puck bounces around. It gets to Daymond Langkow who shove it towards the net and Patrick O'Sullivan clearly kicks the puck towards the net. It goes in. No goal, right? Well there was a lot of chaos around the net and the kicked puck goes off of Bryce Salvador's stick as he dove to stop the puck. It fluttered up and in. Per Rue 49.2 (ii):
(ii) A kicked puck that deflects off the stick of any player (excluding the goalkeeper’s stick) shall be ruled a good goal.
Well Toronto and the officials got it right, but this is a pretty dumb rule. I mean O'Sullivan no doubt intended to kick this puck in. He stick got tied up by Bradley Mills. Just becuase it hit equipment (yet didn't stop the momentum of the puck) means it's okay?
Shots and Corsi: The Coyotes were firing on all cylinders tonight. Shots on goal were 42-34 at the end, yet after two periods, they were a staggering 34-21 in favor of the home team. The Devils did finish at +1 at even strength Corsi (-3 in Fenwick though). After the first period, they were -11 in Corsi; after 40 minutes, they were -6. Phoenix sat back after their fourth goal in the third period and went into a defensive trap. This alters the Corsi numbers and gave the Devils the slight advantage.
The Devils top line in Ilya Kovalchuk - Zach Parise - Nick Palmieri was your worst of the night: -6, -9, -7 respectively. Only the Henrik Tallinder and Adam Larsson pair was positive on the blue line. Your leader was Ryan Carter at +6.
The New Guy: Let's discuss Ryan Carter for a second. He was good. He's faster than I thought and he brings a nice compliment to the fourth line. He was credited with one shot attempt, 7 hits, 13:41 TOI with 2:01 SH-TOI in 18 shifts. The entire fourth line got over 10 minutes and 10 shifts. DeBoer liked what he saw in this line and so did I. After two periods - this line was the only positive line in terms of Corsi.
The Goals For: After the soccer style goal, the Devils did respond the right way (It didn't last long though). In that time, Parise got possession and dumped the puck in. He chased it down all by himself and as Mike Smith went to play the puck, he underestimated Parise's speed. He try to get it passed Parise but the captain hugged the boards, got the puck, and his wraparound chance on the open net was an easy one. A result of hard skating by Captain Zach.
The Devils started off playing well in the second period. About the quarter the way in, Tedenby's good board work opened some space for a pass to Mark Fayne. His shot from the point went through some bodies (David Clarkson and Adam Henrique) and Smith didn't see it. It was the Devils first and only lead of the game.
Palmieri's goal came off a face-off on the left dot of Smith at the end of the game. I'm only mentioning this becuase it's Palmieri's first of the season and Henrique first point as a pro (he took the faceoff). Henrique has played well in his few games up here and it's a well deserved point. Tonight he had just under 17:00 TOI and 4 shots on goal and was a +3 in Corsi. Keep it up kid. As for Clarkson and Tedenby - they were on for two of the devils three goals and showed signs of great offensive pressure. Like most of the Devils - they just weren't consistent enough. They were probably the Devils best line.
The Goals Against: We already discussed how the first one went down. The second came on a Coyotes powerplay in the second period. The third came right at the end of the period. Both were plays where the puck was thrown at the net - bounced around (either from a block or off of Hedberg) and right to a 'Yote. Ray Whitney scored on the man advantage and Raffe Torres scored on a nice rebound to give Phoenix the tie and lead respectively. These are tough goals to allow. Yet, when you aren't on your toes and instead your heals, concentration and reaction time hinder. They Devils failed to clear pucks in and around Hedberg all night and it cost them three goals.
Both goals in the third were products of turnovers. The first was made by I think Kovalchuk and turned into a 3-on-2. Nice movement caused Adam Larsson to bite and this created space for Martin Hanzal to take a shot from the side of the net. Moose didn't hug the post quick enough and he went right though. The other turnover was by Adam Larsson - he skates up and at the blue line and makes a horrible pass. Radim Vrbata
Discipline: The Devils took four minor penalties tonight and only drew one. Mark Fayne, Petr Sykora, David Clarkson, and Kovalchuk all with penalties that could have been avoided. It cost them a goal. They surrendered 6 shots in just over 6 minutes of short handed time. Not too bad - but if they played with better discipline - they wouldn't need to do this for so long.
Moooosee: I can't really blame him on any of the goals (he maybe should have had the Hanzal one). But the Devils didn't clean up after him and they gave him a number of odd man rushes. Prior to the Fayne goal, Moose stopped a beautiful tic-tac-toe play with a great lateral move on Hanzal. He was very good. He stopped 37 shots. I don't know if conditioning may be an issue with him (I don't think so) but it's possible Kinkiad may be considered for Saturday's game against the Stars.
Odds and Ends:
Aside from a few bad passes - Kovalchuk was solid tonight. He made a few cross ice passes that were really something but it didn't lead to much. He only played 20:48 and had 2:10 on the kill. He had 4 shots on 7 attempts (none on goal in the third).
Each defensive pair saw a goal against tonight. Salvador and Volchenkov were on for the first goal and the Phoenix PP goal. Henrik Tallinder and Larsson were on for the two in the third. Andy Greene and Mark Fayne for the one to end the second period. Who was the best pair? Tough call. They all had good plays here and there. I thought Volchenkov was very good behind the net and aside from Fayne and his goal, A-Train was the best defender on the ice.
Parise was 2 for 11 at the faceoff dot. Has this ship sailed? Probably not. It's only been two games.
Cam Janssen played 8:15 of actual hockey. He even redirect a pair of shots from the point that went side. Woah...
What did you think about tonight's game? What did you like, what didn't you like? What do the Devils need to improve on for next game? What have they done well so far in this road trip? Let us know. Thanks for reading.