The New Jersey Devils had four days to rest up and prepare for their first game of a four game road trip. Rest up they did, they rested too much and weren't quite ready for a game tonight. The Devils came out of the gates with a few fiery shifts and then they weren't seen again for most of the night. The Devils lost by the total amount of goals in their last game, by both teams. There were a few bright spots for the Devils somewhere, right?
The Avalanche took the lead about halfway through the first period and controlled the game from there. The first goal was a turnover in the corner by Tallinder and Henrique which lead to a tic-tac-toe goal by Milan Hejduk. A good goal on a bad turnover. (Stop me if you've heard that this November). The Avalanche went on to add two more goals in the first period, and it could have easily been more. Adam Larsson fired a shot at Matt Duchene's shin pads and Duchene took the bouncing puck for a breakaway opportunity where he beat Martin Brodeur and hit the crossbar.
John's preview mentioned that the goal for tonight's game would be to stop the nasty turnovers. There really are no excuses for sloppy turnovers, the season is in full swing. Not only did the Devils excel in not meeting this goal, they added on plain dumb turnovers, like passing through the crease, Mark Fayne.
However, the Devils did have a strong second period, which is a positive sign in an overall negative game. However, at this level of hockey, one period of effort will not win games. The Devils need to realize that all three periods count in getting a win. The Devil's only goal came in the second period after a strong fore-check by Zach Parise and Adam Henrique. Parise forced a turnover behind the Avalanche net and the puck popped out and Ilya Kovalchuk pushed it home.
The folks over at Mile High Hockey will have a recap from the opposition's view point. After the jump I'll elaborate on tonight's game.
The Stats: The NHL.com Game Summary | The NHL.com Event Summary | The NHL.com Play by Play Log | The NHL.com Shot Summary | The Time on Ice Shift Charts | The Time on Ice Head to Head Ice Time Charts | The Time on Ice Corsi Charts
The "First" Line: The first line of Parise, Henrique, Kovalchuk had the only Devil's goal in tonight's game. It was the result of a strong fore-check and a head up play by Kovalchuk to shove the puck under Semyon Varlamov. However, besides a handful of strong shifts, they had a small impact on the game. Hopefully a cure is on the horizon, in the form of a healthy Travis Zajac which will ultimately lead to line shuffling in a few short weeks or sooner.
Turnovers: Turnovers are not something that will just go away. The Devils need to focus on keeping possession of the puck in their own end and in the neutral zone, not only to keep pucks out of their own net; but you won't get any scoring chances outside of the offensive zone. That's a fact. Turnovers in the offensive zone will happen, but they shouldn't happen on the power play, and they especially shouldn't lead to short handed goals against. The Devils "lead" the league in short handed goals against with six.
The Rookies: Larsson looked like an 18 year old defenseman again. He had his point streak snapped and had more than his fair share of turnovers. It is confounding to me how wild the swings are with him. He has sparkling moments that make him look like he has been in the NHL for years, and other moments that make me wonder if he belongs in the AHL. Don't take this the wrong way, he deserves a roster spot on the Devils, but he needs to get sat down and told to make safer plays and look up when he has the puck in the defensive zone. Maybe this could be done by lower Larsson's playing time, he played a team high 23:20 tonight.
The other rookie, Henrique continued to center the top line and picked up an assist on Kovalchuk's goal. I don't believe Henrique is ready for a top line center position, but the Devils are currently short on centers so he is doing a fine job of filling the role at the moment. Henrique even went 5 for 8 at the dot, which is perfectly acceptable to me.
The Opposing Team: The Avalanche came out to play, there's no doubt about that. The Devils lacked the intensity the Avalanche played with for the entire night. For a team that is barely over .500 you would imagine there would be some intensity at every game. The Avalanche have not been successful at home and have been chomping at the bit to win, and win they did.
One Special Team: I refuse to call it a power play, we can just call it a special teams unit. This half of the special teams is terrible, the Devils have 5 power play goals against, and 6 short handed goals against. To be clear, the Devils have allowed more goals against on the power play than on the penalty kill. This horse has been beat to death, so I won't elaborate.
The Penalty Kill ! The Devils did not allow a power play goal against tonight and continue to have the most efficient penalty kill unit in the NHL. A life vest for those fans who have a sinking feeling about the last couple games.
Coaching: With the recent jumble of coaches around the NHL, will the Devils partake? This is not a fire DeBoer comment, rather a let-him-know-your'e-shopping-around comment. The coaching staff needs to try something new. Supposedly the power play had been practicing new ideas or schemes, and that lead to another short handed goal against. There are plenty of coaches out there who have experience and are dying to get a job, we are in a recession.
Overall Impression: Recently the Devils have been slacking off, sure we won against the Blue Jackets and the Islanders, but we also lost the Islanders and the Panthers. Friday we will play the top team in the NHL and the Devils better be ready to prove themselves. They need a little leadership and motivation.
How do you feel about the Devils recent slide. Is there reason to be concerned?...if so what should be done to shake the team up and fire them up? I hope you enjoyed the read and be sure to follow @inlouwetrust for your Devils news and in game updates.