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The New Jersey Devils Defense Comes Up Short In A 6-2 Loss To The New York Islanders

It's hard enough to recap a pre-season game. It's tougher when your team gets routed.  The Devils dropped the 3rd contest of the pre-season 6-2 to the New York Islanders.  They are now 1-2-0 thus far in the pre-season. The Islanders were much quicker and aggressive on the puck and that led to the game being a foregone conclusion towards the middle of the third period.  There were numerous defensive breakdowns by the Devils which allowed entirely too many scoring opportunities for the Islanders. But even with the breakdowns, the Islanders were the better team tonight and deserved to win.

But remember it's the pre-season.  We are looking at things beyond the box-score.  I tried to focus on what I consider a battle for one of the final defensive spots on the roster.  With Peter Harrold not playing I think you can make the case that Anton Stralman moved ahead of him on the depth chart.  That said, next up for Stralman would be players like Matt Corrente and Matt Taormina.  Seeing Taormina as a similar player to Stralman I decided to try and track zone starts, shots for/against for both players. 

After the jump I will provide my findings in regards to Stralman and Taormina, recap the happenings of the game, provide links to the statistics and 'highlights' of the game, and add some additional thoughts on the game.

Since I doubt there will be a highlight video via I will just link to the scoresheet here. 

The first period was a sloppy period for the Devils.  The young Isles came out quickly and tried to utilize their speed to burn the Devils.  It worked.  Michael Grabner scored a goal when Henrik Tallinder was caught too deep in the Isles zone leading to an odd-man rush.  Grabner then drew a penalty on Henrik Tallinder later in the period which resulted in a power play goal by new Islanders captain Mark Streit.  There wasn't much Moose could have done on the goal. Perhaps you can put the blame on Stralman for not protecting the weak side of the ice more.  Nick Palmieri added a goal to cut the deficit to 2-1, with a nice effort from his linemates of Tedenby and Henrique.

In the Stralman vs Taormina battle I was able to tally the following statistics:

                                Stralman                              Taormina

OZ Starts                   0                                                4                                                                                                                       

DZ Starts                   0                                                0        

NZ Starts                   2                                                0

ES Corsi                 +2                                             +4 (goal against and goal for)

PK Unit #                 3,1,1                                         2,3,2

Taormina made a nice outlet pass to Tedenby, but seemed to struggle a bit in the defensive zone.  Stralman didn't seem as aggressive in the offensive zone and played a more conservative game overall.

In the second period the Islanders added to their lead.  A tripping penalty on David Clarkson led to a lightning quick power play goal against by John Tavares.  The Devils then allowed 38 year old camp tryout Steve Staois to flutter a goal through the defense for a 4-1 lead. The Devils then started to let up odd-man rushes like they were going out of style.  Grabner came in on a breakaway and luckily missed the net. Moments later however Matt Moulson came in on a 2-on-1 break and put one past Hedberg glove-side.  Towards the end of the period the Devils added their 2nd goal off of a David Clarkson pass that hit Mattias Tedenby jumping on the ice during a line change to make the score 5-2.

The other eventful moment was when there was a fight between Trevor ‘I have no business being in the NHL' Gillies and Cam Janssen.  The fight itself wasn't that interesting, but the Gilles cheap shot once the fight had ended pretty much sums up why he is a player who has no business stepping on an NHL ice surface. 

Both Stralman and Taormina were beat up by the Grabner line, with Taormina being vicitimized for two even strength goals against when he was on the ice.

                                Stralman                              Taormina

OZ Starts                    1                                                1                                                                                                                       

DZ Starts                    0                                                1        

NZ Starts                    3                                                1

ES Corsi                   -4                                              -1 (three ES goals against)

PK Unit#              3,1,1                                             2,3,2

The defense was a disaster during the second period. Disaster.  It's as if the players fighting for spots wanted to ensure that Adam Larsson made the roster, because they weren't helping their own cause out.

I was going to again track some additional stats on Stralman and Taormina in the third period but the feed and other circumstances didn't give me the opportunity.  I don't think I missed much besides the Islanders adding another power play goal and the Islanders announcers waxing poetically about Michael Grabner (who did deserve it). Overall neither player gained ground on the other.  Stralman, specifically in the first period, seemed to have the tougher assignments while Taormina started in the offensive zone more often than Stralman did.  In the second period both had rough goings, with Stralman a -4 in even strength corsi and Taormina being on the ice for 3 even strength goals.

Stralman was the more likely player to play on the first pairing on the PK unit.  A dubious honor since the penalty killing unit clicked at a 50% rate. 

Oh, Trevor ‘ECHL' Gillies and Cam Janssen had another fight early in the third period.  It was a bout reminiscint of the Janssen/PL3 fight two years ago, but it appeared that Gillies ended up winning the fight.

Other thoughts/observations:

Fairly certain that David Steckel didn't win a defensive zone faceoff.

If you told me that Hedberg would have given up 6 goals and none of them involved him wandering around the crease like a drunk man, I wouldn't have believed you.

It appears that the main goal of making sure no one got hurt was accomplished.  At least there's that.

The secondary goal of a forward making some noise and separating himself from the group competing for fourth line time wasn't accomplished.  Veilleux, Bernier and Janssen didn't do anything to make a case that they deserve to get additional looks this pre-season. 

Rod Pelley played, right?

The Devils and Islanders both had 26 shots on goal as a team.  The Devils however had 14 shots on goal in the 3rd period when the game was already decided.

If forces to say that some players did well, I would personally pick Mattias Tedenby and Nick Palmieri.

All that said, remember it's just the pre-season.  We won't remember this game in two weeks.  And that is pretty much the best thing I can say about this game.  It will soon be forgotten.

So what did you think?  Were you able to pull out any positives from this effort?  Who do you think played better, Stralman or Taormina?  Thanks for reading, thanks to those who commented in the gamethread and sound off below.