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New Jersey Devils Give Fans a Lump of Coal & A Shootout Win to Carolina for Christmas

Inferior passing and puck control led to the Carolina Hurricanes steamrolling the New Jersey Devils for most of the game. This time, they got an equalizer off a bounce and won it in a shootout. This is a recap that opens with the definition of insanity.

The equalizer went off the leg of Ron Hainsey, who's on the ground here.  Seriously.
The equalizer went off the leg of Ron Hainsey, who's on the ground here. Seriously.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity?

Insanity is doing the exact same thing over and over again, expecting things to change.   That is crazy.

The first time someone told me that...I don't know, I thought they were messing with me so boom - I just dumped the puck away any chance I got and let the other team dictate the play.

The thing is, OK, that someone was right.  And then I started seeing: everywhere I looked, every game I played, all of my teammates, everywhere, I looked doing the exact same thing over and over and over and over again thinking: "This time, it's going to be different.  No, no, no, no, no, please - this time it's going to be different."

...I am sorry.  I don't like the way you are looking at us on the ice.  OK, do you have a problem in your head? Do you think I am messing with you?  Do you think I am lying? HUH? OK!?


It's OK, man.  I'm going to chill, hermano.  I'm going to chill.  The thing is, alright, the thing is: I played this way once already against Carolina in December.  And it's not like I am crazy.  It's OK.  It's like...water under the bridge.

Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity?


And just like Jason Brody (literally) undercut Vaas' belief that Vaas would "kill" him over and over again, the Carolina Hurricanes did not get the same result as what happened on December 8. They would tie up the game with a shot re-directed off Ron Hainsey's shinpad after straight-up dominating the New Jersey Devils throughout the game and forcing Cory Schneider to bail out his team repeatedly.  There would be no second goal until the shootout where Chris Terry prevailed.  The Devils lost 1-2 via a shootout, earning themselves another undeserved point against the last-place team in the Metropolitan Division.

Schneider did whatever he could to make it a game but the skaters decided that chipping and chasing the puck away would somehow lead to anything different despite the majority of the 2014-15 season.  The definition of insanity was on full display in the Prudential Center.

The Game Stats: The Game Summary | The Event Summary | The Play by Play Log | The Shot Summary | The Devils Time on Ice Log | The Natural Stat Trick Corsi Charts

The Opposition Opinion: Bob Wage has a recap up from Canes Country. Did you know Hainsey's shinpad ended a shutout streak of 132 minutes? Well, you do now!

The Game Highlights: It was the Cory Schneider show with a brief guest appearance by Stephen Gionta. Here's the highlight video from

Deflected: Hainsey's goal was essentially a deflection as the shot by Patrick Dwyer hit off his leg and angled past Schneider.  The lone Devils goal was also the result of a favorable and surprising deflection.  Steve Bernier got the puck in the left corner and flung it back to Stephen Gionta, just having gained the zone.  Gionta's shot hits right off Michal Jordan, possibly off Jay McClement, and the change in direction fooled Anton Khudobin.

Wasted: The Devils' power play was a source of frustration as they put up one shot over six minutes, including a little under of a minute of a 4-on-3 situation in overtime.  The fans were screaming to shoot; but when the Devils did shoot, it was blocked or missed the target.  This is to say nothing of their issues keeping the puck in play, especially in OT when they conceded a shorthanded shot (!).  They forced passes instead of taking what they had. They were static when setting up, allowing the Canes to sit in their formation for the eventual turnover.  This was a waste, made more agonizing considering it could have provided the difference in this game.

Also Wasted: Speaking of wasted, Cory Schneider puts on a fantastic performance in net.  From denying Elias Lindholm waltzing around the crease for a close shot and his own rebound to Ron Hainsey getting a breakaway coming out of the box and robbing Andrej Sekera afterwards, #35 was superb.  Again, the only goal he conceded in the run of play was a bounce off a leg.  Hardly a soft one unless, you know, you didn't pay attention to the game. Even if you didn't see the game, consider that the Devils were heavily out-shot 19-33 and out-attempted 41-53 tonight.  That wasn't as bad as the 12/8 game, but for the Devils to get to a shootout given those counts, then the goaltending must have shown up to play.  Unfortunately, not enough skaters showed up to help #35.

Benched: Eric Gelinas only played 6:36 tonight.  On his second shift, he coughed up a puck to a Hurricane forechecker, which led to the Canes hitting Schneider with a flurry, ending only shortly after Gelinas hooked Riley Nash.  His last shift in the first period and his only two shifts in the second, he was stuck on the ice for a minute, pinned in his own end and not doing much good about it.  He used a bit more in overtime, where he also contributed nothing good.  Spare me the statement of "play the kids."  If that's what's going to happen within the first few shifts and there other defensemen - some who are also young - available, then he shouldn't just receive further ice time because he's under 25.

Returned: Michael Ryder was scratched against Washington and wanted more ice time.  He got 18:41 in total.  His total contribution: one shot on net, one attempt blocked, two misses including a close one off a toe drag (I thought that's his move), and a drawn penalty.  The last piece was impressive in that he actually tried to power through the defense for a puck and the defender impeded him too much.  I don't think he sold it all that much, but it was a big call.  Not that Ryder or the team did anything with the power play, but at least I can point out that Ryder had a positive. Other than that, he was energetic as Gerry Todd.

Mike Cammalleri returned and, well, it wasn't all that eventful either. He was often on the ice as he played a whopping 25:30.  He didn't register a shot on net as all four of his attempts were blocked.  He was often seen in his own end of the rink as his initial unit with Jaromir Jagr and Scott Gomez were owned for the most part.  Travis Zajac was switched with Gomez in the third period for a bit, but that didn't fare much better.  Whereas Ryder has been not useful for weeks now, Cammalleri has had enough productive games to give him a small benefit of the doubt for the future. That said, he did not do well tonight.

Adam Larsson returned and rotated on defense as the Devils had seven active for tonight.   Not that lasted given Gelinas' deserved benching.  He played 14:58, which is a bit less than I would've liked.  Then again, he didn't really stand out in his own end.  I do know it's his first game back after a long illness, so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for the future.

Bored: Good on Anton Khudobin to keep awake during a second period where he faced three shots on net out of six attempts.  He wouldn't see any rubber on target until a little past five minutes into the third.  He had to be more active later in the third - as if the Devils realized they blew a 1-0 lead and so should try to salvage it - and in overtime.  Good thing they didn't really challenge him until late.  I'm sure the few odd man rushes not realized to their full potential or a shot on net in the first period gave him some concern.  But he was able to just put those small concerns behind him in the middle period.

Tried: Jaromir Jagr really did put in the effort trying to corral pucks, maintain control, and pass them off. It was the latter that betrayed him more often than not.   And the effort on defense was his usual.  I'll take Jagr trying to pivot and post up defenders to a fault since not many other Devils can do that.  He's trying to maintain control on a team that acts like it doesn't matter.  Unfortunately, I think he did it to a fault tonight.

Andy Greene and Peter Harrold also had their struggles.  On some shifts, they looked as solid as solid could get. On others, they just weren't on the same page in just trying to move the puck out from behind their own dots.  Greene fared better with Marek Zidlicky, who had a mostly fine game except for a Gelinas-like shift in the second that yielded shots against and his own minor penalty.   I was surprised that Jon Merrill didn't ride with Greene again.  Maybe the past few games were enough of a reason to end that experiment?

Admitted: OK, Schneider wasn't the only one to show up.  I liked Stephen Gionta's performance.  His goal was fortunate, but three shots on net from a bottom-six player is perfectly fine and he helped Tuomo Ruutu get his three as well.   For about 14 minutes of work, he was OK.  There, I admitted that it wasn't #35 and a bunch of guys playing well below their level.

Plenty of praise for the opposition, who took most of the pucks the Devils gave away dumped and cleared and turned it into offense.  Andrej Sekera and Justin Faulk were in full control. Eric Staal was good.  Elias Lindholm is looking more like the player some hoped when he was drafted high in 2013, he had a strong game.  As did Lindholm's linemate Victor Rask.  Riley Nash and Nathan Gerbe were thorns in the Devils' sides tonight.  The Canes played a good game and should have won this one decisively based on everything that happened from the second period onward (the first was just an ugly but even period).  But Schneider dragged the Devils to a point.

Lumped: 1-2-1 in a four-game homestand, only three wins this month, and another ugly as sin performance by the Devils.  The Rock had a sizeable crowd, an energetic crowd, a crowd that showed up to watch their favorite team try to get a win.   And they were disappointed yet again.   This was very much a lump of coal given to the fans.  The exception are those who are all about tanking; tonight was a gift for them - hope they enjoy it.

Your Take: Simply, this game stunk and I'm resorting myself to paraphrasing profane monologues from modern video games (Far Cry 3, in this case) to comment on them.  That's where I'm at.  What did you think of this mess? Are you one of those people who think Cory Schneider isn't all that and if so, does this game change your mind?  What in the world will Saturday bring?

Thanks to Alex, CJ, and Gerard as I met them during this game; easily the highlight of my night. Thanks to everyone who commented in the Gamethread and followed along @InLouWeTrust on Twitter. Thank you for reading and merry Christmas.  May your holiday be better than the umpteenth crummy performance by the Devils this season.