Just about everyone for the New Jersey Devils failed tonight in a 0-5 loss to Our Hated Rivals, the New York Rangers. I do have to specify that there are some Devils who did not fail tonight:
- Tonight’s scratched Devils: Jacob Josefson and Yohann Auvitu.
- The equipment manager and trainers.
- The people responsible for transporting the Devils and equipment to their games.
Everyone else from the players to the coaching staff should feel shameful for what was an absolutely terrible, horrible, atrocious, and embarrassing performance. After two straight stinkers, I was hoping the Devils would “up their level” against a rival. Instead, they came up lamer than a middle-aged man trying to talk like the youth of today. Here’s a quick summary of each period that should emphasize how this game happened.
In the first period, the Devils started off decently enough. Adam Henrique appeared to jam a puck past Antti Raanta. It was taken away after a video review showed that Henrique scored by directing said puck with his skate, which was called a kick. The Devils had ample time to score a more legitimate goal. They had some good chances on Raanta; Nick Lappin and Kyle Palmieri each had a tantalizing scoring chance. Raanta stopped them and all else. However, the Rangers would take control in the first and effectively pinned the Devils back in their own half of the rink for more than a third of the period. In that time frame, not only did the Devils not get a shot on goal, they conceded a goal - Chris Kreider slid in a low shot that Cory Schneider should have stopped and a Devil should have picked up off the cycle. It was not a good play, but the Devils finished the period down 0-1.
In the second period, the Devils simply insulted me and the fans who support them with their performance. Down one goal, which is a common occurrence in hockey games, the Devils put up three shots on net. Three. They had three power plays, all for tripping penalties, and the Devils finished the period with only three shots on net. Worse, the Rangers scored on one of those power plays. Kyle Palmieri fumbled a cleared puck in the neutral zone. He tried to control the puck and turn at the same time. He fell, Kevin Hayes picked up the puck, and he sent a pass under Damon Severson’s stick to J.T. Miller. Miller easily scored on Schneider’s flank. The response? Nothing. The Rangers went back on the attack and ended up getting a break at the end. The Rangers won a faceoff in New Jersey’s end and the puck went to Brady Skjei. Skjei fired a shot, it was deflected by Palmieri, and the puck went in with 2.5 seconds left in the period. The Devils entered the second period down one goal. They took three shots on net in total. They allowed eleven and two more goals. Three shots on net. I cannot get past that (And I have a post about how bad the Devils have been while trailing in this season. It’s more than just the past few games.) This was awful.
In the third period, the performance eventually went from awful to awful. The Devils did have a surge of shots and a power play that actually had two shots on net it. That didn’t matter. The Rangers went back on the attack. They drew three penalties. The Rangers used those power plays and Brandon Pirri - who hasn’t scored in a while - put home a rebound shortly after Sergey Kalinin botched a loose puck that he could’ve easily cleared. The Rangers kept the Devils back. So much so that the Devils’ best scoring chance of the period was a missed pass by the Rangers that sailed just wide of the post during a delayed penalty call. Vernon Fiddler and Nick Lappin took exception to a hit near the end of the game that resulted in a fight between Lappin and Kevin Klein. Lappin got an extra roughing minor (somehow Fiddler received nothing). Jimmy Vesey put home an easy-to-put-in loose puck after a shot by Skjei to cap the game. Antti Raanta got his 19-save shutout; I think only Henrik Lundqvist may be unhappy with that result.
What irked me from the Devils broadcast was that when it was John MacLean was asked about what was going wrong when it was 0-4 was that he talked about the little things not going right. I know it’s live television. I know that sports broadcasters do not want to be overly negative, especially former players who have endured terrible games before. While the little things didn’t go right, I disagree with his general point. All of the little things didn’t go right. The power play stunk. The penalty kill got lit up. Cory Schneider wasn’t good enough. The defense got hammered. The offense disappeared. The neutral zone play was a mess. The passing was off. The decision-making was poor at best. The hitting wasn’t effective. The shooting was off target. This is more than little things. It was just about everything that went wrong.
I’m unhappy with the players’ performances. I am continually amazed that Jon Merrill replaces Auvitu while Kyle Quincey and John Moore are seemingly untouchable. The bottom six got wrecked. Kyle Palmieri was notably bad while Travis Zajac and Michael Cammalleri were downright invisible. Taylor Hall showed sparks of making things happen early; but he disappeared to. Henrique and Parenteau, well, it’s not a surprise they faded. Andy Greene was overwhelmed. I’m not being overly negative; no Devil actually played a good game tonight.
I’m even more unhappy with the coaching staff. For the past three to four weeks, the Devils have seemingly been figured out more and more. The Devils struggle with forechecks and there’s no adjustment for it as Devils continue leave players in their own end on islands. The Devils made exiting their own zone an adventure, which yields more offense for the opposition and less for themselves. The Devils’ power play struggled at gaining the zone, maintaining possession, and they seemingly only had one play they wanted to run: setting up Palmieri for a shot from the right circle. The defense, whether in 5-on-5 and 4-on-5 situations, just kept losing their mark. All of this after two straight losses where the Devils were out-shot, out-attempted, and out-played decisively. Yes, the Devils have had tough schedules. Yes, the Devils have had faced tough opponents. Yet given that these kinds of performances or aspects of this performance are becoming familiar, then coaching must be at fault. Something has to change. The lines. The pairings. Most of all, the tactics. Keeping it status quo after losing big to Montreal failed on Friday, keeping it status quo after losing big to St. Louis failed tonight, and keeping it status quo after three big losses will be doomed to fail again on Thursday.
Most of all, the Devils played who I thought was a hated rival and instead performed like they were just warming up for the regular season. The National Hockey League is a men’s league and the Devils played like kids against the Rangers. Tonight, the Devils could have made a big statement after two really crummy losses. They unfortunately did and it’s that the 2016-17 Devils aren’t as good as you and I may have thought about a month ago. Whatever good feelings I had about this roster and this coaching staff increasingly had dirt poured on them over the last three to four weeks. The Rangers really buried those feelings tonight. That’ll happen when just about all of the New Jersey Devils fail in a game as they did tonight.
Your Take: I don’t have anything else to say about this garbage performance by the Devils. They lost 0-5 to their hated rivals and fully deserved a big loss. They absolutely sucked tonight. What was your take on this game? More importantly, what would you change about this team ahead of their trip to St. Louis for a game on Thursday? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this miserable loss in the comments.
Thanks to everyone who commented in the Gamethread and/or followed along on Twitter with the site account (@AAtJerseyBlog). Thank you for reading.