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Devils Defense Flattened, Exposed by Johnny Gaudreau and Flames in loss

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The Devils defense left Mackenzie Blackwood out to fend for himself, as an endless number of defense breakdowns lead to another Devils loss.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Calgary Flames
Apathy - (n) Lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. Shown above as the goaltender is left to be hunted.
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s one thing to lose a game that’s hard-fought and full of grittiness. It’s another thing to lose a game with bad bounces and bad luck.

The Devils had none of this, and have no excuse. The defense was lazy at best, and should be disgusted with themselves for letting Mackenzie Blackwood get pummeled by the high-flying Flames offense like this.

Yes, the Flames offense is very good. Yes, the Devils defense is god awful. Throughout the night, however, it seemed as if the Devils defense completely stopped trying and left Blackwood to face the wrath of Johnny Gaudreau. In fact, of the Flames nine goals, I can fault Blackwood for none of them. Let’s break them all down briefly.

The first Flames goal — Will Butcher for some strange reasons thinks he has a chance to press and moves toward a puck rolling towards a Flames forward about 6 feet in front of him. Gaudreau recognizes this, and immediately runs past Butcher. An easy 2 on 1 opportunity emerges. The puck is delivered to Sean Monahan. Monahan the delivers the pass by Carrick, left for himself, easily to Gaudreau who slides it by Blackwood.

The second Flames goal — it’s hard to fault the Devils for a brilliant Giordano pass. Playing the cynical — Zajac, maybe, for allowing Carrick to try and win a puck battle against two Flames on his own? I’m probably reaching on this one. It was admittedly a great pass from Giordano.

The third Flames goal — Tangradi knocks over Blackwood looking for the rebound, which Lindholm finds and easily slides past Blackwood. But why is Tangradi the only player guarding Lindholm? Where are Severson and Greene in this play? The answer — Greene lost his stick behind the net in a strange play, while Severson can be seen watching the play occur on the other side of the net.

The fourth goal is the only truly blameless goal, as it came off good defensive play by Kevin Rooney. Unfortunately, the trajectory seemed destined for the net, and Blackwood never saw it coming. Bad luck, and 4-4 Flames.

The fifth goal truly frustrated me as I watched it live. Johnny Gaudreau walked through Severson and Greene as if they weren’t even there to be awarded the penalty shot. It’s not as if he got a perfect pass that set him up perfectly for a breakaway. He fumbled with the puck at the center for a bit and Severson and Greene just seemed to... stare at him.

The sixth goal is actually very similar to the first. Gaudreau notices Butcher trying to press for the puck yet again, and sneaks behind him to allow for a two-on-one leaving Connor Carrick alone. Gaudreau threads a pass through Carrick, who could have done a better job on this admittedly, and Ryan easily slides a puck by Blackwood for the 6th of the game.

Number seven. The three Devils “defensemen” if they can even be called that, focus all their attention on Sean Monahan. Joey Anderson notices as it’s too late, and Monahan easily slides it to Gaudreau for the hat trick.

Number eight. Severson and Greene on the ice again, both chasing players. This, however leaves the lane side open with only Blake Pietila left to cover it. Gaudreau, the star player he is, is basically feeded an assist to Monahan.

And lastly, goal number nine. Both Devils defensemen on the ice are right next to each other, and leave Fantenberg open. They both then desperately throw their sticks in the direction of the puck, which obviously doesn’t work. Easy pass to Tkachuk. Easy 9th goal.

The scariest part about this game wasn’t the rout. It was the fact that it could have, and should have, been so much worse. Blackwood made some incredible saves in this game, with a desperation save on Frolik and preventing Gaudreau from scoring a 4th instantly coming to mind. Simply put, he was left to dry by this team. Connor Carrick, who wasn’t even the most at fault, is left with people assuming he takes majority blame with an ugly -4 today. Meanwhile Greene and Severson, who I thought were absolutely dreadful today, have assists to their name and a neutral rating. A truly terrible game throughout.

Thank you, next.

The Game Summary: The NHL.com Game Summary | The NHL.com Event Summary | The NHL.com Play by Play Log | The NHL.com Shot Summary | The Natural Stat Trick Game Stats

The Opposition Opinion: Nothing yet, though if you want to witness happy Flames fans check out https://www.matchsticksandgasoline.com/

Positives: Congrats to Blake Coleman on 20 goals! Us as Devils fans are at least lucky that he’s emerged as a reliable option for the future.

Agostino, Palmieri and Zajac scored the other goals. In short, every Devils forward who can score did score.

Aside from that... Congrats to the line of Anderson - McLeod - Tangradi for actually possessing a positive FF% (Though they did play less than 10 minutes)? McLeod seems to be getting close to that first goal, while aside from Tangradi knocking down Blackwood he didn’t make any other egregious errors. Anderson was reliable on the penalty kill. An interesting note — according to FF%, Carrick was out 6th best player on the ice today, while Severson and Greene were among the six worst.

Looking Forward: The Devils head to Edmonton tomorrow to face Connor McDavid and the Oilers. At this point, I would like to see what Colton White can do for the Devils, as he’s supposedly been the best defenseman for the Baby Devils this season. There’s nothing left to play for in the season, so might as well try and tank for Hughes/Kappo.

Your Thoughts: Were you as disgusted as me watching this game? What changes do the Devils need to make looking forward? Which youngsters on this team do you think look ready for next year? Let me know in the comments below, and take care.