Where do I even begin? This game had so many ups and downs I’m sure that I’m officially bipolar after watching it. Unfortunately, it ended on a low note with the Devils losing their first shootout of three consecutive shootouts.
The bane of the Devils’ play in recent years had reared its ugly head in tonight’s game. Well, ok, maybe not the bane but a few of the many. Not only did the Devils’ offense turn out a fairly weak performance 5-on-5 mustering only 19 shots on goal (to San Jose’s 40), the Devils proved that old habits really do die hard by being happy to sit on a 2 goal lead. The Devils actually came out and played like a team that wanted to win. Patrik Elias scored an early power play goal (Yes, you read that correctly…the Devils actually scored on the PP), and Zach Parise put the Devils up by 2 when he scored on a penalty shot. Yep, the Rock was rockin’. And Johan Hedberg was on fire, too. The Sharks peppered him with shots, but he looked like a brick wall.
Then, the trusty old 2nd period slump started. The entire team seemed to revert back to that nasty habit from last season of disappearing during the 2nd period thereby turning in a truly horrendous 2nd period performance. What is up with the 2nd period and this team? I’m so frustrated because the Devils could and should have won this game if they didn’t stop playing in the middle of it! The Sharks weren’t the better team or more talented out there…they just never gave up. This seemed to be a recurring theme last season with the Devils, and we don’t need a reminder of how that turned out.
David Clarkson, of all people, scored in the 3rd to put the Devils back on top. Clarkson was basically 1-on-1 with the goalie, and I couldn;t for the life of me figure out how Clarkson was able to get such great positioning. Then I realized it was because he was being defended by none other than Colin White, and (surprise, surprise) White allowed Clarkson to beat him to the goal. (There's a player I think we can all feel grateful not having on our team anymore). So, the Devils are leading 3-2 with less than a minute to go in regulation and, of course, the Sharks score to tie it up again and then win in the shootout. I feel for Moose who played lights out for most of the game with little help from his offense.
I also feel for Jacob Josefson who broke his right clavicle going into the boards in the 1st period. This couldn’t come at a worse time for the Devils with the team’s only other true center, Travis Zajac, out until at least December. If one thing’s clear, the Devils need to find themselves a center STAT. Of course, I was already of the mindset that the Devils needed another center, so now I propose that they acquire two centers. I know…wishful thinking, but maybe this will wake Lou up to the fact that he needs to do some center shopping and quick. It’s just a shame that Josefson had to suffer an injury in order for this wakeup call to be made.
And I still feel for Kovy. Why this guy isn’t on the most dynamic line on the team is beyond me. Which leads me to the introduction of a new accolade I’ve decided to bestow upon one lucky Devil at the end of every game: Most Useless Devil (or MUD) award. Tonight, the MUD award goes to…
Nick Palmieri! Congratulations, Nick, not only did you throw an illegal check to the head of an unsuspecting Shark player, you missed the net on nearly every shot attempt you made and missed at least one breakaway pass. Better game next time.
Hey…if we don’t hold them accountable, who will?
Do you have a player in mind that you think deserves the MUD award? If so, please share your thoughts.
And just to balance out the yin and yang of this post, I’d like to name the Most Impressive Devil of the game…Zach Parise. Not only did he score a beautiful backhand through the 5-hole on his first career penalty shot, but Zach was pumped up and remained so throughout most of the game. You could tell that he wasn’t resting on his laurels during the sleepy 2nd period, and he tried to get the rest of his team fired up, as well. He’s been impressive so far in his role of captain, in my opinion. I see a change in his demeanor this season that wasn’t there before. He’s a little more serious, a little more mature and a little more assertive away from the play. And that’s only what I can see on TV. I’m sure he’s just as impressive in the locker room and on the bench. I think he wanted the captaincy more than he ever let on, and he’s taking every facet of it and the responsibility that comes with it very seriously. I also think we all had the pleasure of watching Zach “grow up” as he turned into one of the veterans in mind and leadership (if not yet body) all of a sudden.
Tonight’s game was the Devils’ third straight game that was decided in a shootout. The Devils won the previous two, but even if they won tonight, they would still be one consecutive shootout win away from tying the record of 4 consecutive shootout wins set by the Pittsburgh Penguins at the end of last season. Let’s hope this is the last of shootouts for a while. Not because the Devils are playing the Penguins tomorrow night, but because getting your wins via shootouts is a risky way to play…especially against division opponents. It’s great to get the win and 2 points, of course, but why let your opponent walk away with a point? Come playoff time every point counts so the more games the Devils can win in regulation, the better.