Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.
That was just awful. It pretty much proves that the last two games in which the Devils scored a total of 11 goals were just flukes. Dammit. I so wanted to believe that the Devils had finally found a way to become an offensive threat in the now old-ish "new" NHL. Well, it was fun while it lasted.
Tonight's game actually started out ok with Travis Zajac scoring the first goal of the game and his first of the season. Then, it all seemed to go downhill from there – slowly at first until the final minutes of the 3rd period when it all just kind of snowballed out of control. And the real kicker is how that snowball started.
The Devils were on the power play and gave up a short handed goal to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead. After that, the Devils basically had 6 attackers and the final goal was scored into the empty net with 6 seconds remaining. I do have to say, though, that the various 6 Devils attackers kept the puck out of that empty net better than I've seen Marty keep pucks out of the net this season.
Which leads me to the most glaringly obvious yet painful observation of the night. Marty wasn't able to come up with the big save. He should've had that short-handed goal that I mentioned above. Foster played the pass perfectly and all Marty had to do was stop the shot.
I was sitting watching the horror show that was the 3rd period and wondering how the Devils always make other goaltenders look amazing. As is often the case, the Devils had way more shots than their opponent throughout the game, so why do they always have such a difficult time finding the back of the net (the previous 2 games notwithstanding)? And then it hit me. It's not that the other goaltenders are that amazing necessarily. Other teams just happen to have goaltenders who can make those big, game changing saves. (Think Marty circa 1995-2003). And they have goaltenders who can not only last an entire game but actually improve as the game goes on.
And the Devils don't.
In a huge rivalry game like this one with the team's confidence level at an all time high, the goalie has to make those big game changing saves. He has to. And, I'm sorry, but I've got to call a spade a spade. Marty hasn't been able to do that in a long time. At least not on a consistent basis. In fact, I think Hedberg has probably made more big saves of that caliber than Marty has this season.
It's sad. It's heartbreaking. It's the end of an amazing era...but the Devils really need to find themselves a number one goaltender who can carry them through the playoffs. They need to make a trade for a top goaltender or at least one that the players can feel confident playing in front of and that they can depend on to make those game changing saves.
I'm not sure why Marty was given the start tonight...I guess because he should have been riding high off his win against Montreal on Saturday. And he played decently for the first half of the game. But when it came down to Marty making the big save with the game on the line, just one on one with the shooter, he choked. Big time.
I know you can't put the blame on one player and it's a team sport blah, blah, blah... But this is becoming a usual occurrence rather than an exception. And that can't be allowed to happen if the Devils plan to go far into the playoffs.
(UN &)FUN FACT:
The shorthanded goal given up by the Devils tonight is the 10th one they've given up this season...twice as many as any other team. However, they also lead the league in shorthanded goals scored with 7...1 more than Carolina has.
Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.