Ick. Where to begin? For those of you who didn’t watch the game…you didn’t miss anything worth watching and the score says it all. Sure, teams lose and teams win, and the Devils aren’t exactly known to dominate their opponents on opening night. But this one really sucks. Not only were the Devils shutout on home ice in the season opener….they were shutout on home ice in the opening game of a season during which they have more to prove than ever. Here’s how it (or, more accurately, nothing) went down…
It became apparent to me about halfway through the 2nd period that, despite all the hope and hype, the Devils were doing the same old song and dance. NO OFFENSE. I mean, really. How could it possibly be that a team that has two of the league’s elite forwards in Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise can’t manage to put the puck into the opponent’s net at least once in 60 minutes? As frustrating as that is, add to that the fact that the Devils had 3 consecutive power plays and still failed to generate any offense. Which leads to my next gripe:
WHY THE HELL IS ADAM OATES STILL THE POWER PLAY COACH??? Because he did such a bang-up job last season??? The Devils’ power play went 0 for 5 or something. I got too frustrated to keep track after that, but it’s the 0 for part that really matters. For crying out loud…a man advantage is supposed to be just that – an advantage. Not an equalization and certainly not a disadvantage. Not only did the PP fail to score it also gave the Flyers at least two short handed chances (during which Martin Brodeur came up big). And I guess that was one positive of the night…although the score doesn’t really reflect it, Brodeur played really well. The second goal he let in was pretty soft, but all in all, he really kept the Devils in the game for the most part. Other positives were Adam Larsson, Adam Henrique and Jacob Josefson. They are the three players, other than Brodeur, who actually stood out tonight, in my opinion. But none of them scored a goal which is what the team actually needs more than anything. So really nothing else they did matters at this point.
Cam Janssen was a healthy scratch which caused me to scratch my head…especially as I watched David Clarkson make his third boneheaded play of the game and try to fight Wayne Simmonds in an altogether embarrassing effort (for which he somehow managed to accrue two extra penalty minutes for Unsportsmanlike Conduct). Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Janssen brought back to New Jersey to act as the enforcer on the team - thereby removing that honor from Clarkson in the hopes that Clarkson would actually earn his paycheck and score a few goals this season? Why would Janssen be scratched and especially for a game against the Flyers who are known to be dirty, rotten players? I seriously don’t get the logic in that.
To sum it up, the Devils were awful and (I hate to say it) looked eerily like they looked at the beginning of last season. And Peter DeBoer’s “system” looked no less chaotic than John MacLean’s did. And that’s scary.
I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Chill, Debra. It’s only the first game of a very long season.” And to that I say that, while that may be true, I have zero patience this year. Patience is what killed this team last year. If Lou Lamoriello had fired John MacLean at Halloween or even Thanksgiving, the Devils would have most likely been in the playoffs. I seriously hope that Lamoriello doesn’t make the same mistake this year and wait too long for the team’s problems to correct themselves. Because if history has taught us anything, it’s that they won’t correct themselves.
Last season sucked to high heaven, but we all survived. Everything happens for a reason, and if we don’t learn from past mistakes, those same mistakes will continue to haunt us. The Devils can’t simply shrug this atrocious start to their season off. Changes have to be made already. Here’s one: try putting Ilya Kovalchuk on a line with people who have talent and/or finesse. The fact that one of the world’s top five elite players is playing on a line with the likes of Dainius Zubrus as his center and Nick Palmieri is an abomination. And I like Zubrus (jury’s still out on Palmieri)…just not centering Kovy. Kovy would be better served playing with Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora. They all play a more similar style, have more finesse and are quick skaters. Let Zach Parise play alongside Zubrus and Palmieri. They are all more grinders and are comfortable and effective playing the boards (tonight notwithstanding).
And those are my thoughts about the game and the team. If I seem frustrated and down that’s because I am. I’m not sure how any Devils fan who watched that debacle couldn’t be. Even Chico Resch was negative towards the Devils by the end of the game.
(NOT SO) FUN FACT:
Tonight’s game is the first time the Devils have ever been shutout in their season opener. Hopefully, they will only improve from here.