I am so unbelievably pissed off right now, and it has very little to do with the way the Devils played or the score of the game. I’ve had the great misfortune to watch tonight’s game through the Pittsburgh feed. This means that I’ve been listening to a bunch of the worst commentators I’ve ever heard for the past 2 1/2 hours of my life. I seriously cannot believe what I’ve heard throughout the broadcast tonight. These goons have, basically: accused the Devils of cheating (by sending Petr Sykora to serve the 4 minute high sticking penalty committed by Elias); laughed at the Devils’ perceived lack of knowledge on how to conduct a morning skate (asking what the Devils are doing during morning skate that Keith Kinkaid got his neck sliced by a skate); noted that Kovy has been disengaged the entire game (except for the play which set up Elias’s shorthand goal); noted that Kovy is a horrible teammate (by glaring at Larsson for taking the penalty he took in the 3rd period - to which one of the goons remarked, regarding Kovy, “Look in the mirror”); determined that Hedberg’s own team is overworking him and needs to give him a break (he should have been pulled when the Penguins scored their 4th goal); and, of course, that the officials failed to call the Devils for numerous penalties (as the reporter located in the stands could well attest to). Now, I didn’t hear what Steve and Chico had to say about any of the above, but I’ve never heard them during any game whine repeatedly about the officials, accuse the other team of cheating or meanly insinuate that a member of the opposing team needs to “look in the mirror”. I mean, is it me or are the Devils’ broadcasts way less biased than most other teams’? As much as I complain about Chico and others at MSG, I can honestly say that, even without Doc, Devils fans are truly lucky when it comes to game broadcasts.
I just had to get that out. Now, on to the game…
Despite the awful 4-1 score, I really don’t think the Devils played that badly tonight. They held the Penguins to 1 goal until halfway through the 3rd period when it seemed as if last night’s game caught up with them and they just fizzled out. Because, you know, it makes total sense to load a team’s schedule one week after giving them almost an entire week off. The Devils’ one goal was a beauty, though, scored shorthanded by Patrik Elias on a play set up by Ilya Kovalchuk. (Incidentally, this was scored during the double minor committed by Elias and served by Sykora). After the Devils scored, the Penguins came back and scored 3 in a row (justice for the Devils’ cheating by having Sykora serve the penalty rather than Elias, according to the Pens’ announcers). I’d be curious to know what was said about that on the Devils’ broadcast. It was clearly Elias who committed the high sticking penalty, but do any of us really believe that Lou’s Devils would intentionally cheat in that circumstance? Or intentionally cheat at all? Lou values integrity above all else…we’re talking about a guy that wouldn’t even consider having his team intentionally lose a game two seasons ago which would have ensured that they not face the Flyers (a team the Devils didn’t fare well against during the regular season) in the 1st round of the playoffs. Would the Devils really be so sneaky and cheat in a game so early on in the season? REALLY?!?
Moose played amazingly well, but like the rest of his teammates, he just seemed to tire out by the middle of the 3rd period. The Devils certainly improved their 2nd period performance tonight…outplaying, if not outscoring, the Penguins during the 2nd period. The power play, however, seems to have regressed…it looked decent and actually resulted in a goal last night, but tonight, it was back to its usual mess. In defense of the PP, though, I think the Devils only had 2 PPs all night, and they were both in the 3rd period and 1 was cut short by a Nick Palmieri penalty, so they were tired by that point. I’m not trying to make excuses for the Devils. They’re professional athletes and should be well enough conditioned to do their jobs 2 nights in a row…especially after 5 days off. But you could tell that lack of focus and energy was the issue - as was evidenced by numerous sloppy line changes as the game progressed.
Last night I introduced a new designation that I’m going to bestow upon 1 Devil at the end of every loss. I call it the Most Useless Devil (MUD) award. Tonight’s recipient is…
David Clarkson! Congratulations, David! Not only did you take an offensive zone penalty for high sticking the goaltender in the very first stages of the game…but the Penguins’ ensuing power play resulted in their first goal of the night. Better game next time.
And just to balance it out…the Most Impressive Devil tonight was…
Adam Henrique! Ok, so there were other Devils that actually made more of a difference in the game (Elias and Moose come to mind), but I was impressed with Henrique’s play practically every shift he was on the ice. Henrique is filling in for the injured Jacob Josefson and was playing in only his second game of the season. He had a number of quality scoring chances, was fast as lightning and didn’t hesitate to get in the goalie’s face. I said it after the first game, and I’ll say it again…I like this kid.
As mentioned above, backup goaltender Keith Kincaid suffered a cut to his neck by the blade of a teammate’s skate during today’s morning skate. Luckily, it was just a surface cut, but such an injury could be life threatening. In September 2009, Jeff Frazee, another goalie in the Devils’ system, suffered a similar injury, but his was even more serious. Hopefully today’s incident marks the end of these types of injuries to Devils goaltenders.