The Devils continue to frustrate their fans in my opinion. Truth is, last night could have been worse and the Devils could have walked away from that game without any points. The Devils played a pretty poor first period and I didn’t think they improved much until the 2nd half of the 2nd period where the Devils seem to stop chasing the Coyotes, stopped taking unnecessary penalties and started to generate some scoring chances.
The 2nd period ended on what could be the most bizarre goal of the season. Clowe was crossed checked from behind as Merrill threw the puck towards the goal mouth. As Clowe fell, the puck ricocheted off his shoulder and into the back of the net with .2 on the clock. In the 3rd, the Devils appeared to apply a little more offensive pressure which finally paid off with the tying goal in the back of the net. Henrique took the puck from Elias below the net, made a nifty little move and was able to find enough room between the post and Greiss’s skate to sneak it in the net. It did look like Greiss expected Henrique to take the puck around the other side as he moved that way a bit, opening up the hole Henrique would find.
During the 5 minutes of OT, I thought the Devils played a really hard game. They had their chances but Greiss was there to answer every one of them. Unfortunately the Devils couldn’t get it done in the extra period which meant going to a shootout which every Devils fan knew what was coming.
For the 9th time this season the Devils went to a shootout and for the 9th time this season the Devils came away without the 2nd point. For the 8th time this season, the Devils failed to put a puck in the net during the shootout. In fact, Reid Boucher has the only goal scored this season for NJ in a shootout and he’s currently in Albany. The shootout results have been frustrating this season. If the Devils barely miss the playoffs, we can point to that road trip to Florida a few weeks ago and the fact that the Devils have let 9 points slip away in shootout losses. Now I don’t expect a team to go 9-0 in the shootout (just like I don’t expect 0-9) but if the Devils were slightly better than .500 in the shootout, they’d be in the WildCard playoff spot heading into the final handful of games. Absolutely frustrating that the thing I hate most in the NHL might be a huge reason why the Devils miss the playoffs.
I don’t understand the selection that DeBoer made for the shootout last night. Brunner really hasn’t had a hot stick at any point this season, although he did make a nice move on his attempt. The Clowe selection was just mind baffling unless DeBoer went with him because of his Western Conference which might explain Brunner as well. Elias is a no-brainer that DeBoer got correct. Other than Elias getting a chance in every shootout, I would go with whatever Devil is hot at the moment and Jagr. So last night, my shootout list would have looked like Henrique, Jagr and Elias and probably in that order.
The Devils head to Long Island tomorrow which is always a tough game. Tonight I’ll be paying attention to Toronto and Philly as well as Pittsburgh and Columbus. We need some big wins from the state of Pennsylvania tonight in order to keep the Wild Card in our realm of possibility.