A lot of attention has been paid to the Devils lack of ability to get the puck in the net. Of course this issue has hit full stride after back to back loses where the Devils blew a 1 goal lead late in the game only to watch that all important 2nd point get away from them in OT. On Friday it was a 3-2 loss in Nashville which was followed by a 2-1 loss at home to Colorado on Monday night and if the Devils had managed to skate away with wins in OT, I have a feeling no one would be talking about the Devils lack of scoring.
A quick glance at the stats sheet and you will find that the Devils sit in 26th place when it comes to Goals-For. Only Florida, Calgary, Buffalo and surprisingly the LA Kings sit below them. In the last 5 years, the Devils have finished 28th, 15th (Cup Appearance year), 30th, 19th and 15th. I think it’s safe to say that the years the Devils don’t crack the top 20 in Goals-For, it usually means tee-times instead of Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Peter DeBoer recognizes the importance to having a well balanced team and did split up the top 2 lines in practice yesterday. Travis Zajac was moved off the line with Jaromir Jagr and centered for Patrik Elias and Damien Brunner. Andrei Loktionov was shifted into the center spot between Dainius Zubrus and Jagr. I certainly don’t like to question a coach but how a player goes from being a healthy scratch in 6 straight games prior to the game in Nashville to suddenly finding himself centering the Devils top line does need to be asked. If I’m not mistaken, we saw Josefson do this recently as well. Word also came out yesterday that Jagr wasn’t happy with the constant tinkering of his line. Its hockey and sometimes you have to tinker with your lines when you aren’t getting what you expect. I don’t question the tinkering but question what was put in place this time. I’m not a huge fan of replacing Zajac with a left handed shooter and ending up with 3 lefties on the top line which causes issues with cycling the puck but if that is something that doesn’t bother DeBoer, then why not move Henrique up who most believe is a better finisher than Loktionov? There has also been a lot of internet hatred towards DeBoer as he seems to be pissing off both Brodeur and Jagr in recent weeks but I do support what DeBoer is doing. If Schneider is playing better than Marty is, than that is who you want in the net. And if tinkering turns the 3 posts the Devils hit on Monday into 3 goals, then so be it.
There is also a rumor out there that Lou might be looking at Mike Cammalleri, a player that Calgary appears to be willing to part with given his upcoming UFA status but only Lou knows what he wants to do and if this is a valid rumor. He wouldn’t be a bad addition but he’s certainly not going to come in and light the world on fire and fix all of the Devils scoring problems.
The Devils have 2 remaining games before the Olympic break so why not just throw shit against the wall and see what sticks? Post-Olympics is going to be a hectic time and it would be nice to go into this break on a 2 game winning streak as well as a streak that finds NJ getting 8 out of 10 possible points in their last 5 games.
Hey, we can dream can’t we?