Let’s start with what everyone is sure to talk about. On October 4th the Devils lost their home opener in a shootout to the New York Islanders where the Devils scored zero times in 6 attempts. On March 29th the Islanders handed the Devils their 10th straight shootout loss where the Devils scored, you guessed it, zero times in the shootout but this time NJ only got 2 attempts at it.
Last night’s latest failure is easily placed on Cory Schneider. While Frans Nielsen is probably the one player in the NHL that could rival TJ Oshie as the shootout stud, the Brock Nelson goal was a goal that Schneider should have gotten. It’s not all on the goalie, the scorers have to actually score as well which they didn’t do last night and haven’t done all season. In fact, in 10 shootouts, the Devils have scored 1 goal and that was by current Albany Devil, Reid Boucher.
This game shouldn’t have ended up in a shootout because the chances were there but the Devils let a lot of opportunities that got away from them. The Devils didn’t show up in the first period and managed to get only 2 shots on net for the entire 20 minutes they were out there. They were lucky to go into the 1st intermission with a 0-0 score. The 2nd and 3rd periods were better but I felt all night that the Devils were trying to play too much of a finesse game. They’d hold on to the puck too long and whatever chance looked to be developing broke down. The best example of this was in OT when Zidlicky had an excellent chance but he decided to try and deek around a defender laying on the ice and misplayed the puck. That’s only one example but it seemed to happen all night long.
Henrique’s goal was a great example of the Devils throwing pucks at the net and crashing the net. I kind of thought that after the Devils tied it up with that type of play, they would change their strategy and try to crash down on the net but that’s not what happened.
The head scratcher last night was Eric Gelinas. He was benched for the entire 3rd period but then showed up in OT where he fumbled the puck in front of his own net to start the OT and at one other point let Cizikas get right around him and almost end the OT. I’m guessing with the extra space on the ice the Devils were hoping Gelinas heavy shot would come into play in the OT. He had some chances but none of them ended up in the net. With Merrill taking a puck to the jaw in the 3rd and Gelinas benched for the 3rd, there was a shot of Stevens on the bench at one point and it looked like he just wanted to go put on a jersey and get out there.
So was this the game that we will look back on and say was the point the playoffs got away? With Detroit and Columbus improving to 82 points, the Devils trail both Wildcard teams by 5 points. The upcoming Devils schedule isn’t tough but if the Devils continue to give points away, they won’t make it. As a fan you’d love to see your team in the playoffs but when you take an honest look at it, there is a list of bad teams in the NHL and while the Devils aren’t on that list, they are on the list of teams immediately above that. They don’t score, they don’t play with a lot of intensity and certainly aren’t a consistent team. Sadly, the chances have been there but they haven’t been able to capitalize. If April 14th comes and the Devils are cleaning out their lockers instead of preparing for round 1 of the playoffs, the shootout losses and the final trip to Florida a few weeks ago will be the things I think of when thinking about the 2013/2014 Devils.