The Devils managed to win two games in a row last week as they topped the Boston Bruins, 4-3, and the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-1, but halted their momentum with a 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers and an ugly 4-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild.
Admittedly, the Devils are banged up pretty badly right now: Anton Volchenkov has a lower-body injury; Travis Zajac has an ankle injury; Patrik Elias has an upper-body injury; Ryane Clowe has a head injury; and Bryce Salvador has a foot injury.
I thought having three days off between the game against the Lightning and the game against the Flyers would be a good thing because of their copious amount of injuries, but turns out it didn’t really work out that well. Jon Merrill, who was called up to replace Volchenkov, looked sharp for about five minutes before he crashed into the boards and didn’t return due to lacerations to his face.
Goalie Cory Schneider missed three games due to injury, but made 16 saves on 19 shots in his return against the Wild; the first two goals the Wild scored came off of weird rebounds that the Devils couldn’t clear, and really, that’s one of their core problems. The Devils can’t seem to maximize the opportunities that they make or the ones that fall into their laps, yet they invariable have allowed all of their opponents to score unchallenged goals. Additionally, they hold a 2.79 goals against average – 17th in the league – while only scoring 1.86 goals per game, which puts them in 28th in the league.
Looking ahead, New Jersey will play back-to-back games against the Flyers on Thursday in Philadelphia and against the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Friday. They’ll close out the week at home against the Nashville Predators on Sunday.
The Devils forward who are injured – Elias, Zajac, and Clowe – have accounted for 12 points thus far, while the two defenseman – Volchenkov and Salvador – are sorely missed for their physical and smart play, respectively. Aside from getting healthy again, the Devils need to do a better job at taking care of the puck on both ends of the ice if they want to put up more wins. I’m talking about clearing the puck both from the defensive zone and in front of the net, as well as scoring in general but particularly on the power play. They went 0-for-3 on the PP against the Wild (plus a 4-on-4 situation); 0-for-5 against the Flyers; and 0-for-2 against the Lightning (plus a 4-on-4).
You can’t win if you can’t score, and you also make it harder when you go more than six consecutive periods without a goal.
Plus: New Jersey’s new owners combined $50,000 with proceeds from tickets and a Mystery Puck sale to donate close to $60,000 for the New Jersey Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund. The funds will help those still affected by the storm.
Minus: The Devils organization decided that changing the goal song would be a good idea, so there was an initial song submission period with the three winning songs to be played at three consecutive games, followed by an online fan vote to determine the new song. The choices: “The Whip,” by Locksley; “Righteous Smoke,” by Monster Truck; “Seven Nation Army,” by The White Stripes. Unsurprisingly, the “winner” was the song by the most recognizable band of the three, and while I quite enjoy The White Stripes, this is the most played-out song in professional sports. It jumped the shark once a non-soccer organization used it. This is the song that will replace “Rock And Roll Part 2,” by Gary Glitter, the long-time and perfect goal song? The organization claims it’s because of unpleasant fan chants (yep, the fans sing, “Hey! You suck!”), but really, if that’s the reasoning, what I’d like to know is what their plan is for getting fans to stop the whistle chant that ends with “Rangers suck, Islanders swallow.” (sometimes it’s “Flyers swallow,” depending on the Devils opponent) Incidentally, Devils fans oh-so-cleverly stole this chant from Rangers fans, who have an actual and legitimate historical beef with the Islanders. The latter is way more vile and, I might point out, that saying the other team sucks after your team scores on them is, well, natural. I’m not saying either chant is right or good, but mark my words: Devils fans will find a way to work in “you suck” or some other similar phrase into “Seven Nation Army.” It’s just how they do.