Instant Insight: Game Six – Devils vs. Islanders

John_Tavares_2009-11-27

By Ryan Jahnke

What happened:  Zero production on the power play and even less protection on the penalty kill lead to a hole that the Devils could not climb their way out of, even with the contribution of 4 goals from players that hadn’t contributed so far this season.

Star of the game:  John Tavares picked the right game to break out against the Devils. With 2 Goals, 1 assist and a dominant performance in the face-off circle, the Isles’ superstar center was unquestionably the best on the ice tonight.

Goat of the game:  Tonight’s goat is Martin Brodeur (yes, that Martin Brodeur).  The future Hall-of-Famer had been dominant before tonight, but this just wasn’t his night.  After a strong start, the mistakes started to pile up for Brody, culminating with a misplayed puck that lead to the Islanders’ game ending OT goal.

Turning point:  I’d like to be able to give this one to Steve Bernier for the goal that brought the Devils back to life, or any of the great moments created on the ice by John Tavares, but tonight’s turning point was the reckless penalty taken by Henrik Tallinder in the overtime period.

Grades

Offense:   A-.  Scoring wasn’t the problem tonight as it seemed like everyone was getting their opportunities. Bernier, Carter, and Gionta reminded us why they’re called the Clutch Line, and Nabokov was constantly under fire.  And, Adam Henrique came back in style with a goal in his first game back from injury.  The only question I have after a game where New Jersey put in 4 goals is, where were the big guns?

Defense:   C-.  Not impressive early on, but they started making up for it later on in the game. Hard to say that the defense outright failed when 2 goals came on the PK.  Although the breakaway was hard to stomach. Tallinder contributing to the scoresheet really helped to swing it to an overall positive night for the D… Just!

Goaltending:   D+. Pretty poor, especially for Brodeur. You can’t blame him for all the goals and he did keep them in the game early. But questionable decisions playing the puck lead to 2 crucial goals, including the clincher in OT.

Special teams:  F.   No way to sugarcoat this, it was awful.  Too many PK goals let in and zero PP goals scored. That’s the wrong way to be trending for a team that committed to improving their PP in the offseason. Even when they were able to create some sustained pressure it resulted in minimal scoring chances.

Instant analysis: Devils fans can simultaneously be proud that their team came back from three separate deficits to take this game into overtime and get another point for their team, and concerned that the Devils allowed themselves to continuously fall behind the Islanders, before finally succumbing to New York’s offense with a 5 – 4 loss.  The Devils fell behind after an initial flurry of pressure on Nabokov and were never able to take the lead for themselves.

While both Brodeur and his defense struggled, the offense certainly played well enough for The Devils to overcome those deficiencies.  Where New Jersey truly failed in this game was on special teams.  The Devils were shorthanded times in this game and three of those times they gave up the power play goal.  Conversely, while The Red and Black had five power play opportunities, they couldn’t convert on a single one of them.  If just one of those special teams’ situations had gone the other way for the Devils, they would have won this game in regulation.  Their failure on both, the power play and the penalty kill, cost the Devs this game.

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