By Jeff O’Connor
Since we could break down last night’s contest against the New York Islanders into a million pieces and nitpick a ton of things, I’m just going to highlight what I felt were the biggest issues, so here we go.
Very strange…back-to-back nights, the Devils allowed three goals in about a three-minute span. That is very un-Devil-like. Who would have thought that at this point in the season, we’d be more concerned with the performance of the defense than the offense?!? Either way, that is the case and the defensive issues must be addressed going forward, whether that’s from Pete DeBoer or Scott Stevens.
Clearly, the PK is not going to be a strength like it was last year. Not only was it shutdown last season, they pumped in shorthanded goals on a somewhat regular basis. They need to avoid the penalties at all costs this year.
Sometimes, teams are just a bad matchup for the Devils. Over the last few years, the Boston Bruins have been a terrible matchup. They haven’t beaten them since the regular season finale in 2010-11. Perhaps the Isles are simply a bad matchup for the Devils. Thankfully, they don’t play them again until April. The Islanders have decimated the Devils with their power-play at times in their four matchups this season.
It’s one thing to allow goals. It’s going to happen. What has bothered me over the last two games, has been the number of unmarked man around the slot area. The goals by Mike Knuble and Matt Read on Friday were disturbing because they were WIDE open in the slot.
Also, the one game experiment from Henrik Tallinder was fun, but we can now be done with that. I’ll take a scuffling Mark Fayne over a fully rested and ready-to-go Tallinder. He was responsible for a penalty shot and took two penalties, one which led to a power play goal for New York. We will have a piece early next week regarding Tallinder and his time thus far with the Devils.
Here’s the biggest thing in terms of being optimistic; if I had told all of you Devils fans that the team would get off to a 9-3-3 start, you all would have said in unison, “Where do I sign up?” This team is going to be alright. They’re going to lose games. But for me, the effort has got to be there. It lacked for the first 15 minutes against Philly and they were able to rally back. The last 30 minutes or so in Saturday’s contest were a bit frightening.
With that being said, there is still a major difference between losing a game and getting blown out. If you drop a 3-2 game to a good team, that’s okay, but the idea of the Devils winning a few games, then not even showing up for the next isn’t good. The same effort has to be there game in and game out.
As long as the last two periods don’t carry over into Monday’s contest against Ottawa, then there’s no reason to worry. If it does carry over, however, then the questions and concerns will start to rise…