The New Jersey Devils thought they could win a playoff game by simply showing up for only 20 minutes out of the full 60. Although they came very close and were able to cut the 3 goal deficit to just 1 goal, the Devils came out flat and left Florida with a split series. We all knew this was going to be a long night when Andy Greene took a penalty 11 seconds into the game which resulted in a powerplay goal by Stephen Weiss. The players barely broke a sweat before the Devils already found themselves down 1-0. For a record-breaking penalty kill season, the Devils let in 2 powerplay goals! From the same person! Stephen Weiss scored his only 2 goals ever in a playoff series. Considering this is his first playoff series in the 10 years he has been with the Panthers doesn’t help either. Special teams was one of the main reasons the Devils’ couldn’t claw their way back to tie the game. The other reason? Lack of discipline! The Devils did the complete opposite of what they should have done. They knew Florida was going to come out hungry and play their best hockey, but the Devils couldn’t keep up. The number of penalties that the Devils took was unnecessary, although there were some questionable calls on both sides. The David Clarkson penalty (occurred at the same time as the Alexi Ponikarovsky to give the Panther’s a 5-on-3 man advantage) was questionable, however, some calls seemed to have been given to the Devils as well.
We have seen the same thing happen a lot this past season for the Devils…they didn’t feel like playing a full 60 minute game but decide to come back in the 3rd period. The Devils played great in the 3rd and we must give credit to Jose Theodore who was able to read all the plays and not let the equalizer in the net. The Devils could have easily gotten another 2 goals, but Theodore shut the Devils down. The powerplay units need to improve as the Devils weren’t effectively able to get into the Panther’s zone. The penalty-killing unit was the difference maker in this game…for the Panthers. The Panther’s have a great powerplay unit and they proved it in Game 2. Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk, who turned 29 on Sunday, scored the 2 goals for the Devils. Coach Peter DeBoer switched up the lines and put Travis Zajac on the 3rd line with Alexi Ponikarovsky and Clarkson, while Adam Henrique was reunited with Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. That seemed to put a spark back in the Devils’ game and those 2 goals seemed to give both the Devils and their fans hope that they could pull this one out. If the Devils maintain the same discipline from Game 1, they will be able to contain the Panthers and win the series. Looking at the bright side, the Devils were able to somewhat take away home-ice advantage and split the series before they play at home on Tuesday.
If a picture could sum up how the Devils played on Sunday, it would look like this:
The Panthers are plowing through the Devils and Marty just looks scared.
This next picture is David Clarkson showing the fans the incorrect way to defend and play the puck:
You want to skate forward (or backwards), not lay on the puck.
Finally, you should NOT hug a player on the opposing team when they score a goal:
He is not your friend! Well, maybe he is…but he is not your friend on the ice!
In the end, the Devils helped the Panthers win their 1st playoff game in 15 years. We can only hope, that will be their last. The Devils host the Panthers on Tuesday at 7:00pm.