Devils Know Slow Starts Are A Problem

For the last two games, the Devils have been lucky to escape the first period with a lead. They know this. You know this. The Flyers and Capitals, their two opponents, know this. As the Devils prepare to hit the road for the first time this season, they realize this is a trend that can’t continue or else they’ll find themselves in some very big trouble, very fast.

“We’ve gotta address it,” coach Pete DeBoer said Friday night. “I don’t know what the issue is. We talked about it going into tonight and it happened again. We’ll re-address it. It’s something that can’t creep in on a regular basis.”

Much like Tuesday against the Flyers, the Devils came out of the first period Friday night with a lead, something Travis Zajac says is due to a quiet confidence of sorts.

“We didn’t play our best,” Zajac said. ” … We didn’t panic, we managed to come away with a 1-0 lead and we got better as the game went along.”

They owe a lot of that to their goaltender, the still-amazing Martin Brodeur. For three games now, Brodeur has kept the Devils in games that were on the verge of getting away from them. In the opener out on the Island, it was during a furious third-game push from the Islanders. But the last two games, Brodeur’s come out of the gate on fire, stopping everything in his path.

Captain Bryce Salvador believes Brodeur’s strong play allows the Devils to find their groove as the game goes along.

“Marty’s been finding a way to keep us in the game and we cant keep relying on him to do that,” the defenseman continued, “but once we got our legs going we were able to find a way to get it going.”

Corey Griffin

This is a wacky season. You’re seeing teams play a lot streakier than in years past and from period to period instead of game to game. It’s great that the Devils are aware of this and aware of the problem — and it’s even better that Marty is keeping their skins out of the fire — but knowing something is wrong and fixing that wrong are two different things. It’s not time to panic or even be seriously concerned, yet. The Devils are still playing very strong hockey for stretches in this games. But they know they have to get better from the drop of the first puck and it does concern me a bit that DeBoer says he isn’t sure what the issue is. I’ll be interested to see if the Devils come out with maybe a different pairing off the jump Sunday in Montreal — maybe send out the energy line of Gionta-Carter-Bernier to send a jolt through the team. If they don’t do it Sunday and the slow start happens again, I’d expect some noticeable changes Tuesday night in Boston because that’s a team that will put you in a 3-0 hole before the first intermission.