Postgame Thoughts: Canadiens 4, Devils 3, OT (1/17/13)

Corey Griffin

Game links: Pregame thread | Twitter | AP Recap

The Devils were bound to lose one eventually. That it happened that way has to sting, given the bad start, poor zone coverage and a very shaky penalty call in overtime against New Jersey. Some thoughts on the Devils’ first loss of the season…

What a drag: I understand why the ref called that penalty on Andy Greene in overtime, but it sure looked like Erik Cole leaned into him and then pulled Greene down with him to sell it. After a first period in which the refs called it extremely tight, they started to loosen up as the game went on. Regardless, that’s a tough way for Jersey to lose, but the Devils have to happy just to get the point with the way they played tonight. Like Pete DeBoer said after Friday night’s game, the Devils just have to bank as many points as they possibly can early on in the season.

First period blues: Once again, the Devils opened the game playing like they were still warming up. There were far too many defensive zone breakdowns and giveaways  in the period, both of which directly contributed to both Montreal goals and a lot of pressure of Martin Brodeur in the opening period. He wasn’t going to be perfect every night and the rebounds weren’t always going to bounce the right way. The Devils have to do a better job of clearing out the crease and the defensemen have to be more aware of forwards in behind them. It cost them in the first and then it cost them again in overtime. This is a major problem and it’ll really hurt them against teams that like to be physical and play around the net.

One-line game: While Ilya Kovalchuk continues to be awesome, this game was all about the Zubrus-Elias-Clarkson line. Once again, Elias and Clarkson were all over the ice, particularly in the Canadiens’ end. For being only a couple years away from 40, Elias’ physical game has kept up as the mental side of his game has grown. His blind spinning assist to Dainius Zubrus in the third for his 900th NHL point was pure beauty. As for Clarkson, I guess we can say that 30-goal season wasn’t a fluke, eh? He’s such a fantastic player and plays much bigger than his size would have you think. Food for thought, Devils fans: In about a week, Elias will move back to LW, where he’s more comfortable, and Adam Henrique will slot in between him and Clarkson. Think about that trio.

Legs: Kovy played 27 minutes tonight after topping 30 on Friday, while Travis Zajac got over 27 minutes of ice time. After those two, no other forward topped 20 minutes.  That second line clocked in between 17 and 19 minutes each and Josefon got 17 minutes on the ice, but this has to be a concern going forward. The Devils need another forward up front to play 15-17 minutes and balance the minutes of their top two forwards. Obviously, Henrique will take some of the ice time (probably Matteau’s) and then siphon off from others, but dressing guys like Janssen and Barch to give them 3 minutes a night seems like a waste. Also, how much of an impact is Mattias Tedenby gonna have playing no specials and skating 9 minutes a night mostly on the fourth line? I’m just asking because it seems like he’s just here at this point to fill space.

Tough Tuesday: Tonight was an important game for the Devils because of the looming Bruins on Tuesday. Boston is a tough beat, especially in their building. That’s a night when dressing Janssen might actually be necessary. The Bruins will come after the Devils’ top forwards and they will try to push them around. If Kovy plays 30 minutes Tuesday, it’ll be the toughest 30 minutes he’s played all season. Games like that will wear you out and it’ll be important for DeBoer to try to get Kovy and Zajac away from Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic from time to time. Otherwise, it could be a long, long night for Jersey.