After six consecutive losses, something’s had to give.
Finally tonight something will.
Changes for Devs tonight; Larsson, Volchenkov in, Tallinder, Harrold out. Kostopoulos and Josefson in, Ponikarovsky, D'Agostini out.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) April 07, 2013
D’Agostini seems to be pressing, so it may not be a terrible idea to let him watch a game. DeBoer said he was looking for more bodies at the front of the net, and Josefson and Kostopoulos are likely the guys to score a “dirty goal” than Ponikarovsky or D’Agostini.
The defensive moves are not stunning either. Volchenkov and Larsson have been good, and in the second of back-to-back games, it seems like New Jersey needs some fresh legs in a must-win game.
While the Devils wait for Steve Sullivan to arrive, Pete DeBoer has been tasked with filling out the lineup card for tonight’s game in Boston. Does that mean the Devils are planning to put Tom Kostopolous back in despite getting knocked the EFF out on Monday? Or maybe Krys Barch returns? Eh, not so fast. DeBoer has something else in mind.
Looks like Devils will go with seven D with Volchenkov back in.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) April 04, 2013
As you’ll notice, Adam Larsson is unlikely to be one of those seven defensemen with Anton Volchenkov returning to the lineup. While it might seem a little odd, it actually makes a ton of sense. For one, Peter Harrold can play up front as well, which means he can easily eat up the seven minutes usually assigned to the fourth-line wingers. Also, Volchenkov’s shot blocking will be seriously needed against the Bruins tonight, particularly considering how much some of their defensemen love to fire the puck at the net. I also like the idea because the Devils have pretty much had one problem defenseman per game for most of the season. Rarely do they get all six D-men clicking and playing well both individually and as a unit. Dressing seven defensemen allows DeBoer to “go with the hot hand,” so to speak. For those of you worried about losing a forward for a team that already can’t score — it’s not like pulling Kostopolous or Barch were going to help New Jersey put goals in the net. DeBoer has also been known to bury those guys and shorten his bench in tight games, which tonight should be if the Devils have a chance to win in the third. With all things considered, I like the idea on a game-by-game basis.
Larsson said he is playing tonight. Tallinder said he was told to "be ready". Volchenkov and Harrold are still on ice skating extra.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) March 30, 2013
There’s no word on who will come out of the lineup for Larsson, although my guess would be Peter Harrold, who did some extra work after this morning’s skate. The Devils would have to clear a roster spot for Tallinder, who is currently on injured reserve.
The Devils scored just about every way possible on Friday night.
Yet, they still blew a two-goal lead and lost a very important point.
New Jersey scored a shorthanded goal, on its power-play, an even-strength goal and even on a penalty shot. Still, the Devils lost 5-4 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a shootout on Friday at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Tom Kostopoulos scored his first goal as a Devil, and Matt D’Agostini registered two assists as the Devils still earned point No. 38, falling to 2-0-2 in their last four. Martin Brodeur stopped 21 shots, stoning Steven Stamkos five times. Brodeur lost for the first time since returning from injury, falling to 10-2-5 overall.
The Devils lost their eighth game in overtime or shootouts this year, dropping to 0-5 in road shootouts.
Stamkos scored twice for Tampa Bay, improving his league-leading goal total to 25. He also assisted on Alex Killorn’s game-tying goal with 15.1 seconds left in regulation. Killorn also added an assist on Stamkos’ second goal at 7:11 of the third.
The Lightning improved to 15-18-1, moving to within four points of the eighth-placed Rangers. Tampa Bay finishes 1-1-1 against the Devils this year.
Though Brodeur only made the 21 saves, and couldn’t make stop either of the two shootout tries, he kept the Devils in the game. many of them were high-quality stops.
You could pick any number of stops as Brodeur’s best. Corey Conacher was stoned on his second-period sharp-angle try after stoning Stamkos. Brodeur also robbed Benoit Pouliot in the first period.
Brodeur successfully masked tough games by Anton Volchenkov, Peter Harrold and an off night for Bryce Salvador. Salvador may have still been laboring with the injury he suffered Monday in Ottawa.
Meanwhile, Volchenkov was minus-2 and Harrold was a minus-3. The pairing got beat on Stamkos’ first goal, then neither moved his feet on Nate Thompson’s game-tying goal at 10:26 of the second.
With Adam Larsson sitting for Mark Fayne, we may see Harrold head back to the healthy-scratch list since he’s a minus-5 in his last five games.
SNew Jersey somehow killed Tampa Bay’s 4-on-3 power play in overtime after D’Agostini was whistled for holding Stamkos. New Jersey killed all three Lightning power plays and even scored a shorthanded goal in the third.
The Devils simply were too complacent defensively in the third period, and it bit them.
Two goals in 51 seconds helped the Devils build a 2-0 second-period lead.
D’Agostini earned his first point as a Devil– a sweet assist on Andrei Loktionov’s goal at 5:50 of the second. Kostopoulos scored 51 seconds later on a penalty shot he received when Eric Brewer slashed him on the hands on a breakaway.
D’Agostini also set up Andy Greene’s power-play goal at 13:58 of the second, a goal that broke a 2-2 tie. Greene also assisted on Loktionov’s goal.
Ryan Carter’s shorthanded goal, a relatively-weak goal allowed by Tampa Bay netminder Mathieu Garon, boosted that lead to 4-2 at 2:39.
Kostopoulos fell an assist short of a Gordie Howe hat trick… Marek Zidlicky led the Devils with 27:14, getting an assist on Greene’s goal… David Clarkson led New Jersey with five shots on goal, Stamkos led all skaters with seven… The Devils now are four points behind the fifth-placed Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference standings… Martin St. Louis recorded his 35th assist on Stamkos’ first goal… Brodeur will start against Saturday night in the Devils’ game in Sunrise against the Florida Panthers… Teddy Purcell and Victor Hedman each potted shootout goals. Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac were stoned by Garon.
After being a healthy scratch for 11 games, Mark Fayne will be back in the lineup Friday night against the Lightning. In order to get Fayne in, someone must sit and tonight that person is Adam Larsson.
“I think it’s tough for anyone in that situation,” he said. “But, at the same, you’ve got to understand why you’re sitting out, try to work on things. It’s always different too watching the game from up top. You get a different perspective on things. You see the game from a different angle and sometimes that can be helpful.”
Did Fayne understand why he was sitting out?
“It was just the thought that group of defensemen was going to give them the best chance to win,” Fayne said. “I’ve got to show that I can be part of that group and get back into the regular rotation.”
I’m glad Fayne is back in the lineup. While he needed to sit at the time he was benched, 11 games is far too long for a player that is one of the Devils’ top six defensemen. As for Larsson? Look, ever since he got into the lineup in January, DeBoer usually sits him down once a month just to send a message/shake the cobwebs/teach him something. You can pick one of those three here. Me? I think he’s been struggling lately, making a couple costly turnovers and I think he needs a night or two off. If the Devils win tonight, maybe DeBoer doesn’t wanna change things and Larsson ends up on the sidelines for a while. Best case is Larsson sits out tonight and tomorrow and gets back to playing sound defensive hockey and maybe decides to make a play in the offensive end every now and then. Wouldn’t that be nice?
It was almost a storybook return, but history turned out to be too good to be true for Martin Brodeur. Still, after weathering a hectic first 10 minutes, the Devils responded with an excellent overall effort and have ended their most recent losing streak in impressive fashion. Some thoughts…
Marty: It may not have been history, but it was an excellent return for Brodeur, who single-handedly kept the Devils in the game long enough for them to find their sea legs. Brodeur’s performance during the first 10 minutes of the first period was the shining example of what we wrote earlier this week. While Johan Hedberg was good enough, he wasn’t Brodeur. He didn’t have that extra level. Moose was likely to be beaten on the fifth shot of a rapid-fire barrage. Brodeur, on the other hand, was calm, cool, collected and his usual reliable self. Of course, he was blatantly exhausted at the end of that stretch, but thankfully the rest of the team took over from there, shutting the Hurricanes down so well even Drake would’ve been impressed. But it wasn’t just those saves — or his goal (yes, his goal) — that stood out for me. It was all the little things that Brodeur does that make him such an excellent netminder even at the age of 40. One of those examples came during the first period when there was a turnover and Alexander Semin came rushing up the gut toward the puck. Moose might’ve dove at the puck and he might have disrupted Semin enough to be successful. It’s a risky proposition we’ve seen Hedberg both win and lose this season. Instead, Brodeur stayed calm, stayed upright and came out just far enough that he forced Semin to shoot at one of several tiny windows. Semin, of course, nearly scored, rocketing a shot off the post just over Brodeur’s shoulder, but that’s a nearly impossible shot to make and it’s the only one Brodeur gave him. Marty also made at least two or three excellent decision with the puck on his stick, deftly moving the play away from the net and helping the Devils get out of the zone. Brodeur’s return will likely be remembered for his incredibly bizarre goal and those frantic first minutes, but it was the things that went unnoticed, things not seen in the box score that impressed me the most.
First 10, last 50: As alluded to above, it was a schizophrenic game to be certain, although not nearly a half-and-half situation. The Canes came out of the gate pressing the Devils, which only increased once Brodeur scored on that whacky deflection. Carolina threw everything they could at Brodeur over 10 minutes, amassing 11 shots and seemingly coming within a post or a puck bounce of at least a tie game if not a lead. Thankfully for the Devils, Brodeur was there to man the gates, but what happened after that 10 minutes is what really impressed me about this game. The Devils stopped the Hurricanes in their tracks. I mean absolutely stopped them. After those 11 shots, Carolina mustered three more until the midway point of the third period and it had everything to do with the Devils’ smart play in the neutral zone and the way they kept the Canes from establishing any sort of presence in the the Devils’ zone. This was the style of play that frustrated a lot of teams earlier in the season — take the other team’s top skill players out of the game in the neutral zone and halt their primary method of generating changes. The Hurricanes love to shoot the puck — like, really, really love to shoot it — but the Devils wouldn’t even give them the chance to dump it at the net from the point until Jeff Skinner’s puck deflected off Bryce Salvador’s stick and in during the third period. Seeing this style of play return and seeing the Devils sustain it for basically the last 50 minutes of tonight’s game was as good of a sign as Brodeur’s return.
Answering the bell: Of course, none of that would’ve mattered if guys like Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac didn’t stand up and deliver some offensive hockey tonight. One night after Zajac scored for the first time in 11 games, Henrique scored for just the second time since March 7. While Zajac didn’t register a goal tonight, it was his speed into the offensive zone and work on the forecheck that directly led to Peter Harrold’s goal in the second. Zajac also played a key part in Andrei Loktionov’s game-sealing tally in the fourth, winning an offensive-zone faceoff singlehandedly and deflecting a puck from the point to keep it moving in the offensive end. Tonight was the third game in a row where Zajac was clearly more engaged in the offensive zone and if the Devils can get Henrique going as well, along with the Loktionov-Kovalchuk combination, they could start to be a team that scores more than one or two goals a game. Of course, this is a very small sample size and we’ll have to see if the Devils continue to finish their offensive chances in the next couple games, but it was an encouraging sign for a team that has been wondering when Zajac and Henrique would finally turn it on.
The streak, part 2: As noted above, tonight’s win ended the Devils’ most recent losing streak, a 3-game skid that saw them pick up an overtime point in the first game against Philly. While it certainly wasn’t the disastrous slide of two weeks ago, it was enough to temporarily knock the Devils out of the playoff picture. But this isn’t about that streak, it’s about what the Devils need to do going forward, which is reel off a stretch of four wins in five games or at least rack up points in all of those contests — say, seven points out of five games. That’s not too much to ask, not with the Panthers at home Saturday, an injury-ravaged Ottawa team Monday and a Florida twofer next Friday and Saturday. With the bottom half of the Eastern Conference playoff pictures so tightly packed (eight points separate fifth place and 13th as of this post), even picking up a charity point can bump you a spot or two on any given tonight. As an example, the Devils moved from ninth to seventh Thursday night thanks to their win and a Rangers loss. It’s going to be a crazy few weeks as this season wears down and it’s incredibly crucial the Devils use this opportunity to stack points during games against beatable teams.
Notes: I think it’s a good thing the action slowed down after that first 11 minutes. Marty was gassed and I’m guessing if the Canes had continued to press eventually the rust and conditioning factors would’ve gotten to him. … You could feel a goal coming during the second period. The Devils were getting a lot of chances and Dan Ellis was leaving a lot of loose pucks in front of the net. Ilya Kovalchuk and Ryan Carter each missed or fanned on multiple chances before Henrique scored. … I think Pete DeBoer really wants to use the CBGB line as much as possible, but it’s going to be difficult to do once the Devils are healthy. … Speaking of “when the Devils are healthy,” I wonder what happens to tonight’s interesting third line when that’s the case. I assumd the Devils will continue to carry Krys Barch for pure intimidation factor and while also assuming Tim Sestito is the first one back to Albany when either Dainius Zubrus or Henrik Tallinder come off the IR. Since DeBoer insists on keeping eight defensemen around, that leaves either Tom Kostopolous or Harri Pesonen on the chopping block. I like Pesonen’s game much better, but he doesn’t have to pass through waivers, which Kostoplous would if they wanted to send one of them to Albany. … Good to see Adam Larsson putting the puck on net prior to Henrique’s goal, but would’ve been better if he had kept the shot low. That puck was headed over the net until it hit Kovy in front. … Andy Greene made another of his underrated but excellent plays at the close of the second period. Greene was dealing with a bouncing puck in his own zone and had two or three Canes bearing down on him while the Devils changed lines. Instead of panicking, Greene settled the puck and calmly dodged all three Canes while skating behind his net and up the other side of the zone before eventually leading a breakout. All while being hit, chipped at and pushed by the Canes. Tremendous play by the Devils’ best blueliner. … Marek Zidlicky, do you know how many scoring chances you would have if your stick was on the ice? … The calm Loktionov displayed on his goal was fantastic to see and just another example of how his game grows by the day. That backhander was pretty nice, too — although not as nice as Harrold’s.
I won’t say the Devils “didn’t deserve” to win that one, because that’s not what happened tonight. Yes, the Devils allowed too many odd-man rushes and the offensive pressure and possession pretty much died in the third period. But the Devils also ran into a hot goaltender and were also the victim of some unfortunate bounces. All in all, it was a very good hockey game between two rivals fighting for the same land in the playoff landscape. Some thoughts…
Goalie class: First off, let me say that Johan Hedberg didn’t play poorly at all. He played well, in fact. Hedberg was victimized by a bad bounce on one of the second goal and some sloppy nonexistent coverage of the trailer on the first goal. Moose managed to keep the Devils in the game on several occasions and his glove work (particularly on Nash in the third) was just phenomenal. The problem with Hedberg is that he’s not on Henrik Lundqvist’s level and when a goalie not on Lundqvist’s level runs into an elite goalie that’s playing well, it usually doesn’t end well. Right before the third and deciding goal for the Rangers, Lundqvist made about four or five strong saves that only a select group of goalies can make. Devils fans witnessed it for almost two decades with Martin Brodeur, so they know what elite goaltending looks like. There’s no denying that Lundqvist was maybe the main reason tonight’s game ended the way it did. The good news for the Devils is they’re finally getting Brodeur back, possibly as early as Thursday. That will help the Devils even the playing field a bit when they match up with the Rangers, Canadiens and Bruins later on this season and potentially in the playoffs.
Where have you gone: That must have been the question for Pete DeBoer as he tried to figure out where the energy and offensive pressure went in between the second and third periods. The Devils seemingly lost their way in the offensive end for much of the final period and it resulted in a team that barely registered a scoring chance through the first ten minutes of the third. It’s hard not to look back at those 10 to 15 minutes of game action and wonder how different the final five minutes would’ve been if the Devils didn’t wait for Johan Hedberg to leave the ice to start putting shots on net and forechecking. Too often during the period the Devils forwards tried to pass back or laterally instead of either dumping the puck down below the goal line or skating it below the faceoff dots. Patrik Elias in particular was guilty of this tonight and Travis Zajac also had a couple opportunities to either shoot the puck or get the forecheck going in the third period and instead chose to move every direction but forward. When David Clarkson actually followed through on that halfway through the period, he drew a tripping call. However, the power play the proceeded was fairly uneventful and lacking in any sort of momentum or pressure. The bottom line is the Devils can’t simply hope to play hard for 20 or 40 minutes and then turn it on in the final five. This team has got to forecheck hard for almost the entire game in order to generate offense.
So short handed: The forecheck is especially important when you consider some of the players the Devils are currently icing due to injury. With guys like Andrei Loktionov, Dainius Zubrus and now Alexei Ponikarovsky on the shelf, the already-limited Devils simply don’t have the talent to think they can score with drop passes and fancy puck movement. Yes, there are skill guys on this roster, guys that can do special things with the puck on their tape, but there’s not enough of them to eschew the gameplan, which is further limited when DeBoer has to play Harri Pesonen on the second line while also icing Krys Barch and Tom Kostopolous. Let’s face it, the Devils team that played the Rangers tonight was extremely short-handed due to injuries. Simply by adding back Loktionov and a full game of Ponikarovsky, DeBoer is able to roll lines with consistency that also show a decent balance of skill and grit. If you add Zubrus to the equation, now guys like Barch and Pesonen aren’t even dressing and maybe aren’t even on the roster. It was a tough game to manage for a coach that can usually get pretty creative but was clearly stretched to his limits tonight.
Welcome back, (Za)jac: If there was one encouraging thing tonight (and there were more than one), it was the fact that Zajac finally snapped his goal streak. The goal itself, Zajac’s first in 11 games, was a mix of effort and skill. After fanning on the first shot, Zajac gathered the puck again and snapped a laser through the five-hole of Lundqvist. It was the kind of goal that can kick-start a player and kick-start a team that’s desperate for goals. The question is whether that will actually happen. Even when not scoring, Zajac does the other things that make him a valuable hockey player. He wins draws at a high rate, usually is good at generating a forecheck and is exceedingly responsible (and skilled) in his own end. Tonight, I watched him pick-pocket Rick Nash from behind without any real effort at all. Those are the kinds of things that, when added to the scoring touch demonstrated in the past, make him worthy of a long-term contract extension. But the goals have got to start adding up. I’m not asking for him to be a point-per-game player, but he’s got to be much closer to that than what the Devils are getting now.
Tough loss: This loss was a difficult one for the Devils. For one, they’re out of the playoff picture for the first time this season. More importantly, the Devils lost two key points to a team that they’ll be facing down for a playoff spot as the next month develops. Yes, the Devils are getting Brodeur back and Loktionov should be in the lineup by the weekend, but as DeBoer said tonight — the Devils are running out of time to put points on the board. They’ve got to start translating this effort into one or two points on a nightly basis if only to keep up with the Rangers, Hurricanes, Jets, Senators and Islanders. That’s not even mentioning teams like the Maple Leafs and Lightning, both of whom (along with the Canes, Isles and Sens) are among the teams the Devils will play in the next two weeks. Because of the East-only schedule this year, every loss is amplified because chances are you’re losing to or beating someone within two to four points of you. The time of the season where the Devils could lose three in a row is over. They have to get more than one point out of games with three potential playoff teams.
Notes: The Devils had their forecheck going for most of the first two periods and clearly had the Rangers on their heels for most of the first period. It was an impressive start to the game and the kind the Devils need to translate into goals, which is something we’ve been saying all season. … The Devils went straight Oliver Twist on the Rangers tonight — some very impressive puck thievery. … Michael Del Zotto makes some beautiful passes. There’s not many defensemen in the NHL with that skill. … Cover. The. Trailer. … I like Pesonen’s game more than I like Kostopolous’, but I fear it’ll be a numbers game for both of them when Zubrus and Henrik Tallinder return off injured reserve. … You know the puck is bouncing like crazy when Anton Volchenkov scores like that. … Speaking of bounces, how about that Kovalchuk shot in the first period? It was like a McDonald’s commercial: off the defenseman, off the goalie’s stick, off the post and still almost bounces in. … Am I the only one really excited to watch guys like Kovalchuk and Nash in the Olympics next year? I can’t imagine what those two will do with all that extra room. … Bit of a tough-luck game for Larsson, who fumbled probably his best offensive chance in weeks early in the second period. I think he’s still a little nervous with the puck on his stick in the opponent’s zone. … That was a bad call on Zajac for “running” Lundqvist. I’m sorry, but the officials have got to see that. Can you imagine if the Rangers had scored there? It would be all we talked about after the game. And let’s not forgetthe acting job by King Henrik. That was some special stuff right there, Hank. Marty would be proud. … Henrique played with a lot of energy tonight. He was diving (the good kind) all over the ice and trying to make plays. … It was a feisty, physical game, but I (like Ken Daneyko) thought there would be at least one fight. … Way too many odd-man rushes for the Rangers and this isn’t the first time the Devils have dealt with that. Thankfully for New Jersey, Hedberg was there to keep the game close. … The Devils defensemen would do well to note what Del Zotto and Derek Stepan did to Elias and Clarkson around the net on a late shot that Elias and Clarkson each just missed tapping in. Why did they just miss? Because Del Zotto and Stepan had good position on them around the net and kept them from being close enough to bang home the rebound before Lundqvist could react. … Speaking of which, the Devils left a lot of missed pucks out there tonight. For as well as he played, Lundqvist was serving up all types of rebounds for long stretches.
Midterm Grades: On Defense
Bryce Salvador is wearing the captain’s “C” this year, but his play certainly hasn’t been up to that level.
Being that the Devils are at the half-way point of the season (OK, a couple games past it but cut us some slack), we decided to do some “grades” for this team. Originally, this was supposed to be one full post, but after compiling them, it seems better to break them up into different pieces today. Earlier, we gave you our grades for the forwards. Next up, the defensemen.
(Disclaimer: All “grades” comments are usually entirely too general and tend to omit more detail than normal, so apologies in advance if we left a player out.)
When you’re guilty of multiple defensive breakdowns in the first period and no-show the entire second, it’s highly unlikely that any sense of urgency in the third is going to save you. That was pretty much the story for the Devils as they went back into the losing side of the ledger Saturday. Some thoughts…
What are you waiting for: Remember when bad starts were the problem? Well, that’s not exactly the case now — the Devils’ starts have actually been OK, but they haven’t shown any urgency over the past three games until their backs are up against the wall in the third period. Thursday night the Devils did just enough to force OT, but tonight and the time before came up short. And it’s not even just about the offensive side of their game. The Devils basically allowed the Hurricanes to walk into their zone time after time and showed absolutely no fight in clearing the crease. Two of the goals tonight were the direct result of Devils defenders allowing a Hurricane forward to stand right in front of Johan Hedberg and play the puck. That’s simply unacceptable and has to change, because it doesn’t look like the Devils are going to be able to score more than two or three goals on a regular basis. I’m starting to worry this is more than just a bad habit. I’m starting to worry this “is what it is.” The defense is slow and sloppy, the offense is pressing and gripping their sticks too tight and Pete DeBoer showed at least four different versions of the “You gotta be kidding me” face tonight. I can only imagine what he said to them between the second and the third period that had them jumping out of their skates to start the period, but it’s probably not along the lines of “Good job, good effort.” Will things change tomorrow night against Winnipeg? Maybe, but I’m not holding my breath.
Break it down: The first period wasn’t bad. In all actuality, the Devils were probably the better overall team, but there were two breakdowns and that led directly to goals. On the first goal, the Devils (again) overpursued the puck, with three Devils on one side of the faceoff dot and facing the puck carrier. OK, that tends to happen on a penalty kill — but the Devils happened to forget the guy behind the net: Alexander Semin, who was wide open in front of the net, deked Hedberg out of the crease and backhanded an easy goal. Normally I would’ve called this the Bryce Salvador Special, but he didn’t even play tonight. On the second goal, it was another case of the Devils not backchecking and not taking care of the trailer, who happened to be defenseman Jay Harrison. When Eric Staal’s puck bounced to an open portion of the net, there was Harrison, streaking into the slot and completely unchecked. He had enough of the net to shoot at that it wasn’t really all that difficult a shot for him. And those two goals ruined a solid first period for New Jersey, which is exactly what happened in Tuesday’s loss. As for the second period, it looked like the Devils were sleeping for almost the entire period. Hedberg will take the fall, and he should, but he was consistently let down by a defensive group that did nothing to protect the ice around the crease and a defense that let the Canes come and go from the Devils’ zone at will. Breakdowns of a different sort, but breakdowns nonetheless — and far too many in a game against a team that boasts two legit scoring lines. That’s basically been the story of this slide for the Devils, breakdowns on top of breakdowns, average to below-average goaltending and not enough offense. That’s how you go from first to seventh in the conference in two weeks.
Backup blues: So, I know we all knew the Devils needed Martin Brodeur before he got hut, but I think we all know right now just how badly they need him this year. Hedberg is either exhausted, finished, overwhelmed or some combination of the three. He’s clearly not up to the job of being this team’s full-time goaltender and DeBoer has absolutely no interest in starting anyone else in net while Brodeur is out. Tonight, Moose let in at least two goals that he absolutely should’ve had and just looked completely shell-shocked by the time of the fourth goal. Unfortunately, there’s no other real answer except to wait for Marty to return and no one seems to know when that will be. The only option for the Devils is to become a team that scores three goals a night on a regular basis and hope to either win or get to overtime and get a point. Do you see that happening any time soon? I didn’t think so.
Notes: All of the Devils’ assists tonight came from the blue line. That tells you all you need to know about the offensive output from the forwards tonight. … Adam Larsson is much stronger in his own zone than he was last year, but he’s gotta be more aggressive with the puck on his stick. The Devils need some sort of offense from the back end besides Marek Zidlicky. … Semin is making himself a lot of money right now — a lot. … Jiri Tlusty: Four goals in two games against the Devils. Jeez, they might wanna put someone on him every time he enters the offensive zone, like how NFL defenses use a “spy” on mobile quarterbacks. … How many times are we going to have to watch the Devils make one too many passes on an odd-man rush? … Travis Zajac may be a ghost in the offensive zone, but credit to him for getting back and using his stick to disrupt Semin on what should’ve been a 3-on-2 and likely a goal for Carolina during the first period. … I can’t get over how different the Devils look in the third period over the last three games. If only DeBoer could bottle that and somehow deploy it for the other periods, the Devils might actually put together a winning streak. … Ilya Kovalchuk’s good at hockey. Really good. I feel like I need to repeat that once a week so no one forgets. … Peter Harrold, who played solidly Thursday night, was the worst Devil on the ice tonight. If either Henrik Tallinder or Salvador are healthy tomorrow, I don’t think there’s any doubt who’s coming out. The question now is whether he’s worth keeping on the NHL roster — but you already know my feelings on that. … I thought Jeff Frazee looked OK, but he wasn’t really tested enough for me to form a real opinion. I thought Keith Kinkaid had a much tougher first NHL test.