In the 4-2 loss to Buffalo yesterday, it was apparent that the Devils didn't play a complete period much less a complete game. A perfect example was the second period. After the two goals they scored, only 4 shots were recorded on net for the rest of the period by the Devils. 4 shots in a little over 14 and half minutes of hockey. Not good. This quote from Brent Sutter from the recap sums it up:
"At times we were good," said Sutter. "At times we didn't seem to have a lot of energy tonight. Mentally, we weren't as sharp as we needed to be."
Too true. It also didn't help that Buffalo played an excellent game of hockey, as D.O. points out at Die by the Blade. But the Devils can't afford to dwell on it. They get 3 games in four nights before the next weekend. And from this Tuesday, a game in Toronto, they play a total of 5 games by next Tuesday, when Boston comes to the Rock. I can understand not being too upset on the loss, as it comes after a four game winning streak. But if we are to blame fatigue for the Devils' performance, hopefully the Devils have enough stamina built up. It's not going to get any easier in the near future.
With another back-to-back set coming up next, the question becomes who to start in net and when.
|2008 - Scott Clemmensen||12||690||8||3||0||2||28||2.43||346||318||.919||0|
|2008 - Kevin Weekes||7||372||2||4||0||0||19||3.06||189||170||.899||0|
Colin Stephenson at NJ.com has an excellent article on this question. The first three goals against Kevin Weekes in the Buffalo game weren't his fault. The first goal came off a loose puck that the defense should have picked up on, or at least had someone on Thomas Vanek. And the next two were power play goals where the Sabres just got the puck in the right place at the right time. The loss really can't be pinned on Kevin Weekes, and the post-game comments reflect this. Stephenson's question of whether Weekes has played himself out of a starting position doesn't make a lot of sense, especially since it was the Devils lackluster peformance as a team that was a culprit of the team.
Personally, I think Weekes will play one of the two games; and given what Stephenson pointed out in his article, I would prefer it to come against Toronto.
But if the coach really does look at all these factors when figuring out which goalie to start, he should probably consider the fact that Weekes, a Toronto native, has a history of playing well at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto and poorly at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo. In nine games (seven starts) in Toronto, Weekes is 4-2-1 with a 1.89 goals-against average, .943 save percentage and one shutout. In Buffalo, he is 1-8-0 with a 4.07 GAA and an .872 save percentage in 10 games (all starts).
Let me add to this with some recent history: Weekes has lost both games at The Rock to Buffalo this season. Clemmensen has been the stronger goaltender (see the statlines above) and giving the Sabres' offense a different target in net could throw them off a bit. Of course, I can see and understand the idea of Clemmensen getting the start to show his last team of what they're missing. I just think Weekes and the Devils would be better off with the start in Toronto. Either way, even if Clemmensen somehow gets both games, I really don't see Sutter using Clemmensen in all of these games - Weekes will get at least one game with so many in so few days. As long as the Devils earn the result, really.