Ever since Tuesday: Three losses in a row, an injury to Patrik Elias, the news that Paul Martin and David Clarkson are still a couple of weeks away from returning, and, um... prospect Patrice Cormier doing whatever he was thinking when he hit that kid, this is just a terrible week and one to absolutely forget for the New Jersey Devils. They capped this off with what will go down with the Chicago game New Year's Eve as the worst performances of the season, losing 4-0 to the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum today, in an arena that has certainly been a house of horrors.
This three-game streak of regulation losses marks the Devils longest stretch without a point this season. The Devils have lost three consecutive games at the Coliseum by a score of 15-3. The team, overall, has now lost four of their last five games. This is the worst effort the Devils put up on what you'd technically call a 2-3 roadtrip (1-3 if you factor in the Devils heading back to Prudential Center to finish the game vs. Tampa) where Jersey got outscored 12-6 (or 11-4). The team returns home for home games Wednesday and Friday vs. Florida and Montreal before taking on the Islanders again in Uniondale Saturday night.
The most depressing aspect of this lost would have to be the performance of the offense. Let's face it, there are some young players on this defense (ahem, Greene and Oduya) who are playing a few too many minutes than they should be without Paul Martin, and it's starting to catch up on them. In exchange, you'd hope the Devils offensive lines need to get something going, but they played one of their most listless, hapless games of the season, and giving Rick DiPietro what must be the easiest shutout he's ever had. Martin Brodeur did not deserve what he got in this game, playing pretty well - all things considered - for 40 minutes, being pulled for a solid Yann Danis in the third. Realistically, the game should've been 5-0. Honestly, it could've headed toward double digits the way our two goaltenders were hung out to dry tonight.
Check out Lighthouse Hockey, a bunch of folks who should be absolutely elated with the way their team played. Make no mistake, these Islanders are very much for real. You can't not come away impressed with how thoroughly they beat this Devil team today. I would be in no way shocked to see them playing playoff games at the Coliseum this year.
Also, visit NHL.com. They'll have stats, recaps and all the other information you could possibly need. Frankly, however, I'd like to forget as much of this one as possible. Let's recap what we can of the lowlights and then get on with the day.
Instead of spreading the two goal defecit the Devils have been taking to start each game lately, the Devils got it over with in the first four minutes of the game. Matt Moulson, a hardworking kid drafted obscenely late who's having a fantastic year, took a high quality shot from the slot that Marty Brodeur saved. Somehow, still close around the Devils net, Moulson got the puck back and was able to get away a nasty backhander to beat Brodeur on the long side for his 18th and made it 1-0.
The Devils continued to look like a dead dog when they were given a break by the officiating crew. The Islanders jammed away in front of Brodeur, and the ref lost sight of the puck, thinking (I suppose) it had gone onto Brodeur's shoulder. It did not. In fact, it almost immediately dropped off and fell behind Marty. He did not see it, and Josh Bailey fired the puck into the net, but it was waived off. The Devils had been given a huge get-out-of-jail-free card, but refused to take advantage. Moments later, Rod Pelley flipped the puck out of play.
On the ensuing power play, the puck came back to defenseman Mark Streit. Streit has kind of blended in a little bit more than last season, now that he's no longer being counted on to be the leading scorer. He is just as dangerous, firing a shot through a screened Brodeur that made it 2-0. Though it was only two, you got the feeling that getting back in this one was going to be like climbing a mountain.
The Devils didn't make it an easier climb in the least, taking penalty after penalty after penalty, and continuing to be awful offensively. The passing is off, they aren't getting high quality scoring chances. They got a brief bit of offensive chances in on Rick DiPietro, but the Islanders kept pushing back, and eventually put this out of reach numerically, instead of just technically. Josh Bailey and Moulson tallied twice in three minutes toward the end of the period, their 12th and 19th respectively, to make it 4-0. The fact that you're getting goals out of guys like these is a testament to the Islanders having some depth and balance.
The third period was fairly pedestrian, with Danis coming in for Marty and making some decent saves, but the Devils - while picking up the pace a bit - did not do any better offensively, and finished this one off. The Devils could fall to third in the conference with a Buffalo Sabres win tonight, and now only have two games in hand on the four-points back Pittsburgh Penguins, and they have no one to blame but themselves and the way they've played. It'll be interesting to see what Jacques Lemaire does with these team tomorrow to get them ready for Florida on Wednesday. Now, let us never speak of this game again.