Last night, I was convinced the Devils were finding their stride. Their passes were crisp, their breakouts were smooth, they were seemingly getting to every puck, and it appeared like we had finally found our style - a smart, Johnny Mac forecheck that forces teams to give up puck possession in their own offensive zone and allows us to batter goaltenders with shot after shot.
Well, we did batter Halak, we did play the better game, and we probably deserved to win, but our scoring problems are never more apparent than when we cannot take advantage of another team's errors and put them away.
First of all, I was encouraged by the play of Mike McKenna. He showed a lot of heart last night, played pretty well, and probably earned another start during Brodeur's absence.
I am still dumbfounded that the officials did not call the play dead on the first St. Louis goal. Chico made a good point last night when he talked to a St. Louis fan who asked him if play would have been stopped if Marty had been in goal. Not only did I immediately answer Chico "yes" as I watched the game, but I believe the play should have been stopped for any goalie. However, because we are the luckiest team in the NHL this year (can't you just hear my sarcasm?), the play continued and St. Louis scored.
However, the goal by St. Louis outlined a bigger problem the Devils are having this year, dumb penalties. This team gets on a role and then takes a stupid penalty (not a hardworking penalty) that allows good teams, like St. Louis to swing the tide of the entire period by scoring.
When the Devils make these type of mental mistakes and are not able to take advantage of their opponents', I feel hopeless. The Devils continue to put themselves in an insurmountable hole that will ultimately result in them missing the playoffs for the first time since 1996. The Devils deserved to win, but stats are for losers. Unfortunately, that is what the Devils are right now.