The Devils flew to Calgary and forgot they traveled there to play a hockey game. The first period looked like John Maclean was behind the bench for the New Jersey Devils. Yes. It was bad. The flames scored two goals 98 seconds apart and Peter DeBoer pulled Martin Brodeur. The game was about seven and a half minutes old and Johan Hedberg was in. Six minutes later, The Flames rifled in their third goal of the night and the Devils were looking foolish. The second period was marginally better than the first, and the third was much better than the first and the second. However, the three goal lead the Devils surrendered in the first was the difference.
This game was not a good start to the Devils' road trip. Tomorrow night they play in Edmonton and then a back to back with Winnipeg starting Saturday. The momentum the Devils built in the third should carryover the game tomorrow night, so that's a positive takeaway from a negative game. DeBoer also experimented with a few different lines later in the third; something fresh that could spark some insight as to what might happen when Jacob Josefson returns? After the jump is a recap you most certainly do want to read since the Devils were the better team last night. If you'd like to check out how Calgary fans feel about the win, check out Matchsticks and Gasoline.
The Stats: The NHL.com Game Summary | The NHL.com Event Summary | The NHL.com Play by Play Log | The NHL.com Shot Summary | The Time on Ice Shift Charts | The Time on Ice Head to Head Ice Time Charts | TheTime on Ice Corsi Charts
Before the game was something new for fans of the Devils, a Talking Red Live Episode. It pumped me up for the game quite a bit, but that enthusiasm didn't make it out of the first period. The Devils came out skating slow and playing without much pep in their game. Six minutes in, Jay Bouwmeester rifled a shot from the top of the circle that went through traffic and right by Marty. I'm not entirely sure if Marty was screened, but it was a decent shot and that's how it goes. 98 seconds later Cory Sarich took a weak shot and it flew by Marty. If ever there was a soft goal let in by an NHL goaltender, that was the epitome of one. DeBoer promptly pulled Marty in favor for Hedberg. I was not a fan of pulling Brodeur so fast. He is a veteran and is one of the best at blocking out the mental stress of letting in pucks. However, I am not an NHL coach and the game went on.
After the goalie change the team still looked flat footed. Maybe the Devils ate dinner a little too late and were still digesting their meal and felt lazy. Whatever the excuse, The Devils looked like they were bumming around waiting for the end of the first period. The Flames led a quick rush up the Ice with Olli Jokinen carrying the puck and slid it over to Olli Jokinen who buried it past Moose's outstretched leg. 3-0 Calgary.
With about 5 minutes left in the first, Adam Henrique had a huge hit on Jarome Iginla. The consensus is that Henrique's hit was clean, but Iginla wasn't pleased and ruffled a bit with Henrique and the Devils came out of this with a powerplay. The Devils managed one great shot by Ilya Kovalchuk on the powerplay before they were caught with too many men on the ice. The Flames were quick to teach the Devils a lesson and TJ Brodie fired a shot from the point to make it 4-0. Hedberg saw it all the way, but couldn't quite make the save. Another soft goal on the Devils goaltending duo to close out the first twenty minutes.
The second period went back and forth but was relatively eventless for almost fifteen minutes until Kovalchuk slapped one into the back of the net. Parise was working his tail off behind the net and finally got the puck and put the puck on net, Henrique nipped the puck over to Kovalchuk who banged it home, a dirty goal, but a good goal. Less than two minutes later Lee Stempniak got free in the slot and took a shot. Anton Volchenkov attempted to bat the shot away with his hand, but ended up knocking the puck down and into the Devils net. A bad break, 5-1. Seconds later, Mark Fayne decided to send the puck over the boards and the Devils were on the PK. Parise and Henrique broke out of the zone and Parise slid a perfect pass to Henrique who blasted the puck past Miikka Kiprusoff. This shorthanded goal was the league leading tenth of the season and seemed to spark the team. There was a little more fire in the Devils as the second period ended. 5-2.
The beginning of the third period was much better. Although it wasn't enough to lead to a win, it was some positive play headed into Edmonton tonight. DeBoer switched up the lines, they switched between the "normal" lines and:
Zubrus - Henrique - Clarkson
Parise - Elias - Kovalchuk
Zalewski - Tedenby - Sykora
While DeBoer was tinkering with the lines, the Devils were bringing tremendous pressure and taking a lot of shots. Kiprusoff was playing fantastic and there was nothing the Devils could do. Iginla took a hooking penalty on Henrique and the Devils went on the power play. The Devils set up on the powerplay and went to work. Elias was down low and sent the puck diagonally up to Kovy who took a fake shot and sent a very quick pass down to Elias who one-timed it home. 5-3, a comeback seemed possible with over 13 minutes remaining in the game. With 11 minutes remaining in the game Iginla put the dagger in the coffin by sneaking one between Hedberg's legs. Mark Fayne was out of place and Clarkson easily could have hit Iginla, but attempted to whisk the puck away and whiffed, leaving Iginla to put the puck away.
Why did the Devils Lose?
Overall, The Devils played decent. They were flat in the first and rebounded well in the second and third period. The difference is that Kiprusoff stopped 35 of 38 shots, while Moose and Marty combined went 8-14. Our defense certainly could have helped the goalies out, but at least four of the six goals can be chalked up to the goaltenders. The Devils out shot and out possessed the Flames, but the Flames' goaltending was solid. The Devils finished with 24 MORE shots than the Flames and had a Corsi of +36. All meaningless statistics since only wins and overtime losses will lead to the playoffs. As Chico said multiple times during the broadcast: it's Kiprusoff vs. the Devils now.
The Top Line (to-be-free agent superstar, rookie center, highly paid superstar):
The Devils top line (Parise - Henrique - Kovalchuk) averaged a +20 corsi and each registered at least two points. The top line has been on fire lately; each player on the top line has a three game multipoint streak. I feel like this line is ready to set the example for the rest of the players on the team and I believe it can be discussed as one of the top lines in the NHL this season. The Devils have one game less than half of a season to go, and if this line keeps up this type of production, the Devils will surely fight for a top 4 or 5 spot in the East.
Adam Larsson had a splendid game. He spent just over 20 minutes on the ice and registered an assist and shut down the opposition. He was a +1 and didn't have any of those "rookie mistakes" everyone can see vividly in their head. Games like these I am extremely grateful that the Devils won the draft lottery and drafted Larsson. He didn't take any stupid penalties and had a plus +18 corsi.
The Other Adam:
Henrique completed something I've always thought was sort of a funny accomplishment, The Gordie Howe Hat-trick, a goal, an assist, and a fight in one game; the perfect all around game. The fight wasn't much, but it showed Henrique would stand his ground. Henrique is also within one point of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the rookie scoring lead, pretty impressive.
Other Take Aways:
Zalewski looked decent; I didn't have any problems with how he played. Nothing spectacular, but he hasn't really had any time in the NHL yet. The Devils need to win at least a game or two on this road trip in order to hold their place in the playoff race. Not a terrific start to the second half of the season, but the Devils skaters looked promising. How did you feel about the game? Should Devils fans be worried about the goaltending or was it just an odd night? How many of you checked out Talking Red Live? Thanks for checking out the recap of this not so great game and hopefully they can have a stronger performance tonight!