Martin Brodeur stopped all but one Canadiens' shot. It was like watching paint dry while listening to a presentation about a timeshare.
Mark Fayne, a defenseman, who didn't record a point, was the third star of the game. Taking the SATs is more exciting than that.
Protecting a lead going into the third period, well, that's like waiting on line at the DMV.
Devils hockey isn't really all that dull, if you appreciate things like defense and three-zone hockey. Defense?!? Really?!
Wednesday night's national contest between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins featured a team blowing a one-goal third period lead and countless players sitting wide open in the slot. No defense? Seems kind of boring. If I wanted to watch players go up and down the ends of a playing surface at will, I'd watch the NBA.
We all know about the comments that Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk made about the Devils, but it didn't end there. After the Devils victory over Montreal, a blogger at Habseyesontheprize.com wrote an entire column lamenting over the the New Jersey style of play.
"Getting this out of the way now: The Devils are worse than watching paint dry, grass grow and turtles of the non-teenage mutant variety walk," Mike O'Brand said in the piece.
Sure, he's entitled to his own opinion of course and his column is very tongue-in-cheek, but it serves as a good benchmark for what others think of the Devils system, even if his thoughts are in jest.
The fact is, the Devils have been playing excellent defense for large stretches of the 2013-2014 season. Though they haven't had many leads going into the third period, the team is 12-0-2 when leading after the first 40 minutes. That's an impressive stat. For New Jersey, that's a pretty simple formula: get a lead and hold it.
They demonstrated that on Tuesday night when they limited the Montreal Canadiens to just six shots in the third period.
Many detractors were ready to write off Anton Volchenkov and Bryce Salvador coming into this season after both had weak 2013 campaigns. Volchenkov has returned to his hard-hitting self and Salvador is an even in plus/minus since returning to the lineup.
While young guns like Jon Merrill and Eric Gelinas have been exciting, it's all about the veteran blue-liners who are pacing this team right now. Along with Volchenkov and Salvador, Andy Greene is having a stellar season in both ends of the ice. His 23 points (7g, 18a) have been a spark and he rarely ever coughs the puck up. Even Marek Zidlicky, who has been known for selling out in favor of offense has been good in his own end. Zidlicky hasn't posted a negative plus/minus rating since December 23rd. He's logging large minutes, both at evens and on the power play and his eight goals rank him eighth among NHL defensemen in that category.
Mark Fayne, who seemed to have fallen out of favor last season, has been solid. Day after day, you see him making excellent plays in big situations. Against Montreal, there were at least three instances where Fayne made a play that negated a scoring opportunity. Dare I say that Fayne has been playing really well?
Moving forward, this team is going to have to continue to play "boring" hockey. The kind that 3 hour economics lectures are made of. Get a lead, hold the lead. Whether its 1-0, 2-1, the Devils aren't going to have many multiple-goal leads and as they've shown thus far. Even getting to the three goal margin is an uphill battle.
As the paint has begun to dry on the 2013-2014 season, the Devils find themselves right in the playoff mix. Whether it be as opportunistic as finishing second in the Metropolitan, or even grabbing a wild card, the mundane style is working, plain and simple.
Just wake us all up in April, right?