By Jeff O'Connor
It's another disappointment. Another frustrating night and another loss. But the season-long weakness was actually a strength last night.
The New Jersey Devils defense was tremendous. Everyone played their role and played it well. Last night, none of the goals were their fault. They smothered the Vancouver Canucks.
The first goal was on Cory Schneider, plain and simple. If there is a forechecker even somewhere in the neighborhood, a goaltender needs to steer the puck below the circle, and even more preferably, below the goal line. He pushed it into the middle of the circle and moments later it was buried.
The defense wasn't to blame for the second goal either. Daniel Sedin blasted one from the left circle and beat Schneider down low. He wasn't screened, the shot wasn't deflected or anything.
The D was just as solid as they were in the Rangers game. Consider the Canucks are a much better team than the Rangers. Consider the Canucks had no more than a few isolated scoring chances and it makes last night's hellacious defensive effort that much more impressive.
The Adam Larsson and Eric Gelinas unit played a strong game. Larsson looked like the early 2013 version. He was steady and made no big mistakes. Gelinas was a bit hesitant on D but showed great skating ability, shaking defenders behind the net and bursting on the breakout through his own end and the neutral zone with the puck. Of course, the goal on the power play was great.
Andy Greene was his usual self and Mark Fayne, underwhelming in the first two periods, showed some rare physicality and aggressiveness by delivering some body checks in the third. Hopefully that's a sign of things to come.
Marek Zidlicky and Anton Volchenkov were reliable too. Zids was effective on the power play and kept many pucks in the offensive zone. A-Train never got beaten in the neutral zone on a rush and threw some heavy checks in the middle of the game.
With Bryce Salvador on the way back from home and Peter Harrold waiting in the wings, who knows if these six will play together again on Saturday. But for one night, the defense was not the culprit in another Devils loss.