With the Devils in a serious tailspin, SNYDevils contributor Pat Pickens emailed me this morning with a simple question: Do you think the Devils are in trouble? He doesn't think they are, but I disagree. What follows is an actual email exchange between Pat and I discussing the state of the Devils, how they can fix it and whether they should blow up the system and go for a Stanley Cup this season.
Well, that makes three straight losses and five defeats in their last six games for the Devils -- not exactly the way Pete DeBoer wants to be trending when approaching the meat of the season. All in all, it was a far better overall effort than it had been in the past couple games, particularly Sunday, but not enough to get off the schneid. Some thoughts...
Help needed: You want a main reason behind the Devils' current skid? Try these numbers: 1, 1, 1, 2, 1. That, in chronological order, is how many goals the Devils have scored in each of their last five losses. In past games, it's been due to an almost passive nature on offense and a reluctance to establish a hard forecheck early and often. Tonight, after a brief wave of Jets attacks, the Devils started forcing the play and getting chances but just could not finish, which is something we wondered if they could do on a regular basis before the season. It seems like if? Clarkson or Kovy isn't scoring the Devils are hard-pressed to find goals. Elias is having a strong season, but even he missed out on a couple chances to bury the puck tonight (one of which came on a nice cross-ice feed from Zajac). The bottom line is the Devils can't simply rely on their top two players to score. If they're going to compete for home-ice advantage in the first round, they're going to have to find the secondary scoring that made them so dangerous in last season's playoff run. I'm sorry but losing Parise is not an excuse anymore, not when you get 10 goals out of Clarkson and a 22-point start from Elias in the season's first 20 games. Zajac has been non-existent offensively for the most part this season and Henrique has disappeared after putting together a good first few games when he returned from injury. Kovy cannot be the end all, be all of this offense or else the Devils won't just struggle to host a playoff series -- they'll struggle to make the playoffs in an absurdly packed Eastern Conference. DeBoer messed around with his forward lines entering play tonight in an attempt to spark the dormant offense. It work in the sense that the Devils' top two lines started generating chances and putting consistent pressure on an opponent, but that's not enough.