I'm not even waiting till the end of this game to recap another embarassing, shameful performance by the Devils. I'll be too annoyed after the game to want to be on the computer, so might as well vent now during the second intermission on how the Devils have turned in an absolute no-show at the Air Canada Centre against a Maple Leafs team that was supposed to have an AHL offense. Instead, Brian Burke's goon squad bullied us early (despite dressing two goons ourselves) and Jacques Lemaire continued his hair-pulling fascination with getting Jay Pandolfo and Rob Niedermayer as much icetime as is humanly possible but I'll get to the mind-boggling ice totals of our forwards in a minute.
Lemaire's first eye-opening decision came when he played Yann Danis, granted I was calling for this too but personally I would rather have waited till Friday, especially given the back-to-back this weekend. Throwing Danis - who hadn't started in two and a half monts out there in front of a fired-up Leafs crowd anxious to see their new toy (Dion Phaneuf) - was just asking for trouble. Of course, there's an unofficial policy that Martin Brodeur absolutely must play at home, during the three years at the Rock in fact Brodeur's only sat out one home game where he was healthy enough to play, and he wound up playing that one anyway after Kevin Weekes got hurt.
In any event, I wasn't surprised Danis looked rusty, that's what happens when you have no real game action for two and a half months, other than a relief win against the Thrashers. He didn't even really give up bad goals as much as stoppable ones, Nikolai Kulemin scored off a shaky rebound at 4:40 of the first period, Phil Kessel scored on a rebound Danis had no chance on at 2:23 of the second and Francois Beauchemin scored off a rocket on the power play (what a concept!) at 14:08 but the shot was unscreened or deflected.
Still, Danis wasn't the main problem. Lemaire's icetime distribution has been much more of an issue tonight. Through two periods, the icetimes of the aformentioned Pandolfo (12:14) and Niedermayer (11:51) eclipsed those of our only two top forwards at the moment - Zach Parise (12:00) and Travis Zajac (an unconscionable 9:39 for our only NHL center). Okay, maybe part of that is because we've been shorthanded four times plus Zajac sat for a shift or two after a mistake on the second goal but come on, if we sat Mike Mottau for every mistake he's made he'd be getting the icetime of one of our resident goons! It's also comical that Lemaire admitted he's running Niedermayer into the ground and still is playing him at an 18-minute pace. That's disconcerting, when you know what you're doing and still can't stop yourself from doing it!
Of course, Lemaire also saw fit to not only dress one, but two goons. Not that I particularly miss Vladimir Zharkov (he of the zero goals on the season) or Rod Pelley, but honestly what use does Andrew Peters serve when he stinks as a hockey player, has had four fights total in 23 games this season and wasn't even involved in either of the two tonight? For crying out loud, even Colin White with a bad eye dropped the gloves with Dion Phaneuf after Phaneuf crunched Zajac and tried to take out Parise! Phaneuf of course, made his presence known early and often with his physical play and the Leafs followed suit.
And what of the Leafs' other major acquisition? I would say we're making Jean-Sebastian Giguere look like he's back in 2003 at the Pond again except that Giguere looks like he's on Maui even more. Other than a Zajac shot that hit the post late in the second period, we haven't tested Puffy Pads one time in our eighteen shots on net. Unreal. This team better show up Friday because I'm really getting tired of ripping everyone a new one. You would think the team would show just a bit more passion out there, given Sunday's humilation and Friday's unneccesary nail-biter.
Oh well, it could be worse. Baseball season's just around the corner.