Monday, November 1, 2010

Injuries and dissapointments continue to flush the Devils' season down the drain

I haven't watched much of tonight's game, which has the Devils in a familiar position - behind 2-0 on the road - this time at Vancouver after two periods because sad to say I almost forgot it was coming on while I was watching the end of the Giants' World Series game (and triumph). Not like I missed much though, I saw the highlights of Matt Taormina blowing a tire behind the net leading to the Canucks' first goal which was helped by Jannick Hansen knocking the goalstick out of Martin Brodeur's hand. No goaltender interference was called on that one, but of course it got called on David Clarkson when he finally went to the net in the second period and while there was contact with his skate and Roberto Luongo's pad it looked like a tacky call at best. If that was goaltender interference, then so was Tuomo Ruutu's in the playoffs two years ago...but I digress.

To add injury to insult, the Devils received word today on two more walking wounded. Zach Parise will have arthroscopic knee surgery soon and a timetable for his return is unknown. And somewhat surprisingly it turns out teen center Jacob Josefson has a torn ligament in his thumb and will also be out 6-8 weeks. Including Brian Rolston who's rehabbing from a sports hernia, the Devils now have three top nine forwards and two top six defensemen on the shelf (Anton Volchenkov and Bryce Salvador) to go along with fellow d-men Matt Corrente, Mark Fraser and Anssi Salmela.

So basically that's five starters and three depth players (all on defense) that are now out of the lineup, and when you add to that all of the changes we made this offseason to begin with, well you have an utter lack of chemistry and total confusion on the ice that we've seen so far this season in what now looks like a 3-9-1 beginning. What's worse, it doesn't seem like the coaching staff has been able to outline any sort of plan to get out of this hole. For someone who's been a part of the staff almost a decade, Johnny MacLean has the look of Larry Robinson circa 2006 - dazed, confused and out of answers. And what, exactly has Adam Oates added to the power play? If anything it might actually be worse from last season's dreadful second-half power play and I didn't think that was possible.

And just as things are looking darkest, teams all over the league can't wait to mock us after our years of success. Astonishingly enough, one of the biggest jabs came from Kings management over the weekend when they put a couple of different cards (both mocking the Ilya Kovalchuk signing) in the bathroom toilets at Staples Center including the one listed above, courtesy of PuckDaddy. If for a moment we ignore how crazy the Kings management and fans both went this summer because they wanted answer the rhetorical question, right now things aren't working out. Kovy's averaging under .5 PPG so far this season, a ghastly total for a guy with his skills.

Yes, we have other underachievers right now but when you spend a whole summer trying to sign a guy, finally sign him too a nine-figure contract and expect him to be the marketing face of your franchise well...the honeymoon period's going to end sooner or later if you don't produce and it might end Friday when the Devils finally limp home after a predictably horrible trip that concludes Wednesday in Chicago. Not to mention Kovy's hardly had an off-ice impact so far as the Devils are among the bottom third in the league in attendance with four subpar crowds after an Opening Night sellout.

While Lou Lamoriello himself is not getting paid as much as his star winger, he does have a high standard to uphold and having a proud franchise look so discombobulated has to be affecting the GM. If there is a next move to be made before this season spirals totally out of control Lou'd better make it soon - unless by now he's concluded that with the state of our defense and how filled up our trainer's room is getting with the IR group there really isn't a lot that can be done to improve the team.

And yet we do have talent here, talent that should not have only seven points after thirteen games scoring under two goals a game. Therein lies the rub, while in one respect you have to live with the rookie mistakes on D until help arrives (supposedly Volchenkov will be back by Friday), the hugely disspointing offense shouldn't be tolerated but it's much harder to make a move there with all the big money contracts and NTC/NMC's. Will he give in to public pressure and sack Johnny Mac? If so, that shouldn't be the first option. Let some of these players come back and maybe make a trade or two before you make what's literally the most unstable job in sports even more so.

Figures that while I've been typing this nothing's happened during the third and it's still a 2-0 game late. It's to the point where we're even looking at moral victories for not getting blown out in these games and outshooting the Kings the other night but like NFL coach Bill Parcells always said, you are what your record says you are...and right now we're the worst team in the league. Just as I'm wrapping this article up, Colin White's trip of Henrik Sedin leads to a penalty shot - which the talented center converts. 3-0 - game over, good night.


Derek Felix said...

Everything you said here is right on the money. I caught the last part and they did try hard but sometimes you're unlucky (Clarkson). Also looked at some bench pics and Arnott in particular was really down. Kovalchuk has to start scoring and Zajac too.

Hasan said...

Arnott's been benched in multiple games this year, he's clearly not a Mac favorite. Zajac has one point in eleven games which is just mind-boggling.

And yeah for the most part after the first two periods at the Garden they have actually given effort on this trip (from what I've seen anyway)...which is perhaps the most disconcerting thing of all in a way.

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