If the Devils were looking to put a poor 2010 start behind them, tonight's 3-0 loss to the Flyers did nothing to help. If anything, it reinforced all the outside pessimism about the Devils' chances this year and already killed off a lot of the fans' Opening Night optomism. I feel like Derek with the Rangers or Sanborn with the Sabres or Bills, falling completely off the wagon after one loss. Because after what I saw tonight I think we'd be doing well to have an 80-point season.
From a finesse forward corps that had more giveaways than Santa Claus to a D that still has no transition game - to the point where an 18-year old is your best puck-moving defenseman - to a complete third-period meltdown, this game was just about the worst-case scenario on the ice. Heck, if it wasn't for Martin Brodeur making some incredible saves in the first two periods (including a two-on-zero chance...that happened on OUR power play!) we would have been down more than by a 1-0 score that flattered us until we got knocked down for the count with two early third-period goals.
Of course when it got to 3-0 the Devils started playing like they were in the movie SlapShot, with David Clarkson taking back-to-back selfish penalties and getting himself ejected with a game misconduct, and Eric Boulton managing to get a penalty within three seconds of leaving the box after serving Clarkson's minor. All told, four minor penalties in the third not only killed off any hope at a comeback, but really any hope of even scoring a goal against the Flyers' iron defense and pricey new goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
Right now I'm just sick of everything, sick of the finesse forwards that have no physical presence in the top nine at all (perhaps why we're overcompensating with our bottom three forwards), other than Clarkson who doesn't exactly come equipped with a brain. Nick Palmeri's a big body that's a total stiff. The next big hit he throws will be his first. If you're going to be a finesse team than your snipers at least better snipe and your passers better not give the puck away nine hundred times. Of course the GREAT SCORERS DIDN'T SCORE YET AGAIN. And I saw more giveaways from our new captain tonight than I usually see from him in ten games.
Of course there's a good reason for Zach Parise to look like he hasn't played hockey in a long time - because he hasn't. One competitive game and a handful of exhibitions really weren't enough to get his timing back. This is why I wanted him playing at the end of last season, meaningless games or not. Because with the way things are now, he's going to be taking at least the first several-ten games to get back into a groove. Games we can't afford to play around with, given Travis Zajac being on the shelf and Zach's own FA status at the end of the year.
Instead of SlapShot, the sports movie tonight really reminded me of was Major League, when the Indians played their first game and kept running into each other in the outfield. That's how uncoordinated the Devils looked tonight. Nothing could go right, other than the penalty kill strangely enough. The area of the team I was most concerned about, looked for a night like it was rather good, with forwards Jacob Josefson and Brad Mills leading the way for a penalty kill by committee.
Oh well, 81 more to go. But if the next few are anything like this I may have to be committed.