To quote John Tortorella “I’m not gonna break it down for ya”. Misery followed the New Jersey Devils after they lost back to back games at home last week against the Washington Capitals. They flat out did not play well at all in all facets of the game this week as they took on the NY Islanders and NY Rangers (twice), then finally the Boston Bruins. The game against the Islanders wasn’t as bad as their performances against the Rangers. They gave up two third period goals and unfortunately made a comeback effort that was way too late. The only bright side of the result was the Devils avoided being shutout by Semyon Varlamov and the Islanders.
Against the Rangers saw very poor play as the Devils gave up twelve goals in two games against their Hudson River rivals. There’s really not much else I can say other than that they flat out sucked and played awful. The defense and goaltending was absolutely terrible. New Jersey had to get their game together and find a way to play a much better game against the Boston Bruins on Sunday.
Fortunately, the Devils played obviously their best game of the week as they beat the Boston Bruins in a nail biter shutting them out 1-0. Backup goalie Scott Wedgewood played out of his mind making forty saves and Kyle Palmieri scored the game winner late in the third period. The Devils finally found their game and got a win after a five game losing streak. New Jersey was committed to playing a full sixty minute game and played a much better game defensively.
How they doin’? My thoughts on the week:
As I said, the past five games has not been fun to watch if you are a New Jersey Devils fan. What has concerned me the past week is the defensive play and structure, MacKenzie Blackwood’s play since returning, and obviously the pathetically dead last ranked penalty kill in the NHL. Fortunately at the end of the week, the defense looked much better and played with more structure and better positioning as they kept the Bruins off the board. This game showed this is exactly how the Devils D needs to play on a consistent basis.
As far as MacKenzie Blackwood, to be fair I think he’s still trying to get his timing and positioning back since returning from the COVID-19 protocol list. I think it would have been smart to have him play with AHL affiliate Binghamton to ease him back into playing. You can tell Blackwood isn’t all the way back to his top notch form just yet. Hopefully we’ll get to see that form from Blackwood real soon.
The penalty kill is absolutely frustrating to watch. It’s been a total disaster this whole season and it’s not getting better. Not having Nico Hischier lately in the lineup hasn’t helped as he’s the team’s best overall all around player and is a big piece to the penalty kill. However, I do think Lindy Ruff and assistant coach Alain Nasreddine (who runs the PK) need to look at changing or tweaking the approach because clearly what’s being done isn’t working.
3/9/21: New Jersey Devils @ Washington Capitals
3/11/21: New Jersey Devils @ NY Islanders
3/13/21 & 3/14/21: New Jersey Devils vs NY Islanders