Devils Get Manhandled In Pittsburgh, Complete Their Descent Back To Earth

Feb 2, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins wing Chris Kunitz (14) raises his stick after scoring as New Jersey Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov (28) lays on the ice during the second period at Consol Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Dave Miller-USA TODAY Sports

After starting 3-0 and allowing just three goals in the season’s first nine periods, the New Jersey Devils have been humbled mightily. Following overtime losses to the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders the Devils surrendered three 3rd period goals to the Penguins, eventually losing 5-1. New Jersey was ultra-sloppy in their defensive zone and never really gave Martin Brodeur a fighter’s chance.

Off the Top of the Dome

This is my first post with EWB. I’ve created this little segment “Off the top of the dome” as a place to express my immediate reactions to the game. What my eyes see. Hope you guys don’t mind a Hip Hop reference. If you do, it was never meant to be between us.

-The reasons why we love and hate Sidney Crosby were on full display on Saturday afternoon. He finished the game with a goal and two assists, just another day at the office it seems. As he took the puck down the left wing during a 2-on-1 in the third period, there was a moment when he took his attention away from his teammate crashing the net and aimed in at Martin Brodeur. I knew it was over then and there. No need to watch. The Devils were about to be down 4-1. Sure enough, like a dart aimed at the bulls eye the puck leapt from Sid’s tape to the top shelf above Brodeur’s glove. It’s that effortless precision that makes him so good.

But then he spoils his reputation with nancy-boy dives and childish behavior. On a back check in the second period Patrik Elias marked Crosby in the high slot. Recognizing the opportunity number 87 in black conveniently lost his footing. Elias was called for holding (which there was none of) and immediately started verbally assaulting Crosby for it. Towards the end of the third once the game was out of reach he slew-footed Steve Bernier in a grotesque lack of sportsmanship.

This stuff drives you crazy as an old school hockey fan. Nick Pugliese hit the nail on the head the other day. Crosby and Malkin seem to be Gary Bettman’s darlings and can do no wrong. As much as I hate seeing that type of behavior in Hockey, I am glad that Sidney Crosby exists. He is just so damn good at the sport.

-There is no way the Devils can sniff the playoffs if they are going to be as careless defensively as they were today. In the second period Anton Volchenkov fanned on a pass that ended up on Chris Kunitz’ tape and was promptly deposited in the back of the net. In the third Henrik Tallinder fumbled a clearing attempt, the Penguins got it to Kris Letang who can snipe it, and that’s exactly what he did. Later, bruiser Kris Barch committed a similar gaffe and this time Robert Bortuzzo was the beneficiary. Martin Broduer didn’t stand a chance on any of these. Especially in the third period, the play today was so uncharacteristic of what we have come to know as Devils’ hockey.

Going Forward

New Jersey has no time to sulk after this one. Tomorrow they find themselves at Nassau Coliseum for a clash with the same Islanders team that beat them in OT two days ago.

They have given up five goals in two straight games. The Devils don’t have that kind of margin for error. There simply is not enough offensive firepower on this roster to mask any defensive deficiencies. They better shore things up, fast.

Topics: New Jersey Devils, NHL, Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby

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