The Devils swoon deepened over the weekend, with losses in Winnipeg and Buffalo, the latter coming in a shootout. If there are moral victories in this sport then I suppose they can build off a three-goal output on Saturday, just the second time they’ve reached that mark in over two weeks.
They have lost four straight and have fallen to seventh in the Eastern Conference. If you take into account both New Jersey’s regulation and overtime/shootout losses, they have technically left the ice as losers more often than winners so far in 2013 (10-6-5).
That is not good. If the NHL came to its senses and made regulation wins worth three points then the Devils probably wouldn’t hold a playoff seed at all.
Offseason worries have become inseason woes. The Devils lack scoring punch and are sorely missing Zach Parise’s presence as a finisher and playmaker. Lou Lamoriello’s answer to his exodus, Bobby Butler, is already off the team. Nashville claimed him off of waivers this morning as reported by Tom Gulitti’s Fire and Ice Blog.
Butler looked like he was going to be another crafty move from Lamoriello that would pay dividends nobody saw coming. However, he recorded just two points in 14 games. The experiment is over.
After a torrid start the law of averages has come crashing down on David Clarkson. He has been held scoreless in the past six games and has one goal in the previous eight. Teams are marking him more oppressively and he doesn’t have that space in the low slot where he makes his money.
Perhaps the boost New Jersey needs is the return of their netminder and backbone Martin Brodeur. He is still ailing on the IR with a sore lower back, and will be out at least another few games. Not only is Brodeur’s puckstopping ability missing, but his calming affect in the locker room as well. If the rest of the Devils are planets in orbit then Marty is the sun, keeping them gravitated and warm.
Coach Pete DeBoer needs the clouds to part.
The 8-1-3 start this club began on was beyond expectations. But so is a 5-1 loss to the last place Capitals and another loss to the Sabres, who sit just above Washington in the standings. So is seven losses in the past nine games.
An away game in Toronto Monday and a home game against Tampa bay Tuesday. This is the first meeting against the Maple leafs, who sit one point ahead of them in the East. The Devils held the Lightning and their sniper Steven Stamkos in check during a 4-2 victory on February 7th.