The New Jersey Devils got two points they desperately needed Sunday as they played host to the Winnipeg Jets. The same Winnipeg Jets they are fighting for a playoff spot with as we enter the second half of this lockout shortened season.
Good for them that they got two points. Still, Devils fans have to be concerned about their team. It took a shootout to beat Winnipeg in a game in which they led 2-0 in the first period but failed to score again.
The shootout win came 24 hours after they gave up six goals to the Carolina Hurricanes in a loss.
They haven’t won in regulation in nine games. There last 60-minute win came on February 21 against the Washington Capitals. New Jersey has four wins in their last 14 games, posting a -18 goal differential over that span. Their powerplay has four goals in the last 40 chances, and the penalty kill- the unit that set a modern-NHL record last season for effectiveness- is a dismal 25th in the league.
Much of the depression in play stems from Martin Brodeur’s injury. Not only is he missing between the pipes, but in the locker room as well. He is more than the elder statesman, he is every vertebrae of the backbone.
But Marty’s absence should not affect the offense. In the nine games Brodeur has missed the Devils have reached the three goal plateau just twice, and they lost both games.
If anything they should be scoring more goals to compensate for the questions in net. Johan Hedberg has not been a starter for several years now and has fought honorably, starting every game since Brodeur went down.
They should be competing like it was 2008-2009, when Brodeur missed most of the season with a torn ligament in his elbow. The club recognized the urgency and laid in on the line for back up Scott Clemmensen and finished with 106 points, winning the Atlantic Division. Johan Hedberg deserves that type of effort from the skaters in front of him.
Brodeur’s back injury better not be as significant as that elbow, or New Jersey could be in big trouble. They currently sit in seventh, one point ahead of the New York Rangers who have two games at hand. And there is Winnipeg just three points back.
Great to see ya!
The good news: a home and home with the Philadelphia Flyers this week. The Devils have dominated the rivalry recently, winning six straight including last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinal. It couldn’t be a more perfect time to scrap it around with the Flyers for a few nights and get back on the winning track.