Looking at the final score, you’d never guess how close the game really was. The Devils came out and gave a good effort against the team that many pundits are talking about as Cup contenders but, when it was all said and done, a lack of scoring punch and some shaky play in their own zone did them in.
Ultimately, you try to look at the positives in defeat especially with the kind of team the Devils are right now. So let’s take the good with the bad.
Positive: The team rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to bring the game even in the first. They showed a lot of heart after falling behind early and managed to keep the game close until midway through the third.
Negative: The two early goals typified exactly why Devils fans are going to be in for a long season. Turnovers in the neutral zone and all around poor defensive play that culminated in Jordin Tootoo poking the puck past his goalie were the cause of the first goal, while the Devils having all five skaters below the faceoff dot on the left side of their own zone allowed goal-scorer extraordinaire Brooks Orpik to give the Caps a two goal lead with his first goal in 91 NHL games.
Positive: Kinkaid helped the team stay in the game, including killing off a lengthy 5-on-3 power play, during which he made five of his 22 saves.
Negative: He also let in two very soft goals to start the game, as well as one that he’d probably like back in the third, to Marcus Johansson with the Caps on the power play. While Hynes might think that Kinkaid played “fantastic,” I would lean towards him simply playing mediocre, or adequate. He wasn’t downright terrible, but if these Devils are going to win games, it’s going to have to be because their goaltenders steal the game and Kinkaid wasn’t going to steal anything in this one.
Positive: Hynes had the team ready to play and they worked hard right out of the gate. According to him, they accomplished a lot of what they wanted to in terms of the usual buzzwords – “work ethic,” and “compete level,” and “identity.”
Negative: Hynes was outcoached by Barry Trotz, plain and simple. When the Devils came out in the second, it was Washington’s game from then on and Hynes didn’t have any answers. By the time Ovechkin scored his highlight reel goal in the third, the game was already escaping the Devils and they couldn’t stem the tide after Ovi’s goal. Then, to make things worse, he pulled the goalie while on the penalty kill with over three minutes left in the game, then pulled the goalie again when the Caps had the puck. You can think what you want about the team’s effort and their scoring, but when a coach does things like that it doesn’t even give his team the chance to win the game.
The Devils did some good things in this game. The fact that they came back to tie the game at 2-2 in the first period and hung with the Caps until the third period is a good sign, but you simply cannot ignore the glaring mistakes made in the defensive zone, the complete lack of coaching sense late in the third period and another decidedly subpar game from a Devils goaltender.
Sam Woo is currently the executive producer of Hockey Unfiltered with Todd Lewis and Hockey Primetime with Conor McKenna, which is heard on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio and local stations across North America. You can reach him VIA Twitter: @AskSamWoo or by e-mail Sam@PrimetimeRadio.com