Recap: Devils Outmuscled Once Again

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The Devils slump continued against Pittsburgh as they’ve totaled just four wins in their last twenty games (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

Game Summary

It was another rough night for the Devils. After returning from the three day Christmas break, they were looking to get back on track in hopes of salvaging their season. As it turns out, that would not be the case. The Devils got off to a strong start, getting two early goals from Adam Henrique and P.A. Parenteau, who’s goal was set up by a beautiful play from Taylor Hall.

New Jersey took a 2-1 lead to the first intermission and had played well up to that point. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to make it last as defensive breakdowns once again caved them in. Sidney Crosby scored halfway through the second to tie things up. New Jersey seemed to be heading to the second intermission with a tied game but were struck by a back-breaking Justin Schultz goal with just 5.4 seconds remaining in the second frame. Pittsburgh added another goal in the third period when Carl Hagelin blew past Ben Lovejoy for a breakaway goal that Cory Schneider had no chance of stopping to seal the deal for the Penguins.

A month ago, the Devils sat in a playoff spot. Here we are a month later and with just four wins in their last twenty games, they now find themselves at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with less than a 1% chance of making the playoffs. It seems all the more likely that Ray Shero and co. will be selling come the trade deadline.

Games Notes

  • The Devils power play was downright terrible last night. They had 16 minutes of ice time with the man advantage and only managed to convert on one opportunity. Aside from failing to convert, the Devils weren’t able to enter the zone and when they did, they couldn’t move the puck effectively against the Pittsburgh penalty kill. When you’re awarded seven power plays for the game, you’re going to have to do a lot better than generating just six shots on goal.
  • There isn’t any other way to put it, but it was a really rough night for Ben Lovejoy. He was +3/-11 for attempts at 5v5 and got absolutely smoked by Carl Hagelin on his breakaway goal. In fairness to Lovejoy, the Devils are asking a lot of him by giving him top four minutes, which isn’t something you want to be doing. That being said, Lovejoy’s play has been poor enough where John Hynes needs to consider scratching him in favor of Auvitu. At this point, it can hurt to give it a shot.
  • It was a bad night for virtually every Devil, but Beau Bennett had a solid outing despite the poor team effort. He was +10/-1 in shot attempts for the Devils at even-strength and was the only player in positive possession aside from Nick Lappin. Bennett has put up good numbers despite this poor stretch of play from the team. He may not be scoring a ton, but he’s one of a few Devils who’s had a positive impact when he’s on the ice. If there’s one positive to look at, it would be him at the moment.
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