You ever see the movie School of Rock? Remember the scene where they find Jack Black lying in bed depressed, wallowing in self misery? Well, that’s how most New Jersey Devils’ fans and myself felt after the latest loss, this time at the hands of the Florida Panthers.
Although the Panthers struck first in the games first minute, the Devils responded quickly and kept piling up goals which resulted in a 4-1 lead. It looked like the Devils were headed to the first win of the season. Fans weren’t even happy, just relieved. Unfortunately, that feeling wouldn’t last long, as the Devils would drop the game 6-4. They didn’t even earn a point in overtime; the game was a regulation loss.
My overdramatic Italian mother always said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Anyone whose ever been on the internet for at least thirty-seconds knows that rule is ignored, and with good reason. That is because I have absolutely nothing good to say about the Devils’ special teams. But trust me, I got a lot else to say about them.
Even though the Devils have yet to find their first goal of the season on the man-advantage, their penalty kill has been just as bad, if not worst. Entering Monday’s game, the penalty kill had only a 50% success rate (that slightly improved to 57% after Monday’s game). They only surrendered one power goal but gave the Panthers five opportunities. Florida only gave New Jersey three chances on the man-advantage.
To add insult to injury, the last goal of the game was a power play goal. It might not have been the game-winner, but the Devils still had the chance to tie the game and push it past 60 minutes. Much like the ending of the Edmonton Oilers game, they gave a late penalty to their opponent who was then able to capitalize on it.
Even though the Devils let the Panthers get back into the game and score a few goals in the second period, they still entered the third with a one-goal lead. Not only did they surrender that lead, but they were also outshot 13-4 during that time frame. Throughout the first two periods, shot totals were roughly even, although Florida held a slight advantage in the first.
Just like the old saying, “When it rains, it pours,” when things start going wrong for the Devils, nothing at all goes right. Whatever could have gone wrong for the Devils when they have a lead, went wrong.
Let’s Talk About Pavel Zacha
Without a doubt, the lone bright spot from Monday’s game was Pavel Zacha. Zacha entered the year after an off-season of prolonged contract talks as a restricted free agent, with some KHL rumors sprinkled in for good measure. He was the Devils’ best skater in the demoralizing loss, finishing with one goal and two assists for a total of three points.
When the Devils had firm control of this game, it looked like Pavel Zacha would skate away with the first star. Silly us, as first stars only go to winners. Still, Zacha was honored with the games second star, behind Florida right winger Brett Connolly.
The Devils have the next two games off until a Thursday night match-up at the Prudential Center versus their rivals the New York Rangers. All eyes will be on that game, as it’s the first match-up between the Devils’ Jack Hughes and the Rangers’ Kaapo Kakko. A thing to be positive about: the last time the Devils began the season with a prolonged losing streak – in 2013-2014 – they broke that streak with a 4-0 shutout win versus the New York Rangers.