New Jersey Devils Face a Must Win in Game 4 Tonight at the Rock

It has been quite some time since the New Jersey Devils have faced a must-win hockey game. But on Thursday night when they host the Florida Panthers at the Prudential Center that’s exactly what they are up against.

After erupting for three goals in the first seven minutes of game three on Tuesday night, the Devils as a whole went into an uncontrollable nosedive. Martin Brodeur was pulled, Ilya Kovalchuk looked like he could care less and Anton Volchenkov now has the dubious distinction of having been on the ice for all nine Panthers goals in the series.

Now, New Jersey faces a 2-1 series deficit that resembles the face of a sheer cliff and they have to scale back up it. For those of you thinking I’m being over dramatic consider this, the Panthers have scored on six goals on ten power play opportunities, they came back for a three-goal hole after nearly doing it in game one.  Meanwhile their own power play has been atrocious.

Teams don’t win a playoff series by blowing leads and stinking up the joint on special teams play. It’s just not possible.

Kovalchuk has one goal in the series to go along with two wins in 12 career playoff games. Zach Parise finally scored a goal but it took him 17 shots to do so, more than any of his teammates. David Clarkson doesn’t have a goal, Adam Henrique no goals in 1o games.  Brodeur couldn’t stop a beach ball with Mac truck.

All of these are very bad signs and lead me to one conclusion…win tonight or else.

The Devils have fallen to 3-9 at home in their last four playoff series and 7-11 at home in the playoffs since 2006. If they are to win this series something has to give and fast. By winning game one they grabbed hold of home-ice advantage, but have already managed to squander that all away.

I don’t want to dismiss the Devils yet, it’s just that I don’t like their body language. To me, they already look defeated. I could have never imagined the New Jersey Devils blowing a three-goal lead in a playoff game or looking so completely and utterly disjointed in their own end.

Then again these are strange times in the NHL and I really should know better than to be surprised by anything that happens.

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  • Joe

    It all boils down to one thing. You are correct about special teams in Playoffs…but there is another glaring issue. The Devils cannot win a faceoff. Late 3rd Period faceoffs are key to winning games. Faceoff wins gives your team offense and keeps puck away from defenders. It also spares your defense of having to chase around Panther players, which no longer exposes that either.

    I also find this series emotionless…which probably plays into it but no excuse for the Devils to NOT be able to take 4 off a team thats basically 1 line.

    Ive also watch terrible officiating in this series but wont go out on that ledge looking for reasons. But there were moments…

    • Steve Palumbo

      I absolutely agree. The only constant in the circle has been Zajac. For a team that played inspired down the stretch they appear to be devoid of any and all emotion. I would watch out for an early fight in the game, Clarkson perhaps.

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