The New Jersey Devils started off the season with the best of times, but have been stuck in a quagmire of the worst of times for what has seemed like a very long time. They finally snapped a six-game skid with a shootout win on Thursday night against the Buffalo Sabres, only to lose again on Saturday to the Caroline Hurricanes.
Backup goaltender Johan Hedberg must feel like he is a character in a Charles Dicken’s novel with the ups and downs he has experienced since taking over for the injured Martin Brodeur.
“I think we’re a little bit fragile,” Coach Pete DeBoer said following the team’s shootout win yesterday against the Winnipeg Jets. “I try and get some perspective on our game more than the results, so we’re delivering the right messages as a coaching staff. I think we’re doing a lot of things right to win games. We’re just not winning right now. We just have to find that line.”
That line certainly seems to be elusive for the Devils, who started out quickly yesterday with a two goal lead, only to see it disappear just as swiftly.
Captain Bryce Salvador, who returned to the lineup last night after missing the previous game with an undisclosed upper body injury, said that it was important for everyone not to get too frustrated. “It’s tough to go through these stretches. It puts more and more pressure on the team not to over-analyze things and not feel sorry for yourself. We’re not looking for excuses because no one is coming to rescue us.”
The lack of practice time due to the condensed schedule is also an issue. However, every team in the league is in the same boat.
“That’s the same for everybody.” DeBoer remarked in a post-game interview. “Nobody is getting practice time. Every coach around the league wants that. That’s something that is different this year. You have to find alternative ways to address your issues. Thankfully we got off to that good start and gave ourselves a little bit of breathing room, but it’s intense.”
That buffer zone is quickly slipping away, with some skidding teams like the New York Rangers suddenly turning it around and finding their games.
Hopefully, the Devils will find theirs quickly before it’s too late.