Forward Tom Kostopoulos of the New Jersey Devils may not be the only one who is knocked out in the coming weeks.
Kostopoulos was dropped by Matt Martin of the New York Islanders in yesterday’s 3-1 loss.
Martin landed a punch to the chin on the big winger in the first period. Thankfully, Martin realized the impact of his cross to the jaw and didn’t come in for another. Instead, he motioned to the Devils’ bench, realizing his opponent was incapacitated.
Kostopoulos, who was claimed by the Devils from waivers on Mar. 6, was down on the ice for quite awhile and appeared dazed. He was able to make it to the locker room, but not without assistance.
“That was tough to see,” Ryan Carter of the Devils said in an interview in The Star Ledger. “It’s part of the game, but I don’t think either side likes to see that. It took the wind out of us for the rest of the first, for sure. There were a lot of worried guys until we saw him.”
Coach Pete DeBoer also talked about the punch in The Star Ledger. “I think he’s going to be alright.”
“I don’t think anyone likes to see anyone get hurt,” DeBoer continued. “At the same time, I think there is nothing but respect for Tom and what he did. At that point he was trying to get our team going, trying to give us some life.”
For the Devils, it may indeed have been a one-two punch by the Islanders. The Devils missed another golden opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the New York Rangers and Islanders who are nipping at their heels in the seventh playoff spot.
With only 12 games left in the regular season, the Devils have not been playing like a confident team, blowing the lead in the three prior losses before last night’s contest with their division rivals.
“Last year we were in a similar situation with 12 games to go,” goaltender Martin Brodeur reasoned in post game comments in The Star Ledger. “We needed to play well and we did. We won our last six games going into the playoffs and we felt good about ourselves. We just have to find a key moment here to start streaking.”
The only problem with that analogy is that the “key” moments are rapidly slipping away, and the team continues to be plagued by the same thing which has been ailing them this entire lockout shortened season, an inability to score. Several players, including Travis Zajac, Adam Henrique, David Clarkson and Patrick Elias continue to have difficulty finding the back of the net. While Dainius Zubrus finally returned to the lineup, the Devils will most likely play the rest the rest of the season without Russian top gun, Ilya Kovalchuk.
Unfortunately, they are developing another ailment which is affecting the club’s trademark stellar defense. When they do find themselves on the winning side of the scoreboard, the team seems unable to hold the lead until the final buzzer.
As these problems grow and fester, one has to wonder who has the cure and will it come in the form of a trade before tomorrow’s 3 pm deadline?