The New Jersey Devils came up lame again last night in a 3-2 shootout loss against Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres. Their losing streak now stands at seven, and they are the only team in the league to suffer through two such pathetic stretches this season.
Their last came when 40-year-old goaltender, Martin Brodeur was out with a pinched nerve and the string lasted for six games.
Over these last seven defeats, the Devils have only scored 12 goals and are missing Russian sniper Ilya Kovalchuk who is sidelined with a shoulder injury. The team that dominated shootouts last year is 2-7 this year, which makes sense given the fact that as a team, they are unable to find the back of the net.
This second losing streak leaves them tied for ninth place with the Winnipeg Jets. Granted, the club is only two points behind the rival New York Rangers who currently hold the seventh spot and the New York Islanders who are eighth.
However, with nine games remaining the situation does not look promising despite remarks to the contrary by General Manager Lou Lamoriello and head coach Pete DeBoer.
On Tom Gulitti’s blog, Fire and Ice, Lamoriello remained optimistic about the club’s chances to turn things around.
“The coaching staff has done a great job of keeping everybody’s heads in the right place and you can’t ask for more,” the GM said prior to last night’s game on the blog. “But we can’t look back. Right now we’re in a playoff hunt. This is nothing new. We’ve got to just continue to do what we’re doing and not worry about the end result. Let that take care of itself.”
“The silver lining is it’s not like we’re not creating chances,” DeBoer reasoned in The Star Ledger. We’re out shooting teams most nights, out chancing teams. We’re getting a handful of Grade-A chances. If we were going 60 minutes and not creating anything I would be very, very concerned. I’m still concerned, obviously, because we’re not putting the puck in the net. We just have to stick with it.”
Now, the time for the Bull Durham clichés are over. That one game at a time speech simply isn’t going to cut it anymore.
The simple fact of the matter is that something is missing on this team and it is a bit of fire.
They have the players who are capable of getting the job done, but they aren’t doing it which begs the question why? Sure, guys go through slumps, but all at the same time?
While it’s great that DeBoer is able to put a positive spin on things, this isn’t nursery school and no one is getting gold stars for effort.
What the Devils need is a kick in the pants so to speak. Perhaps DeBoer should take a page from Ranger coach John Tortorella’s book on how to motivate your players.