Is it too early to stick a fork in the New Jersey Devils? While it sounds a bit harsh, they certainly appear to be done. Encompassed in a nine-game losing streak, one of the worst since those forgettable days in the early 1980’s, the team just simply seems unable to score.
Friday night’s 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators was just more of the same. Their power play is powerless. The Devils were 0-for-4 and were unable to capitalize again with a two-man advantage. They may be out-shooting opponents, but none of their shots are landing in the back of the net. The Devils outshot the Senators 33-11.
The Devils only have a shot at squeaking in by the skin of their teeth if they can actually put together a streak in the opposite direction and the teams in front of them lay down. Right now, it doesn’t look as though either one of those options is going to happen.
Coach Pete DeBoer said on Tom Gulitti’s Fire and Ice Blog that the fault lies with the coaching staff, not the players.
“The effort’s been there like that for most of the season,” DeBoer reasoned in the interview. “I think for us the frustrating part is just the execution and finding a way to score some goals. If there’s blame to go around, it should go to the coaches. We’ve got to find a way to give these guys some tools to find a way to win some games.”
Instead of giving the Devils a day off, the team spent the morning working on their hapless power play at their practice facility at the Prudential Center.
While they are hoping Ilya Kovalchuk, who is sidelined with a shoulder injury, will save the day, it looks unlikely that the Russian top gun is ready. He began skating with the team this week and practiced with them this morning, but says his shoulder is still sore.
The best case scenario is that he returns to the lineup on Monday night in Toronto. However, even having Kovalchuk on the ice is not a cure all. The Devils have been struggling with goal scoring before he crashed into the boards on March 23.
Perhaps the biggest departure over the summer was not Zach Parise, but former assistant coach Adam Oates. It seems as though he took his offensive bag of tricks with him to Washington.