Sunday’s 4-1 loss wasn’t pretty, and it looked again like the Devils forgot to show up even though this game was a do or die situation for a team which was on the verge of missing the postseason for the second time in three years.
When Ryan Callahan scored at the 34-second mark of the first period, you could almost hear the proverbial lady begin singing. By the third period, coach Pete DeBoer had been ejected and the always colorful and cutting Ranger fans at Madison Square Garden were chanting “Marty, Marty” and “Season’s Over.”
It was certainly not a pretty way to end this lockout shortened season, but then the past two months have been just plain ugly.
With the exception of a red hot start to this half season, the Devils have struggled to put the puck in the net. Sure, they have had key injuries, most notably to goaltender, Martin Brodeur and Russian top gun Ilya Kovalchuk, but injuries are a part of the game and you have to be able to step up in the face of adversity. It’s called depth.
The Devils thought they had some, but apparently not. In the end, they dug their own grave with a six game losing streak late in February and a crucifying 10 game one this past month which tied a franchise worst.
They managed to win two in a row to give fans some small glimmer of hope, but it was short lived.
Yesterday’s loss makes the final three games of the season meaningless. The team might as well start packing up now and booking their vacation plans.
However, questions abound as to where this team fell short. Many will point the finger at the departure of former captain Zach Parise to the Minnesota Wild over the summer. Yet, even the hardest working man in hockey may not have jump started this roster.
Perhaps it is time for General Manager Lou Lamoriello to take a long, hard look at his players and coaching staff. There is a much needed change on the horizon, and it has been long overdue.