For the New Jersey Devils this season, one goal could mean everything. That means if they have a chance to get the puck out of their zone when Martin Brodeur or Cory Schneider make a save, they need to make sure they do it.
The fact that the Devils aren’t the best at getting the puck out of their own zone was ever apparent on Monday night against the Montreal Canadiens. You could argue that all three goals that they scored at one point should have been sent out of the zone by the Devils. On the third goal especially it should have been knocked out of the zone. The Canadiens misplaced passes that became loose pucks several time. It seemed like the Devils defenders just let up and tried to play the puck after the other team already got it.
You saw some of the same in their last loss against the Carolina Hurricanes last week. Tuomo Ruutu scored a one-timer from behind the net that the Devils had possession of three times in their own zone. They just couldn’t get the puck out. The first line with Jaromir Jagr and Patrick Elias seem to not be doing so bad, but Andrei Loktionov’s line needs to be much better at clearing the puck. It is understood that Loktionov, Damien Brunner and Michael Ryder are there for their scoring, but they need to be more than inept on the other side.
There is plenty of season left to fix these little mistakes. When a loose puck comes around, they need to corral it and get it where it can’t be shot. If they have a chance to fight for a loose puck, don’t shy away from it. If they can get better at getting the puck out of their zone, not only will it help them keep goals off the board, it can help them get fast breaks for goals of their own.