That was a rough one. I’ll be taking my own shots to make up for all the ones the Devils didn’t take. The New Jersey Devils snap their three-game win streak tonight against the NHL referees, er, I mean, the Montreal Canadiens in a 3-1 loss. Steven Santini scored the lone goal for the Devils in the first period, his second of the season and his NHL career, with assists from P.A. Parenteau and Taylor Hall. New Jersey only had 17 shots on goal, their season-low, and were outshot by nine. No Devils player had more than two shots on goal tonight, a handful had one, and a few had none. All three Montreal goals came on the power play and they had a total of seven opportunities. The Devils failed to score on either of their two power plays.
I usually don’t blame the referees for anything. Yes, they’re human and they make mistakes. It happens. But the referees won this one for Montreal tonight. Karl Stollery was given a five-minute boarding penalty on a seriously questionable call; the hit definitely didn’t look dirty and even if a penalty had to be given out, it should’ve been two minutes at the most. There were other weak calls made against New Jersey as well but that Stollery penalty turned the tide of the game. It was tied at one up until then but Montreal scored twice on the three-minute power play and the Devils were never able to recover.
The biggest problem with these calls is that they’re not consistent and that goes for the entire league. When Carey Price was “attacking” Kyle Palmieri with his blocker in the last New Jersey-Montreal game, he didn’t receive any sort of penalty. There wasn’t any further investigation by the league even though Palmieri was defenseless and could have been seriously injured. The same incident happened in tonight’s Pittsburgh-Carolina game when Cam Ward punched Patric Hornqvist in the jaw with his blocker and didn’t receive a penalty call. The league defines what the rules and what penalties are but don’t actually follow them or abide by them. Washington’s Tom Wilson didn’t receive any sort of penalty on his hit on John Moore back on December 31st, which gave him a concussion, and he didn’t start skating again until this week. If you’re going to make stupid calls, consistently make those stupid calls. Don’t pick and choose when and where and who and what. If it happens in one situation, it happens in another. If it doesn’t happen in one game, it doesn’t happen in another. I don’t understand why that’s so complicated.
And since we mentioned Carey Price, you know how backup goalies are supposed to sit on the bench with the rest of the team in case they’re needed? Price didn’t. He must’ve sat inside the tunnel. I get that he’s had a bad few games, everyone does, but you need to face the crowd, the opposing team, your own team and coaches. Maybe he was afraid of a little retaliation from the Devils fans after his Palmieri incident. I wouldn’t be surprised.
Fun fact, Shea Weber has injured quite a few players in the NHL (11, I think, including some teammates) so I guess I should be glad that the Devils made it out of this game alive. Miles Wood did block a Weber slapshot though and lived to tell the tale; he looked fine and stayed in the game.
To be quite honest, the Devils didn’t play that badly but they definitely did not play like they did on the road. These last few games were supposed to be huge steps forward for this team. They were bad 5-on-5 and 5-on-4 (and 4-on-5). They spent much more time in their own zone and didn’t win as many puck battles. Keith Kinkaid really had to step up and make some huge saves; the score could have easily been more lopsided than it already was.
Well, I barely made it through this one. I’m honestly surprised that this entire game recap is not just me screaming the entire post but that’s Devils hockey for you. New Jersey will play the Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow night at the Wells Fargo Center in their second matchup of the season; puck drops at 7PM.