The New Jersey Devils’ (25-31-12) comeback bid falls short as they drop their 10th straight game to the Arizona Coyotes (24-35-8). Eight of those 10 losses have been by one goal, including tonight’s game with a score of 5-4 (two of those 10 have gone to overtime). Arizona outshot New Jersey 31-30; Kyle Palmieri led the Devils in shots on goal with six, Miles Wood had three, and no one else on the team had more than two. To be quite honest, I wasn’t watching the game; I was introducing my younger brother to the masterpiece that is Jurassic Park.
Cory Schneider was pulled after letting in three goals in the first period, a lead that the Coyotes took into the second period. He made 6 saves on 10 shots faced, posting one of his worst save percentages (.600). Keith Kinkaid fared slightly better; he saved 20 shots of 21 faced and posted a .952 save %. Mike Smith saved 26 shots on 30 shots faced (.867 save %).
The Devils had a pretty bad first period, despite outshooting the Yotes 11-8. We can argue those first four Arizona goals that gave them a commanding 4-0 lead. Maybe Schneider was screened. He should have seen the puck better, whatever the case may be. The defense (and the offense) had a lot of missteps tonight. The score could have easily been much worse and the final score doesn’t depict that.
However, New Jersey did stage a comeback that fell through at the end. Kyle Palmieri got things started with his first of two goals tonight, a power play goal assisted by Taylor Hall and Joseph Blandisi, and it was a really, really nice goal. Beau Bennett (!) cut the lead to two with his fourth goal of the season, assisted by Damon Severson. Palms then scored his second of the night and his 22nd of the season to cut Arizona’s lead to one, but their two-goal lead was restored by Anthony DeAngelo nearly 13 minutes later. The Devils did look like a completely different team in the third. Palmieri’s second goal was originally Severson’s, which would have been all the better but in a game where guys who don’t normally score scored, John Moore also got in on the action with his 7th goal of the season to cut the lead to one again. Hall was then awarded a penalty shot after getting mowed down but he was denied by Smith and the Devils’ comeback bid fell short.
But they staged a comeback. They didn’t give up after allowing four goals. And even though they didn’t come out with a win, their resiliency counts for something.
So while the game had many, many glaring negatives (including the fact that they have now lost 10 straight games), let’s focus on the positives. They did manage to score a power play goal on two opportunities tonight; they went five games (0/10) without scoring one. They did have eight (eight!) rookies in the lineup tonight: Pavel Zacha, Miles Wood, Steven Santini, Nick Lappin, Stefan Noesen, Blake Coleman, Blake Pietila, and Kevin Rooney.
The Devils have last 10 straight. That would be a bigger problem if they weren’t playing well but they are and it hurts to see so many one-goal losses. They’re playing well despite just about everything going against them.
And while the team won’t officially “tank” and I, as a fan, would never ask them to, losing games means a higher first-round draft pick. This year’s draft may not have any generational talent (according to draft experts) but there are still good kids and hockey players in that draft and they’re worth taking a chance on.
Deep breaths, Devils fans. We’re almost at the end of the season. The Devils will likely have an off day tomorrow before practicing on Monday. They will look to snap their losing streak against Winnipeg (oh boy) on Tuesday; puck drops at 7PM.