The game’s not over yet, but it looks like the Devils will end up tied for the worst record in the NHL after tonight’s fiasco in Florida. There are probably a dozen little things wrong, but in the overall scheme of “new Devils hockey,” there are three obvious abominations:
Defensive positioning. Guys standing around, or leaving the weak side of the net wide open. Four white shirts down low, and nobody on the point. Even our squirts know how to start a breakout, and there’s nothing to start if your wings are down low. Hel-low?
Offense. Not just lack of goals, but lack of attempts to score goals. Shoot the puck. We adore Patrik Elias with religious fervor, but he needs to fire the puck at the net. Earn that “C” back, Patty. Which leads to the clincher….
Leadership. Gionta taking multiple minors, including a dumb one for delay of game (on a backhand pass over the glass), six straight minors, random efforts all indicate that someone other than Sutter needs to step up and straighten out the helmets. Establishing leadership means taking some risks, being creative, and what Mark Cuban calls “doing the work.” Even if the refs aren’t.
It’s a rare combination of dumb and dangerous to predict the entire season based on four games, but 1/20th of the way through the season the Devils have a pair of points. That puts them on pace to match Philadelphia. Last season.