We can’t think of a clever title for this post because our spirits were beaten down by this game.
Needless to say, the first 15 minutes were a complete disaster. Every player, top to bottom, was atrocious. Our nightmares tonight will be haunted by images of defensemen turning pucks over at the blue line and Marty’s ineffectively waving glove hand. So. Putrid. The only positive we are taking out of the defensive showing tonight is this: how often can you possibly expect the entire team, to a man, to play at their flamboyant worst? (Don’t answer that.) Most glaring tonight was Rafalski’s short-handed turnover — was that karmic retribution for the “Hey Ace” goal Madden scored against Pittsburgh in 2001? (If so, it was still worth it.) Raffie looked tonight like he was trying to make Oduya feel better about his rookie penalty mistakes in Game 1 against Tampa; Raffie, we think Johnny’s over it. You can stop now. More subtle, yet still as wretched, was Paulie Martin. He played the best hockey of his career during the Tampa series… and now this. Has he peaked?
And speaking of players we’re afraid have peaked, how about that Marty Brodeur? Four goals on nine shots in the first period? Seriously? Thanks, Marty, for giving us a chance to win tonight. Sure, the D was hanging him out to dry, but the foundation of the Devils gameplan is that Marty is supposed to be the gamebreaker. And he was tonight. But for the wrong team.
In the first period the Senators were all over the place — at one point Pookie declared it looked like the ice was an anthill out of which an endless stream of Senators was pouring. No, the Devils can’t skate with that, but they can at least not panic, right? For a team that is supposedly vastly experienced in the ways of the playoffs, they sure looked a lot like those wee baby Penguins did in their first game against Ottawa. They settled down faster than the Pens did in that game, but they looked for the first 10-15 minutes like they’d been caught completely by surprise by the faster, stronger, hungrier, better Senators. The second period was markedly better (obviously), especially considering Emery decided he’d play just as badly as Marty was. But as we noted in our running game diary, this match was basically two 20-minute piles of puke sandwiching one good period. Everything went sideways on that Devils power play late in the second when our boys let their own mounting momentum leak out of their game without any real effort or pressure from the Senators’ PK. The Redden goal early in the third was merely a formality; the Devils had conceded this one on that earlier power play.
Now that the dust has settled on this, we’ll look for more positives than just that it’s unlikely the Devils can be this bad on consecutive nights. We liked that they at least made an effort to come back in the second. We liked that they are as unimpressed with Emery as we are. We liked that Gomer still remembers he’s making up for a lousy contract-year regular season and was flying out there. We liked that Zajac, Parise and Langenbrunner never, ever quit. We liked that Marty got his feet back under himself after the first 20 minutes. That’s a lot more “like” than we really think this game deserves. We can only imagine Game 2 is going to look very different; if it doesn’t, we can at least be assured there won’t be a Game 5.