The New Jersey Devils entered the Wells Fargo Center with an 0-6-4 record in their last ten games.
The New Jersey Devils entered the Wells Fargo Center without having held a lead once in the month of April.
The New Jersey Devils left the Wells Fargo Center with two points after shutting out the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0.
The 2013 NHL season is over for the Flyers. They have not been mathematically eliminated, but all it will take is a win for the New York Rangers tomorrow night to make it official.
It’s not that many fans expected the team to make the playoffs at this point, but one would have hoped to see a better effort against a division rival that was in worse shape than the home team before the puck dropped.
Instead, the Flyers skated with virtually no energy. The passes were either off the mark, too soft to reach their target, or low-percentage passes through traffic that led to easy turnovers.
I asked head coach Peter Laviolette about how he addresses those types of passes after a game.
“Every game is different. I don’t necessarily think one game or one period leads to to the other. I don’t think it was necessarily that way in the first period,” said Laviolette. “Second period, I would agree with you. Even the powerplay passes seemed a bit off tonight. I think New Jersey and the way they pressure also adds to that. But I think you’re right in what you saw. The passes were off just a little bit, or we tried to pass when maybe we should have shot. We had opportunities to shoot and looked for something better.”
Laviolette wouldn’t comment on specifics, but everyone in the press room was thinking of Matt Read’s missed opportunity in the second period after that remark.
At the 4:58 mark of the second period, Read stripped Patrik Elias of the puck and had a near breakaway the other way. As he skated into the offensive zone, though, he slowed down and waited for teammates to catch up rather than take the one-on-one shot against Martin Brodeur. The time spent waiting to make the play eventually ended with it being broken up.
After the puck was cleared from the zone on the next shift, Simon Gagne tried to pass back to defenseman Erik Gustafsson while his linemates worked their way back to the neutral zone. Gustafsson fumbled the puck, appearing to not expect the pass, and a two-on-one developed the other way.
Ryan Carter, a fourth liner for the Devils, beat goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov with the ensuing wrister.
The Devils carried the one goal lead late in the third period, when another mistake from a rookie defenseman cost the Flyers a comeback bid. Oliver Lauridsen fumbled the puck at center ice and forward Jacob Josefson quickly moved the puck to a speeding Matt D’Agostini. Brayden Schenn, expecting the puck to just be fired into the offensive zone, wasn’t ready to cover D’Agostini.
Bryzgalov struggled with the one-on-one approach (not that it’s an easy task for a goaltender), and couldn’t make the save. Breaking his stick against the post, Bryzgalov looked like he wanted to just head home at that point. He played well (the third goal was an empty netter), but fans who look at the box score only are going to see this as another reason to prematurely anoint Steve Mason as the answer in net.
Games like this make it difficult to see the bright spots in the organization (unless you’re looking forward to the NHL entry draft). While Peter Laviolette is a good coach and wouldn’t be out of work for long, an outcome like this might just be the final evidence that it’s time to begin looking for a fresh voice.
“Players care. The organization cares. It’s not a comfortable spot. There’s been other nights like this as well, but you got to keep pushing forward,” said Laviolette.
Have to agree with that statement, even if none of the players, coaches, or management staff seem to quite know how to achieve that.