Devils: The Game of a Little, When It’s the Time for a Lot
The best way to describe Friday night’s matchup at the Prudential Center in Newark is, yes, there was a little bit of everything. Usually that is a good thing, right?
Not tonight. We saw a little bit of urgency, little bit of shooting on the net, little bit of scoring, some penalties (one big, game changing major), a little bit of fighting, a little bit of passing consistency, a little bit of confidence, and a little bit of accuracy and speed when carrying the puck through the neutral zone. We didn’t see enough of what the New Jersey Devils needed to secure a fourth win in a row.
This game ended streaks for both teams; the Devils ended their win streak at three, and the Canadiens, who had lost two in a row prior, halted that at two. The Habs gained two more points to push themselves further on top of the Atlantic division with 62 points, while the Devils remained at 47.
Now, let’s talk about this penalty. Just 28 seconds into the third period, at this point the score had been tied 1-1 since the first half of period one, we see an aggressive push to the boards, with ideas to finish the play, from third-line defenseman Karl Stollery. Stollery who has been with three NHL franchises at this point in his career, made his 5th appearance this season with the injury-plagued Devils. He’s been getting some good ice time, and was a part of the Devils productive trip to the west last week. Now, back to the penalty. The puck had made its way to the boards, so in comes aggressive Stollery (who has nine penalty minutes in five games) doing what he does best, defending the opponents in his zone. This time, his hit was a bit too hard, and high, and dangerous, and drew all players on the ice into a 5 on 5 scuffle where the officials needed to do some mediating. What resulted? A controversial 5-minute major for boarding to Stollery, and a 2-minute minor to Canadien’s fourth liner Torrey Mitchell for roughing.
Did we really need a major enforced here? The Devils were left with a 3-minute penalty kill after Montreal’s minor penalty expired. The Canadiens managed to score twice during that power play, one each from veteran NHLers Shea Weber and Max Pacioretty. Game changing goals which gave them a 2-goal advantage, and that is where the score would stay, 3-1 Montreal, final score.
Stollery had to sit in the penalty box, and watch those goals, cringing. They showed his face, it was not a happy one. “Yes, it’s tough to see. We knew they had a good power play coming in. When you give them enough chances, they’re probably going to get a couple. So, it’s tough being the guy sitting in the box for that.”
“It’s hockey, it happens. It’s not something to get rattled about. It’s unfortunate, like I said, but you have to have a short term memory in this game and just move on to the next one.”
That next one is today, as the Devils go back-to-back and travel to Philly to take on the Flyers. This is an important game for the Devils to get points in, as next week the NHL heads into the All-Star break, which signifies that yes, playoffs are on the mind. Every point counts at this stage, so no more games of “a little bit” for the Devils if they want to secure a spot in the post-season.