I for one am not a fan of this bye week nonsense…this is hockey, momentum is everything. Yesterday’s loss to the (albeit red hot) San Jose Sharks might make New Jersey Devils fans jump on my bandwagon.
We went from such a hopeful January to a 4-1 defeat on what should have been a happy day. John Moore returned to the line-up for the first time since December 31 when a hard hit left him with a concussion.
In the first period the Devils first shot on goal led to their only goal of the game, thanks to P.A. Parenteau. The Devils fought hard in the first period and were competitive with the Sharks in terms of speed. Yet, on a physicality level they feel short which led to their loss.
Had this game been played last week, their physicality might have been closer to the Sharks level. Since the All-Star break the Devils had been finishing their checks and hitting hard; something that had been missing in November and December.
Could this be a result from the bye week? YES. I am 100% a believer.
While I am not certain the Devils would have taken the two points…they certainly would have kept it competitive. Not playing together for most of the week and having an early game did not give them time to gel back together. In addition, you have Moore back in the line-up who has been out for about six weeks.
I know the players asked for these bye weeks in the last agreement. I have a sneaky suspicion this might be revisited if most teams experience the comeback losses after their bye week. I can’t imagine baseball having a bye week, they don’t want to lose that momentum.
Hopefully getting back on schedule will help find the magic the Devils were starting to play with because the next couple of weeks will hold a lot of games. Many of the upcoming games are against teams that are fighting for the Wild Card spots in the playoffs.
Tomorrow night the Devils take on the Avalanche who fell 5-1 to the Islanders last night. With the Avalanche playing so-so hockey, a ‘W’ could give New Jersey the push back to their pre-bye week competitiveness.