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Rangers-Devils tends to bring out the nastiness in people. We witnessed two fights in less than two minutes; one three seconds into the hockey game. As for the game itself, it was one of the more physical games the Devils have played all year. The Devils really played well enough to at least earn a point, but Henrik Lundqvist would not allow it. He made big save after big save as the Rangers continued to roll. The Devils were really hurt on the Power Play because of the absence of Patrik Elias, the main puck handler on the PP. They had a tough time mustering any sort of offense on the man advantage. Round 1 went to the Rangers, but this rivalry is far from over.
The Devils were not a great defensive team to begin with, much of it has to do with Pete DeBoer’s open ice attacking strategy, but losing three of their key defensemen isn’t helping matters either. Henrik Tallinder and Andy Greene continue to miss time with injuries, and Adam Larsson is away from the team for personal reasons. Without the three, the Devils have given up 11 goals in the past three games. The good news is that Tallinder and Larsson should be back very shortly. Tallinder has begun skating with the team again.
The Devils have given up 11 short handed goals, by far the most allowed in the league, including two critical ones allowed this week. What makes matters worse is the fact that they’re one of the worst PP teams to begin with, only scoring 17 goals. That only a +6 for the season on the PP, that is simply not good enough. Whether they decide to move Ilya Kovalchuk off the point and play two defensemen, or they decide to change their approach, something needs to change because they cannot continue to allow this to happen.
It’s tough to pick a defenseman as one of the three stars in a week where the defense has played so poorly, but while goals were being scored, they weren’t scored when Urbom was on the ice. He played to a +2 and scored his first goal (second career goal) of the season. At only 21, he has a bright future with the Devils.
The most complete center the Devils have on their roster. His absence left a huge whole in the Devils faceoff circle, so much so that Clarkson was taking big faceoffs in the his absence. One can’t underestimate what he means to this team.
He just continues to score and impress, adding two goals this week. He became the sixth Devil to reach double figures in goals, he leads the team in assists, and amazingly he is the only Devil forward, besides the injured Josefson, to play to a + rating (+6). He’s making a strong case for rookie of the year.