Many Devils fans are jumping on and blaming Johan Hedberg (backup goaltender subbing for injured goalie Martin Brodeur ) for the losing skid, most recently a 4-3 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Here’s some news, Devils fans: Hedberg is NOT the reason they’ve lost their last four games in desolate fashion. Allow me to explain.
I’ll actually begin this post with an acknowledgment. Johan Hedberg is not playing good hockey. That is obvious. He has struggled overall this year; a 2-4-2 record and a .879 SV% (low in goaltender standards). After reading this article, please don’t believe that I think Hedberg is the second coming of Patrick. That is CLEARLY not the case – any Devils fan would agree. So, I will admit that Hedberg has been playing very poorly between the pipes recently. That I will say.
What I will NOT admit, however, is that the Devils are failing because of Johan Hedberg, and that if you get him out of the lineup all problems will be solved (the latter may actually be correct, but nobody knows yet).
When you look at the games the Devils have lost since Hedberg took over as starter for the injured Martin Brodeur, their offense has stalled incredibly. In four games, the Devils offense has recording a grand total of (drum-roll, please!) 7 goals. To use an analogy, you can say the same in baseball: as good as a pitcher may be any given day, if his offense is giving horrible run support, that pitching performance is essentially nullified. In hockey terms, Hedberg is receiving horrible “goal support.”
To use them as an example, during the New York Rangers most recent four game losing streak, their offense only produced six goals. In the game that they won to snap the streak, though, their forwards broke through to net four goals. Noticing a trend??
A goaltender can only stand on his head for so long before the offense has to give him relief. Plus, the powerplay hasn’t helped either; the unit went 0-13 in their past four games. To continue to pile on, their offense also is ranked 28th out of 30 teams in the NHL in the shots-per-game department.
Perhaps you think I’m making excuses for Hedberg, and in a sense, I am. But, I get so angry when I hear Devils fans say, “Jeesh, DeBoer, get Hedberg out; he’s the reason we’re losing!!!” Yet, they don’t notice how miserable their offense has been. Again, back to my original statement, I don’t think Hedberg has played amazing hockey at all! I think he’s been sub-par at best. But, you can’t place all the blame Johan.
My second “excuse” for Hedberg would be their defense. And it hasn’t been an area of concern for the last four games; the defense for the Devils has been flat-out atrocious for the entire season. In their past four losses, the Devils defensive corp has surrendered fifteen goals (excluding a SO loss vs. the Sabres). 15!!!
Highlighted by mediocre play from Henrik Tallinder and Anton Volchenkov, the Devils have struggled on defense abundantly.
To recap, it may sound like I’m blaming the four game losing streak on the offense and defense, which I want to make clear that I AM NOT. If I had to percentage the amount of blame I’d place on different figures for the four game slide, it would look something like this:
Pete DeBoer: 25
I primarily wrote this article to address the Devils fans out there (and you know who you are) that believe that the Devils are losing because of Hedberg. Am I surprised?? NO. Like the pitcher in baseball, quarterback in football, and (mostly) point-guard in basketball, the blame for a majority of losses are handed to those positions.
The Devils are losing their games PARTLY because of Hedberg. Not SQUARLEY because of Hedberg. See the difference, Devils fans??