There are really two different ways to look at the most recent New Jersey Devils three-game skid. You can look at it from the glass-half-full perspective (they picked up three out of a possible six points), or the glass-half-empty perspective (for the second straight game, they blew a lead with thirty seconds or less remaining in regulation eventually to lose).
Personally, I’m torn in my beliefs. I think that the Devils have clearly not been playing Devils hockey as of late – tough, grinding defense and a suffocating forecheck. The fact that the defense has not been able to close out leads in two straight games is just flat-out inexcusable. However, in a league where points matter, I don’t know if this losing streak is the end of the world for this team. Plus, this Atlantic division is weaker than usual; the Devils are four points ahead of the next closest team (New York Rangers).
Most Devils fans believe that the defense has been the root cause of the Devils ineptitude lately. From not being able to clear their zone to allowing goals that should not be allowed, the bottom line is that unit has really struggled. In the past three games, the Devils defense has allowed nine goals (not counting the two shootout loses); three per game. How does that relate overall? Their defense averages 2.6 goals allowed per game this season (13th overall in the NHL). With that being said, their offense also needs to be pointed with only 2.5 goals per game (22nd overall in the NHL). A part of me agrees that the defense needs to get back to the basics.
There are some Devils fans, though, that believes in looking at the glass-half-full side of things. The official Devils Twitter account, @NHLDevils, was tweeting angry fans last night with the simple mantra of “three out of six points isn’t too bad,” and I agree wholeheartedly. As I said before, the shortened 2013 NHL season isn’t about wins as much as it is about points. While there are tiebreakers that take place, the Devils shouldn’t have to worry about that if they can rack up points. If I asked every Devils fan in a private moment if they would rather have three points or zero points, 99.9% would they’d accept the three. Another interesting stat is that the Devils have picked up at least one point in their last five games. Not too bad!
I’m not implying that the Devils should head into every game under the mindset of “oh well, we only need one point today.” No, that’s not the mentality you need to have, and I understand. But, for the Devils fans saying that the season is over, this team is horrible, they have no chance in the playoffs and other negative comments, remember that this is a condensed season and every team goes through a bad stretch of games. You should be pleased that the Devils have gotten three out of a possible six points rather than zero out of six.
Now, you may ask, what does it take for me to get concerned about this team to the point where I’m one of the hundreds of Devils fans declaring the season over? I’d never get to that point anyway, but let’s just assume I can. It would honestly take a stretch similar to this where the Devils don’t get any points in a game that they clearly outplayed the opponent. Because, to be honest, I think the Devils should have won all three games. It’s just that they weren’t able to close out and finish games, and that’s never a thing you want on your resume come postseason time.