Here’s a strong understatement: things aren’t looking good for the New Jersey Devils right now. Just look at some of the all-time numbers for teams facing 3-1 series deficits, from Tom Gulitti.
The Devils have [come] back from a 3-1 deficit to win only one in their history in eight tries. That was in the 2000 conference finals against the Flyers. That was one of just 21 times in NHL history (out of 234 opportunities) that the it’s been done.
To become the 22nd, the Devils must find a way to win three consecutive games for the first time since mid-December and do it against a team they’ve lost eight of 10 to this season. The Flyers are 17-2 when leading 3-1.
The focus isn’t really on if the Devils can win, but rather, who is to responsible for their problems. NHL Fanhouse’s Chris Botta blames Jacques Lemaire, but Botta missteps when he gives general manager Lou Lamoriello a free pass.
I cannot help but wonder if the Devils simply are built more for the regular season than the playoffs.
Is it all about Martin Brodeur? He’s had some rough playoff stretches; for instance this year he has a sub-par 88.6 percent save percentage and was under 90 percent in the 2007-08 playoffs. Some might say that he “choked” against the Carolina Hurricanes last year, but I find it hard to fault him for his overall performance (just under 93 percent save percentage) even if the end of that Game 7 was rough.
What the Devils really need (in my opinion) is a standout defenseman. During the regular season, they can get away with matchup problems but in the playoffs they struggle without having a) a true #1 lockdown guy and/or b) a defenseman who can generate points on the powerplay. The Devils only scored once out of eight PP chances in yesterday’s loss and went 0-for-5 in Game 1.
So instead of splurging on Ilya Kovalchuk, maybe the team should look into luring Sergei Gonchar away from Pittsburgh this summer. Then again, all this talk could be useless if they actually start winning some games. What do you think is ailing this team?