This was one of those games I don’t even want to think about again, no less spend about a half hour breaking it down and putting Rick’s quotes together and so on. The fact that I was able to churn out about 700 words about it — sucky of a story as it may be — is somewhat miraculous. You can read that little miracle in the Trentonian tomorrow.
Seemed like both teams played a much more defense-oriented game tonight, but it led to some pretty tedious moments for the first half of the game. Yes, Trenton finally scored first, but Florida came right back 31 seconds later, so it was rendered meaningless almost instantly. I’d have to see the Bayrack goal again…I don’t know if Caruso was too far out and it cut his time to react to the deflection or what, but that didn’t seem to be any more than a harmless soft little shot that Baker flipped towards the net. Instead, it tied the game.
There was a lot of frustration in the room about the 5-on-3 goal after the game. Kowalsky, and I’ll get you the quote or audio in a bit, said they were two dumb penalties taken by guys who should know better. You can’t give a team like that a 5-on-3, and it was obviously the difference.
For as long as this is a Devils franchise, they will never, ever build a team like the one Florida has. Period. The Devils seem to be able to justify the financial…uhhh, choice they made to purchase the team by using it almost solely as a development team. The veterans you see on the Everblades would be highly, highly unlikely to suit up for the Devils. Anyone who’s played minor league hockey will tell you that you can’t win without veterans. But veterans cost money and go against the philosophy the organization has for this team, so you won’t see them. And the Devils won’t win…not on a consistent basis, not enough to where they can be any sort of factor if they manage to luck into a postseason berth.
Soapbox rant aside, Dave Caruso played very well tonight. Ultimately, you probably can’t blame him on the first goal, and he had no chance on the second. As for the third goal…well, he obviously wasn’t in the net for that one. I didn’t have a problem with Rick pulling Caruso after the timeout — early as it may have been — because he needed to do something. Kowalsky said after the game that the team was unlikely to do anything 5-on-5…and it’s hard to disagree.
I also think that it was more evident than it’s ever been that Tim Kunes can never, ever be on the power play again. Period. His mishandling of the puck and refusal to shoot keeps costing this team, and at some point, this experiment has got to come to an end. I think he’s regressed a bit since the start of the season, similar to how the power play seemed to regress tonight in comparison to last night…even though they did score on it.
I thought Chris Poli was the Devils best player tonight. He might have been able to single-handedly steal a game or two for this team had he been healthy enough to do so early in the year. I think Andy Thomas has also played pretty well over the past few games. Seems pretty solid on both ends.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com