May 19, 2012
Devils need to cash in on their chances
By RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
Late in the first period of Saturday’s Eastern Conference final clash, the New York Rangers looked nothing like a team that would win 3-0 and take the lead in the series.
Mainly because the Rangers didn’t look like a team capable of scoring a goal.
For the longest time, the Broadway Blueshirts didn’t look capable of garnering a scoring chance.
For most of the opening period, they couldn’t even manage a shot on goal against the New Jersey Devils.
But when the dust settled on the matinee matchup — a Rangers win that gives them a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven series — it’s the Devils who look like they should be fretting about their offensive production.
Three games into their series against the Rangers, the Devils have only three goals, all coming in their Game 2 victory.
Twice they’ve been blanked, and both in the same fashion.
Much like in the series opener, the Devils were the better team from the drop of the puck Saturday, had all the momentum going into the final frame of a goalless game and watched the Rangers come up with the timely goals.
As much as Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist deserves credit for a 36-save shutout, the Devils have to be kicking themselves.
They’ve had more than enough chances to be up 3-0 in the series, but aren’t burying nearly enough goals.
Devils head coach Peter DeBoer said the story of the game was his team’s lack of finish.
“Two breakaways, two 2-on-1s. We’ve got to find a way to score a goal,” DeBoer said.
Diablo III is the hottest game among the kids the days.
The Devils, in Round 3, are ice cold, and that will be the difference unless something changes in a hurry.
DROP OF THE PUCK
The Rangers' decision to insert Steve Eminger on defence in place of Stu Bickel was supposed to give the team more mobility, but it nearly backfired in the worst way. On his first shift, Eminger was caught pinching and was bailed out because Michael Del Zotto broke up a Devils 2-on-1 rush with a perfect stick check. That’s the danger of inserting a player into the lineup after he’s been scratched every game for nearly three weeks ... Amazing to think Saturday’s clash was the 100th career home playoff game for Devils goalie Martin Brodeur and 196th overall, which ties him with Steve Yzerman for 20th in the NHL record books.
OFF THE GLASS
From the “What if?” department: If only Ilya Kovalchuk hadn’t been in the way of Zach Parise’s shot from the slot coming off a brutal first-minute turnover by the Rangers defencemen ... Please, enough talking about the “physical play” on CBC. It’s hockey, it’s supposed to be physical and it’s not like we’re seeing a bunch of hits from behind ... That said, the elbow New York's Brandon Prust laid on the back of Anton Volchenkov’s head was a prime example of something that must be eliminated from the game. It should be a one-game suspension for Prust, but we’ll see ... Anybody else disappointed they didn’t go for munchies instead of sitting through the dull Coach’s Corner segment with Don Cherry looking like he came straight out of a barbershop quartet?
IN THE CORNERS
Ah, so there’s Brad Richards, who was a non-factor in the first two games of this series. Seconds after ringing a shot off the crossbar when the game was goalless on Saturday, the 2004 Conn Smythe Trophy winner cleanly won the draw to set up Dan Girardi’s point-shot goal and eventual game-winner ... There must be all kinds of people in the same boat as yours truly wishing they had chosen Chris Kreider in their playoff pool. The former Boston College standout, who didn’t play a regular season game but now has five goals and seven points in 15 playoff games, looks like a legitimate NHLer ... With all the raving about Lundqvist’s play, it wasn’t really warranted until the middle of the third period. Right after the Rangers took their 2-0 lead, Lundqvist came up with a handful of clutch saves. He also caught a lucky break when Peter Harrold’s shot hit the post with four minutes remaining.
MAKES YOU GO HMMM ...
Rangers captain Ryan Callahan can play for my team any day ... Boy, can New York head coach John Tortorella be insightful when he’s not being terse. Hopefully we see more of that than if his club faces Darryl Sutter and the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup final, which appears to be the direction we’re headed — and you bet the NHL would love that scenario. With the CBA expiring, hopefully the powers that be won’t be stupid enough to have a work stoppage delay or ruin next season, as was the case after the Rangers won the 1994 Cup.
On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak