Teams in various sports have a tendency to burn themselves out in one playoff series and then have nothing left in the tank to continue on to the next level of the playoffs, let alone win championships.
Apparently, the New Jersey Devils have confused winning the postseason Hudson River Rivalry over the New York Rangers is akin to winning the Stanley Cup.
Do the Devils have anything left in the tank?
That’s the million-dollar question right now. It seems as though the Devils have burned themselves out just trying to finish off the Blueshirts in seven games in the first round. The problem with this scenario is that a first-round win doesn’t equate to hoisting the Stanley Cup. The Devils had one of the most high-powered offenses in the NHL during the regular season, and guess what – that doesn’t matter because this is the playoffs. Losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in two games by a combined score of 11-2 means that either the Rangers played the Devils in a tough-fought series or the Hurricanes are simply a much better team than the Rangers.
The Devils’ offense has just fallen flat.
Okay, being O for the entire season on the power play doesn’t help win hockey games, and the Devils need to fix their special teams – fast. Oh, and giving up four man-advantage goals to the Hurricanes doesn’t help the cause, either.
In terms of an anemic offense in the second round, all you need to do is look at the Devils’ key playmakers and see they are wildly off the mark against the Hurricanes. Trade addition Timo Meier has been totally absent in both rounds of the playoffs so far with exactly zero points in eight hockey games, and yes, he was out in Game One of the second round, but that’s still eight other games with absolutely no offensive contributions. You can’t just point the blame on Meier, however, since the Devils’ darling Jack Hughes has only produced three goals and five total points in eight games so far as well.
If you are looking for a new contract, playing like Jesper Bratt probably won’t win you some big dollars from the front office this summer. (Bratt is a Restricted Free Agent or RFA after this season.) So far, Bratt has produced one empty-net goal and four total points in nine games. Hurricanes’ netminder Frederik Andersen has looked like he’s sometimes taking a nap guarding the pipes in the first two games against the Devils. If New Jersey can’t find some offense and quickly, they will be joining the Rangers on the couch and watching the rest of the Stanley Cup playoffs from the comfort of their own homes.
Are the Devils using reverse psychology to get through the playoffs?
Maybe the Devils are gluttons for punishment and like being down in the playoffs, and that creates some spark within the team. That may have been the case against the New York Rangers, but the Carolina Hurricanes aren’t the New York Rangers.
Winning Game Three is a no-brainer for the Devils, and the formula is simple: win or get ready to go home.