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Devils’ special teams slump emerges as concern

May 19, 2012, 10:43 PM EDT

Brad Richards, Artem Anisimov AP

After breaking an NHL record for penalty killing efficiency, the New Jersey Devils raised eyebrows by struggling mightily against the Florida Panthers’ power play in round one. The Devils survived that issue to advance and then turned the tide against the Philadelphia Flyers, yet special teams is becoming a concern yet again as they trail the New York Rangers 2-1 in the Eastern Conference finals.

Generating a 3-for-10 success rate isn’t towering, but either way, the Rangers have scored a PP goal in all three contests so far (including one on just two chances in Game 3). Meanwhile, Ilya Kovalchuk scored the Devils’ only PP goal in the series as New Jersey is just 1-for-12.

Dainius Zubrus took the blame for the Dan Girardi PP tally that ended up being the game-winner for the Rangers, as he told Tom Gulitti.

Dainius Zubrus said he was “way out of position” Girardi PPG. He jumped in on lost draw, leaving Girardi with the wide open shot.

It’s great that Zubrus is owning up to that mistake, but the question must be asked: what will Devils coach Peter DeBoer do to turn the tide? So far, it’s been a tight series – Saturday’s contest was 0-0 going into the third, for example – which places every weakness under a spotlight. Special teams could make or break this series for New Jersey; so far, that factor – plus Henrik Lundqvist‘s goaltending – is making the big difference.

  1. quonce - May 20, 2012 at 7:25 AM

    This is true, and statistically can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, however, if the Devils score on Lundqvist on any of their chances early on, I feel the outcome of game 3 is different. Same as game 1. Kovy lifts any of those two chances, henrique holds the puck into the zone instead of passing before the blueline, Parise doesn’t get stonewalled, etc etc….. Lundqvist is the reason its 2-1 Rangers and not 3-0 Devils. Scoring this series like boxing per period (round) might go 6-3 Devils. Though the most periods game 1 period 3 and game 3 period 3 have gone to the Rangers. Plain and simple.

    Lundqvist, not necessarily the PK, is making all the difference.

    Both goalies have been putting on one Hell of a show in this series!

  2. jkay1818 - May 20, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    quonce, and if my grandmother had balls she’d be my grandfather.

  3. afc22 - May 20, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    Biggest question the Devils have isn’t PP/PK, it’s the fact two of the three games they were small when it counted. Play great for 2 periods, then with the game in the balance the “tired” Rangers significantly outplay them in the 3rd

    Much bigger flaw to overcome

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