There's plenty of doom and gloom around the New Jersey Devils these days.
New Jersey has been shut out twice in their Eastern Conference Finals series against the New York Rangers, and face a 2-1 series deficit heading into tonight's Game 4 at the Prudential Center. The two losses, where New Jersey outplayed New York and ended up on the wrong end of a great Henrik Lundqvist performance, brought out plenty of doomsday scenarios and experts already burying the Devils. Consider:
- Zach Parise, who did not speak to the media after the Game 3 loss, caused a mini crisis. It's not the first time, or the last time, a captain will refuse to speak with the media after a loss. Some columnists floated the notion this would become a big time distraction, despite the fact that Parise continually answered questions throughout the regular season and postseason.
- Peter DeBoer changed his lines for the second time in the series, leading the players to fight off questions of whether or not it was a "panic move." The last time DeBoer changed lines, New Jersey hung three goals on Lundqvist and earned a win in the series.
- DeBoer also chose to sit Petr Sykora, who has four points in 15 games this postseason. Replacing him is Jacob Josefson, which allowed DeBoer to spread out the offense over two lines. The move is, obviously, drawing its fair share of questions.
From the outside, experts and opinion writers are combing over these moves and looking for any signs of the foundation cracking. For the Devils, these moves are necessary. Lundqvist stole Game 3, but the Devils also had plenty of opportunities. Shaking things up can help re-focus a squad that showed obvious signs of frustration during Game 3. DeBoer may get some of the veterans, like Patrik Elias, back on track.
Coming into the series, the biggest issue New Jersey faced was Lundqvist. He's one of the best goalies in the league, and he helped shut down scorers like Alexander Ovechkin in the first two rounds. Keeping things the same and hoping for different results, especially in the playoffs, will get a team eliminated quickly.
To stay competitive, DeBoer had to make changes. These aren't "panic moves" - they're necessary changes needed to shake things up. New Jersey is down just one game in the Eastern Conference Finals, and they're once again motivated to make a statement. So while the doom and gloom continues to grow, just one win will make it all disappear.