TORONTO – The New Jersey Devils are trying to keep a brave face despite a losing skid that has all but destroyed their playoff prospects.
The Devils dropped their 10th straight on Monday night with a 2-0 loss to the Maples Leafs but it certainly wasn’t from a lack of trying as New Jersey had nearly three times as many shots as Toronto.
“It’s unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like it. I don’t have an explanation,” said forward Patrick Elias. “At a crucial time we hit a post on the power play. Right after that, I got a chance so it’s just not happening. Yes, it’s frustrating but the only we can do is keep going and keep playing the same way.”
The Devils registered 15 of their 31 shots in the third period and Andy Greene had a shot ring off the post but it was that kind of night and it’s been that kind of stretch for New Jersey team that just a season ago was playing in the Stanley Cup finals.
But despite holding the Leafs to just five shots through the first 40 minutes and 13 shots overall, the Devils were undone in a third period that they largely controlled by Phil Kessel’s winner at 13:28.
Compounding their woes on Monday night was Leafs goaltender James Reimer who was on top of his game, making some stellar saves to preserve his team’s victory—particularly in the third period.
“If he plays like that every game I don’t know why they’re looking to get another goalie in here,” said Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur. “He was unbelievable.”
There remains a glimmer of optimism, however as there are still six games left for New Jersey to salvage its season.
The Devils are choosing to look at the positive side of things and hope that some of the chances that have gone begging in recent games will start angling back their way.
“I think we could have won our last six or seven games and I don’t doubt that we can win six or seven in a row,” said head coach Peter DeBoer. “We don’t have to change a lot to do that other than to score a few goals.”
That belief seems to also carry over to the players as they echoed the words of their coach and seem confident they’ll right their ship in a hurry.
With virtually no margin for error in the run-in to the end of the regular season, they’ll have to keep that confidence until the end.
“We have a bunch of guys that know how to win the games and to execute the system and how to be strong and not get down. That’s pretty much it,” said winger Alexei Ponikarovsky. “There is not other way out of it. Tomorrow’s a new day. You go out, work hard in practice and come back the next game.”