Devils Down Entering The Deadline

(Sergey Kalinin (51) in action against Tampa Bay on Friday night – @NJDevils)

The Devils are at one of their lowest points of the season, having now lost five of their last six games heading into Monday’s trade deadline.

Their only win in that stretch came against the Rangers on Tuesday night at Prudential Center, and they followed that with a 6-1 loss in Columbus to the Blue Jackets and a 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night.

The loss in Columbus might have been their worst of the season, as goalie Cory Schneider was pulled after giving up three goals in the first period.

Friday night against Tampa was not much better, as the Devils were outshot 36-21 and did not put up much fight in the final two periods.

Tampa Bay opened the scoring late in the first period. Ryan Callahan took a long shot from the blue line and it deflected off traffic in front of the net to Alex Killorn on the left side to make it 1-0 with 4:24 left in the opening period.

Ondrej Palat gave Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead with 6:58 left in the second, and Callahan was at it again, setting up Steven Stamkos with 1:06 left to make it 3-0.

The third period might have been the lowest point for the Devils all season, marked by frustration and a lack of discipline. Bobby Farnham took a 10-minute misconduct penalty as he went through the Tampa Bay crease and swiped the stick of goalie Ben Bishop. Adam Larsson took two penalties, one for cross checking and one for high-sticking. Steven Gionta took a roughing penalty with just 51 seconds left in the game.

The Devils are 30-26-7, with 67 points, one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final playoff spot. They are only point ahead of Carolina and three points ahead of Philadelphia.

Devils goalie Cory Schneider said, “We’re never going to give up. I think we’re a proud group of guys in here. We haven’t really shown it the last two nights, but we know what we can do and we’ve done it for most of the year, so we’re not going to let a few games get us down or get us not to believe in ourselves. We’ve got a lot of work ahead, though.”

Devils winger Kyle Palmieri said, “Yeah, it’s frustrating. Back-to-back losses in that fashion. It’s tough at any point in the year. It could’ve been our first and second games of the year and it would still be frustrating. This time of year it puts a little more emphasis on it. By no means is it the end of our season. You can look at all the numbers all you want. We just have to start stringing some wins together and see where it takes us.”

Palmieri said of the playoff picture, “I don’t think by any means we’re out of it. There are still 19 games left. Crazier things have happened. You saw the run the Senators went on last year. It doesn’t even have to be that miraculous.”

Devils defenseman John Moore said, “We’ll have no one to blame but ourselves if we don’t make it (the playoffs). We’ve got time, but we’ve got to get going.”

This was the Devils’ last game before the trade deadline Monday. It will be interesting to see if Ray Shero makes moves to go for a playoff spot or is a “seller” and focuses on rebuilding this club.

Palmieri said of the Devils looking like a different team on Monday, “It’s tough to say. It’s not my job. So whatever management decides to do, it’s going to be up to the guys in the room. We had a little meeting the other night. It’s kind of meeting a lot of teams have around the trade deadline. We said it’s the guys in the room now and nothing miraculous is going to come in via the trade deadline.”

Moore said of what could happen Monday, “That’s completely out of our hands. We’re all professionals in here. It’s out of all of our hands.”

Schneider said of what Monday will be like for this team, “Obviously something might happen Monday. That’s just how it works. We’re not dwelling on it, but there’s a very real chance that way or another something could happen. We all know that. It’s out of our control at this point. I’m not overly concerned about it. It’s a day where things happen so it’s a very real possibility things could happen with our team.”

Defenseman David Schlemko said of what will happen at the deadline, “I’m not sure. You’re asking the wrong guy. That’s up to Ray (Shero) and his staff. I think everybody here likes each other and gets along well. Hopefully (the team) doesn’t look too different. Most of us have been through a few of these. We know what it’s like. Whatever happens happens.”

The Devils next game is on Tuesday against Carolina, and the three days off could help the team regroup for the final six weeks of the season.

Schneider said of this weekend being a reset for the Devils, “Hopefully, maybe it’ll be good for us to just kind of get away from this, and remove ourselves from these last couple of games and just try to draw on what we’ve been doing for most of the season. We haven’t had too many stretches like this, so we have to just find a way out of it.”


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