Hockey Headlines

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Lou-ser

I'm never one to say I told you so, but after watching Game Three between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils last night, it has become apparent that Lou Lamoriello cannot out-coach John Tortorella. Ruler-Of-All-Things-Devils Lou has now lost two games in a row to a much faster, much quicker, much more offensively-talented team, both by 3-2 scores. While I concede that there is no urgency to push the panic button yet in this series, there is some room for concern regarding the Devils, and Coach Lou needs to address this.

The Devils cannot run-and-gun with Tampa Bay. If they do, Tampa Bay's highly-gifted offensive unit will make short work of the Devils. What the Devils need to do in Game Four is come out the exact same way they did in Game One: score early, and forecheck hard. The Devils need to exercise their psychological advantage of wearing a team down when they are trailing. That is what they do best, and that is where they've had the most success in the playoffs. Score early, play defence hard, capitalize on mistakes, and run out the clock. That's Devil hockey to a tee.

They also cannot let Tampa Bay's forwards of Andre Roy and Nick Tarnasky hammer them into the boards all night like they did last night. They need to be able to absorb a few hits, and get right back into defensive position. Roy had four big hits on one shift last night alone, including one on Patrik Elias. No one skated by Roy and warned him that any contact on a star would result in repercussions. And so Roy continued to hammer away on guys. Someone needs to step up and send a message to Tampa Bay that the Devils are not going to be pushed around.

Lastly, the Devils need to start getting in Johan Holmqvist's face. John Madden's weak floater that scored on Holmqvist last night was a direct result of Jay Pandolfo's excellent screen. Is it any wonder that a young goalie, such as Holmqvist, would try to look around the left side of Pandolfo as Madden approached, only to be scored on under his right arm? Go to the net, plant yourself there, and just be a screen. It has worked for the Devils before. Why abandon that concept now?

My prediction of New Jersey losing in 6 games will come true. Tampa Bay will win on home ice tomorrow, and then Jersey will win in New Jersey on Friday. After that, it's back to Tampa Bay where the Lightning will close out the series.

Thanks for coming to the dance, Lou. Too bad you're going to be watching the Stanley Cup Finals from your armchair again. I had hoped that the Devils would be the anti-Barney Rubble Hairpieces where they would show everyone how defensive hockey in the new NHL is played. The problem is that they have forgotten that you need some offence to win games.

As an aside, the third installment of "You're Wearing That?" will be available sometime tomorrow. This one is huge as well. It has more jerseys than either of the first two, so be prepared. Until next time, keep your stick on the ice!

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