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Second Period Struggles Add To Devils Problems

While watching the broadcast last night (which, unfortunately, was the Flyers broadcast on Comcast Sportsnet), I saw an interesting stat flash across the screen. In their past five games, the Devils have been outscored 11-1 in the second period. Once again, 11-1 in the second period. And while the team is currently stuck in this funk, I’d like to look at this stat and how it’s contributed to the team’s recent slide.

Game 1: Devils vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, 2/2/10

The Devils really didn’t have anything going for them in this game. Many of you may remember that this was the premiere for the recently traded Dion Phaneuf and Jean-Sebastian Giguere. The Devils were only down, 1-0, in the second period. But two goals in the second period really sunk the team. After the score hit 3-0, it felt as if the game was over. And it was. The Devils were blanked, 3-0.

Game 2: Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Devils, 2/5/10

The Devils had a chance to avenge their loss during with a rematch only three days later. The Devils added Ilya Kovalchuk and Anssi Salmela, and hopes were high for a huge scoring night. But after being tied, 1-1, after the first period, the Devils collapsed in the second period. The team allowed three straight goals, including two powerplay tallies. While the Devils won the game, they still got behind the eight ball and almost cost themselves a victory. But they pulled it out, and the Devils won, 4-3.

Game 3: Devils vs. New York Rangers, 2/6/10

After a huge comeback win, the Devils looked to carry some momentum into the Garden against their bitter rivals. But the Devils couldn’t light the lamp against Henrik Lundqvist, and the Rangers scored three goals in 3:39 in the second period to sink the Devils. Once again, the team fell behind the eight ball, but this time they couldn’t climb out of the hole. The Devils lost, 3-1.

Game 4: Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers, 2/8/10

The Devils went to Philadelphia attempting to break out of their slump. The team took a two-goal lead, the second coming from newly-acquired Anssi Salmela. But, after the goal, Salmela took a nasty hit from Jeff Carter, and the Devils seemed to lose their intensity after watching him be taken off on a stretcher. The team played sloppy hockey, and the Flyers came back to tie the game. The Flyers scored on a powerplay in the third, and the Devils lost, 3-2.

Game 5: Philadelphia Flyers vs. Devils, 2/10/10

The Devils looked to win the second game of a home-and-home series against the Flyers. With blizzard conditions outside, the arena only had 5,000 fans in attendance. But Travis Zajac and Dean McAmmond scored early to put the Devils ahead, 2-0. The Devils, however, fell apart again in the second period. Jeff Carter, who was a Devils killer this week, tied the game in the second period (photo above). The Devils would go on to lose the game in overtime, 3-2.

The second period, as you can see above, hasn’t helped the Devils much. Since this team is only averaging about two goals a game, and blowing leads or falling behind won’t help their chances. I don’t know if it’s a lack of intensity or loss of focus, but the Devils need to correct this issue. This is one of many issues right now, but the Devils haven’t done much to correct it in the past five games. The coaching staff needs to focus on this issue now so the Devils can put together solid performances in their final two games before the break. The Devils have outscored their opponents in the first and third periods, so fixing the second period may help the Devils hold on to leads.

The team takes the ice tomorrow against Nashville, and it’ll be interesting to see how they perform in the second period.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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