Since playing the Washington Capitals on 11/11/11, the New Jersey Devils have been outscored by there opponents 12-5 in the third periods. With the exception of the 11/11 game the Devils have not had more than 7 shots on goal in the third periods either. The Devils have been outshot in the 3rd periods 78-43. Before interjecting an opinion, these numbers favor the opponents. So what could be causing this third period slump? Fatigue? Penalties? The real answer is probably a little bit of a few things.
What I do notice is that the Devils have had 6 PKs to fend off in 3 consecutive games. In my opinion the team is taking too many penalties. It is absolutely great that the Devils PK is number 1 in the league, 32 for 33 since the 11/11 game. However, you can't keep playing with fire. The team has to be more disciplined. Having to kill so many penalties could be making some of the players tired by the time the third period comes around. Kovalchuk, Parise, Elias, Zubrus, Henrique are all getting a lot of ice time, but if it is to kill penalties this could simply make the players tired by the end of the game.
Overall, since 11/11 New Jersey is 4-3. Which isn't bad, however we could have been 5-2. I think this team has a lot of potential. I believe with Henrique, Clarkson, Zubrus all producing it really helps ease the pressure off of other players. Elias and Sykora seem to have been rejuvenated, which is obviously a great thing. This team has a great forecheck. In my opinion possibly one of the best in the league at this time. Currently, the top three goal scorers are Elias (8), Clarkson (7) and Zubrus (7).
A few places I think need improvement:
1. Power Play. I'm not the first to say this, nor am I the last. Since 11/11, the devils are 4 for 34. Some games we move the puck very well. I think we hesitate to take the shots though, looking for the perfect play. To me, it has always seemed that way with this team. I would like to see them fire more pucks on net during the PP.
2. Transition from Defense to Offense. Up to this point, we have turned over the puck in the neutral zone a good amount (had trouble finding numbers). Larsson has been pretty good with finding the right breakout pass. But overall I think this will help tighten up their game.
3. Discipline. We need to stay out of the box to give our players a chance to produce offensively. Spending more than half of a period in the box could be one of the reasons the team sits back late in the games.