After trying to stay positive while watching his team's play disintergrate in the week, Devils coach Brent Sutter finally had seen enough in tonight's 3-0 loss to the Rangers.
With the Devils' losing streak reaching a season-worst five games and only six regular season games remaning, Sutter rippped into his players.
"I'm trying to stay positive and trying to stay positive, but at some point you lose five in a row and you've got to recognize that there's some problems here and there's some issues," Sutter said. "Am I (ticked) off? You're darn right I'm ticked off because I expect more from this group,"
Sutter called on his veterans to straighten out this mess..
"The kind of leaders and experience that should be in that room, this shouldn't be happening," Sutter said. "It has nothing to do with anything outside of the fact that you've just got to want to have it a little more than the opposition. It has nothing to do with systems. It has nothing to do with anything like that. It's strictly how motivated you are to want to have success. That's what it comes down to. I'm disappointed in the whole group outside of our goaltender tonight,
"In the third period, we played with a sense of urgency and a sense of desperation. Why didn't we have that in the first two periods?"
Sutter sounded frustrated that the players have allowded this to happen two years in a row. He pointed out the result in the postseason could be the same as well.
"They've got to figure it out. To me our play is not where it needs to be. I don't have answers. You try diffferent things and you dont' get a response. At some point in time, you've got to recognize what the stakes are. It's good to say, 'Yeah we have a playoff spot clinched.' Well, big deal. You have a playoff spot clinched, You'll be done in a week once the playoffs start. It's not good enough.
"It's not good enough for a group with guys in there that have won championships, guys that are counted to provide the leadership, counted on to provide the experience. It's not good enough. We've lost five in a row. How is that acceptable. What have we won on the road here recently (they've lost five road games in a row). The road has a lot to do with jam. It has a lot to do with character. It has a lot to do with compete. We didn't have enough guys showing that.
They get into a comfort zone. There are periods of time where everything is great and then they get into a comfort zone. It's almost like they like they accept it. It's unacceptable.; "
Sutter said he hopes the team isn't satisfied with just making the playoffs.
"Don't you want to finish second in your conference?" he asked. "Don't you want to have home ice advantage and if you advance past the first round have home-ice advantage? Don't you play with pride in the fact that you have your game at the top level at this time of year?
"You can't turn the switch on. This group tried to turn the switch on last year. It didn't work. They can say they're a different group, but the personnel, a lot of it still the same outside of four guys. But a lot of the other guys are still the same."
Sutter said tonight's loss was just too much.
"You get to a point where you sit there and go, 'Where is our commitment? Where is our compete level?' How can a team dominate you as bad as they did in the first period. Look at the goals that they let up. And the reason why you don't have intelligence? Because you're not competing and playing hard enough."
The Devils have scored only six goals during the losing streak.
"There's no offense because there;s no urgency," Sutter said. "You've got to pay a price to score goals and we don't want to do that right now. We aren't playing like we need to play at this time of season. That's the bottom line. The first two periods, we were very passive. Their goaltender didn't have to make really any tough saves tonight where he never saw the show. He saw every shot taken at him. It's not good enough. The players have got in a comfort zone."
Of the Devils giving up shots in the first period, Sutter said, "That's just bull (crap). That's just unacceptable."
Of changing up all his line combinations in the third period, Sutter said. "I didn't know who to play with who."
I'll have player reaction after I'm done writing my story for the paper.