Measured beside the New Jersey Devils, squads like the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs are counting their blessings that they aren't similarly at rock bottom. A year ago, if Ilya Kovalchuk was approaching center ice on a quick rush, defensemen found it tiresome to tag him.
But that Russian sniper is long gone, as are the Devils from postseason contention; barring a miraculous second half revival. They are giving their opponents goals for the taking these days; literally.
One by one, from Kovalchuk's plummet to Anssi Salmela's stumble, the players all fall down. Surely, there's nowhere for New Jersey to head but upwards from here. Unless...
UPDATE: Kovalchuk snatched an equalizer in the second period, resembling his former self for one shift. In the last frame, Clayton Stoner gained the red line and concocted a shoot-in.
Little did he know it would result in his first career National Hockey League goal, subjecting New Jersey to further humiliation. I stand corrected.