Thursday, November 30, 2006
Game: Pittsburgh @ Devils
This leads me to the Pittsburgh Penguins visiting the Continental Airlines Arena to take on the New Jersey Devils.
GAMETIME: 7:30 PM, EST
Local TV: Fox Sports NY
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN
Devils Record vs. Penguins: 1-1-0
It would be interesting to see them try to move around more on the powerplay. Something along the lines of penetrating the box and darting out would disorient the defense. Maybe even return to the powerplay of 2000 with the give-and-go in the corner and option of Langenbrunner's point shot.
If you have read my recent posts about the Devils, the recent articles, and the stats in the prior stats you know what I think the key is to this game. Offensive production. The Devils need to put shots on Fleury, put them on net, and - most importantly put - them in the net and not his sharply yellow pads. Enough talk about working on the offense, now is the time to perform.
I have full confidence that the Devils will bring the effort, I just hope it will yield a win. The Devils will go to Philadelphia on Saturday to play the Flyers afterwards, some positive momentum would be good right about now.
UPDATE: My projected lines:
Martin-White (I'm assuming he's healthy. If not, uh, I'm confused)
TSN.ca has some interesting news in today's Ice Chips for the Devils: Tuomas Philman is on waivers, Richard Matvichuk is getting healthier - leading to another cap decision, and it's still not clear if Martin is healthy or whether Clemmenssen will see some time this weekend. I didn't see any call-ups from Lowell, so I assume Martin is healthy enough and who knows with Brodeur.
Labels: Devils Game
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
November in Review; Devil of the Month
November Record: 6-5-1
Highs: 4 game winning streak (11/4-11/11)
Lows: 4 game winless streak (11/22-11/27)
Goals Scored: 25
Goals Scored Against: 29
Therefore, there is but one player to be considered the Devil of the Month: Martin Brodeur. His current stat line is 12-9-0, 2.38 GAA, and a 91.5 Save %. He has been the sole reason why NJ has been competitive in almost every game this month and the sole reason why the Devils have not been blown away (save the Islander and Coyote games). If you have seen the Devils in even one of these other games, especially the last 3 games against Anaheim, San Jose, and Los Angeles, you have seen Martin Brodeur make at least 3 "How in the HELL did he stop that puck" saves. He has been absolutely fantastic, as noted by "The Maven" Stan Fischler in his assessment of the recent Devils' road trip. such in his recent In addition, e has started in every Devils game so far this year, and he had to perform at near-shutout-worthy levels for New Jersey to win any of those 6 games he won and keep them in it in the 4 (including LA) games the Devils did not win. All Devils fans and the rest of the team should be thankful that Martin Brodeur is who we all thought he was: one of the best goaltenders ever.
SITE INFO: I would like to thank you all for continuing to visit this little Devils blog. Earlier today was our 1,000th visitor and if I'm reading Sitemeter correctly, it's someone from Massachusetts at Brandeis. Thanks whoever you are! You get nothing for your milestone visit. Again, thanks for reading and tell everyone you know about In Lou We Trust.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Postgame: Kings 3 - Devils 2 (SO)
Which leads me to what I want to talk about today. The offense has been a growing problem. The team is averaging approximately 2.3 goals for per game. When watching the game on Versus, it was said that the Devils have not scored more than 2 goals in the last 12 games. That's a franchise record for offensive futility. While the games themselves have been excellent in terms of a game - I can not stress enough that it's offensive production not effort that I'm focusing on - it's frustrating to watch. We know the Devils can score goals. We've seen it last year. We've seen it in prior seasons. Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, and Jamie Langenbrunner. Those are the top 6 forwards. We've seen them all be productive to some degree in the past or earlier this season. Head coach Claude Julien has tried switching up the lines to try something different. He's tried only putting EGG and PZL out on the power play. He's tried switching up line combinations during the game. Clearly, it's not working well enough which is frustrating because the talent is there - just not the expected performance. I disagree with Joe, though, I don't think Julien is being too conservative. Yes, he's defensive-minded; so has every coach who was not named Kevin Constantine for NJ in the last 11-12 years. I think the on-ice decisions by the players are the cause of the poor offensive showings.
The Kings played firewagon hockey for 65 minutes, bringing up Lubomir Visnovsky (among other defenseman) up on the offensive play to varying success. Why NJ did not try to immediately counter when the LA D drops in is beyond me. You don't need to design plays for that, the players should be smart enough to realize that Mike Cammalleri is all alone on the blueline, get the puck and drive as fast as you can down ice. Hell, I still don't understand the decision by whoever is on the point to take a slapshot when there are at least 3 Kings in front of you and the probability to fire the puck on net is low. You can't blame the coach for, say, Johnny Oduya launching bombs from the point that never hit the net. You can argue that the Devils really need a coach like Pat Burns (or their GM/CEO/President Lou Lamoriello) behind the bench constantly chewing them out. I think the players have been through enough that they should realize these things on their own; they are on the ice, aren't they?
Collapsing defenses continue to give the Devils fits and I hope in the 3 day break (including today) prior to Friday's home game against Pittsburgh, the team figures out how to beat collapsing defenses, how not to just blindly pass into the slot or shoot from the point, and how to generate effective counter attacks that the Devils are normally known for - there's a reason why the team's overall speed is generally fast.
Most importantly, I hope the guys getting the big money (Elias, Gionta, and Gomez) start picking up their games on offense. I know they got some points last night, but they could be so much more productive - split up or not. With the way EGG dominated teams last season by themselves, it's mind-boggling that their performance is inconsistent and so generally unproductive.
Labels: Devils Postgame
Monday, November 27, 2006
Postgame: San Jose 2 - Devils 0; Game: Devils @ LA
GAMETIME: 10:00 PM, EST
National TV: Versus
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN
Hopefully, the guys earning the big money start putting the puck in the net and the Devils can end this road trip on a high note. Go Devils.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Game: Devils @ San Jose
GAMETIME: 10:30 PM, EST
Local TV: FSNY
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN
Now, the big question is: Does Martin Brodeur play tonight? Brodeur is known to have great stamina and to bounce back from less than stellar games. On the other hand, he has played 20 of the Devils' 21 games so far and faced 36 shots yesterday. I'm going to guess that Scott Clemmensen will get the start tonight for the latter reason alone. Brodeur may play out of this world, but his body is still human and still subject to fatigue.
Expect "a very patient game,'' Sharks forward Mike Grier advised Friday.
"It'll be a good test for us, to see if we can stay within the game plan and not turn pucks over, because New Jersey is as disciplined as any team we'll play this year,'' he added.
The key to the game will be for NJ to score first and generally control the game. That means putting shots on net. That means taking advantage of the powerplay. More importantly, that means limiting the Sharks' offense. Letting up so many shots is just asking for A) the goalie to stand on his head and B) the other team to score a ton of goals. Given how lackluster the Devils' overall offensive production has been so far this season, inviting the other team to have over 25 chances to put the puck in the net is, at least, a really poor idea. Block the shooting lanes, swarm the passing lanes, force the Sharks to make bad decisions, and above all NO SHORTHANDED GOALS. The Devils are tied with Philadelphia and Columbus with 5 shorthanded goals against, only the Ottawa Senators have let up more (with a staggering 8).
Either way, go Devils. (And you better play better tonight, Paul Martin, to give the Devils the best chance to win tonight. Play like the top 4 d-man we all know you are/can be.)
Labels: Devils Game
Friday, November 24, 2006
Postgame: Anaheim 4 - Devils 2
- One goal was right after a penalty and another was during a Devils power play. Worse, Moen and Marchant completed their cross ice pass leading to Marchant's shorthanded (and game winning) goal with FOUR DEVILS WITH THEM IN THE ZONE. Coverage guys! Coverage! Martin Brodeur was already tired after thwarting an onslaught of Ducks on an earlier 5-on-3 power play, so he blew the save. Terrible. Shorthanded goals are simply unacceptable and if NJ was competent on defense in those junctures, they may have won the game.
- Cam Janssen is most definitely injured with a shoulder. No word on how long he'll be out, but he didn't play after fighting Parros halfway through the first period. Erik Rasmussen saw very little time after the first period. So the Devils ended up playing a majority of the game with essentially 10 forwards.
- I want to single out Paul Martin for this game. He gave away the puck on a multitude of occasions, had trouble clearing the puck both on even strength and on the penalty kill, and he was the one who initially coughed it up to Marchant leading to the shorthanded/game winning goal. I know he's talented and still young, but he did not play well and certainly not deserving of the 25:21 he did play this afternoon.
- Again, the Devils were heavily outshot by the Ducks, 36-25. The Devils did look good in the second period, but faltered in the first and third periods. They clearly need to become tighter on defense and more aggressive on offense.
- Is there a stat for shots attempted? Because I have a sneaking suspicion the Devils aren't that bad in terms of number of shots attempted, just shots that hit the net. Jamie Langenbrunner, Jay Pandolfo, John Madden, and many more need to work on their shot accuracy. Missed shots are missed opportunites for goals, and NJ clearly needs them.
- The Devils took more shots, putting 25 on Jean-Sebastian Giguere
- They successfully stopped Anaheim from scoring on the power play, thanks to some amazing saves by Martin Brodeur
- The Devils did score a power play goal, as Brian Gionta decided, "Hey, watch me score this goal," rushed right into the slot with no one on him and beat Giguere low on the short side. Clearly Gionta hasn't lost "it," he just needs to use "it" more often.
- The Devils came back from a 2-0 deficit after the first period to tie it up. A defensive lapse caused the Devils to lose this one, not a complete lack of effort.
- The Devils didn't completely give up after the Marchant goal and came close to getting an equalizer late in the game (before Marchant iced it with the empty net goal).
Labels: Devils Postgame
Game: Devils @ Anaheim
GAMETIME: 4:00 PM EST
Local TV: MSG
Local Radio: 660 AM , WFAN
I got to run, so I'll all say is that after the Devils' brutal performance against Phoenix, I'll be happy if New Jersey plays while giving a semblence of a damn on the ice. The Devils are facing Scott Neidermayer for the first time, so this should be fun for that alone.
Trendon Lynch of On Fire has a more comprehensive preview, so I suggest you check it out. I completely agree with everything but his prediction. I hope NJ gets it together and keeps it close, if they lose it'll only be 2-1 or 3-2. Go Devils
Labels: Devils Game
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Postgame: Coyotes 3 - Devils 1
The Devils were absolutely horrible.
Look at the official box score from NHL.com. Look at the super stats if you're so inclined. Let me count the things I was disgusted with from last night's performance.
- Outshot 27 to 15.
- 6 power play opportunities all with 0 goals. At least three of which yielded no shots.
- While the Coyotes were moving and grooving, the Devils consistently skated in a fog for 60 minutes. Consistency was the one thing Devils had going for them last night: they were consistently BAD.
- The Puzzle Line lived up to their name in the sense that they could not penetrate the Coyotes' defense at all. Puzzling in that they have been very successful against a number of different teams recently.
- Forechecking? You must be kidding me, the Devils didn't accomplish anything with the forecheck last night. Backchecking and clearing puck out of the zone looked to be too difficult for the Devils last night. Sickening.
- The return of Gomez clearly meant NOTHING.
- A SHORTHANDED GOAL! It was almost EXACTLY like the one given up to the Rangers about a month ago. No one minding the blueline on the power play and, whoops, Owen Nolan's got a breakaway when his team is DOWN a man.
- The defense! The only one who looked kind of decent out there was Johnny Oduya, and he likely have caused that first goal to happen (Derek Morris' shot may have gotten a lift due to Oduya's stick). Martin, White, Hale, Lukowich, and Rafalski looked like they couldn't cover an ant with a tank out there. Terrible, just terrible!
Labels: Devils Postgame
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Game: Devils @ Phoenix
GAMETIME: 9:00 PM EST
Local TV: FSNY2
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN
Take a look at that preview from NHL.com and note the following line:
Brodeur will have had three days of rest this time as he and the Devils face the Coyotes (6-14-0) for the first time since 2003. He's 7-2 with a 1.67 GAA in his last nine starts against them.
- Pretend the Coyotes are really the 1977-1978 Winnipeg Jets and that Ladislav Nagy is really Bobby Hull
- Hypnotize themselves to think they're playing the Canadiens in Montreal.
- Convince themselves that if they really hammer down the Coyotes, they'll get a worthy bonus (e.g. money, time off, a really, really good eclair, etc.)
The best option, of course, is to play a solid 60 minutes of hockey. What will motivate them is the triumphant and glorious return of Scott Gomez (as reported by Rich Chere in today's Star Ledger). The Alaskan Ace is back from missing 7 games due to a groin injury, hopefully for good. I got to say, while Sergei Brylin was servicible on the first line and kept up with Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta. The line didn't score much, but that was (is?) due to a slumping Elias and Gionta not so much Brylin's fault. And it wasn't as if the team suffered, they went 7-1 without him thanks to the emergence of the Puzzle Line. That said, I'm glad Gomez is back and now that Elias and Gionta have perhaps gotten over the proverbial hump, they can go back to dropping eggs on opposing defenses and goaltenders. My projected lines are as follows:
Martin Brodeur, of course, starts tonight. While Rasmussen's more physical style is better suited for the fourth line, he's looked good with Pandolfo and Madden in the past stretch of games. Given that untradable Georges Laraque maybe playing, I don't see Cam Janssen not playing - NJ may need his physical presence for another night. Jim Dowd has been playing very well since coming back to the Devils. So Mike Rupp is the odd man out in my opinion.
With the return of Scott Gomez, this should motivate the Devils enough to play hard and aggressive against the Coyotes. As stated earlier, this is a game the Devils should win as it is the easiest road game they'll play on this 5 game stretch (LA, Anaheim, and San Jose are all looming and will be tough).
In Other News: Rob Skrlac and Ken Daneyko have been dishing it out. No, they haven't become boxers, underground street fighting legends, or formed a new version of the A-Team. They've been dishing out meals at the Goodwill Rescue Mission in Newark. The Devils website has the information right here.
In Conte & Lou We Trust: File this under further proof the Devils are excellent drafters. Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal agrees that the Oilers should have drafted Zach Parise instead of trading down. Lou trading up to #17 to get Parise was brilliant. Pierre McGuire's outrage that the Islanders passed on Parise to draft Robert Nilsson was icing on the cake. Good times...
The Hockey News' Adam Proteau complains about, who else, the Devils for, what else, being boring on his blog. I picked this up off of reading the Devils' Boredom Thread on HFBoards. Somebody get the Waaaaaaahmbulance:
I know I’m supposed to value Lou Lamoriello’s first-rate resume above all else, but the more I watch his Devils play the game, the less I want to. Ponderous hockey from young men without either (a) facial hair or (b) something interesting to say isn’t my idea of a hot night in the city. No wonder thousands are steering clear of Continental Airlines Arena - there’s less potential for entertainment inside it than Kenny G’s ribcage.
Notice how it's not the play he's focusing on. If only the Devils had facial hair and gave better interviews! More people would go to games! Adam wouldn't be bored! The sky will rain down golden coins and the sun will spit out rainbows! Now I remember why I cancelled my subscription.
LASTLY: Tom Lycan has an extensive post about the current Devils road trip. Check it out. Happy Thanksgiving to Tom, the other bloggers (Tredon and Mike at On Fire, Joe and Patricia at 2 Man Advantage), all the other Devils fans, the Devils themselves, and to you the reader. Go Devils.
Labels: Devils Game
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Lou: Gomez is 100%
Scott Gomez, recovering from a groin injury that has sidelined him for the last seven games, will rejoin the team in time for practice today. "As far as we're concerned, he's 100 percent," general manager Lou Lamoriello said....
Monday, November 20, 2006
College, Leafs, & What You Already Know
Second, Trendon Lynch is On Fire about the Leafs announcers. See, Trendon, has yet to learn the many secrets about the Devils with respect to the rest of the NHL. I learned this from being on HFBoards for far too long. One being, the Devils are just responsible for everything bad about hockey. When they win, it's boring and terrible. No way could NJ beat a team cleanly. No, no, they trap and they turtle and they bore and the announcers whine like babies, etc., etc., ad infinitum. Our team is exciting, it's the Devils and their pillow-inducing brand of hockey that suffocates the game and therefore win. (ASIDE: When they lose, suddenly the Devils are a good team and it's a good thing that team X beat a quality squad - oh, and those Devils aren't that good anyway.) I'll tell you (and you, the reader) some more later.
Third, Bill Clement writes at MSNBC in an article that Martin Brodeur guy is pretty good. Like, top 5 goalies in NHL history good. As Devils fans, we already know that; but it's good when a hockey-media guy gets it as well. It's also a good reminder, go check it out.
OOPS EDIT: No, the Devils play Phoenix on Wednesday. I guess I need to sharpen my calender reading skills. All the same, have a good day/night.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Postgame: Devils 2 - Toronto 1
Anyway, there's plenty to like about last night's game. Martin Brodeur was stoning Leafs left and right, as Tom Gulitti's article in the Bergen Record and Rich Chere's article in the Star-Ledger both state today. Brodeur admits that the one goal he did give up was weak (quote from the Gulitti article):
Jamie Langenbrunner scored right after a Devils' power play, Patrik Elias scores off a fluke goal (the puck hit two Leafs before going over Tellqvist and in), and Cam Janssen held his own with Wade Belak in a first period fight. Chere has a second article in the Star Ledger about Janssen, read on to learn why Pandolfo may not ask for a room of his own and why we won't see Dan McGillis up with the NJ Devils this season.
"Marty was outstanding," Julien said. "He kept us in the whole game and gave us a chance to win. No doubt he was a big difference in our net for us tonight."
The only shot Brodeur missed was a Darcy Tucker slap shot from just inside the New Jersey blue line that found an opening with only 3:37 remaining.
"I wasn't holding my stick real strong and it hit the heel," Brodeur said. "I'd qualify it as a bad goal."
From NHL.com, here are the official scoresheet and official super stats of last night's game. While the Devils win the first game of their five game road trip, the win was as much the result of Martin Brodeur being, well, Martin Brodeur. Quoting Patricia Greuter of 2 Man Advantage (and with an appropriate photo):
Devils gave up 34 shots tonight against the Leafs. Of those 34 shots, about 9000 were decent scoring chances. Yeah, I’d say we need a serious upgrade on defense.
Poor Marty. I think there are six men who owe him steak dinners right about now.
The Devils were heavily outshot 34-19, they clearly need to shore up on offense (take more shots) and on defense (stop them from running about with the puck in your end). That said, Mark Everson's post game article from the NY Post highlights some important facts about the Devils' recent run.
- The Devils are 8-2 in their last 10 games, including last night's game.
- The Devils are defeated the Leafs, who were 4-0-1 in their last 5 games.
- Morale and confidence is as high as ever with the win.
Labels: Devils Postgame
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Postgame: Devils 3 - Ottawa 2, Game: Devils @ Toronto
But before I do that, I'd like to thank the Livingston Program Board for going to the game. I am a student at Rutgers University, and by virtue of that I got to go to the game for $15 with a bus going to and from the Continental Airlines Arena. That's how I got there, so thanks, LPB.
THE PROMOTION: The Devils celebrated their 1985-1986 season last night, with Aaron Broten doing a ceremonial dropping of the puck before the game (won by Patrik Elias). This meant plenty of music from the night and the airing of highlights. The team set a franchise record of wins in that season: 28. Yes, they still missed the playoffs by a large margin. So their big thing was setting a record for most goals scored by the Devils in a single regular season game, beating the Islanders 9-7 in April 1986. The season saw the end of an era as current color-commentator, Glenn "Chico" Resch, played his final game as a goalie for the Devils. After the game, I got a team photo from the 1985-86 season and except for the hair greying, Chico Resch looks almost exactly the same then as he did now. John MacLean looks like two completely different people comparing then to now. I also got a NJ High School hockey schedule, and was immediately confused by all the abbreviations.
THE FOOD: Pricey. Two hot dogs and a medium drink ran me $11.50. They were good, but wow do they overcharge.
THE MERCHANDISE: Also overcharged, but I figured since I only paid $15 for $52 tickets, I'd get something. I like a number of shirts they had there but nothing in an Extra Large. Yeah, I'm serious - very few extra larges. Good thing I can always get Devils metch online (or receive a catalog - seriously, put Devils Den up on the web, Devils! E-commerce is a pretty good thing...)
THE SERVICE: Ushers, kiosk workers, etc. were all friendly and helpful. Good on them.
THE MUSIC: Is that a guy who plays the organ or is it a computer program? He/it is really good at what they do. Most of the other music played through the PA was either hits of the 1985 (which ranged from good to "I didn't know anyone played the Wang Chung song outside of the chorus - and for good reason") or standard arena rock fare. Ole is growing on me, but I'd rather have Crowd Chant by Joe Satriani.
THE BATHROOMS: Since I'm a student at Rutgers, I'm used to pretty rank bathrooms (especially that hole on the lower level by Section 101). The bathrooms by my section were spacious, well-lit, and clean.
THE SEATS: I (and the other Rutgers students) sat in Section 220, Rows 12-15, so I got to clearly see the whole rink. It seems to me no matter where you sit in the arena, you get a great view of the action. I only paid $15 for them, but the tickets were marked for $52. Really. I wonder why NJ has such attendance woes (note: 15,000+ was at the game)
THE FANS: Boo to the guy who yelled "SUCKS" during "Oh, Canada" and the fools doing "RANGERS SUCK" chants during the game. I hate the Rangers too, but the Devils were playing the Ottawa Senators. Change it up! Oh yeah, we were the ones responsible for some of the "R-U" chants you may have heard on TV. Hey, we're from Rutgers and our school has something to cheer for, for a change.
OH YEAH, THE GAME: The Devils played excellent for the first 40 minutes. David Hale looked good in his first game back, playing with Brad Lukowich, save for the odd giveaway or two. I immediately felt a lot better about the team's defense. The Puzzle Line (Parise-Zajac-Langenbrunner. PZL. Puzzle, it's no worse than CASH) was the line of the night. They scored early when Langenbrunner went untouched into the slot to put home a loose puck. They scored a Devils' power play goal on the team's only power play of the game, when Jamie Langenbrunner roofed it over Senators' goaltender Ray Emery. The second period started well when Zach Parise backhanded it past Emery for the team's third goal. The Senators struggled on offense, only managing 17 shots all game. Some of them were tough ones, and one hit the post early in the game (and was reviewed - it was, in fact, no goal); so Marty Brodeur had to be sharp. I guarantee at least one of those saves were highlight reel saves.
The third period, though, the Devils decided to turtle a bit more. They played more defensively, dumped the puck in more often for quick line changes, and reacted more to Ottawa's pressure on offense by playing more defensively. Unfortunately, despite some great saves and great defensive plays to break up the Senators on offense, they managed 2 goals. Chris Neil deflected an Andrei Meszaros shot from the point for goal #1 and Daniel Alfredsson scored goal #2 when he peeled into the slot without being covered tightly by Paul Martin and without Brian Gionta helping out (he was just standing there). Can't let Alfredsson do that, he'll burn most goalies when he's that wide open. Regardless, the Devils held on for the win.
ARTICLES: Tom Canavan of the AP has this article that summarizes the game right here in the Star-Ledger's site. Hey, did you know that Ottawa is 1-8-0 after the opposing team scores first? I didn't but I did when I read this. Sherry Ross' article about the game in the NY Daily News notes a shrewd move by Claude Julien. He moved Brylin to wing late in the game and stuck Jim Dowd up top with Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta. In the Notes section, Mark Everson's article of the game in the NY Post mentions that Scott Gomez will not go with the team to Toronto but will join the team during their western conference road trip later this month.
For the Devils to win, they just need to play like they did for the first 40 minutes against Ottawa. Be aggressive to get that first goal, force turnovers in the neutral zone and on defense, and be quick on the counter attack. Above all, drop shots on Jean-Sebastian Aubin all night, I've seen him before and he's not really a good goaltender. I'm confident he'll crack with enough work. With a defense whose depth features the likes of Hal Gill and Wade Belak, it's not impossible to do. Good luck NJ, hopefully they'll be rested enough for tonight.
GAMETIME: 7:00 PM
Local TV: Fox Sports NY
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN
Friday, November 17, 2006
Game: Ottawa @ Devils
Gametime: 7:30 PM EST
Local TV: Fox Sports NY
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN
The last time these two teams played, the Senators dropped a train on NJ to a score of 8-1. If you forgot, here's the official scoresheet from NHL.com and wince as Chris Neil was the #1 star of that terrible game. Today's article in the Star Ledger by Rich Chere opens with the Devils having revenge on their mind. The Devils certainly haven't forgotten (and unfortunately, neither have I). Here's a telling pair of quotes from Brian Gionta and John Madden summing it up:
"You definitely remember it," Gionta said. "We didn't have a good effort there.W e weren't in the game from the beginning. We have to make sure we play better defensively. We made a lot of mistakes in that game that we had to correct."
"It definitely made us aware that if we cheat on the defensive
side, we're going to get scored on," center John Madden said.
Chere's article also notes the following: Hale might go off Long Term Injured Reserve and play tonight; the decision to waive Jim Fahey was also influenced by Alex Brooks' play (uh...sure?); Gomez skated on his own in practice but he will NOT play tonight and he may not travel with the team on their upcoming road trip; and that Scott Clemmensen has a brand new mask (oh, and he might play tomorrow night). By the way, TSN.ca's transaction pages has listed Jim Fahey to be assigned in Lowell yesterday. Hale must be ready to go tonight.
Trendon Lynch of On Fire has a rather detailed assessment of tonight's game. He wants to see a full 60 minute effort and I couldn't agree more. The Rangers debacle proved that anything less than that can turn an seemingly easy win into a crushing loss. He's also correct that the Devils need to set the tone and shut down the CASH line. Daniel Alfredsson (4 G, 11 A), Dany Heatley (10 G, 11 A), and Jason Spezza (9 G, 14 A) are offensive powerhouses and will give Brodeur fits if the Devils skaters let them do what they want. Fortunately for NJ, Ottawa's depth isn't as it once was; beyond those three, the team doesn't have any strong offensive threats (unless you consider Antoine Vermette, Joe Corvo, and Chris Neil to be threats, and I don't). The NHL preview of tonight's game highlights this changed offense by noting that in 18 games the Senators scored 85 goals last year; however, they only have 60 at this point.
Even more fortunate for NJ is that the Senators as a whole have been playing real poorly. They have only won 2 out of their last 9, including a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday. Goaltender Ray Emery has returned from injury (sprained left wrist) in that game, I expect him to play against NJ tonight. I do not expect Gomez to play as he just skated on his own in practice. I do expect David Hale to play, as the game preview (2nd section) on the Devils' website says he was activated. Here are my projected lines:
In addition to making sure Ottawa's CASH line is neutralized and the Devils needing to play for all 60 minutes, I'd like to point out that the Devils really need to remain disciplined tonight. That CASH line plus a man advantage is a very scary prospect. Especially with Joe Corvo teeing up on the point (OK, he's an offensive threat THERE, but not regularly).
I'll be going to tonight's game, so my postgame report will include some notes about the CAA. Incidentally, if you're going to tonight's game, please bring some non-perishable food items. The Devils are running their annual food drive tonight - it's an easy way to do something for your community.
Labels: Devils Game
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Fahey Waived, Julien Criticized
Tom Gulitti's post game article in the Bergen Record highlights a team concern with Devils coach Claude Julien. Rich Chere's article in the Star Ledger also highlights similar concerns, but with more player quotes. Both are worth reading. Julien's decision to leave the top line out against Jagr's unit, leaving the Madden line on the bench was certainly questionable. Jay Pandolfo did very well shadowing and containing Jaromir Jagr all game, why did he not put them out there after the first or second goals? On the other hand, Devils hockey maintains that no matter who you are, if you're a Devil, you better be responsible defensively. Elias was correct to admit that his line dropped the ball and took responsibility for the 90 seconds of defensive lapses (quote from the Chere article):
"Listen, the coach makes a decision," Elias said. "The guys who are out there (which included himself) have a job to do. Pando did a great job all night but our line should've done a better job. The coach took a lot of blame, but the bottom line is we should've played better."
Coach Julien is also correct to state that focus is already on the next game, the Devils' home game against the Ottawa Senators. A team, I sadly remember, who destroyed NJ 8-1 in their last meeting (quote is from the Gulitti article):
"[Tuesday] we lost a game, we learned from it, we turn the page and we've got to think about the next game," Julien said. "The longer we dwell on this, the less time we have to prepare for Ottawa."Chere's article also notes in the end that it won't be until after the Ottawa game as to whether Martin Brodeur plays on both Friday's and Saturday's games. I think he'll play against Ottawa for sure. The Gulitti article states at the end that the Devils annual food drive takes place on Friday. If you're going to the game, please bring some non-perishible food; some families could really use it.
IN OTHER NHL NEWS: The NHL struck up a deal with YouTube for content and advertisments. This is a good move by both parties, it further legitimizes YouTube and the NHL can take advantage of the large user community YouTube has got going for it. I got this from reading Off Wing Opinion, the best hockey blog on the Internet(tm). He even has this cool thing on his main page called Blinx, which links to a number of NHL related videos at once.
Evgeni Malkin will remain in Pittsburgh, to the delight of Penguins fans and probably Malkin himself. The NHL has it's official reaction right here.
The Central Scouting Service has announced it's preliminary rankings for the 2007 NHL Draft. The article and links to the ranking lists are right here. It's more of a watch list and it's organized by league. Angelo Esposito, Sam Gagner, and Keaton Ellerby lead the QMJHL, OHL, and WHL leagues' lists respectively.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Postgame: Rangers 3 -Devils 2
If the score itself wasn't bad enough, how it came to be is certainly dissapointing. Tom Lycan of the Devils Due Blog stated in his pre-game post this afternoon that he wasn't able to watch the game. He avoided one of the fastest comebacks ever.
To Recap: The Devils outplayed the Rangers for 2 periods. Jamie Langenbrunner slipped a slapshot through Henrik Lundqvist's legs for goal #1 at 9:05 into the first period. Rangers were outshot 7-3 that period. Go to the second, where the Rangers were more successful getting the puck on net and enjoyed 3 power play opportunities. But the Devils came out better, scoring on one of the 2 power plays the Rangers gave up, with Brian Gionta deflecting a Patrik Elias slapshot on a 5-on-3 power play for the 2 goal lead. Gionta scoring! On the power play! Combine that with Martin Brodeur robbing Rangers, it all looked so right after 40.
Unfortunately, the game is 60 minutes long.
The Devils started the third a little flat and the Rangers took absolute advantage. 2 minutes and 5 seconds in, Jaromir Jagr puts the puck in from a dish by Marcel Hossa as he drives to the net. 2-1 NJ, OK, the crowd is getting loud, but so what. Well, less than 30 seconds later, Jagr somehow scores a second goal! It just floated up and over Martin Brodeur and into the net. It was a bizarre play and an official review said it did not hit a high stick (I'm skeptical but whatever). 2-2 and MSG is rocking. About a minute later, the first ever Mark Messier Leadership Award winner Brendan Shanahan breaks through to score his 14th goal of the season for the lead. View the Official Scoresheet at NHL.com or the Official Super Stats at NHL.com if you want full details on stats.
Let me summarize this: THREE GOALS IN 90 SECONDS. And that what gave the Rangers the win.
That's unacceptable. The Devils couldn't get enough momentum or offensive chances - the Devils got 10 shots, but none went in despite a late flurry of opportunities.
On the bright side, No longer does Brian Gionta go a game without a goal or a point. That slump was broken.
On the dark side, the Devils are no longer undefeated when carrying a lead over 2 periods and the Rangers win their third home game of the season. Yes, 2 of their 3 wins at MSG were due to the Devils. Worst of all, the Devils lost to the Rangers - which is never a good thing.
The world still turns though and the Devils have the next game to worry about. The Devils host the Ottawa Senators on Friday for their last home game this month; the Devils will hit the road for their remaining 5 games in November.
Hopefully they'll learn not to give up leads and the game in less than 2 minutes.
Labels: Devils Postgame
Monday, November 13, 2006
Game: Devils @ NY Rangers
GAMETIME: 7:00 PM, EST on 11/14
National TV: Versus
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN
Yes, they play tomorrow night. I won't be around a computer for most of tomorrow, so I'm putting up a preview now. The Devils finally got their offense and their power play productive and beat the Florida Panthers 4-2 on Saturday night. The Rangers went to DC and got soundly beat by the Washington Capitals 3-1. Regardless, the Rangers last beat NJ 4-2 at Madison Square Garden and the Blueshirts will be looking for some revenge after their loss to the Capitals. The Devils won't make it easy, as they are on a 4 game winning streak.
It's still unclear as to whether Scott Gomez and Jim Fahey will play on Tuesday. As it is the team is looking pretty good now that Elias finally broke his slump with a goal and an assist for the Devils. Zach Parise is still burning, with 2 goals and 3 assists in his last 5 games. Brian Gionta is still in his slump, with his last point - an assist - on October 24 against the Penguins. Martin Brodeur says in his book, Beyond the Crease, "I hate the Rangers, and Lou hates them to death." Now that the Rangers are finally a team of decent talent, we're going to have a game on Tuesday. My expected line up sans Gomez and Fahey:
I know we can trust Marty to do well against the likes of Jaromir Jagr (5G, 21A - yes 21 ASSISTS), Michael Nylander (7G, 18A), ex-Devil Brendan Shanahan (13G, 9A), and Martin Straka (9G, 9A). The Rangers are not lacking in offensive talent, with the 4th best power play in the league with a 20.8% effective rate and 6th in the league in goals scored with 57. What NJ must do is go up early (as they are still undefeated with a lead), continue being effective on the power play (Rangers are only average on the penalty kill, 16th in the league with 83.3% efficiency), and pound their OK defense and their talented goaltender Henrik Lundqvist with shots and scoring chances - they will go through as the Rangers are 27th in the league in goals against with 59 given up. Now that Elias is over the hump, it should be a bit easier for that to happen (instead of solely relying on the Puzzle Line). It will also help if Cam Janssen teaches that punk Ryan Hollweg some things if Hollweg gets nasty (and he will, it's kind of his thing what with him being a jerk).
It's always a good day when the Devils beat the Rangers. Go kick the stuffing out of them and make my day tomorrow night, Devils.
IN OTHER NEWS:
- Mark Messier will present a new monthly award for leadership, for players who best feature it on and off the ice (CBC article). An annual award will be presented for the NHL's best leader. I can see why Messier is the guy for this, but personally I think it should be Scott Stevens. He best represented the big change in the Devils' success since the early 1990s and led best by example. Of course, this is also a Devils blog and that's another reason why I think it should have been Stevens...
- Patrick Roy, Dick Duff, Herb Brooks, and Harley Hotchkiss were all inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame this year. NHL.com has the full word as well as other articles you can persue to learn more about them. The New Jersey Devils' main website highlights an article written by Phil Coffey of NHL.com covering former Devils head coach and head coach of the Miracle on Ice 1980 USA squad, Herb Brooks. It's a good read, check it out.
Labels: Devils Game
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Sunday Update of Things
The Devils' next game is against those blasted New York Rangers on Tuesday, so I'll take the time to update some blog-related things.
- I've updated this blog to Blogger Beta. I'm not sure what this means for you, the reader, but it's worth mentioning.
- More importantly, I figured out how to activate comments for each blog. So feel free to leave a comment. I have moderation power over them, so as long as it's appropriate and related to the post at hand - it'll show up.
- After visiting Trendon Lynch's and Mike Morris' On Fire blog, I noticed something awesome: THE MAVEN HAS A BLOG! Yes! Stan Fischler, longtime commentator on all things Devils and tri-state are hockey has a blog! The Maven has been pretty active loading up his musings on the world of hockey, so go check it out. It's fantastic - especially if you're a big Maven fan like me.
- I added Eric McErlain's Off Wing Opinion to the Other Hockey Sites section. It's arguably the best hockey blog on the Internet and one of the best sports sites around. I've read his site for a long time and if you're into hockey you should be reading it too. Plus thanks to his site I learned about On the Forecheck.
- Also added to the side bar under Other Hockey Sites is On the Forecheck. It's all about statistical analyses of the NHL. Since what I study has a lot to do with this sort of thing, I immediately became a fan. Where else can you learn that Jon Sim led the league in serving penalties for goaltenders/the team last season or that there is a negative correlation between the ratio of hits for to hits against and the ratio of goals scored to goals against (poor Flyers!).
- Lastly, I gravely forgot to mention yesterday was Veteran's Day. So thank you to our armed forces at home and abroad for your past, present, and future services.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Postgame: Devils 4 - Florida 2
Believe it or not, the Devils had 7 powerplays and converted on three of them! Yes! More than two goals were scored in the game for the win AND goals were scored on the power play! I know, you're probably thinking, "What the hell, John F, you're making me dizzy with all of this shocking news. What's next, you telling me Patrik Elias scored a goal?"
Well, sit down because he DID. He scored the FIRST power play goal, a loose puck drilled into the bottom right corner. Zach Parise scored the second power play goal of the night for NJ in a similar fashion - with Oduya getting the puck in with great strength. The third power play goal was a Brian Rafalski wrister from the point deflected by Sergei Brylin to beat Eddie Belfour. The fourth goal came from a beautiful feed from Jim Dowd that threaded the needle to a wide-open Jamie Langenbrunner in the slot who easily directed it into the net for the fourth goal.
On Florida's end, Stephen Weiss scored on his own rebound on a Panthers power play in the second period. He Who Shall Not Be Named For Reasons I'll Explain Later beat Marty cleanly with a laser to the roof of the net for Florida's second goal. Beyond those two, the Devils defense didn't let the Panthers get too many looks at Brodeur for the first 40 minutes. The Panthers were held to 20 shots, only 9 in the first two periods. What really hurt Florida was penalties. 12 total penalties for the Panthers, giving the Devils 7 power play opportunities. NJ made them pay on three of them; Cam Janssen and Mike Rupp made Steve Montador and Bryan Campbell pay in fights which lead to 4 of the other 5 penalties for Florida (the one missing was a coincidental call).
The Devils got 24 on Belfour, 4 went in, with the Devils going 3 for 7 on the power play. Brylin, Parise, and Elias are your stars of the game in order. Maybe the flood gates will open for the Devils offense, especially for Patrik Elias now that he finally got one. Here is the NHL boxscore and official super stats for the game from NHL.com.
Thanks to the Washington Capitals for beating the New York Rangers 3-1; this win puts the Devils at the top of the Atlantic Division with 10 wins, 5 losses, and 1 shootout/OT loss.
Labels: Devils Postgame
Game: Florida @ Devils
GAME TIME: 7:30 PM, EST
Local TV: Fox Sports NY
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN
The Devils have won their last 3 games and are at the top of the Atlantic Division despite being oh so terrible on offense. I'll watch the Devils-Chicago game later this weekend, but all accounts state that it was lucky the Devils beat the then-7-game-losing streaking Blackhawks in a shootout (how is that for a pathetic sentence).
Rich Chere's post game article in the Star Ledger notes that Patrik Elias is in a slump, requesting to coach Julien not to be in the top 3 for the shootout. I hope he breaks his slump soon, I don't know what it is. Recently, he's looked good at doing it all except for, well, putting the puck in the net or making a play to put it in the net. He's snake-bit, what more can I say?
Johnny Oduya got his first NHL point in the game and Mike Rupp got his first goal of the season against Chicago. Good for them.
Yesterday, Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record notes that the Devils were short a skater against Chicago due to Erik Rasmussen's sore thigh from Tuesday and cap problems. Odd of Lou not to call up somebody. Mark Everson in today's NY Post suggests that very low salary cap space the Devils have is a big deal. It is a big deal as they'll need to clear space when David Hale is ready after his conditioning stint in Lowell (noted in the two linked columns). More space will needed to be cleared for the return of Richard Matvichuk later this season. What IS the Devils' cap, you wonder? Well, over at HF Boards, global moderator Irish Blues (once I get his real name, I'll credit him or her later) has compiled cap figures for each player and each team on his website here. I don't know of any other salary cap resources for each NHL team, so if his or her figures are right, the Devils are in a very tight spot. No one plays in the NHL fo $90k.
In more positive news, according to the George Richards' blog of the Miami Herald about the Florida Panters the NHL has released their All-Star Ballots today. There are five Devils: Martin Brodeur, Brian Rafalski, Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez, and for the first time ever, Brian Gionta. Right now, only Brodeur and maaaaybe Rafalski deserve to be in the All Star game based on their play thus far. But there's still a ways to go until January.
Anyway, the Panthers aren't playing so well. They won one of their last six games, blowing a 2 goal lead to the Buffaslug Sabres and losing 5-4 in OT on Thomas Vanek's power play goal. The last time the Panthers won in the Continental Airlines Arena was waaaay back on October 22, 2003. The Devils may have trouble scoring, but if they score first and play strong defense (especially against their leading scorer Olli Jokinen), they should go en route to their fourth straight win. My predicted lines are as follows, assuming Gomez and Fahey are unable to go and Rasmussen will play (haven't seen any forwards called up from Lowell):
Go Devils and SHOOT THE PUCK. ON NET.
QUICKIE RUTGERS REPORT: I did go to the Rutgers-Louisville game. I was the guy in red waving his towel and yelling a lot. You might have seen me on TV. Or not (heh). Rutgers didn't look so good in the first half, but began to come alive by the end to be only down by 11. The second half was nothing short of coaching brilliance - the defense began to dominate the Louisville offense, sacking and pressuring Brohm to play very poorly. QB Mike Teel actually had a good game, but his receivers need to do a better job catching balls - but they caught enough necessary. Brian Leonard and Ray Rice began run all over Louisville. Jeremy "The Judge" Ito is the greatest kicker in Rutgers history. 28-25, 18-point comeback from Rutgers over #3 Louisville. It was FANTASTIC, I even went onto the field, hopped around on the turf - tweaked my ankle, and loved every moment. Second greatest game I've seen all year (#1 being Stevens Night back in February) of any sport. I never felt so proud to be a Scarlet Knight before and that includes when I got my B.S. in Industrial Engineering. Some people in my department asked me why is football so great, why do Americans love it so much. This game, I hope, gave them an answer. GO KNIGHTS!
Labels: Devils Game
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Game: Chicago @ Devils
GAMETIME: 7:30 PM EST
Local TV: MSG
Local RADIO: 660 AM WFAN
I'm not going to lie to you, I'm going to be at the Rutgers-Louisville game tonight, which takes place at 7 PM on ESPN. Two undefeated teams, one of which had it's best record in a long while just last season at 7-5. A full preview can be found at the Rutgers' main website right here. If you're looking for an opinion with a fan with a heart that bleeds Scarlet, check out Raritan Sam at Knights of Scarlet. Me, I really only paid deep attention to the RU football team starting last season because the team was generally awful in my other years at Rutgers. I don't care if it makes me a bandwagon fan, RUTGERS IS 8-0 AND HAS A LEGITIMITE SHOT TO BEAT THE #3 TEAM IN THE NATION. With respect to the Devils, I agree with Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record that the Devils are not going to be playing in front of a large audience tonight.
But back to hockey, the point of this blog. The Devils take on the Blackhawks. The Devils are rolling. Even Mark Everson of the New York Post recognizes the Devils' recent success on the power play; with Julien switching to an umbrella formation. It certainly has worked, with the Devils having 2 power play goals in their last 2 games. Just as important as the Devils' power play, Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger reports that David Hale is cleared to play and may be ready to return as soon as this weekend. This is a big development, I can forsee the defensive pairings when Hale returns as such:
Scott Gomez admitted that coming back too soon from a groin injury to play against the Islanders last week will probably cost him a week or two.
"It looks that way right now," said the center, who still is not practicing. "There are always going to be what-ifs. It was a freak thing. I took a shot and felt it. That was just a setback. The machoism comes in. Being hurt in front of your teammates, you wonder: Do they even believe me?
"I've got to be patient. It's not torn. If it's torn, you can't even walk. I'm day-to-day. You almost wish you had a broken bone instead of this so you know. It's just frustrating."
All the same, Gomez should take all the time necessary so this groin injury does not become an issue in the future. In any case, expect to see those same forward lines for Montreal and Carolina tonight. As always, expect to see Martin Brodeur in net. Expect to see the snake-bit Patrik Elias, almost-as-snake-bit Brian Gionta, and the North Dakota Two (Zach Parise & Travis Zajac) explode against the injury-depleted Blackhawks. According to NHL.com' preview of the game, Chicago comes into this game without their top goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, their top scorer Martin Havlat (7 G, 6 A), and Michel Handzus. Ex-Flyers goalie Brian Boucher is expected to get the start against NJ. The Devils will need to be wary of Radim Vrbata (3 G, 9 A), Brian Smolinski (3 G, 6 A), and-as is my understanding-a generally young team still coming together that will punish teams who don't give an effort.
In short, the Devils need to take the Blackhawks seriously and take it to them early. I'm just a fan, I can write off Chicago without any cost to me; but the Devils will likely lose if they do. If they do as well as they did against Montreal and Carolina, I think NJ gets a third straight win. The Chicago Sun-Times has a fun fact: The last time the Blackhawks beat the Devils it was way back in 1998 at the United Center; and the Blackhawks have not won in NJ since 1997. Hopefully, the Devils continue Chicago's little Jersey losing streak.
For something a little different, the NHL has acquired famed hockey photographer's Denis Brodeur's photography collection.
Go Devils. And, of course, Go Knights.
Labels: Devils Game
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Devils 3 - Carolina 2: Postgame
- The Devils scored on the power play for the second straight game! Travis Zajac lit the lamp, assisted by linemates Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner. Zajac looked to be the best Devils' forward against Carolina, though Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta also played very well.
- The Devils' defense was very good. The second goal was the result of the puck unfortunately bouncing off Brian Rafalski's skates that just slid under Martin Brodeur. Regardless, the defensemen did well in getting Carolina's shooting and passing lanes, jumping up on the offense when necessary, and generally didn't panic (the only other glaring problem was the two consecutive delay of game penalties by Alex Brooks and his partner Brad Lukowich). Johnny Oduya, in my view, was the best of the 6 last night. A ton of shots from the point (one hit the post!)-2 that hit the net, 5 blocked shots to lead the team (Link NHL Official Scoresheet of the game), and in one particular sequence in the third period, he demolished Scott Walker behind the net and quickly stopped Eric Staal, who was waiting in the slot for the easy shot, from having a scoring chance.
- Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger's article on the game is a good summary, noting that the team's offense as of late has been lackluster.
- As a side note, I'm convinced Patrik Elias is snake bit. He had two really good opportunites to score near the end of last night's game in regulation and was robbed in the shootout thanks to a last minute appearance of Cam Ward's left leg. Once Elias gets one, expect him to explode on the scorer's sheet.
- Martin Brodeur played very well, especially in overtime when the Hurricanes threw everything and the kitchen sink at him.
- Jim Dowd = Clutch Scorer. Seeing him score the equalizer was fantastic.
In the same article on the GM's meeting, Rich Chere reports that Fahey's right tricep did not have any structual damage and is practicing with a brace. Scott Gomez is still day-to-day with a groin injury. I hope Gomez returns for the Chicago game.
By the by, Tom Lycan at the Devils Due blog correctly notes the following:
He's right. As a graduate student at Rutgers University, there is a ton of buzz about the Louisville game. It's clearly the biggest game in any sport Rutgers is involved with in the last 25 years. Even people who know nothing about football are excited about it. I got a ticket to the game, I'm definitely going to that - plus NJ is playing Chicago. Since Martin Havlat cooled off, it's...well...Chicago. Tom's DEFINITELY right about Brodeur, just look at the Montreal and last night's performance if you don't believe him.
Tomorrow, the Devils face Chicago at home. Unfortunately, they will be competing with the attention surrounding a surging Rutgers football team that is battling Louisville for the Big East in the best matchup of this college football weekend.
Also, here's a little known fact that I thought I would share-- it is actually Marty Brodeur's strong feeling of fairness in sports that drives him to imitate the imperfection of mortal goalies every game so that he can even the playing field. Fortunately for the Devils, most of the time he fails, because Marty is a bad actor.
Lastly, Trendon Lynch of On Fire correctly identifies a major source of the Devils' offensive woes pointed out in Rich Chere's summary of last night's game and yesterday's Tom Gulitti article: SHOOT!
Labels: Devils Postgame