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
It's disappointing how lax offense has led to lax defense and puck handling for the last few games. The Neil goal was set up by a terrible play in the corner by Lukowich (it happens way too often with him) and then he was beat to the net by Neil. I'd peronally rather Fahey or Brooks in there. The Alfredsson goal was Gionta's spectating, no doubt. It'd be nice if they could play the full 60 minutes.
I find it interesting how the 2nd period was the scary one at the start of the season, now it's the 3rd.
Langenbrunner's first goal was hardly a "loose puck." Zajac passed in to Parise who angled the puck perfectly into the slot to set up the goal. There was nothing loose or accidental about it, just the Sioux Two getting it done again...
Good eye on the first goal, it looked like a puck got loose from where I sat - but all the same Langenbrunner did the right thing.
Aaron: Quite right, but please don't wish for a return of Fahey or Brooks. It likely A) means someone is hurt, meaning B) the third pairing could either be competant or incredibly awful. I'll take Lukowich over either of them.