Sunday, December 31, 2006


December in Review; Devil of the Month

December 2006 was a strong one for the Devils. The began the month with a 5 game winning streak, defeating the Penguins, the Flyers in a shootout, Montreal in overtime, a shutout win over the Flyers, and a dominant win over the Bruins. The Buffalo Sabres put an end to that winning streak and unfortunately it was the beginning of a little losing streak. The Devils then lost to the Bruins and then lost their third straight to the Detroit Red Wings. In that losing streak, the Devils were heavily outshot and taking way too many penalties. They were looking up from the wrong end of the Atlantic Division, if I recall correctly, halfway through December. Right now, they're at the top? How did this begin? They righted the ship, so to speak, in the greatest way possible. A 6-1 beatdown of the New York Rangers. The good times ended with a shootout loss to Atlanta, a game well known for two shorthanded goals given up by the Devils. While I missed it, the Devils did defeat the Capitals 4-1 in convincing fashion. Atlanta continued to give the Devils trouble, convincingly beating the Devils in the next night 5-2. The Devils then got hot to finish off the month. The Devils stymied Sidney Crosby in a shutout win against Pittsburgh; then later shutdown Alexander Ovechkin in a win over the Capitals. Lastly and most recently, the Devils defeated the Islanders 2-0 to extend a winning streak to three games and finish December at the top of the Atlantic Division.

By my count, the Devils finished the month 10-4-1. Pretty dang good. A lot has improved for the Devils over the month. They currently stand in the NHL with ninth best record in the league, 22-13-3. They have scored an average of 2.55 goals per game (26th) and given up 2.34 goals per game (4th), thanks to an improved offense as of late and the mighty play of Martin Brodeur. What has seen the most improvement has been the power play. It has been a long running joke that the Devils' power play is unproductive and in this season, susceptible to shorthanded goals. Well, the latter part is true; but the Devils have the fifth best power play in the NHL. Yes, the FIFTH best, with a 19.5% effective rate. The penalty killing has not been strong, it has been dominant. The Devils have the best penalty killing units in the NHL, killing off 88.9% of all penalties. While the Devils shot a lot of pucks last night, they still average only 27.5 shots per night (27th). Despite all the criticism of some defensemen (i.e. Paul Martin), the Devils still allow an average of 28.6 shots per night, good for the seventh best average in the league. The numbers back up the strong play of the Devils this month.

Martin Brodeur has been aces this month, finishing December with the following stats: 22-12-2, 2.11 GAA, a save percentage of 0.925, and 6 shutouts. Brodeur is second in the NHL in wins (Jean-Sebastian Giguere leads with 23), second in GAA (Dominik Hasek has a GAA of 1.82), tied with Giguere for the third best save percentage (Cristobal Huet leads with a save percentage of 0.931), and leads the league in shutouts. Brodeur is not just having a Vezina-caliber year. He's having a MVP year. I don't want to think about how the Devils would do without Marty and I don't think any of the Devils do either.

That said, the Devil of the Month is Patrik Elias. Yes, Brodeur has been The Man. But Elias has exploded this month. He has struggled a bit early on in terms of production, but he has took it to another level this month. He opened the month with a goal and two assists and proceeded to have at least one point in every game he played in December but one. The exception being the 2-1 loss to Detroit. Elias only missed one game, the second Atlanta Thrashers game in the month wherein he was out with a sore foot. With 10 goals, 11 assists during the month, Elias now leads the Devils in scoring with 15 goals and 22 assists - where many have predicted he should be in terms of production. 3 of Elias' goals have been game winning goals, so Elias has been coming through when the Devils need a goal as well. Just as importantly, Elias has been skating hard regardless if he's the left winger for Travis Zajac and Jamie Langenbrunner or completing the EGG line with Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta. He's playing incredibly well and the Devils' success this month is due to this as much as it has been Martin Brodeur. Therefore, I decree that Patrik Elias is the In Lou We Trust Devil of the Month for December 2006.

The Devils ended December on a high note, which is good as the Devils played 15 games. January has 13 games mostly against conference opponents, with the Devils hosting the St. Louis Blues as the sole exception. If the Devils are serious about taking the division, another strong performance in January would definitely go a long way in retaining that Atlantic Division title. Here's to a new year in whatever you do, and hey who knows, maybe a fourth Stanley Cup.


Postgame: Devils 2 - Islanders 0

The New Jersey Devils defeated the New York Islanders 2-0 last night in Long Island, here is the official score sheet and the official super stats from that game thanks to There's a lot to cover, so I'll break it down piece by piece.

First, the game was truly a goaltender's dual. Rick DiPietro and Martin Brodeur played very well. Both faced quite a bit of work, with Brodeur saving all 29 of the Islanders' shots and DiPietro stopping 34 of 35 of the Devils' shots he was in net for. They both had to come up big at times and they both had tough saves to make. If you wanted to see some great goaltending, this was a marquee match up. It's a shame that the game was decided on a fluke goal: Rafalski's shot was tipped by an Islanders' stick and a defenseman's hand (up to knock it away) up and over DiPietro. Brodeur had a milestone night: he broke the 50,000 minute plateau whilst getting his 6th shutout of the season, his 86th shutout in his career, and yet another win.

This leads me to my second point, the Devils' defense played very well tonight. Paul Martin slid on the ice to stop a sure two-on-one. I saw Brian Rafalski make many strong clearances and first passes out of his own zone to start rushes. I saw Brad Lukowich getting physical with 4 hits. I saw the checking unit pretty much shutdown their top line. I saw Devils picking up and beating the Islanders to loose pucks as well as making a number of interceptions. I saw the entire defensive unit hold the Islanders to less than 30 shots and blocking 25 shots in a very open, up-tempo, end-to-end game. 29 shots isn't a small amount, but it was in this game. Good job to the defense.

I can not stress enough how up tempo this game was, as both teams were skating hard for pretty much all 60 minutes. For the first two periods, the Devils had a number of interesting offensive opportunities thwarted by the Islanders' blocking their shots - Tom Poti had 5 blocked shots, the team had 18. However, they did not give up; the Devils kept swarming and ultimately put a lot of pressure on the Islanders in the third period. Fortunately for them, DiPietro was as hot as he was, the Devils put up 17 shots in that third period alone. Brian Gionta, in particular, had a number of good opportunities but saw 7 of his shots all stopped. Patrik Elias was robbed on what could have been a highlight-reel backhand goal. While they only scored on a fluke and an empty net goal, it's very heartening to know the Devils can hustle as they did and be that aggressive on offense in the second game of a back-to-back series against a difficult opponent.

If the Devils were soundly beaten in any one area, I'd say it was in the physical game. The Devils were out hit 20 to 12. That may not be a surprise as the Islanders are a physical team with guys like Trent Hunter (3 hits), Brendan Witt (5 hits), and Arron Asham (5 hits). It would have been nice if Cam Janssen set the tempo in that regard, but it was not to be. Speaking of physical, good on Sergei Brylin for not backing down from Chris Campoli.

Overall, the Devils played very well against a team who have gave them problems last season and earlier this season. The game was exciting to watch and the Devils winning their last game of the year was solid. They now have a 5 point lead in the Atlantic Division with the Rangers coming up on Tuesday. Good job, Devils.


Saturday, December 30, 2006


WJC: Day 5

Well, the Devils are currently leading 1-0 and the group stage of the 2007 World Junior Championships is coming to a close. Here are the current standings from The United States must win their last game to move on the playoff and have a shot at that gold medal. Unfortunately, they have to beat Sweden to do so and the tournament is taking place in Sweden, making it a home game for - guess who - Sweden. If Sweden wins or ties, they move on; if the United States wins, they move on. It's that simple. Canada and Russia are through to the playoffs, but it's a tighter race for that second spot with Finland currently in second place in Group B.

Anyway, how are the Devils' prospects doing so far?
  1. Jeff Frazee, G, USA - Finally got a start, backstopping the US to beat Slovakia 6-1. He made 28 saves on 29 shots and I fully expect him to backstop the Americans against Sweden tomorrow. Frazee played big in big games with the U-18 team, I think he can do it again.
  2. Sean Zimmerman, D, USA - Has seen playing time in all three games, currently with 2 PIM and a +2. So the stats indicate he's been doing OK.
  3. Nicklas Bergfors, F, SWE - Bergfors got an assist in Sweden's 3-1 win over Germany. He's been shooting, he leads Sweden with 10 shots (tied with Linus Omark).
  4. Alexander Sundstrom, F, SWE - Sundstrom gets a goal, the third of the game for Sweden in their win over Germany.
  5. Alexander Vasyunov, RUS - Vasuynov got a goal in Russia's 6-1 rout of Belarus yesterday night.
The Devils' prospects have been a bit more productive, which is nice. I'm a bit disheartened at Bergfors' lack of production considering how well he has done in Lowell of the AHL this season. On the other hand, I have not been able to view any of these games; so for all I know, Bergfors has been dominant in everything except putting points up. I'll have more as more takes place.


Game: Devils @ NY Islanders, 2 of 8

The New Jersey Devils visit the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum to take on the New York Islanders tonight, in their last game of both December and of 2006.

Local TV: Fox Sports NY 2
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN
Devils Record Vs. Islanders: 0-1-0 Preview

The Islanders have had the Devils number last season and they seem to have it this season. They beat the Devils at home - a difficult task for away teams as NJ has been 13-3-2 at home so far - 5-2 back in November. Here were my thoughts on that game; a game in retrospect was part of a poor stretch of play by the Devils. The Islanders have been hot against the Devils. Rich Chere's Devils Notes in today's Star Ledger points out that the Islanders have beaten the Devils in each of their last 5 games against each other. The preview provided by has another unsettling statistic: Rick DiPietro has had shutouts in his last 3 games at home. Given that the Islanders last played this past Wednesday, he'll definitely be in net tonight and he'll be on. What's more, the Islanders won their last 4 home games. The Islanders are just 4 points behind New Jersey in the Atlantic Division with a game in hand, a Devils loss would make their ascent gain even more momentum and close to that all-important division lead.

While all these trends are impressive, let's take a look at some reasons why this should not beat the Devils down before the game start:
  1. In that Devils Notes article, the Devils are cognizant of the Islanders' strong play against New Jersey as well as their own woes on the road. Since the Devils are aware of this, it would be surprising if they did not act accordingly upon it.
  2. The Devils special teams are, as the cool kids may be wont to say, "blazin'." The Devils are now up to converting 19.4% of their power play opportunities, thanks to a Sergei Brylin power play goal from last night. You know where that ranks in the NHL? FIFTH. Yes, the Devils have a power play in the top five of the NHL. Back in November, they couldn't score a power play goal to save their lives. Now, they are officially "hot." The Devils have also been dominant on the penalty kill, killing 87.9% of all shorthanded situations which is good for the third best rate in the league. By comparison, the Devils outclass the Islanders on special teams. The Islanders rank 20th on the power play with a 16.7% effective rate and 24th on the penalty kill with killing 80% of all penalties. More than ever in the New NHL, special teams are important and this could prove to be the difference tonight.
  3. The EGG line is clicking. For starters, Scott Gomez is not only playing but he's coming off a very productive night. It's very possible that it could be the start of a streak. Patrik Elias has been awesome throughout December - by my count he has had 9 goals and 11 assists in 13 games. Brian Gionta has been no slouch either, putting up 5 goals and 7 assists in that same time span. Good luck to the Islanders in stopping them.
  4. The Devils have a legitimate second scoring unit! Zach Parise has really blossomed this season, he has 14 goals and 16 assists this season. Jamie Langenbrunner is putting up the numbers as well with 14 goals and 14 assists. Travis Zajac has also looked good with 8 goals and 11 assists. The Islanders can not afford to ignore them either.
  5. Martin Brodeur is Martin Brodeur. I know it's not a substantial reason, but he's been keeping the Devils in games, winning games, and putting up big numbers doing so.
Rick DiPietro is hot and the Islanders will likely come out guns a-blazing as the lost their last game 2-0 to the Senators in Ottawa. The Devils will need to stifle them as soon as possible, and try to break Rick DiPietro early and often. If DiPietro starts making huge saves, this will lead to momentum which in turn can and will lead to goals. Alexei Yashin had a 10 game point streak broken in that Ottawa game, wherein he put up 5 goals and 9 assists. He'll be looking to start something again. Jason Blake has 21 goals this season, he has been a monster for the Islanders; leading the team with 38 points. The Devils defense will need to stay aware of those two among others.

The fact that the Islanders have been hot at home and against the Devils is indeed disheartening. However, the Devils are coming off a productive win and I listed 5 reasons why the Devils should not be counted out if not be considered to be the favorites. It should be a good game and the last one for New Jersey in this year. GO DEVILS!



Postgame: Devils 4 - Washington 3

I apologize for not getting a game preview up in time for last night. In any case, the Devils defeated the Washington Capitals 4-3. Here is official score sheet and the official super stats from that game via

Don't let the score fool you, the Devils did out play the Capitals. While the Capitals poured on the shots in the second and third periods; Martin Brodeur only had to make the big saves in the third period when Washington was desparate for a goal. That said, the three goals the Capitals did get were due to missed defensive coverage - as Brooks Laich and Alex Semin were wide open with no one on them to deflect a puck in/put home a rebound; or on a deflection by a defenseman's stick - which is how Lawrence Nycholat scored the first goal of the game. So the defense could be better; though I should give them credit by holding Washington to only 6 shots in the first period. Plus, I should give them and the checking line credit for holding Alexander Ovechkin to no points. Ovechkin gave Sergei Brylin a lot of respect as he told Steve Cangelosi after the first period that he was "a great player."

Fortunately, the Devils showed up on offense to put 35 shots on Olaf Kolzig. Scott Gomez had a huge night with 2 goals and 1 assist, playing like a guy getting paid $5 million per year should be playing. Clearly the #1 star of the game. Gomez revealed that someone "challenged" him to produce, and Gomez answered the call as Rich Chere reports in the Star Ledger (Gomez noted this to Steve Cangelosi after the second period). Was it head coach Claude Julien? Was it captain Patrik Elias? Was it someone in his family? Was it Lou Lamoriello "reminding" Gomez of his salary and his not-so-endearing numbers? Who knows and who cares, Gomez put up big numbers in a big game. As did Patrik Elias who had 2 assists and the game winning goal. The EGG line returned for this game and they cracked one on the Washington Capitals.


Thursday, December 28, 2006


WJC Update: Day 3

The World Junior Championships are in their third day. Since I mentioned them in the past, let's take a look at the 5 Devils who were selected to represent their countries in the tournament. Mind you, two games going on as I type this - Sweden vs. Slovakia and Russia vs. Switzerland. I apologize in advance for any non-up-to-date information.

The Five Devils prospects are:
  1. Jeff Frazee, G, USA - Has not seen any minutes in net, sitting on the bench for the 2-1 OT loss to Germany and the 6-3 loss to Canada.
  2. Sean Zimmerman, D, USA - Has seen playing time in both games, currently with 2 PIM and a +1.
  3. Nicklas Bergfors, F, SWE - He obviously did not get any points in Sweden's 2-0 loss to Canada, he currently has no points after one period of play against Slovakia (current score: 2-2)
  4. Alexander Sundstrom, F, SWE - See above for Bergfors, no numbers.
  5. Alexander Vasyunov, RUS - No points in Russia's 3-2 win over the Czech Republic, and he has no points after 2 periods of play against Switzerland.
So the Devils' prospects haven't been productive. I can't comment much about the actual games or their actual performances outside of stats because I do not have access to watch the games. If you have any idea or thoughts on how the WJCs are going for these 5 players or in general, by all means please leave a comment. I'm interested in finding out. All I know is that the US has been disappointing to say the least; a 2-1 OT loss to Germany and a 6-3 loss to Canada is no way to start a tournament.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Postgame: Devils 3 - Pittsburgh 0

The New Jersey Devils have defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0. From here is the official score sheet from the game and the official super stats.

Rich Chere's article in the Star Ledger highlights that the Devils made Sidney Crosby look ordinary. The article also notes that Crosby tried to stick up for his team by rubbing his hand in Cam Janssen's face. Personally, if Crosby did try to fight Janssen, it would likely not end well for Crosby as Janssen has height, weight, muscles, and fighting experience on the young superstar.

Patricia at 2 Man Advantage was (is?) very upbeat about the win and rather downbeat on Scott Gomez (warning: poo in link).

Patrik Elias did play last night and got an assist Brian Gionta's sweet backhand goal. Alex Brooks played on defense in Brad Lukowich's spot as Lukowich was moved up to the top pairing to replace Colin White. I was concerned to say the least when hearing of this, but Lukowich - and the defense in general - played very well. Martin Brodeur got his 85th shutout and his fifth of the season to tie Dominik Hasek with the league lead in shutouts. Cheers to him. Jeers to Jordan Staal who pulled a Hanson and tripped Brodeur for no reason at the end of the game. Rich Chere has a short article about that dirty play in the Star Ledger.

But enough of what others thought, what do I think? Well, the Devils played very well. The Penguins had a number of opportunities either muffed by the wingers, stopped by the Devils defense, or simply got robbed by Brodeur (or in Ryan Malone's case, the crossbar in Pittsburgh's best chance of the night). The Devils contained Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby well enough all game, which is very good to say the least. I was concerned that the Devils would try to win the game with a 1-0 lead, a score I felt would not be enough given the amount of offense Pittsburgh packs. But it was, and fortunately the Devils took advantage of some defensive breakdowns to get 2 more late in the third period.

I watched the game with a close friend who is a Penguins fan. He kept pointing out that Crosby and Malkin could really use more talented wingers than Ryan Malone, Nils Ekman, Colby Armstrong, and veteran Mark Recchi. I don't know. I'm kind of glad the Penguins' offensive talent is based at center otherwise last night probably would not have gone as well as it did. He also was disappointed with the Pittsburgh defense, and I can't blame him for that. The Pens could use a defender. Not to mention the team toughness; Crosby face-washing Janssen was the only physical response to a team that happily hit the Penguins all game long. What surprised both of us is that Penguins' head coach Michel Therrien did not put Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby on the same line to try and get a goal - something that would have tied things up as NJ didn't score their other 2 goals until later in the game.

While a 3-0 win is something to be happy about that even featured a goal from The Goal Scoring Machine That Is Jay Pandolfo (who had his 3rd goal against Pittsburgh this season), I have one point of criticism. The power play. 0 for 6 on the power play is not good for a team whose power play has been effective as of late. OK, the last power play opportunity came with 3 seconds left; but come on Devils. You got a man advantage, don't spend more than 30 seconds of it in your own zone trying to get a break out going.

Regardless, the team gets a few days of rest before taking on the Washington Capitals on Friday. A team that got destroyed 6-3 by Buffalo last night and who is playing Montreal tonight. They will be worked, to say the least. NJ should make the most of this little break.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Game: Pittsburgh @ Devils, 4 of 8

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. But for the Devils, the season is still going on, as the Pittsburgh Penguins come to the Continental Airlines Arena tonight.

Local TV: Fox Sports NY 2
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN
Devils' Record Vs. Penguins: 2-1-0 Preview

Before delving into this preview, I'd like to highlight that I was mistaken in my analysis of the Atlanta game. Aaron left a comment that lot of those third period shots were from quite a distance away; something I didn't fully realize in my assessments. Aaron's right, the Devils did have trouble penetrating Atlanta's zone - proving that their breakout plays (and most everything other offensive plays in the third period) were ineffective.

Such play will be vital. The Penguins are not known for their defense. The blueline is questionable at best. I have it on good authority that any night Rob Scuderi (or Josef Melichar) is not made to look like a pylon is a good night for him. The Penguins let up an average of 31.3 shots per game and give up an average of 3.29 goals per game. The Devils need to re-establish their possessive play in the offensive zone and make their breakout plays effective to have any success tonight. The Devils should be able to both of these tasks against a team of Pittsburgh's defensive caliber.

Expanding on that point, one could say that now is the perfect time to hammer on the Penguins. The Penguins in general are not doing so well. They lost last their last 3 games to Montreal, St. Louis (!!), and Atlanta. The entire team may not be in Pittsburgh next season, as Mario Lemieux took the team off the market and are considering relocation options, as stated in the NHL preview. Spirits may not be high in the Pittsburgh camp. On the other hand, one could say that this could be a dangerous game for the Devils' tonight. The team needs a win not only to break their losing streak but to lift their team after the terrible news about relocation. It's not as if Pittsburgh is short on offensive talent. They have the NHL leading scorer, Sidney Crosby with his 17 goals and 38 assists; and the NHL's leading scorer among rookies, Evgeni Malkin, with his 17 goals and 16 assists. The Devils defense will need to keep tabs on those two in particular. They and the rest of the Penguins may be very hungry for a win tonight.

What of the Devils? Will Patrik Elias and Colin White be ready to play tonight? Well, the notes section of Rich Chere's column in today's Star Ledger has something on Elias. He's questionable. Personally, I think he'll play. I remember hearing from the TV telecast that he did practice prior to the Atlanta game and was an extremely late scratch for that game. He's had 2 more days of rest, so as long as it isn't killing him, Elias could play. If not, I certainly understand as he would get an extended rest prior to the Capitals on Friday. No word on Colin White and that worries me. I didn't see anyone called up from Lowell, so maybe he'll play? Maybe he will/can not? Who knows? Who will be on the ice for NJ tonight? Good question, here's my guess, assuming Elias does play:


Hale-???? (seriously, if White isn't playing, I have no idea who's here)


If Elias isn't playing, I think Julien may use the same lines he put out for Atlanta last Saturday. In any case, GO DEVILS!


Sunday, December 24, 2006


Postgame: Atlanta 5 - Devils 2

Well, the Thrashers just have the Devils number, winning their sixth straight against the Devils in a very up tempo, exciting hockey game. No, the Thrashers are not on a six game winning streak; just a streak against the Devils. In any case, here is the official score sheet from that game via as well as the official super stats. Some lucky bounces and occurrences led to some of the goals, namely Zach Parise's first goal which was a rebound off Steve McCarthy's skate and Bobby Holik's goal which went off Paul Martin's body and deflected into the net. The Devils had their chances to tie up the game or go up early, but the Devils hit a number of posts and missed (or were robbed) on at least 3 opportunities what looked certain to be a goal.

While the Devils didn't give up after Shane Hnidy's tally in the second period, they looked flat after Viktor Kozlov's goal in the third (in which he missed his first shot, kicked the puck to himself, and then beat Martin Brodeur). The fifth goal came from Ilya Kovalchuk on an empty net, which just iced the game. The Devils did shoot the puck more than Atlanta, by a tune of 38 to 27; but the Thrashers got the results New Jersey was looking for. Aaron has a recap of the game as well, noting the Devils' lack of success on the breakout was a key to their loss. I don't know about that. The Devils did put up 38 shots on Atlanta, even out shooting them in the third period 9 to 8 when I felt they were flat for the last 12 minutes or so. Unless I'm mistaken, the breakout play is usually designed to generate offensive rushes and, hopefully, establish some possession in the opposition's zone. With 38 shots and from what I saw on TV, the Devils succeeded in this regard. I don't think the Devils did not have a shortage of putting plays together, just on finishing scoring chances. Atlanta, on the other hand, did capitalize on their scoring chances - another point Aaron makes that I completely agree with him.

Also from the recap, Aaron hopes the short Christmas break will be enough for Patrik Elias and Colin White to be healthy. I felt that the Devils really could have used Elias for the Atlanta game; but his health is important, as is Colin White's. The break is short, as the Devils will take on the Pittsburgh Crosbies on Tuesday night. It may be enough, I swore I heard Doc and Chico talk about how Elias was skating in practice during last night's telecast - not much on White. Regardless, I hope they come back soon.

Aaron points out at the end of their recap that the Rangers blew it against Tampa Bay, with defenseman Dan Boyle scoring a hat trick in a 4-3 win. That makes me very happy because A) the Rangers lost and B) I have Dan Boyle on my fantasy team. I'll elucidate on why I personally smile at least a little bit when the Rangers falter. Probably before the next Devils-Rangers game.

Since it is being Christmas Eve, I bid you all a Merry Christmas.


Saturday, December 23, 2006


Game: Devils @ Atlanta, 2 of 4

I missed the Devils game last night and didn't put a tape in. Which sucks because the Devils defeated the Washington Capitals 4-1. Fortunately, the Devils did it while holding Alexander Ovechkin to nothing - excellent job by Sergei Brylin as is my understanding. Unfortunately, Patrik Elias' hurt his foot in the victory and it's questionable as to how long he will be out. Tom Lycan of Devils' Due has more on the game as he went to see it live, reporting on how well things went at the Verizon Center. If you want a total recap of the game itself, The Devils Fan in Boston, Aaron, has a complete account of the contest: he's a big Martin Brodeur booster too. 2 Man Advantage was very pleased with the results of the game. Eric McErlain of Off Wing Opinion also has an extensive recap of the game (with pictures!) from a Caps point of view.

In any case, the New Jersey Devils are now in Atlanta to take on the Atlanta Thrashers.

Local TV: Fox Sports NY 2
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN
Devils' record vs. Atlanta: 0-0-1 Preview

Well, not much has changed since the last time these two teams played. It was earlier this week, here were my thoughts prior to the game and after the game. NJ won 4-1, as you would have gathered from the previous paragraph. The Thrashers defeated the Penguins 4-3 in a shootout on Thursday, so they are still rolling. The fact that they won their last two games via a shootout is comforting in the sense that Atlanta isn't getting it done in regulation or overtime. In any case, this preview will be real short as I have nothing much to say that's new other than this:
Now, the fact that Patrik Elias' foot is not right makes this a bit more challenging. I have no idea whether he's good to go for tonight. The Preview says nothing about it and I'm not finding much about the extent of the injury; so I can't really assume his health. OK, if Elias is in; I'd expect to see the same lines Claude Julien put out for Washington - meaning the same lines as the last few games with Janssen in for Rasumussen (who was scratched last night). If Elias is hurt; I'd move Brylin up to the second line left wing position, move Erik Rasumussen back in the third line role on the right side, and have a fourth line of Cam Janssen, Jim Dowd, and Mike Rupp.


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Friday, December 22, 2006


Game: Devils @ Washington, 1 of 4

The New Jersey Devils go to the Verizon Center to take on the Washington Capitals.

Local TV: Fox Sports New York 2
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN Preview

The Devils have dropped 4 of their last 5, losing to Atlanta in a shootout on Tuesday. While they scored twice on the power play, the Devils allowed Marian Hossa to do that thing he does so well and score twice shorthanded. As Rich Chere pointed out in yesterday's Star Ledger, the Devils are among league leaders in shorthanded goals allowed and have lost all of the games they have given up a shorthanded goal. The Devils will need to be careful to avoid playing to the Washington Capitals' level and letting their forwards get shorthanded opportunities.

More importantly, as Colin Stephenson points out in today's Star Ledger, the Devils have to deal with Alexander Ovechkin.

He isn't just the team's leading scorer with 23 goals an 22 assists. He is not just a threat based on stats, but in how he plays the game. If he can hit you, he'll hit you as hard as he can. He doesn't take shifts off, he plays with passion nearly all the time. He's fast, he's intense, and the Devils will see him a lot as he is averaging 20:56 of ice time this season. The Stephenson article notes that Ovechkin is a right handed shot who plays on the left wing; if the lines stay the same as they have been in the last few games (and I think they will since it's not the line combinations where the Devils have been faltering, just in-game mistakes/brain-farts that prove themselve costly) Sergei Brylin will have a hell of a time trying to contain him. Even if Claude Julien throws the Caps a curve ball and switches Jay Pandolfo and Brylin on the wings, it's going to be a tough assignment for the ace defensive forward Pandolfo.

The Capitals are hot right now, with a current record of 15-11-7. Yes, they lost their last game to Tampa Bay 5-4, but they won 4 of their last 5 whilst the Devils lost 4 of their last 5. Despite a GAA over 3, Olaf Kolzig has maintained a 91.1% save percentage. While Ovechkin is far and away the leading scorer on the team, I wouldn't advise you or the Devils to sleep on Alexander Semin (14 G, 15 A), Danius Zubrus (13 G, 16 A), and Chris Clark (12 G, 14 A). They can - and have - put up points this season.

Where the Devils really need pound Washington is on offense. The Capitals' defense has Brian Pothier as their #1 d-man, averaging 26:17 a night this season. Brian Pothier! He had trouble cutting it with Ottawa on their third pairing. Combine him with a number of young players (the Capitals are loaded with talented youth, meaning some of them are still developing), and it's no surprise the Capitals are dead last in shots allowed per game. They average 35.3 shots allowed per game. That's a lot and the Devils need to be aggressive in putting rubber on Kolzig. We know the Devils can score - just ask the Rangers - tonight is a perfect opportunity to rebound from the Atlanta game and drop a hammer of goals on the Caps. Also, consider history. The Devils swept the season series last season against the Capitals and Washington has won 1 of their last 11 games against NJ. However, if Kolzig is hot though and Ovechkin's Carriage Full of Power is running about, this game becomes much harder for NJ. All the more reason for the Devils to break through right from the start - they may need to.

As far as lines go, I'm assuming Brodeur will start because...well, he's Martin Brodeur. I'm not positive as the Devils have a game tomorrow in - where else - Atlanta.





Oops UPDATE: I just read Off Wing Opinion and apparantly Brent Johnson will start for the Capitals tonight. The Devils, for whatever reason, sometimes has had major troubles playing against a team's backup goaltender for as long as I can remember. Johnson is 4-3-3 this season with a GAA of 3.10 and a save percentage of 90.8%. I still stand by my earlier thoughts that NJ needs to pound the Capitals with shots early and often to have a chance at winning this. Exploit their defense and all that. Still: GO DEVILS!


Thursday, December 21, 2006


WJCs; Aaron

The 2007 World Junior Championships will take place in less than a week, and the WJC website has the schedule. The United States draws Canada, Sweden, Slovakia, and Germany - a tough group indeed. The tournament is on Sweden's home ice and Canada is usually stacked in youth. Unfortunately for the rest of Group A; the United States boasts plenty of talent: Kyle Okposo, Jack Skille, Peter Mueller, Ryan Stoa, Pat Kane, James Van Riemsdyk, Brian Lee, and the DUAL MONSTER PERFORMING JOHNSONS (soon to be TM by Pierre McGuire): Erik and Jack.'s World Juniors page is likely your best source of coverage of the tournament. They have team rosters for everyone except Russia (they haven't announced theirs yet. Uh...bold move, Russia to wait until the last minute). They also have news and TSN Broadband will have highlights it seems. Four Devils prospects will be at the WJCs. Goaltender Jeff Frazee is returning to mind the nets for the USA and defenseman Sean Zimmerman got selected as the 7th defenseman. Top 2005 pick Nicklas Bergfors will be featured heavily in Sweden's forward lineup and on offense. Alexander Sundstrom also got selected for team Sweden. I'm hoping Alexander Vasyunov will be on Russia's WJC team, but their roster has yet to be announced. Good luck to the Devils and the USA team in the 2007 WJCs.

By the way, if you may have noticed, about 90% of my comments are by a guy named Aaron. Well, Aaron has started a new blog of his own about the Devils: Devils Fan in Boston. His first post focuses on the Devils' recent 4-3 loss to Atlanta and goes into good depth in recapping the game. Good job, Aaron. Readers who aren't Aaron, I suggest you go read it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


The New Home Will Be Prudential

So I was reading the Devils board on Hockey's Future's Message Boards, and a poster by the name of Muttley found this article at's Newslogs. I didn't even know had such a thing. Anyway.

Today, Prudential Financial has agreed to pay the Devils $5 million per year for the naming rights to the new arena in Newark. The article notes that this deal could last awhile and it is close to being official. The arena will likely be called the Prudential Center.

I like that name, but I'm going to call it THE ROCK. If I had any clout, I'd ask you all to call it that as well.

Built-in nicknames and money going straight to the Devils instead of the NJ Sports & Exposition Authority for the win!


Postgame: Atlanta 4 - Devils 3 (SO)

The Atlanta Thrashers defeated the New Jersey Devils in a shootout to win last night's game 4-3. has the official score sheet and the official super stats for the game.

A perfect penalty kill (3 for 3), a good power play (2 for 5), and Johnny Oduya's first NHL goal was all for naught as the game went into a shootout. Why?


I know Marian Hossa is the NHL's leading goal scorer and a very, very good hockey players; but the game should have never came to this. Why?


Shorthanded goals are always unacceptable. Sloppy play with a man advantage - a literal man advantage, a concept I think NJ has trouble understanding sometimes - is unacceptable.

Then there was the shootout. Martin Brodeur did not have his best outing to say the least, and the two Devils forwards who did shoot (Zach Parise and Brian Gionta) did not challenge Lehtonen enough to be a threat. So NJ lost a game they could have and should have won; but they decided Atlanta should be kept in the game by giving up offensive opportunities to the team trying to kill penalties.

I hope Julien emphasizes this in practice in preparation for the Washington game on Friday. One shorthanded goal given up is unacceptable; two in one game is even worse.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Game: Atlanta @ Devils, 1 of 4

The Atlanta Thrashers come to the Continental Airlines Arena to take on the New Jersey Devils.

Local TV: Fox Sports NY
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN Preview

The Devils are coming off a win so big against the Rangers, I dare suggest it was huuuuge (say it like Mike Francesca). While the discipline could have been better and the Rangers made Marty see a lot of pucks, the Devils outplayed the Rangers and lit them up. Especially on the powerplay. The Devils are rolling, with Patrik Elias catching fire. Elias has 7 goals and 8 assists in his last 10 games, a stretch wherein the Devils went 6-3-1. Tom Gulitti's article in today's Bergen Record focuses on the Devils' captain and how far he has come (which is incredible to say the least). So while NJ was on a three game losing streak prior to the Rangers game, the 6-1 win out of MSG from Sunday has them feeling pretty good. The team is about to get another positive "bump" soon. Rich Chere of the Star Ledger reports today that Cam Janssen practiced yesterday and will be ready soon - though he won't play tonight. Cam says he's ready, but he'll need medical clearance before returning.

The Thrashers could be doing better as of late. While they lead the Southeast Division, they have lost their last 3 games: 2-1 to Anaheim, 3-2 to Washington, and they were subject to a 6-0 rout at the home of the New York Islanders. The Thrashers are struggling, to say the least. However, doubting the Thrashers' quality is a poor choice. Atlanta did defeat the Devils in all of the four regular season games they played each other last season. Furthermore, the team does have quite a bit of talent. Marian Hossa (22 G, 20 A), Slava Kozlov (11 G, 26 A), and Ilya Kovalchuk (18 G, 18 A) are all ace on offense. Those three alone will present a challenge for John Madden, Jay Pandolfo, Sergei Brylin, and the Devils' blueline to contain - and possibly stop - them. The Thrashers also boast a set of good character and defensive forwards such as ex-Devil Bobby Holik, two-way center Steve Rucchin, Glen Metropolit, and pre-season superstar Jon Sim. Kari Lehtonen is the Thrashers' top goaltender and I can't imagine why he wouldn't start. He currently boasts a 13-7-6 record with a 2.86 GAA, a 90.7% save percentage, and 4 shutouts. Lehtonen hasn't done as well as of late, losing his last 4 starts; but when he's on, he's incredibly tough to beat.

The Devils need to come out right from the first second and start pressing the Thrashers' defense. Led by Greg de Vries, they have done pretty well; but they are not unbeatable. The Devils need to establish the pace of the game early on and force Atlanta to play catch up early. The checking unit needs to have their "A" game, as Kovalchuk, Hossa, and Kozlov are not guys you want to have skating about causing havoc on offense. They are incredibly talented and will score if allowed. In short, play them like they were the Rangers just like from Sunday night and NJ should be fine. Expect the same lines as we have seen in the last few games. GO DEVILS!


Monday, December 18, 2006


Postgame: Devils 6 - Rangers 1

The New Jersey Devils dropped a wonderfully massive carriage full of power on the NY Rangers with a 6-1 win at MSG. The official scoresheet and the official super stats from are linked in this sentence.

Once again, the Devils gave up way too many shots (36 to 28) and took 7 penalties for a total of 17 penalty minutes. So why am I so happy about this win? Well, for starters a lot of those 36 shots weren't that threatening. I don't have a stat to back that up, as I don't see scoring chances as a stat on either sheet; that's a general observation.

More to the point, check out those special teams by the Devils. the Rangers went 0 for 5 thanks to Martin Brodeur and the always stalwart penalty killers. Brad Lukowich, Colin White, and Paul Martin (who had an OK game) all played very well on the penalty kill and on defense in general. More impressively, the Devils went 3 for 5 on the power play. 3 power play goals! In a single game! The first goal in the game was a power play goal by Patrik Elias and the eventual game winning goal was a power play goal by Jamie Langenbrunner.

Speaking of offense, the Devils were flying with scoring chances. Odd man rushes were obtained and taken advantage. Shots were hitting Kevin Weekes and in turn going past him. The Devils made short work of the patchwork blueline that makes up the NY Rangers, putting 6 on Weekes. Zach Parise in particular was buzzing all night, as was Patrik Elias.

But the man of the night wasn't even Elias, Langenbrunner, Parise, or Brodeur (who played very well in his own right). It was Sergei Brylin. He was the #1 star last night with 2 goals, got a ton of time on the penalty kill stopping a Rangers squad looking for a goal, and generally playing hard in a checking role on the Rangers' top unit - short a Michael Nylander, but last I checked that Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan are both pretty dang good. Hell, he was the #1 star in today's Three Stars on! Sarge! Brylin had a big night and he deserves the recognition.

Overall, the Devils won a big game on the road, the second game in a back-to-back set (the third one this month), and it was a road game against the Rangers, no less. Snapping a three game losing streak and gaining ground on the Rangers in the Atlantic Division. There's another reason why I'm so happy for this win, but I'll leave it for a more detailed post. Though all you Devils fans probably can guess what that is - I'm still trying to process it into words.


Sunday, December 17, 2006


Game: Devils @ NY Rangers, Pt. 3 of 8

The New Jersey Devils go to the Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Rangers for the third time this season.

Local TV: Fox Sports NY
Local Radio, 92.3 FREE-FM
Devils record against Rangers this season: 0-2-0 Preview

I could go into length about tonight's game. I could talk about how the Devils are on a three game losing streak, losing to Detroit 2-1 yesterday afternoon. I could talk about how the Rangers had a winning streak of 5 games come to a glorious end in Toronto last night by a score of 9 to 2.

I could talk about a lot of things about tonight's game. About how the defense - especially Paul Martin - needs to step it up. How the Devils' offense needs to be more aggressive and make simpler plays in moving the puck as opposed to throwing the puck into the slot hoping to reach a teammate. How Devils' head coach, Claude Julien, needs to do a better job motivating the team to play a full 60 or at least to not take over 5 penalties in a game. I could even talk about whether the line combinations should change (I don't think they will. Expect the same combinations I posted for the Boston game, they haven't changed since then and I don't know who to move to shake things up without hurting the Devils' effectiveness.) or whether Julien needs to play the fourth line more often.

I won't because A) I would just be repeating cliches and things I've said before and B) my aim is simple and true. Just beat the Rangers. The 18-11-4 Blueshirts are at the top of the Atlantic Division. Now is the time to finally beat them for the first time this season, now is the time for the Devils to stop streaking and play strong, consistent hockey that we all know they can do and do well. Brodeur will be in net for NJ tonight; don't waste another strong effort from him, Devils. Don't pucker against Jaromir Jagr or Brendan Shanahan. Just win, Devils. Just win.


Saturday, December 16, 2006


Postgame: Red Wings 2 - Devils 1, Etc.

No, I didn't disappear. I had my last class on Thursday night, so I missed the Devils 5-3 loss to the Boston Bruins. 2 Man Advantage had a wonderful re-capping of that game that you can read here. I just finished watching the Detroit Red Wings decisively defeat the Devils 2-1. I've linked the official score sheets (from of course) from both of those games. Do you notice any similarities? I notice two very disturbing points of comparison.
Other things from today's game I want to note: Paul Martin has played terribly against Detroit. I don't know how well he did against Boston, but his performance today left a lot to be desired. David Hale only got 10 minutes and 39 seconds of ice time and did well when he was out there. He clearly deserves more ice time. Brad Lukowich played surprisingly well, averaging a minute of ice time on all of his shifts. He had to, being part of one of the penalty killing units. Nicklas Lidstrom is freaking awesome.

The Devils are now on a 3 game losing streak with a game against the damned New York Rangers in MSG. If the Devils turn in another lackluster performance on offense, gaping holes in passing lanes and shooting lanes on defense, an undisciplined performance in every sense of the word, and waste yet another strong Martin Brodeur performance, I would hope Lou Lamoriello "addresses" the situation. Bring back Pat Burns to coach, bench Paul Martin, stick Brylin back at center on the top line, have Julien throw a bench on the ice, something, anything. The Devils are talented enough to hang with the top teams, they did only lose to Detroit 2-1. However, they have not gotten results against the top teams so far this season. This must change and change fast as the new year approaches.


Thursday, December 14, 2006


Game: Devils @ Boston Pt. 2

The New Jersey Devils go back to Boston to take on the Bruins in a Thursday Night Matchup.

Local TV: Fox Sports NY
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN Preview

BUT FIRST: Check out TSN'sTransactions page. Alex Brooks and Dan LaCouture were sent back down to Lowell yesterday. Hmm. Wonder if Lou is making room? Sometime on this coming Monday is the holiday roster freeze date, meaning teams can't trade, call up, or send down and players to and from their NHL roster. So if Richard Matvichuk is going to play soon, a move will need to be made very soon. Of course, I could be reading too much into this, as Brooks and LaCouture haven't seen any playing with NJ since being called up and are being sent down to get some minutes with a team.

OK, the Boston Bruins are coming off a tough 4-3 loss to their historical rivals the Montreal Canadiens from Tuesday night. The Devils are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, which also took place on Tuesday night. The Devils have been hot against Boston, though. The curiously notes that the last time the Devils lost to the Bruins in Boston was on March 13, 2003. That's a good streak to have. If the Devils come out like they did against the Sabres in the first period, they got a good chance to start another winning streak tonight.

Having read today's Tom Lycan's Devils Due post, he finds this crucial article from Tom Gulitti in the Bergen Record. Here's the link, but here's what matters: SCOTT CLEMMENSEN WILL GET THE START. With Detroit and the Rangers looming this weekend, now is a good of time as any to rest Martin Brodeur. The Devils defense will need to come to play and play big tonight to help Clemmensen out. That means no giveaways, Brian Rafalski.

Another player I feel will need to show up tonight is Brian Gionta. The Gulitti article notes that Brian Gionta will not back down from anyone, not even 6'9" Zdeno Chara. I (and most Devils fans) know this when a young Gionta tried to check Hal Gill about 2 years ago in a game, promptly fell down (what with Gill being huger than Gionta), and promptly got back up and stormed the net. Gionta is all about hustle, heart, and a word that means fearlessness but begins with an 'h.' He'll be setting up screens in front of Tim Thomas, who will likely be Boston's goaltender tonight if he's healthy (otherwise it'll be Hannu Toivonen). The notes section of this Boston Globe article by Fluto Shinzawa has all this information and more about the Bruins. That said, here are my projected lines for tonight's game:




Go Devils!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Postgame: Sabres 3 - Devils 2

The Buffalo Sabres defeated the New Jersey Devils last night by a score of 3 to 2. Here are the official score sheet and super stats from Rather than go into great detail, I'll sum up the game briefly.

First Period: The Devils essentially outworked and outplayed Buffalo. They rarely gave the Sabres a chance to get going and put a lot of shots on Ryan Miller. Unfortunately, none of those shots went in.

Second Period: Overall, the Devils did better than Buffalo; but there were two causes of concern. The first was discipline, with the Devils taking 3 penalties in the period. The second was that the Devils allowed the Hecht unit to have some space, burn through the Devils, and put in a goal off a bounce.

Third Period: The Devils gave the Sabres two golden odd-man rushes and they capitalized on both to seal the deal. The Sabres, as is my understanding, do not kill you with a lot of pressure; but by capitalizing on provided opportunities. Brian Rafalski in particular made a major gaffe in one of those opportunities; but the team should be blamed as a whole for allowing the Sabres such golden opportunities. Discipline was a problem, as the Devils took 2 more calls. Amazingly, the Devils caught a break as a Erik Rasmussen was credited for an odd bounce that went in with less than minute left. About 20 seconds later, Gionta tips in an Elias shot that keeps hope alive for a late equalized. Paul Gaustad hit the post right in front of an empty net, caused by a Jamie Langenbrunner hook (and he got an unsportsmanlike call and a 10 minutes misconduct penalty for something. I can't remember. Sorry); and the Devils brief hope was dashed away.

Some call these sorts of last-minute efforts moral victories or are proud that the Devils didn't just die when going down 3-0 in the third. But moral victories are meaningless compared to real ones. The lesson the Devils should get out of last night's game was that the game is played for 60 minutes. Yes, it's a cliche. But it's true. The Devils let their foot off the gas pedal as the game went on, Buffalo realized this, and made the most of it. A full 60 minute effort and a little more luck in getting the puck past Miller - who played very well - and the Devils win that game.

In any case, Dale Carnegie wrote in his classic book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, you can't saw sawdust. The game's over, and Boston is the next team to focus on - which will take place tomorrow. Yes, the Bruins - again. Yes, in Boston - again. Yes, they did play each other last week. Maybe we'll see a repeat performance.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Game: Buffalo @ Devils

The Buffalo Sabres travel to the Continental Airlines Arena to take on the New Jersey Devils for the first time this season.

National TV: Versus
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN Preview

The Devils are in for a challenge tonight. The Buffalo Sabres are loaded with speed, offense, speed, talent, a stingy defense, and more speed. Look at their top 10 point scorers:
  1. Thomas Vanek - 17 G, 17 A
  2. Daniel Briere - 14 G, 20 A
  3. Maxim Afinogenov - 12 G, 21 A
  4. Chris Drury - 17 G, 11 A
  5. Jason Pominville - 12 G, 9 A
  6. Brian Campbell - 4 G, 16 A
  7. Jochen Hecht - 6 G, 12 A
  8. Ales Kotalik - 6 G, 10 A
  9. Derek Roy - 5 G, 11 A
  10. Teppo Numminen - 0 G, 15 A
Their top ten scorers range from 38 points to 15. 5 players already with at least 10 goals this season. Numminen and Campbell are the only defensemen on that list; meaning the Sabres pretty much have 3 scoring lines. Plus, the Sabres have Ryan Miller at goaltender, who has been effective this season (and was really good last season). His current stat line is 15-3-2, with a 2.70 GAA and a save percentage of 91.4%. The Sabres are the 2nd best team in the NHL with a record of 22-5-2, sporting an impressive record of 13-3-0 on the road. They have a good power play (17.7% efficiency, 12th best in the NHL) and a good penalty kill (83.3% efficiency, 14th best in the NHL). The Sabres are a very strong team and will absolutely pound the Devils if they are not careful.

Unfortunately for the Sabres, the Devils are more than just careful. They are playing Devils hockey.

They are unbeaten in their last 5, and are 11-1-1 at home so far this year. The power play has been much improved and, in turn, much more productive - now 14th in the NHL with a 17.4% efficiency. The Devils penalty kill is the 4th best penalty kill in the NHL, with an efficiency of 87.8%. Patrik Elias has been on fire with 4 goals and 6 assists in the last 6 games. Brian Gionta has seemed to have gotten his groove back with a goal and 3 assists in the last 2 games. The defense has improved, even Brad Lukowich has been dependable. Martin Brodeur is exactly who you thought he was: brilliant. The Devils are confident, they are hot, and it would be no surprise if they beat Buffalo. After all, the Sabres haven't exactly lit the world on fire as of late on their current road trip. They just won 3-2 in a shootout over Montreal in Montreal last Saturday, prior to that: they lost 3-1 to Florida in Florida, decisively beat Tampa Bay 4-1, and got defeated by Washington 7-4 to begin the road trip.

The key is scoring first. The first goal can and most likely will dictate the pace of the game, something that the Devils have done very well for the last 10 years or so. The Devils are 14-2-1 when scoring the first goal for a reason. I must add this caveat. If the Devils hope to win tonight, they can not sit on a lead. The Sabres are not just fast, but loaded with offensive talent that has gotten results so far this season. The Devils will need to keep piling it on Ryan Miller and the defense (which may or may not be without Teppo Numminen). My projected lines:




As always, all stats are from GO DEVILS!



Phil Kessel & Bob Gainey

One is a rookie for the Boston Bruins, the other is a famous Montreal Canadien; but both could use your thoughts and prayers.

Phil Kessel has recently had surgery to treat testicular cancer. Thankfully, the surgery has been a success. I hope and pray that Kessel makes a full and fast recovery.

Bob Gainey's daughter Laura has been lost at sea for the past four days, being thrown overboard from a sailing ship. The US Coast Guard has called off the search after finding no sign of Laura for the past few days.

Monday, December 11, 2006


The Goal Scoring Machine That Is Jay Pandolfo

Today, I'd like to talk about Jay Pandolfo. In the last postgame post, I referenced him as the Goal Scoring Machine That Is Jay Pandolfo. Nobody asked me on that and those who got it are probably from HF Boards, where I first started calling him that. Part of it is sarcasm and part of it is also surprise. Because it usually is a surprise if a Jay Pandolfo shot beats a goaltender - and some nights, it's a surprise if he hits the net on a shot.

There is a little truth to calling him a goal scoring machine. Check out his stats at Hockey DB. He put up a lot of points at Boston University, potting 38 goals in his senior year. He showed some offensive prowess early in his professional career, putting up 14 points in 46 games with the Devils in 1996-1997 and 37 points in 51 games with the Albany River Rats in the next year. OK, he didn't light the world on fire, but he showed promise.

Pandolfo earned a regular role in the 1998-1999 season, the same season where John Madden was tearing up the AHL with 38 goals and 60 assists down with Albany. If I recall correctly, Pandolfo began to develop into a checking forward, but with some scoring talent. After all, he did put 14 goals home that season while finishing a +10. But then something happened and that year would remain his most productive goal-scoring year.

His goal scoring dipped to 7, then 4, 4, 6, rose sharply to 13, dipped down to 10, and now currently has 4 goals. What happened? Well, like I said, he was a checking forward - his main role is to cover the opposing team's top right winger (Pandolfo playing left wing, of course), forecheck when necessary, and kill penalties. It wasn't his main job to bang home slapshots or work in front of the net to put in rebounds and the like. He was on the fourth line before Holik left (moving Pandolfo's unit up to the third line), siding up with John Madden when he became a regular for NJ back in 2000. The goal was to stop the opposition's offensive rush, and if you can, start a quick counter-attacking rush. This counter-attacking began to occur more prominently once Madden's line got more minutes as John Madden was (and still is) pretty quick in addition to being so strong defensively.

But all of this came at a cost to Pandolfo's shot. So many times a year do I get excited for a Devils odd-man rush or a shorthanded offensive opportunity or a breakaway only to immediately be disappointed when I then see #20 has the puck. I don't even need to look, the shot is likely going wide with Doc Emerick going, "Oh, and Pandolfo was JUST wide of the net there!" (Variation: the shot goes over the net and hits the high glass.) It's not that I hate Pandolfo, I appreciate him on the Devils and his superior abilities as a checking forward. As do the Devils, as Pandolfo has managed to cover some of the best right wingers in the game today really well. A good example is Jaromir Jagr. Pandolfo had him SHUT DOWN for over 40 minutes on 11/14. Just antagonizing him, forcing him to make bad passes, give up shots, and take poor percentage shots. Unfortunately he wasn't there when Jagr scored those two quick goals in the third period.

I just wish his shot was more accurate. The Devils would be far better off if Pandolfo lights the lamp more, punishing oppositions for being lackadaisical in their own zone. Look at the four times he's scored this year: 10/18, 11/4, 12/1, 12/9. The Devils won all four games Pandolfo scored in. I don't know how far that goes, but I also know the Devils' only playoff win against the Carolina Hurricanes last season involved a Jay Pandolfo goal.

Unfortunately, the mythical Jay Pandolfo goals are elusive. I only wish it were otherwise, so I can un-sarcastically call him The Goal Scoring Machine That Is Jay Pandolfo.

THE CONTINENTAL AIRLINES ARENA SUCKS? REALLY? GET OUT!: So I was reading the Star Ledger yesterday, and I'd like to make you aware of this extensive front-page article by Steve Politi described and explained the many, many shortcomings of the CAA. You may ask whether the upcoming Newark Arena will be any better, and that's a fair query to ask. I think Newark will be an upgrade for the Devils by virtue of not having to drive to the games. Martin Brodeur sums it up better than I can.

"These new arenas, it's an event when you go there. There's a buzz about the place," Brodeur said. He was sitting in the small cinder block space the Devils have used for their locker room since they arrived here, still sweating after notching his 461st career victory. "I don't mind playing here. I got used to it. But it's time for a change. For people spending this much money to come here, they deserve better."

And, if that argument fails to convince the skeptics, Brodeur falls back on another approach.

"It can't be worse than here," he said. "It just can't."


Sunday, December 10, 2006


Postgame: Devils 5 - Boston 1

I visited some friends and had dinner with them and generally had a good time. I stupidly did not put in a tape for this one, and I'm regretting it. From the looks of the NHL Official Score Sheet, I missed one hell of a game: 5 goals, 42 shots by NJ, and goals from Erik Rasmussen and The Goal Scoring Machine That Is Jay Pandolfo. Unsurprisingly, I was wrong and Martin Brodeur played; but so what? The Devils won by scoring five - a number larger than four and less than six - goals and only letting up one - a number between zero and two - on the second half of a back-to-back set of games.

In lieu of analysis, I will point you to some recaps: Recap
Rich Chere's article in the Star Ledger. I'd like to note from this article that Cam Janssen is now on Long Term Injured Reserve and Dan LaCouture has been called up to New Jersey as a spare forward.
Tom Gulitti's article in the Bergen Record.

The Devils next game is back in New Jersey which is good. Why? They're playing the Buffalo Sabres next. A very, VERY good Sabres team taking on a very, VERY good Devils team. A December-centric winning streak will be on the line and aired live on Versus on Tuesday. It'll make for some great, GREAT hockey.

COMMENTER PRAISE UPDATE: Thanks to Aaron, oft commenter on this site for sending me a video of Brodeur's absolutely amazing save on Geoff Sanderson from Friday's game!


Saturday, December 09, 2006


Game: Devils @ Boston

The New Jersey Devils travel to Boston to take on the Bruins at the TD Banknorth Garden.

Local TV: Fox Sports NY
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN Preview

The New Jersey Devils are 5-8-1 on the road this season, so a win tonight would be very good towards rectifying that blight on their record. It would also continue a winning streak, as the Devils won their last 4 games. Last night, the Devils played well despite some discipline issues, defeating the Flyers by a score 2 to 0. Martin Brodeur started his 20th straight game, got his 84th shutout, and his 432nd win; it was a huge night for Marty.

The Boston Bruins (14-10-3) have played well as of later, winning 10 of their last 13 games. Their power play is faltering on a 2003 Devils-esque-ian proportions, scoreless in their last 16 power play opportunities over the last 5 games. But they have been winning with recent defensive play, strong play from goaltender Tim Thomas, and strong penalty killing - allowing only 2 power play goals in the last 22 opportunities they given up. They just beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on Thursday and won 5 of their last 7 home games. So while if you look at the big picture, see that they have given up an average of 32.4 shots per game this season (27th in the NHL), a penalty killing efficiency of 78.9% (28th in the NHL), and given up an average of 3.35 goals per game (26th in the NHL); you may be tempted to count the Bruins out. Well, read the preview (which is where I got all their recent stats, other stats from again because Boston has been playing better than usual lately.

And as much as I mention defense, the Bruins have a number of offensive weapons the Devils will need to contain tonight. Playmaking superstar Marc Savard (6 G, 25 A) will burn anyone if allowed to create offense. Patrice Bergeron (8 G, 18 A) and Glen Murray (14 G, 8 A) also pack an offensive punch. Brad Boyes has also been getting it done with 6 goals and 13 assists. Not to mention former Norris Trophy candidate, captain Zdeno Chara has a huge shot to go with that huge frame of his (5 G, 12 A, 6'9", 260 lbs., May or May Not Have A Posse). Tonight's game will not be easy for the Devils. It's on the road, it's the second half of their second back-to-back games this month, and they just played rather hard against Philadelphia last night.

It may be a bit harder for NJ for another reason. I personally think Brodeur needs a break and that Claude Julien should start back-up Scott Clemmensen tonight. Colin Stephenson of the Star Ledger, however, asked Julien this question and the answer was unsurprisingly ambiguous. Brodeur's response was a bit more telling.
So, will Devils coach Claude Julien finally give Brodeur the night off tonight when the team plays the second night of a back-to-back in Boston against the Bruins? Julien wouldn't say last night.

"I haven't made my decision yet," he said.

Brodeur claimed Julien hadn't told him anything, but the 34-year-old frankly looked and sounded as though he wouldn't mind a night off.

"We'll see," he said when asked if he expected to play. "(Backup goalie Scott Clemmensen is) ready to go. He's been practicing hard and he knows he's going to get one pretty soon. We'll see if it's (tonight)."

Good to see that Brodeur is confident in the backup, though he hasn't played in well over a month. If Clemmensen is starting, hopefully the Devils will be just as confident. To be on the safe side, the Devils should shore up on defense some more and avoid taking stupid penalties (especially stupid penalties by defensemen. DOUBLY ESPECIALLY stupid penalties by Colin White) to help Clemmensen out. To win tonight's game, NJ must fight through whatever fatigue they have and play as if they just came off a few games rest. They got to show some fight in the beginning, put pressure on Tim Thomas right from the get-go (won't be easy with Zdeno Chara patrolling the blueline), and don't fall asleep after getting the lead. The Bruins aren't pushovers by any means, so it'll likely be a hard-fought win if the Devils do get the W tonight.

OOPS: I forgot to add my projected lines. Here they are:



Clemmensen (I say he DOES start, but I may be wrong)

Tom Lycan at the Devils Due blog has been ON FIRE (not to be confused with Trendon Lynch), just keep scrolling on his most recent post, he's got plenty to read. A new link to a Devils blog by a Hal Stern. Some salary cap discussion. A fantasy hockey link. A slam on ESPN. What more do you want? Exactly, go ahead on and read it.



Friday, December 08, 2006


Postgame: Devils 2 - Flyers 0

The New Jersey Devils picked up their fourth straight win and their seventh straight home win by defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 2-0. Here are your official score sheet and your official super stats for the game.

Well, the Devils started off strong against the Flyers. Jamie Langenbrunner puts home a rebound over Antero Niittymaki on the power play early in the first period to put the Devils up 1-0, and in the third period, Brian Gionta stashes home a loose puck off a deflected Brian Rafalski shot (deflected by Scott Gomez) for the second goal. Niittymaki did play well, Martin Brodeur has played excellently as well - earning a shutout. The shutout is Brodeur's 84th of his career, tying him with Glenn Hall for the third most shutouts by a goaltender. The win is Brodeur's 432nd, putting him up one over Ed Belfour (who is still playing) in the all-time regular season wins list. In general, the defense played well, the offense was strong despite being outshout in the third period (game ended with Flyers leading in shots 28-24, not too bad), the Devils were dominant on faceoffs, and - of course - they won the game 2-0.

So what do I have to complain about? Well, discipline. The Devils gave Philadelphia 6 power plays throughout the game. Thanks to the strong penalty kill and The Best Goaltender Around, the Flyers scored on none of them (obviously). But these were not good calls. Parise was called for a delay of game (puck over the glass) - but that was a bad bounce. David Hale called for interference, which was dumb of Hale. Johnny Oduya interfered with a Flyer early in the second period. Colin White had 4 hits, 8 blocked shots, and 2 really stupid penalties. Brad Lukowich hooked Ryan Poultny to stop a good scoring chance for the Flyer, but taking an extra roughing call with Ben Eager after the whistle was not smart.

4 of those 6 (the last one was a roughing call on Mike Rupp at the very end of the game) were avoidable calls. I can sit here and say the refereeing was very ticky-tacky; but the Devils do not usually take this many penalties in a game. They are regularly among the least penalized teams in the NHL, before and after the lockout. Right now, they have been shorthanded 92 times (not including tonight) so far this season. Tampa Bay is right above them in that stat with 124. Discipline is a very big part of the Devils philosophy and it makes sense. Playing "smashmouth" or undisciplined hockey tells the other team, "Just chill, we're going to gift wrap some man advantages for you so you can take advantage of us when we screw up." So tonight's performance with respect to team discipline is surprising - and not in a good way. Philly came into tonight's game with a 15% power play efficiency (22nd best in the NHL); thank goodness this didn't occur against, say, Montreal, who has a more potent powerplay with a 20.9% efficiency. On the other hand, because the Devils do not normally play this way, I suppose it wouldn't do much good to worry too much about discipline. I'm sure head coach Claude Julien knows the number of times the Devils were shorthanded and will let them know about it in tomorrow's practice.

The Devils go to Boston tomorrow to take on the Boston Bruins. Maybe we'll see Scott Clemmensen get a start? Brodeur started his 20th straight game, he's certainly earned the right for a night off. It's been about a month and a half since Clemmensen's last start (October 19, 2006 - a 4-3 shootout loss to Nashville at NJ), I'd say now is a good time to give him some minutes.

ONE MORE THING: I forgot to mention that Martin Brodeur made a RIDICULOUS save in the second period. I mean, he totally robbed a sure goal from Philadelphia. I hope someone puts up a video of it on something like YouTube, it's potential Save of the Year candidate. Assuming there is such an award. I'll keep an eye out for it, but if you find it, let me know!

OK, ANOTHER ONE MORE THING: During the game, Doc and Chico noted that (TV announcers during the game) Flyers center Peter Forsberg apparently gave a press conference at the game. Apparently, he has tried a number of methods (e.g. a special boot for his skates) and he still can't turn his ankles. He seems to be out indefinitely and he apologized that he doesn't know when he'll be healthy. I sympathize with Forsberg. Yes, I don't like the Flyers; but this is sad. Forsberg is a world-class center and his wonderful play has always been limited by injuries. I really hope he does get healthy and play before the season is up.



Game: Flyers @ Devils

The Philadelphia Flyers come to the Continental Airlines Arena to take on the New Jersey Devils.

Local TV: Fox Sports NY
Local Radio: 660 AM, WFAN Preview

Items of note: In today's Tom Gulitti's article in the Bergen Record: Former Devil Joe Nieuwendyk has retired due to back injuries. Nieuwendyk was crucial at center in the Devils' 2003 Stanley Cup victory, and just as crucial in the Calgary Flames' only Stanley Cup in 1993 and Dallas Stars' Stanley Cup in 1999 (he was AMAZING in the 1999 playoffs). He's had a great career with 559 goals and 559 assists scored in 1,242 games; 61 goals and 50 assists in 158 playoff games. Sad to see him go Richard Matvichuk is still waiting to be cleared by team doctors and Martin Brodeur will start tonight despite skipping practice.

Patricia at 2 Man Advantage no longer hates Brad Lukowich with a passion. It's nice to see hatred thawed, though I suspect a little sarcasm (heh) . Regardless, she's right; Brad Lukowich did play very well against Montreal on Wednesday.

The Flyers are coming off a 5 game break to take on a ridiculously hot-at-home New Jersey Devils. The Devils defeated the Montreal Canadiens with a wicked one-timer goal to win the game in overtime, thanks to Patrik Elias. The win gives the Devils a nice little 3 game winning streak they'd like to continue and extended a home winning streak to 6 games.

Last Saturday, the Flyers came out hungry and played an intense 65 minutes. The Devils eventually woke up, responded, and fought back enough to tie it up and win it in a shootout. The Flyers will need to replicate that energy to have a chance at stopping the Devils tonight. Their top scorers - Simon Gagne (14 G, 8 A) and Mike Knuble (10 G, 8 A) - will need to produce or at least be effective. While it was close, they didn't look too good on Saturday with the Flyers getting most of their offense from their fourth line. Antero Nittymaki will also need to play well for the Flyers to have a chance.

Martin Brodeur will start tonight for NJ and he just needs to be a bit more careful at handling pucks. He was great against Montreal aside from that one gaffe (which led to Montreal's only goal of the night). In general, NJ needs to come out sticks a-blazin' right from the start. In the past 3 games, while the Devils have won, they have started off the game (or the period against Philadelphia) slowly and with giving up goals early. That's extra work for the Devils to make up the difference early on and try and get the win. It's good that we know they are good enough to end it all with the W, but that means they are good enough to prevent that from happening. One player to keep your eye on is Zach Parise. You know he's good. I know he's good. But even the hockey hating (WARNING: It's a Larry Brooks article in the NY Post. Thanks to HFBoards for noting it) Four Letter Sports Network has die-hard Rangers fan Linda Cohn give some respect to the Devils and - you guessed it - Zach Parise. Parise has 10 goals and 10 assists so far this season, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets another tonight.

My projected lines are the same as I had it for the Montreal game.
If you're going to tonight's game (and if you're reading this, you may want to leave soon), bring a new toy for Toys For Tots. Enjoy it on TV or Radio or whathaveyou, GO DEVILS!


Thursday, December 07, 2006


Postgame: Devils 2 - Montreal 1 (OT)

The New Jersey Devils have defeated the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 last night at the Continental Airlines Arena. From here is the official scoresheet of the game and the official super stats of both teams.

The Devils started poorly enough with the Devils not converting on a 5-on-3 power play within the first 3 minutes of the game. It got worse with Martin Brodeur mishandling a dumped puck, Paul Martin not catching Alexander Perezhogin making a pass to a rushing Radek Bonk - who burnt Brad Lukowich in the process - who one timed right to an surprised Martin Brodeur. That would be Brodeur's only gaffe of the night, he was solid - stopping 18 more shots afterwards. The Devils defense also played well, holding the Canadiens to only 19 shots. After that goal the Devils seemed to play better as the game went on. The Devils really turned on the offensive pressure with 31 shots on net, with 13 in the first period and 12 in the third. The Devils finally broke David Aebischer with a Zach Parise capping a great pass from Scott Gomez with the equalizing goal.

Overtime was SICK for the Devils. No shots for Montreal, the Devils were swarming and Sheldon Souray hooked a (I think) Scott Gomez to prevent him from getting a strong scoring chance on Aebischer with 11 seconds left in overtime. According to the recap of last night's game at, Souray does not regret taking that penalty.

Well, I can't disagree completely. 2 minutes in the box for stopping a potential goal with 11 seconds left in overtime? Sure, Montreal can hold out for another 11 seconds right?
"That's a penalty I would take 100 times out of a 100," Souray said. "I was
trying to catch up to a 3-on-2 and get the guy's hands enough so he doesn't have
a free shot."

Captain Patrik Elias said "NOT QUITE" and after a big faceoff win by Gomez and some passes, he ripped a one-timer to win it with 7 seconds left. The Devils are now an astonishing 19-1-4 (ties) against Montreal in New Jersey. They even have a 3 game winning streak going on. My only complaint is that the Devils need to a better job at the beginning of the game, that power play made me unhappy. But the Devils kept pressing as Montreal kept trying (and ultimately failing) to get the 1-2-2 trap going, and they got the job done so I can not complain too loudly.

The Devils face the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday. If you're going to the game, please bring a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots.

IN OTHER NEWS: According to, Martin Brodeur is talking to the NHLPA about goaltender contact in the shootout. He's got a point. The goalie is already facing a breakaway, he should not be touched by the player at all.

DEVILS WJC UPDATE: The Swedish national team has announced their pre-camp roster for the 2007 World Junior Championships. The first link to the PDF file contains the roster in clear English on this Swedish website. Congratulations to Nicklas Bergfors (currently in Lowell with 9 goals and 8 assists in 20 games) and Alexander Sundstrom (currently in IF Björklöven, sorry I couldn't find any stats just this picture of him.)


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