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."


While it's easy to say that putting an arena in a city makes it easier to go to games, I'm still not wholly convinced that a) the cost of attending a game will change and b) the bar and restaurant scene in the area will improve. Newark is Newark and I think only an optimist would picture a bustling area around the arena before and after games when it opens next season. Hopefully I'm wrong and the Devs start selling out games.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Blog Directory - Blogged