Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Hale, Gomez, Elias did not practice
- David Hale is practicing, but his vision is still blurry. Maybe he'll be ready to go in November. Please, please, PLEASE wear a visor, Hale. Your vision is too important not to protect. It's amazing that Bryan Berard was able to get enough of his vision back to play in the NHL again; it amazes me further that not every NHL player is wearing a visor. I know, who am I to tell them how to play - but visors are vital to protect one's eyes. Believe it or not, you need them to play in the NHL - which is your job, if I recall correctly.
- Scott Gomez didn't practice, but he might play on Thursday.
- Patrik Elias has a hip flexor, so he also did not practice. Don't know why the news has NJ playing tonight, their next game is Thursday.
- Dan LaCouture has been put on waivers. I guess Jim Dowd is ready to join the team?
I Almost Forgot Update: If you can read Swedish (or use Babelfish and don't mind the, uh, un-localized English resulting from it), Expressen Sport has an interview with Devils defenseman, Johnny Oduya.
I must say, for a rookie coming right out of the Swedish Elite League, Oduya has played very well. Due to injuries to Lukowich, he's been slotted with Brian Rafalski on the first defensive pairing and has looked more like a veteran than rookie there. He may possess a hard slapshot, but one has yet to hit the net. All the same, it's good to know that Rafalski is not the only reliable d-man on the team (as I glare at Paul Martin and Colin White. GLARE, I say).
Monday, October 30, 2006
HEY! It's a Goal Song
DUH duh da duh, HEY! Dadaduh DUH duh da duh, HEY!, etc.This dates back to the late 1970s, when they were the Colorado Rockies and playing "Rocky Hockey" (my understanding is that "Rocky Hockey"is very entertaining, but not really winning hockey). However, Gary Glitter has gotten into a lot of trouble with the law - very dispicable trouble in 1999 and in 2005. Understandably, the Devils organization (and many other teams in all sports) has shyed away from using that tune and are looking for a new song to play when the Devils score a goal. The survey was available on the Devils' website and included such musical luminaries as Pennywise and Barbara Streisand. The team has announced the three finalists of the survey:
- "Ole!" by the Bouncing Souls
- "Kernkraft 400" by Zombie Nation
- "Crowd Chant" by Joe Satriani
You can hear all three and decide for yourself on their website.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Devils 1 - Columbus 0: Postgame
Line 1: Patrik Elias-Sergei Brylin-Brian Gionta
My thoughts: When I saw Elias beat 2 Blue Jackets for a loose puck trailing into the Blue Jackets' zone for a shot, I thought that tonight would be Elias' night. Not quite. He had some good plays and did have 5 shots, like dishing Brylin a perfect pass en route to a 2-on-1 with Gionta (Klesla stopped it with a brilliant diving pokecheck). Gionta didn't do too much, Brylin had a couple of chances and didn't look out of place, and overall the line was creating chances - but not getting much on net or in net.
Line 2: Zach Parise-Travis Zajac-Erik Rasmussen
My thoughts: Now this line also created a lot of chances on offense as well. Overall, the Devils got a lot of chances on net, but most shots either went wide or were deflected wide. Personally, I think Julien needs to have them work on shot accuracy in practice. Rasmussen was OK, but Parise and Zajac played very well together. They set plays for each other, pretty much knew where each other were, and both were not afraid of taking shots at Leclaire when the opportunity presented itself. Parise got the only goal when a shot by Zajac went just outside of the net and he stuffed it in past Leclaire. If Parise and Zajac can continue/maintain chemistry with each other, NJ may have a legitimate second scoring line.
Line 3: Jay Pandolfo-John Madden-Jamie Langenbrunner
My thoughts: The re-united "J" line played as you would expect. They shutdown the opposing team's forwards, won some important faceoffs, and blew a number of offensive opportunites. I like what Pandolfo and Madden do as checking forwards, but some nights they can't hit the broadside of a barn.
Line 4: Cam Janssen-Mike Rupp-Dan LaCouture
My thoughts: The physical line were, well, physical. Not much of note, except Janssen got his 100th career hit tonight, fought Jody Shelley, and drew Shelley out of the game (2 min. for instigation, 5 min. for fighting, and 10 min. for misconduct).
Defense: Brian Rafalski-Johnny Oduya / Colin White-Paul Martin / Alex Brooks-Jim Fahey
My thoughts: The defense kept their mistakes to a minimum and held Columbus to 22 shots. Even when mistakes were made, the defense quickly rectified them. For example, in the 2nd period, Colin White gave the puck away to Rick Nash on an errant pass. Paul Martin quickly covered Nash and prevented him from getting anything close to a clear shot on net. Rafalski's and Oduya's late game penalties were frightening, but the team held on. The top 4 played very well in general and I'll be very happy when David Hale is healthy because I'm sick of seeing the Fahey-Brooks pairing.
Special Teams: No power play goals, which is bad. No power play goals given up, which is good. Could be worse.
Goaltending: Martin Brodeur stopped all 22 shots for his 3rd shutout of the season and his 83rd career shutout. He is now 4th on the all time list for career shutouts during the regular season: right in between Glenn Hall (84) and Jacques Plante (82). He was absolutely solid and the 2nd star of the game.
#1 Star of the Game: Zach Parise. He hustled all night, took 5 shots, and got the game's only goal.
Next game: The Devils host the New York Islanders on Thursday, November 2nd at 7:30. Scott Gomez should be back. Maybe Hale and Lukowich will be there too.
Elsewhere in the NHL: The Atlanta Thrashers hand the Buffalo Sabres their first loss of the season in the shootout; the Pittsburgh Penguins dropped an 8-2 train on the Philadelphia Flyers thanks to a Sidney Crosby hat trick; the Carolina Hurricanes beat Tampa Bay in a 6-4 contest; Detroit and Dallas win close 3-2 games over St. Louis and Los Angeles respectively; the Boston Bruins beat the Ottawa Senators 2-1 thanks to a Zdeno Chara power play goal; and the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Islanders both win their games in the shootout over the Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers respectively.
Labels: Devils Postgame
Game: Columbus at NJ
TV: Fox Sports NY
Radio: 660 AM WFAN
For the New Jersey Devils, according to the Bergen Record, Scott Gomez seems to be day-to-day and he might play tonight. If not, it seems that Sergei Brylin will move up to the first line due to the fact that he played in Gomez' spot for the third period of Thursday's game (with Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta) and did practice there on Friday. I completely forgot that he was there in the third period yesterday. According to the NY Daily News, Travis Zajac was rested in practice so he is likely to play tonight (EDIT: I misread the article, sorry); but with Brylin up on the first line, we'll probably see Erik Rasmussen on the second line. Both articles have updates on defenseman David Hale. Hale practiced for the first time yesterday, so he is considered day-to-day. He was (and in my opinion should be) wearing a visor at practice. All the same, Alex Brooks has been recalled to NJ and Barry Tallackson was sent down to Lowell, who play the Springfield Falcons this afternoon.
For no reason at all, here's a fun quote by Brylin: (source: NJ.com)
Great line, in my opinion.
Brylin was asked if Gomez's injury highlights his own importance to the team.
"What am I going to say? Yeah, I'm the greatest thing that ever happened to this team?" he answered. "No, I'm not going to say that. I can play center; I can play wing. Is it a plus? Maybe it is. I don't know. Ask the coach."
Now, the Columbus Blue Jackets (3-4-1) are coming off a 2-0 victory against the Los Angeles Kings. However, it seems that the Blue Jackets were very fortunate to win the game. The Blue Jackets took 8 trips to the penalty box, and LA heavily outshot Columbus all game by a margin 38-14. Impressively, LA did not convert on any of their 8 power plays, which should make Columbus fans feel good. The Blue Jackets are 22nd in the league on the penalty kill (80.4). The Blue Jackets are also having trouble taking a lot of shots, they are 30th in the NHL in shots per game - averaging 24.8 shots per game (nearly 2 shots behind 29th Edmonton). The Blue Jackets feature some very good young talent (Rick Nash, Nikolai Zherdev, Dan Fritsche, Gilbert Brule), Pascal Leclaire - who is getting his first season as a starter, and mix of veterans (Sergei Federov, Adam Foote, David Vyborny, Frederik Modin).
Basically, Columbus may be tired from the previous night's game and NJ needs to take full advantage of that. NJ has had a day rest, so fatigue should not be an issue for them - with or without Scott Gomez. Just as importantly, the Devils need to take advantage of any power plays they will get. They beat Florida on 2 power play goals and a cause of their prior 3 game losing streak was the simple fact that the Devils had a lot of trouble getting a shot on goal with a man advantage, much less scoring a goal. The only other key to the game is to make sure NJ dictates the pace of the game. They lost 3 of their last 4 because Nashville, Ottawa, and Pittsburgh defined how they wanted the game to flow. They beat Florida partially by NJ giving a good effort all game and controlling the pace.
Player To Watch: Patrik Elias. The captain of the New Jersey Devils is having a somewhat quiet start to the season. Yes, he has 2 goals and 7 assists in his first 10 games. That's very good. But he's also a -5 and has 16 penalty minutes. Elias is due for a breakout game, wherein he is simply all over the ice, either hitting someone, making plays, or finishing them. Lifetime, he has 2 goals and 3 assists in 6 games against Columbus; maybe tonight will be that night.
Labels: Devils Game
Friday, October 27, 2006
Introductions, Gomez, Columbus
A word about the title of the blog: In Lou We Trust. The Lou in question is Devils CEO, president, and general manager, Lou Lamoriello. He's arguably one of the best GMs in the NHL (he was ranked as the top executive in The Hockey News' Best of Everything issue a few years back), taking over the GM duties of the Devils since 1987. Since then, he turned a supposed "Mickey Mouse club" into one of the top teams of the mid-to-late 1990s and kept them as contenders in this current millennium. Hence, the reason why so many Devils fans - like myself - appreciate what Lou Lamoriello has done for the franchise. As you may be aware, the NHL has imposed a hard salary cap since the 2005-2006 season and despite critics stating the Devils' game couldn't survive in "The New NHL," the Devils have done very well managing the cap, signing their franchise players (Martin Brodeur, Patrik Elias) long-term, and even won the Atlantic Division last season (thanks to a ridiculous winning streak). No, Lou is no deity and I certainly do not treat/worship Lamoriello as such; but as Devils fans, when a tough decision needs to be made, we can trust Lou to make the right decision. Thus, In Lou We Trust.
But enough about that. The Devils ended some recent stuggles with a 2-0 win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday. During their 3 game losing streak, the half of the defense (pick 1 to 3 of Colin White, Paul Martin, Alex Brooks, Jim Fahey) has looked lost and hung Marty out to dry, the Devils' power play brought back horrible memories of the 2003 Devils' squad, and the team just had trouble playing a strong shift, much less a full 60 minutes. The win seemed to have alleviated all these problems: the defense held up (as Martin Brodeur got shutout #82), the Devils played with effort all game, and the 2 goals came on the power play (Zach Parise, Patrik Elias).
The only real downside was Scott Gomez. He got injured in the second period and did not return. All I know is that it is groin injury of sorts, but I do not know whether it is day-to-day or if it will take 1-to-2 weeks for it to heal. I hope Gomez' recovery is quick and successful, but this lead to an interesting problem for the Columbus game tomorrow. Who plays as the first line center if Gomez is hurt and won't play? Here are the options:
1) Patrik Elias. Don't laugh. If I recall correctly, Elias has played center before (I want to say around 2002? I'm not positive). He really is a top-line talent and has played there, so stamina won't be an issue. He's also responsible defensively so backchecking shouldn't be an issue. However, Elias plays his best at left wing, so slotting him at center may work against him.
2) Zach Parise. Well, he was on the top line with Gomez and Gionta at left wing at the end of last season and so far this season. He was drafted with the expectation of becoming a first line center, and now here's this opportunity to see if he can do it. However, he has largely played left wing for his career so far; shifting him to the center may work against his game and make him less effective. It's a better option than Elias, though, as Parise may need to do this eventually.
3) Hope Travis Zajac is ready to go and play him on the first line. Brylin would have to shift to the second line center spot (I think this has currently been done for the last 2 games), and it could work. Zajac has looked pretty good at the second line for a rookie, working well with Langenbrunner and Elias. But he is coming off an injury, so I don't know if playing him for 17-20 minutes right away will be the best course of action. It is preferable to...
4) Play Brylin on the first line, shift Erik Rasmussen to the second line, and play a call-up from Lowell on the fourth line (Petr Vrana? David Clarkson). I like Brylin for his hard work, heart, and versatility. But he clearly does not have the scoring or playmaking talent for the first line. I am not confident he'll perform well in that spot. Rasmussen is an inconsistent player, which is not a big deal for the 6-8 minutes that the fourth line gets - but it shows on a second line. I know the Devils are loaded on the farm at center (Vrana, Clarkson, uh...Justin Papineau), so a call up for the fourth line wouldn't be a bad idea...except it'll likely mean Rasmussen is on the second line, which I don't think is such a good idea.
5) Some other option I did not think of.
I'm sure the Devils will come up with something reasonable: if Zajac is ready to go, I expect him on the 2nd line and for Devils coach Claude Julien to play Parise on the first line. As I said, Parise was drafted as a center - now is a good opportunity to see how he does there.
Regardless, if the Devils come out and give a good effort, make the most of their opportunities, and follow a number of other cliches, they should win. Go Devils.