Friday, January 12, 2007
Postgame: Devils 2 - Atlanta 1
Finally. After 6 straight games, the Devils finally beat the Atlanta Thrashers.
The Devils started off the game a bit slowly and undisciplined. Two straight minor penalties by Martin Brodeur gave the Atlanta Thrashers a two man advantage. The Devils penalty killers did a great job tonight, just for killing that alone. A two man advantage against a team featuring Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa is not wise in any sense of the word. Unfortunately, Erik Rasmussen holds an Atlanta stick almost right after those penalties were killed. The Thrashers score just after that penalty ended, as Scott Mellanby tipped an Ilya Kovalchuk slap shot. Incidentally, on NHL.com, there is an article by John Kreiser focusing on the Devils exceptional discipline. They surely did not show that tonight. They would take two more penalties later on in the game. Thankfully, the penalty killers did a good job killing all the penalties despite the Mellanby goal, which was just technically after the Rasmussen penalty ended.
As the game went on, the Devils offense started putting more shots on Kari Lehtonen and pressuring him to make big saves. In the first half of the game, things looked like it would be a repeat of the St. Louis game: a lot of blocked shots - and there were by Atlanta, they blocked 18 of New Jersey's shots. Nevertheless, the Devils remained patient and kept pressing. It took a two man advantage given up by Atlanta in the third period before Scott Gomez put home a big rebound to tie the game up. That ended Garnet Exelby's tripping penalty, and Sergei Brylin capped off a wonderful breakout play with a powerful shot off a sweet diving tip-pass by Travis Zajac. That, of course, resulted in a goal which ended up being the game winner. And the Devils FINALLY beat Atlanta.
Some other things I would like to point out:
- Colin White looked good in his return. He played 19:46 of the game, and was featured on the penalty kill such as the two man advantage Atlanta had in the first period. He looked steady in his zone, with 3 hits and 3 blocked shots. He could improve, though, he took a weak penalty and gave up the puck twice. His return was definitely beneficial for the rest of the blueline. Brian Rafalski only had to play 28:11, Brad Lukowich only had to play 24: 50 and Paul Martin only had to play 29:46. OK, not huge reductions, but it's not half the game. Even so, the Devils only allowed 26 shots by Atlanta, blocking 13 of theirs as well.
- Andy Greene also looked poised in his first NHL game. He earned more shifts as he made smart if unspectacular plays as the game went on. He was even set up at the point along with Paul Martin on the Devils' second power play unit. Overall, Greene played 10:29 and blocked two shots. I got the impression at the beginning of the season that he pretty much made the Devils in training camp, but was sent to Lowell all this time due to cap issues. Now I expect him to remain with the Devils until Oduya or Brooks gets healthy.
- David Hale only got 2:47 of ice time. Hale has been inconsistent, so I can understand the reduced number of shifts; but only five shifts? I think he needs to regain some confidence and show coach Julien why he deserves more ice time.
- Mike Rupp dropped Braydon Coburn like a ton of bricks. Good. Rupp only had 6 shifts, but he was memorable. For those who don't understand why I'm happy about this, let me elaborate. Coburn was the chump who shoved Zach Parise into the corner after he took a shot in the first period. Parise was hustling (of course), so he crashed into the boards really hard. It looked like Parise was injured - thankfully he wasn't. But it was a dangerous move by Coburn and in hockey, you get taught "a lesson" when that happens. In the second period, Mr. Rupp then schooled Mr. Coburn. The fight itself was a turning point for the Devils, as they started to play with more hustle and bustle. Early on, the Thrashers asserted physical dominance over the Devils. After the Rupp fight, the Devils evened things up a bit in the hit column as well, only being down 16-14 in hits.
Labels: Devils Postgame