Sunday, February 25, 2007


Postgame: Devils 3 - Washington 2

The New Jersey Devils prevailed over the Washington Capitals by a score of 3-2 earlier this afternoon. As always, has the official score sheet and the official super stats of that game, linked respectively.

Scott Clemmensen played pretty well in relief of Martin Brodeur. He had no chance on the Brooks Laich goal, as the puck bounced off David Hale's skates right to Laich in an odd play. He should have positioned himself better for Alexander Ovechkin's rocket from the upper half of the zone; but I can not complain about his performance. He made a good number of saves, even some pretty tough ones. I'm glad he got the start and his first win this season.

Brent Johnson on Washington's end had a strong game and provided a big challenge for the Devils forwards. Fortunately, the Devils were able to solve him. The members of the PZL line were responsible for scoring all three goals for the Devils today. Zach Parise drilled one through his five-hole which tied the game up at one, Travis Zajac pounded a rebound home early in the third period, and Jamie Langenbrunner puts home a rebound on the power play. Yes, a power play goal! The Devils were not terrible on the power play, as they converted one of their three opportunities. They looked good, maintained possession in the opposition's zone, and put shots on net during the other two power plays, so I am pleased with how that turned out.

Overall, the Devils showed a lot more effort in this game than yesterday. They didn't come out too strong in the first period again, but the Devils woke up a lot faster and really challenged Brent Johnson. While Parise, Zajac, and Langenbrunner got the goals; Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez, and Sergei Brylin were just as dangerous. Elias was making plays all game long, had six shots on net, and was absolutely robbed on a two-on-one with Gomez in the second period. He only had one assist, but he did a lot more than the stat line would indicate. Gomez didn't get any shots on net, but he too set up a number of plays that were either lacking the finish (shots going wide or not going off right) or were resulted in a save by Brent Johnson. Regardless, by period #2, the Devils started taking control of the game in terms of puck possession, stealing the puck from the Capitals, forechecking effectively, and pushing the tempo of the game forward.

That said, the Devils were not as sharp on defense. They looked sloppy at times and with a goaltender who has only played twice earlier in the entire season, it was a bit frightening to watch. The super stats say the Devils gave away the puck three times. I disagree. I counted about 7 or 8 of those in their own zone. For example, when the game was winding down in the third period, twice did the puck was coughed up or errantly cleared by a Devils defenseman right to Alexander Ovechkin. Ovechkin! You're down by one, you don't give the puck right to the other team's best player! Hell, forget the lead, you shouldn't do it all! Fortunately, the Devils were able to catch up to some of these mistakes before they resulted in goals for the Capitals.

All the same, while the Devils gave up the first goal, they continued pressing on for the win and ultimately obtained their goal. For additional opinions about game:

Tim Mo at RaReMaDev has his usual period-by-period analysis of the game.

Here's Eric McErlain's post about the game at Off Wing Opinion with plenty of links to Capitals-based blogs' previews of the game, presumably they'll have reviews as well.

On Frozen Blog has knee-jerk reactions about the game. He feels the Caps should have taken this, but I disagree. Brent Johnson did a great job keeping the Caps in it, but while the Devils' defense could have been sharper it wasn't as if the Capitals offense was particularly threatening late in the game. They didn't even get a shot on net with the extra skater.

All the same, the Devils get to take on Pittsburgh on Tuesday, the NHL's Trade Deadline Day. We've had some big deals so far, but I'll comment about them tomorrow. Tuesday will be interesting in that we'll see how the Devils deal with a Penguins team that has recently proven itself to be mortal.


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