Tuesday, November 13, 2007



Last night's 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh displayed the guts of the Devils. Link goes to the recap at NHL.com. They were lethargic last Saturday in Long Island, but they clearly showed they can turn it around within a game.

Was it a great game? No. The Devils were out-hit, they were beaten more often than not on faceoffs, they were swarmed with offensive pressure for stretches at a time, they didn't capitalize on many of the opportunities the Penguins handed them in terms of turnovers and penalties, and the Devils had their stick broken or removed far too many times. You can argue that the Devils should have won by a larger margin or that they should have lost to Pittsburgh - both are quite valid.

But there was much to be very happy about. The Devils didn't fear the offensive dynamos Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. They played with 7 defensemen regardless and trusted the game to the backup: Kevin Weekes. Weekes played very well and the defense was fairly good considering the opposition's attack. Moreover, the Devils didn't let Dany Sabourin into their heads and actually attacked the Penguins' defense a number of different ways. This is evident in their three goals: Travis Zajac took a shot from the circle after a dump-in and cranked it through Sabourin's legs for the first goal; Zach Parise finished a cross-crease pass on the power play; and Patrik Elias capped off an odd-man rush to get the game winner off a cross-ice pass from Brian Gionta.

In that last complex sentence, there's plenty to be proud of. Going 1-for-6 on the power play is poor, but when you're going into the game with zero power play goals in the last 19 attempts, getting a power play goal is worth commendation. Also, Patrik Elias getting his first goal in a long time - 11 games, to be precise - and it was a big one that got New Jersey 2 points. Lastly, how the Devils handled an increasingly-desperate Penguins squad in the final minutes of the game was perfect. They took advantage of Penguin turnovers - which were commonplace and if I were a Pittsburgh fan, I'm screaming for Ryan Whitney to be better with the puck - and challenged the Penguins with shallow dump-ins. Sabourin didn't leave the net until time was really waning and even then the Penguins did little.

The Devils, in short, showed guts. They didn't do everything right, but they did more than the other team and so they got the win. Now, the next step is to show it and work hard for a second straight game. With Our Hated Rivals coming to the Prudential Center for the first time, emotions will run high. We, the fans, will gladly cheer and scream loudly for New Jersey and boo and jeer mercilessly for New York. There are other intangibles, as well. Surely, Martin Brodeur will be starting in net and you can bet any amount of money that he would love to get career win #500 against Our Hated Rivals. Almost as impressive is what Tom Gulitti is reporting at Fire & Ice, Jamie Langenbrunner may be returning to the line-up for tomorrow's game. Nothing is set in stone - just like Aaron Asham may not play - but the possibility is there and Langenbrunner's return may provide a spark to the team. Even if it is at the expense of David Clarkson's slot (which he may still have since Asham or Langenbrunner may be out). Nevertheless, these intangibles would be in New Jersey's favor.

It's going to be "on" in the stands. At the least, it will be "on" in Section 1 as much as I can get it to be "on," screaming as loud as you are in the hope of victory. The expectation will be for the Devils to bring "it" on the ice. Tomorrow, we will learn whether or not the Devils have the guts and get their first win this season over Our Hated Rivals in their brand new home. I certainly think they have it, the team just needs to show it off again.

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Nice blog. I run a New York Rangers blog and just set a link to your blog in prep for tonight's game. http://www.nyrangersblog.blogspot.com/
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