Saturday, March 15, 2008
Devils 4 - Avalanche 2
Interchangeable Parts has an extensive live-cap of the game (as usual) and notes that while the Devils played pretty well, Brodeur was required to be the hero once again. I'd have to agree. The defense was a bit behind the Avalanche skaters at times today and struggled with their pinching defense. The Avs sure love to do that and as such, they were able to set up the offense more than a few times. That said, the Devils and Brodeur did enough to limit their chances. You know Brodeur is on when you need a one-timer on the opposite side of the goaltender and a shoulder shrug (I hope it was that, otherwise, Bryce Salvador committed an inadvertent own-goal) to beat him. Regardless, I'd like the Devils defense to do a better job in keeping up with the opposition - something that I think will improve when White returns.
The Devils offense surely showed up to put up 4 goals, thanks to a number of players stepping it up their game. Mike Rupp was the second line center today and he was, well, good. I think the last time I saw him do this well was Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals, when he scored a brace. IPB in particular praises Rupp and he deserves it. But in my view, the best skater for the Devils was Brian Gionta. Gionta was playing with hustle, motor, pep, burst, dash, wheels, and every other word describing speed and desire you can think of. He was ruthless on the forecheck, causing more than a fair share of turnovers in Colorado's zone. He read the play of the game very well, setting up his linemates (for today) Jay Pandolfo and John Madden for goals. He played like the way you'd expect Gionta to play. It was a very good game for Brian and he earned that third star of the game.
The win gives the Devils 3 wins and 1 loss on the road trip; a good result in my opinion. The Devils remain in first in the division, which is the primary goal. As a bonus, they remain at the top of the Eastern Conference as well. Now with 10 games left, this is the stretch run. Expect Brodeur to continue starting. Brodeur loves to play, he does his best when he's in a groove - I assure you, he's in a groove of James Brownian proportions - and you always play the best players against rivals. Brent Sutter isn't Ted Nolan, you're not going to see Kevin Weekes start against the Rangers just for the coach to prove some kind of point.
And the last 10 games begin with Our Hated Rivals. The time for futility ends now, Devils. Today's win was good. Use it to build the momentum necessary to beat them.