The title is straight forward. The New Jersey Devils soundly defeated the Dallas Stars to the wonderful and glorious score of 5-0.
The Devils, outside of David Clarkson for a few shifts, didn't focus solely on Sean Avery. And they didn't need to as Avery played the best game possible. He couldn't make good passes. He couldn't time his own passes or drives into the zone, causing some offside calls. Despite 4 shots on net, none of them really challenged Martin Brodeur. He got hit plenty of times from various Devils and he even fell down once. The fans let him know that he sucks and tonight, he truly did. He didn't contribute much to the Dallas cause of winning hockey games tonight, that's for sure.
Unfortunately for Dallas, Brendan Morrow, Marty Turco, and the collective blueline of the Stars had worse nights. Morrow was clearly frustrated by the third period and he didn't do much of anything all night save for the odd shot or two. Marty Turco misplayed the puck four times and John Madden made him pay on the fourth one with a goal, leading to his eventual benching. The Stars defense had to get desperate at times and got away with making sure the Devils didn't pound home a number of rebounds, loose pucks, and one-timers-to-the-slot. Yet, they were beaten in a variety of fashions. Jamie Langenbrunner got off a short-side backhander early. John Madden split the defense - a phrase most don't get to type too often - to drive in on net and beat Turco for a goal. Funny thing on that play, it looked like the defensemen got frozen and didn't really react when Madden noticed he had a giant gaping hole to skate through to Turco. The defense didn't pick up Turco's mishandling of a clearance and didn't pick up a streaking Madden who nicely tucked in his second goal. The defense couldn't shut down Zach Parise putting home a tight rebound on Tobias Stephan. And the defense just let David Clarkson skate about at the top of the zone to let loose a bomb of a slapshot. To think, some think he only can do toe drags, NHL-09-like dekes, and wraparounds. The Dallas defense was poor, to say the least.
Now, there is some criticism to be had on the Devils' side. First, they took 6 penalties total - with Dainius Zubrus getting caught three times. One of them was holding as Nicklas Grossman got caught holding as well. It was on the far end of the rink, did they hold each other? Anyway, taking a call when the other team is taking one is poor. So, the Devils still need to curb the discipline issues. The penalty kill was on point tonight so it didn't matter. Second, related to special teams, the Devils didn't get a power play goal despite 4 opportunities. Third, and this has nothing to do with the team, but some rowdy people up in sections 132 and 133 just loved yelling anti-gay slurs about Mark Messier and Avery. I have no issue heckling Messier or Avery or most other Rangers, but that's going over the line. It's classless, it's bigoted, it's stupid and it should have no place at Devils games. The Devils can't do anything about that, so that's more of a personal complaint. (And speaking of, Greenman, wear something underneath your bodysuit, please.)
That all aside, the Devils played great. The offense was clearly successful with 5 even strength goals. Madden earned his brace. Langenbrunner, Parise, and Clarkson got on the board - showing that 3 of the 4 lines got points tonight. Only the first line of Patrik Elias, Petr Vrana, and Zubrus was held pointless; but they played very well. Elias put 8 on Turco/Stephan and with a little more luck, someone on that line would have lit that lamp. Even Pierre-Luc Latourneau-Leblond got his first NHL point on an assist, so congratulations to him. And he wasn't only out there to goon it up; he looked decent enough in his 8:41 of ice time. Other players stuck out as well: Travis Zajac got 2 assists as the whole Parise-Zajac-Langenbrunner did very well. Brian Gionta looked good at wing with Jay Pandolfo (who had a slapshot on net
) and Madden. On defense, everyone played well except for a few brain-fart giveaways by Colin White (other than those, White was fine). Andy Greene, in particular, looked very good by driving to the net which led to Parise's goal; and he got an assist on Clarkson's bomb from the point. Greene is making a great case for being a starter on this team in the games he's played in so far.
And then there was Marty. Brodeur only had a few scoring chances against him and he stopped them all with style. A beautiful kicksave off of a one-timer. Holding the puck in middle of a few scrums. The only time he was truly beat was when Stephane Robidas got the puck right in front of the slot and Marty already went low. Robidas, in hindsight summed up Dallas' night, roofed the puck well over the net on a one-timer. Brodeur stopped all the shots and climbs closer to the all-time wins and shutout records. He and the Devils earned their result tonight.
So, despite my nitpicking, this was an absolutely great game for the Devils. They scored plenty of goals of all kinds - from the opportunistic to the pretty to the powerful. The defense didn't allow a ton of scoring chances; and when the Stars got their few chances, Brodeur essentially told them, "No. Not tonight." Excellent job by New Jersey. Hopefully they can carry this momentum and confidence into beating Philadelphia on Friday. Given that the Flyers are still winless
(and rivals to the Devils), we should see some desperate and aggressive hockey from them. For other thoughts from the game check out Scott Mackie's comments at 2MA (he was in section 209)
; Pookie's game woolgathering from Dallas at IPB
; Jersey's thoughts at Imperfect Dynasty
; and Gulitti ran a live blog at Fire & Ice
Labels: 2008-09 Postgame, Devils Issues, Devils Legends, Devils Prospects