The Devils have won their first game of the 2008-2009 NHL regular season at the Rock by a score of 2-1 against the New York Islanders.
(Link, as it will be for this season, goes to the NHL.com recap). The game itself wasn't the best effort by New Jersey, but clearly better than the Islanders'. If I'm an Islanders fan, I'm not looking forward to the following:
- Freddy Meyer the Fourth getting 20+ minutes a night (He had 21:46)
- Jon Sim in the top two lines (and power play time!)
- A constant theme of coughing up the puck between the center line and the top of the circles while bringing up the puck
Your 2008-2009 Islanders, fans!
But it is only the first game of the season, so we can't extrapolate the other 81 games like this. So I apologize for the slams on your not-so-good hockey team, Isles fans. In any case, the Devils weren't great. Colin White took two stupid penalties, caused a penalty shot, and the only thing he did well last night was hit people (and got 5 for his efforts). The team sort of took the second period off, generally took too many penalties, and their decisions shooting could have been better - Brent Sutter should remind the team that forcing shots through players in front leads to more blocks instead of getting to the goalie.
This isn't to say the Devils' sucked. Their special teams were good. Aside from the quick power play goal against in the first period, they looked good killing the other four penalties. The power play was not only threatening but effective with Zach Parise putting home an equalizing rebound. It's always good to start a season of goals with one in a situation that's been traditionally poor for the team in recent seasons. And the idea to use a unit of four forwards, Anssi Salmela lined up at wing, and with Elias and Rolston at the points was something to see. The Devils also were the superior team in picking up loose pucks, preying on the Islanders' consistent mistakes with the puck, and generated better offensive rushes. The defense generally did a good job keeping the puck in and Johnny Oduya and Bryce Salvador were particularly effective in the back. The forward lines in general worked pretty well on the ice - nobody really looked out of place; and, as usual, Martin Brodeur was a beast, only being beaten by a tip-in.
Was it a great performance? No. But ultimately, hockey is a results-oriented business and to do that you need to A) play better than the other team and B) score more goals than the other team. The Devils did that and that's good enough. Especially over a team that the Devils lost to so many games last season.
However, there's no time to really celebrate the win as the Devils travel to Pittsburgh - well, they should be there by now - to play the Penguins tonight. The Penguins went 1-1 against Ottawa and the Devils forwards should be eager to take on a depleted backline. Though, I'm sure the Devils defenders aren't as eager with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin coming in to try and rock their respective worlds. It's another division game and it should be a thing, so be sure to watch it tonight at 7:30 PM (EST) (on MSG+ 2, goodness, that is just awkward to type).
Labels: 2008-09 Postgame, 2008-09 Season, Devils Rivals