Monthly Archives: April 2011

Devils play in World Hockey Championship

Kovalchuk & ZajacToday is the first day of the 75th annual IIHF World Championship being held in Slovakia. As any other world championship, several countries scoop up their best players into a team and go at it for the title. This tournament is made up of 16 teams, broken down into 4 groups and play for a little over 2 weeks for hockey supremacy.

The World Hockey Championships conflict with the NHL Playoff schedule, so it isn’t very popular in North America, but Devils fans have a reason to take interest! Our own Travis Zajac is playing with an A for Canada and Ilya Kovalchuk is leading the Russian team.

A few other Devils are playing for their respective teams. Nick Palmieri and Mark Fayne are on Team USA. Anssi Salmela is playing for Finland, Patrik Elias on Czech Republic and Tedenby on Sweden.

Plus, the word is VERSUS will be covering a few games with Matt Loughlin as one of two rotating hosts and special guest analyst, Zach Parise.

If you’re missing the Devils in all the playoff action you can still get excited for our boys over in Slovakia. Check with VERSUS for up to date schedules, they’ve got a few TBD’s as of right now. First game up for them should be Saturday the 30th at 10AM when USA takes on Austria.

Photo Credit: Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger

Round 2. Where Do You Stand?

Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 1 of the playoffs is over and now we’re heading into Round 2. We as hockey fans, that is. Since the Devils are out, we have to root for (or against) other teams.

In case you weren’t paying attention – I’m sure you all were – here’s a super quick recap of Round 1.

Caps knocked out the Rangers in 5, awesome!
Tampa eliminated the Pens in 7, great!
The Flyers are still in it over Buffalo in 7, no!
Boston beat the Canadians in 7, nice! (We don’t really have a rivalry with these teams, but after a particular Habs game this season, I had no choice but to root against them!)

As for the teams we don’t have an immediate interest in: Detroit swept the Coyotes, the Preds beat the Ducks in 6, Canucks eliminated last years champ the Blackhawks in 7, and San Jose beat the Kings in 6.

The teams we root against are obvious but everyone has a different stand on who to root for. I’ll be rooting against the Flyers (duh!) and for the Canucks and Caps. I’m torn on the Detroit/San Jose series but I’m leaning towards San Jose. To be honest, I just really like their jerseys and since I have no vested interest in either team, I think that’s a decent reason to base my decision on.

Not only do we want to know who you’re rooting for, we want to see it! Send us pictures (devilsgenerals@gmail.com) of you supporting your Round 2 teams and we’ll post them here. Let us know where you stand!

(Pst, pick 4 teams!)

Devils Generals: “Thank you for your support”

The New Jersey Devils Army Generals would like to thank everyone for their continued support. We will continue to bring you fun and exciting conversations, information and Devils’ relevant news. We are still in our infancy and we are learning new things every day. We would like to remind everyone to give us feedback and ideas this way we can continue to make your fan experience better. We want the fans experience surround the New Jersey Devils to be one that everyone around the NHL is always talking about. We want to bring this community together under Devils Army and show our state, our team and the entire country how devoted Jersey fans are.

Since our inception, we have gained over a thousand followers on Twitter and have helped increase @NHLDevils followers to over 25,000. The Devils Facebook count has increased to over 168,000 . Our #Devils1stGoal suggestions have created a lot of buzz and fun for fans during game days. We have hundreds of guesses each game now including guess from NHL celebrities such as Tom Chorske (@hockeylogic) and other popular Twitter users. Our conversations with fans created the stress puck giveaway. A fan suggested this to the us and the team followed through. We want to continue to share our passion for the devils and help fans to be involved with events surrounding our New Jersey Team.

We have gave the fans discounted tickets and other prizes because of our access to the Devils Organization. The stands have been filled and the excitement has been great at the games. The Devils organization fully supports and helps us to achieve the ideas we and the fans bring to them.

Tweet To The Cup | Boston/Montreal Game 5 at Cryan’s

Where did you watch Game 5 of the Boston and Montreal series? If it wasn’t at Cryan’s in South Orange, you made the wrong choice. The Generals hosted a Tweet Up to watch the game last Thursday with all the usual festivities. There was hockey. There were prizes. There was even a Stanley Cup in attendance… kind of.

Kim with the Cup!

Kim with the Cup!

Tweet Ups are fun, that’s a given. But each Tweet Up gets better. There are a few regular attendee’s and always a few new faces. It’s a great way to meet and hang out with other hockey fans and enjoy a game. Since the Devils season has officially ended this is how we can get our playoff hockey fix! There’s still hockey to watch and there’s plenty to talk about. All the usual topics are covered – players, teams, stats. Then there are the unusual conversations about hockey hats and beards. (Kim and I decided that the Flyers need to clean up a bit, don’t you agree?)

Hockey Talk

Hockey Talk

The majority of us were rooting for Boston so the overtime win was pretty sweet! We also had a ton of give aways and a drawing to win an autographed Elias puck that people were pretty pumped about.

Elias Puck Box

Elias Puck Box

Mobbing the Give Away Table

Mobbing the Give Away Table

It was another successful Tweet Up. If you missed this one don’t worry, there will be more to come! We kind of really like this Tweet Up thing.

Calder Trophy Finalists Announced: Devils Rookies Fall Short

In a season that saw us start countless rookies, none of our first-year Devils players cracked the top three for rookie of the year.  The Calder Trophy finalists were announced on Tuesday, and Nick Palmieri, Mattias Tedenby, Jacob Josefson, Mark Fayne, Mark Fraser, Vladimir Zharkov, and even Tim Sestito were left out of contention for the award.

Of the three Calder Trophy finalists, only one is still playing.  Logan Couture had a key role in the incredible four-goal comeback win against the Kings in game three of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs.  He scored a goal and had an assist.  Michael Grabner of the New York Islanders carried a mediocre team with 34 goals this season, while Jeff Skinner was the youngest player to ever play in the All-Star game for the Carolina Hurricanes.  No sane hockey mind would argue that the Hurricanes or Islanders are better than the Sharks, but does playing in the playoffs make a difference for Rookie of the Year honors?

Couture had the sixth most goals in the NHL this season on the second-seeded Sharks in the West.  He also notched 24 assists for a total of 56 points in his first season.  The 22 year old center also had an incredible eight game-winning goals this season, which is 7th best in the league.  He led all rookies with 10 power play goals and also led them in game-winners.  Couture played 25 games last season, but still qualifies as a rookie this year.

Jeff Skinner had the most points of any of the candidates with 63.  His 31 goals and 32 assists set him apart from the other two candidates.  The 7th pick of last year’s entry draft, Skinner became the youngest NHL All-Star ever at age 18.  However, his Hurricanes lost the last game of the regular season to be eliminated from the playoffs.  Perhaps Couture’s propensity to win games for the Sharks, and their playoff berth this season, is more important than points.

Michael Grabner likely didn’t expect to make the playoffs with the New York Islanders this year, but he was a bright spot on a mediocre team that surged in the second half of the 2011 season.  Grabner was waived by the Panthers to start the year, but found a niche with the Isles.  He won the Fastest Skater competition at this year’s All-Star game and his speed made him a top-line forward.  His 34 goals lead all rookies, and his six shorthanded goals set the pace for first-year players as well.  His speed makes him one of the most dynamic players in the NHL, but does that mean he should be rookie of the year?

My pick for this year’s rookie of the year is Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks.  It is impossible for me to discount his clutch play during his first year in the NHL.  Eight game-winning goals is an impressive stat.  All three players broke the thirty goal threshold, and all three have a realistic shot at the award.  But Skinner had a chance to make the playoffs and couldn’t will his team past the Lightning while Grabner played for the 14th-in-the-East Islanders.  Couture is still playing, and still contributing.  He is my rookie of the year.

But what about the Devils’ rookie of the year?  We saw contributions from a plethora of young stars with which we can build the franchise around.  We’ll have a lottery pick this year, and the team is as young and promising as it’s been in years.  I probably give it to Palmieri, who woke an under-performing Ilya Kovalchuk and launched his epic streak in the second half.  Who do you think deserves it?

The Greatest Thrill Ride in Sports

The playoffs bring out both the most agonizing and exhilarating feelings in fans.  You pull your hair out hoping that your team can score just that one goal to tie the game.  You have your own little silly superstitions from wearing the same jersey to wearing the same socks at every game (gross, but it happens).  But there is nothing, NOTHING, like overtime in the playoffs.

Playoff OT is so great because there’s only two feelings you have.  Absolute malaise or abundant elation.  There is no gray area.  Well, unless you were in Philly last year when Patrick Kane won the cup and he and two other teammates were the only ones that realized it right away.  That moment aside, it really is the greatest thrill ride in sports.  Nowhere in any sport can you end a game so quickly and turn a series or a end a season.  People have tried to tell me football is like that but there is so much stop and go that you don’t get the same adrenaline rush.

I’ll never forget the game that Grant Marshall ended in 2003 against the Lightning.  It was my first year with season tickets and I personally have never experienced a playoff overtime game, in person, before that year.  On TV growing up, I watched all the great endings (McKay and Broten in ’95) and the heartbreaking ones (some team that beat us in ’94).  And yes, that series had an OT in Game 2 but it was over in two and a half minutes that you never really settled into it.  This game went to three overtimes.  With the “new NHL”, if a game goes into two OTs it’s considered a marathon.  But these were the “dead puck era” days.  The times when each round and seemingly every series had at least one multi-OT game.  And this wound up being the longest multi-OT game at home in Devils history.

As each shot went off a stick I was either cowering that Marty would make the save and hope that John Grahame would whiff with his glove or it would hit someone in front and the puck would go in.  But that didn’t happen until a little after midnight.  Thank God it was  Friday night.  Watching hockey for about five hours can be draining on you.  I can’t imagine what it’s like for a player.  You may have heard the stories of IVs and oranges between OT periods.  I remember noticing fans around me taking cat naps to get through the intermissions.  What made it worse was this was before smart phones so you just had to sit there and ponder what may happen.  It was torture.  Absolute torture.  Then deep into the 3rd overtime, just when thought of “Really?!? another one?” crept into your heads, this happened….

The thing I remember most was jumping up and down out of my seat high up the Continental Airlines Arena screaming “IT’S OVER! IT’S OVER! WE DID IT!” and when my best friend Steve asked who scored I demonstratively screamed “ELIAS!”….Yeah, totally missed it.  Little did I know I was completely wrong but hey, look, sit through three OTs and see what you remember when your team scores the goal to win it and you don’t have the benefit of Doc’s amazing call.  At least they were on the same line!

Hockey playoffs are regarded as the best playoffs in sports.  And OT is the biggest reason why.  It will terrify you, make you happy.  It will make you pray.  It will put fear into your heart and give you the biggest calm after it’s over.  It definitely is the greatest thrill ride in sports.

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