Monthly Archives: January 2012

Game 49 Recap: Devils cleaned up Rags tonight in shootout victory, start 2nd half with a bang

New Jersey Devils vs New York Rangers

(headline submitted by @szaneeXD)

It doesn’t really matter where the Devils and Rangers are in the standings when these two teams meet.  As Zach Parise said before the game, the two teams bring out the best in each other when they match up.  Tonight wasn’t the most conventional 60 minutes of hockey in Devils history, but it was enough to knock off the Eastern Conference’s top team at the moment and enough to give the Devils a win in their first game out of the All-Star break.  In case you missed any of it, here’s what happened.

Most of the first period was rather uneventful.  Neither team was able to generate many shots or scoring chances early on.  The Devils got sloppy late in the period and the Rangers eventually warmed to the task.  After a brutal Anton Volchenkov giveaway down low, Martin Brodeur robbed John Mitchell and Artem Anisimov.  Seconds later, Marian Gaborik picked up a loose puck and started up the right wing.  Brodeur shrugged off his initial shot, but defenseman Anton Stralman joined the rush and popped the rebound home.  Stralman, who tried out with the Devils in the pre-season before signing on the other side of the Hudson, give the visitors the 1-0 lead after one period.  It was a sloppy period for both teams, which is understandable, as it was the first period following the All-Star break layoff.

The Devils played a better second period.  They outshot the Rangers, 11-8 in the middle period, and the one that counted was Zach Parise’s rebound of his own shot.  He fired a bad-angle shot over Martin Biron and tied the game, 1-1.  For Parise, it was his 16th of the season.  The Devils then continued to press offensively.  They nearly handed the Rangers another lead, as the Devils broke down on their power play, but Brandon Prust was unable to beat Brodeur.  Marty made another huge save late in the period, as the Rangers sprung Brad Richards on a breakaway, but Brodeur kicked it away.  The Devils and Rangers were tied at 1 after two periods.

Judging by the recent past, a tie game in the third period made for nervous Devils fans at Prudential Center.  The Devils have struggled tremendously at times in the third period this season, including the last meeting between the Devils and Rangers.  Just 2:37 into the third period, it seemed as if the Devils would be devistated again.  Stu Bickel’s shot fooled Brodeur, and his defense couldn’t clear the puck.  Brian Boyle picked the puck up, skated around a lunging Brodeur and scored into a nearly empty net, giving the Rangers a 2-1 lead.  It was just Boyle’s fourth goal of the season.

The 2-1 score held for the next 13 minutes of play, but late in the third period, Artem Anisimov took a crucial holding penalty that put the Devils on the power play.  As the Devils entered the offensive zone, Patrik Elias found a wide open Ilya Kovalchuk and Kovy snapped the puck past Biron from the slot and the game was tied again.  Kovy became the first Devil to reach 20 goals this season on the play, but more importantly, it gave the Devils a huge tying goal.  All was not well for them, however.  Just 36 seconds later, the Rangers took the puck the other way and Michael Del Zotto put them back on top.  Still, determined not to let another game slip away, the Devils kept coming.  Finally, with under a minute to play and Brodeur on the bench, Andy Greene slapped a puck into the offensive zone.  It took a crazy bounce off the boards and found a wide open David Clarkson, who buried it and tied the game yet again.  This game needed overtime.

The game took another crazy turn as the teams exchanged incredible scoring chances in the five-minute overtime period.  First, early in overtime, Dainius Zubrus skated down the left side and lost the puck on his backhand in the crease.  He turned to his forehand, trying to tap the puck into an open net, but Ryan McDonagh saved the Rangers by stopping Zubrus’ chance with his stick on the goal line.  Minutes later, Derek Stepan shoved the puck on goal and the puck slid across the goal line, but Andy Greene cleared it before it was able to cross the goal line.  The teams headed to a shootout.  The only goal needed was from Kovalchuk, who sniped one five-hole on Biron.  Brodeur made saves on Richards and Gaborik after Stepan’s shot missed and the Devils won it, 4-3 in the shootout.  Kovalchuk improves to 8-for-9 in the shootout this season.

This was, perhaps, the biggest win of the season to date for the Devils.  Following a three game slide heading into the break, they could not afford to lose ground in the standings.  It was also an extremely intense game against a division rival.  The Devils’ schedule the rest of the way includes a division-heavy schedule.  They’ll play the Rangers four more times between now and the end of the regular season.  Martin Brodeur showed signs of his old self tonight, despite his defensemen occasionally breaking down on him.  It was his 44th win against the Rangers and 640th career win.  The Devils improve to 27-19-3, which moves them to 7th in the Conference and just three points behind Ottawa with four games at hand for sixth in the East.  The Devils will be back on the ice on Thursday to conclude the six-game homestand, which they’re 2-2-1 on so far.

Devils through the Decades: 1982-1983

Carol Vadnais #5 of the New Jersey Devils in the early 1980s.

Thirty years, 1220 wins, three cups. The late Dr. John McMullen relocated the Colorado Rockies to East Rutherford, New Jersey in May of 1982.  After brief stints in Kansas City and Colorado, the franchise moved to the tri-state area, much to the displeasure of other local teams.

A month after McMullen purchased and moved the team to New Jersey, a fan contest led to the naming of the Devils. The legend of the Jersey Devil.

The first home game of the season ended with a three-to-three tie against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Just a few nights later though, the Devils earned their first win and at the same time began a deep-seeded rivalry that every Devils fan can resonate with.

October 8, 1982, Merlin “The Magician” Malinowski scored the third goal of the night to propel the Devils over the neighboring New York Rangers. The first win in Devils history came against the team that had tried to block the Rockies from relocating to New Jersey. Sweet revenge.

The first game winning goal in Devils history was Malinowski’s second of the season, from Joe Cirella and Bob MacMillan at 17:06 of the 2nd period. It was a power play goal. Malinowski played five games for the Devils that season before being traded, along with Scott Fusco, to the Hartford Whalers for Rick Meagher and Garry Howatt. He had three goals and two assists in the five games he played as a Devil.

And while the first seven games of the season appeared very promising, the winning feeling didn’t last long as the Devils spiraled and lost 18 straight.

Yet, while contending with three other teams for fans, the Devils managed to put an average of 12,489 fans in the Brendan Byrne Arena that first year.[i] Not bad for a new team in the area that was competing with teams who had over 15,000 fans on average at games.[ii]

Like many expansion teams, the Devils finished out of the playoffs. One bright spot though, the Devils did not finish last in the Patrick Division. That title went to the Penguins that year.

H/T to Carlos Figueiredo for his research.

Game 48 Recap: Miller Lives the High Life as Sabres Slice the Devils in a shootout

New Jersey Devils vs Buffalo Sabres

(headline submitted by @radametz)

When Devils coach Peter DeBoer called the Devils an “elite” team over the weekend, he probably didn’t envision losing to the Buffalo Sabres as a reality.  After back-to-back losses to a pair of Eastern Conference teams that are generally viewed as “elite” teams (Boston and Philadelphia), the Devils turned in a very sloppy performance tonight, and now head into the All-Star break on a three-game winless streak (0-2-1).  They’ve dropped all three games at home and fall to 1-2-1 on the season-high six-game homestand.  They also drop to eighth in the conference, which means they’re just barely holding on to a playoff spot at the break as well.  So what went wrong tonight?

Let’s be honest: the Buffalo Sabres are a very weak hockey team this season.  Aside from Jason Pominville, Tomas Vanek and a few other signs of strong play, the team has fallen dramatically short of expectations this season.  Coming into tonight, they had lost five straight games, allowing four goals or more in each of the games.  They had dropped to a tie for last in the Eastern Conference with the Carolina Hurricanes entering the night as well.  Despite this, however, the Devils got off to a dreadful start in the first period.  They were incredibly sloppy with the puck and left the Sabres to attack seemingly at will.  Still, Buffalo managed just six shots in the first period, as did the Devils.  A pinching Jordan Leopold was able to beat Martin Brodeur on a rebound to give Buffalo a lead after one period.

The Devils slowly warmed to the task in the second period, thanks to a pair of minor penalties by Buffalo forward Derek Roy.  The Devils failed on their first power play, but just past the midway point of regulation and the second period, the Devils finally beat Ryan Miller.  Kurtis Foster’s one-timer from the point rebounded right to Zach Parise in the slot, who fed Patrik Elias at the right circle, and Elias blasted the puck by Miller.  For Elias, it was his 18th goal of the season, pulling him one behind Kovalchuk for the team lead in goals.  For Parise, it was his first point since a first period assist on January 17th against Winnipeg.  The Devils pretty much took over the game at that point, despite being sloppy at times, including some bad giveaways by seemingly every skater at some point.  Still, Miller looked nothing like a struggling goaltender tonight.  He stopped 17 of 18 shots after two periods, while Brodeur had stopped 8 of 9 Sabres shots after two periods.

The third period featured more of the same for the Devils.  They dominated puck possession, scoring chances and outshot Buffalo, 6-4 in the final period, but occasional sloppy play, granted it was by both teams, prevented the Devils from generating consistent offense.  For the third straight game, they couldn’t manage a second goal in regulation after a 5-goal outburst during the first game of the homestand.  Regardless of how they played, they picked up a point and headed to overtime.  The Devils continued to outplay Buffalo in the overtime.  Ilya Kovalchuk and Adam Henrique both had tremendous chances to bury Buffalo, but they couldn’t finish their chances and beat Miller.

After overtime, the Devils had outshot Buffalo, 28-15, nearly a 2-to-1 advantage, but headed to a shootout.  The shootout has been a specialty of the Devils this season.  They entered the night having won 8 of 9 shootouts this season, with the only loss coming to San Jose early in the season.  Kovalchuk and Parise have also been among the league’s most productive shootout skaters this seaosn.  Kovalchuk, true to form, put the Devils up early.  After Brodeur made a sprawling save to rob Tomas Vanek of a tying goal, Zach Parise shot on Miller, but Miller gloved his backhand attempt.  Buffalo’s Brad Boyes missed his next chance.  With a chance to clinch the game, Patrik Elias took his turn, but was denied by Miller.  Jason Pominville then tied the game.  Miller stopped Adam Henrique in the fourth round, and Nathan Gerbe beat Brodeur to give Buffalo the win.

There’s no doubt that this is a very difficult loss for the Devils.  Martin Brodeur believes that DeBoer’s assessment of the Devils of being “elite” is false, at least for right now.  The Devils, considered by most people to be a playoff team this season, need to win games like this one.  Buffalo was free-falling and the Devils couldn’t bury them at home.  They’ve already lost three games on this six-game homestand.  After the All-Star break, they’ll host the conference-leading New York Rangers and then face Montreal.  If they’re unable to put these losses behind them, they could find themselves on the outside of a playoff spot and looking up.  Until then, though, Adam Larsson and Henrique will head to Ottawa for All-Star festivities, while the rest of the team takes a breather.

What did you think about tonight’s game?  How do you feel about the state of the Devils right now heading into the break?  Do you think a trade is necessary or can the Devils win with their current roster?  Leave us a comment below and express your opinion!

Game Preview – Game 48: Your New Jersey Devils vs Buffalo Sabres

New Jersey Devils vs Buffalo Sabres

New Jersey Devils (26-19-2, 54 points) vs Buffalo Sabres (19-25-5, 43 points)
7:00 PM EST
TV: MSG+
Radio: WFAN 660 AM

Matchup:

Tonight marks the third of four matchups between the Devils and Sabres this season. Currently the Devils lead the season series 2-0-0 after defeating the Sabres in Buffalo, 5-3 on November 16, and most recently 3-1 on December 28 at Prudential Center.

Devils Playoff Chances:

Currently finding themselves sitting in 7th in the Eastern Conference standings, the New Jersey Devils appear to be doing just enough to get them qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs at season’s end. The problem is, the Devils find themselves 2-6-1 so far this season against the conference’s top four teams. After back-to-back 4-1 losses against the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers, the Devils find themselves 1-2-0 in the midst of a six-game homestand. Tonight’s game marks the last for the Devils going into the All-Star Break. The Devils NEED the win tonight psychologically.

Keys to Winning:

Obviously, the main key to win is to score more goals than the Sabres tonight. The problem is, both teams thrive on the same situation. The Devils seem to play their best hockey when on the PK, and the Sabres have more success while having the man advantage. The problem is, the Sabres find themselves at league average on the powerplay, tied for 14th in the league with a  18.7% success rate. The Devils, second in the league in PK with a 89.2% success rate, gave up nine powerplay goals over the first 35 games of the season. Unfortunately, the PK has given up the same amount of goals in the last 12 games. It’s a tough situation. You know your team is best when shorthanded, and you do lead the league in SHG’s with 11 while no other team has double digits. Stay out of the box.

Devils Stat Leaders:

Points – Patrik Elias, 45
Goals – Ilya Kovalchuk, 19
Assists – Patrik Elias, 28

Projected Devils Lineup:

Parise (C) – Henrique – Kovalchuk (A)
Sykora – Elias (A) – Zubrus
Ponikarovsky – Josefson – Clarkson
Boulton – Carter – Harrold

Salvador – Fayne
Taormina – Larsson
Volchenkov – Foster

Brodeur
Hedberg

*Scratches – Janssen, Mills

——————–
The Latest on the Buffalo Sabres:

The Sabres are looking to turn things around on the road tonight as they step onto the ice at Prudential Center. Saturday Night in St. Louis, Buffalo lost its 12th straight game on the road, and fifth loss in a row overall. The Sabres’ recent struggles has dropped them in the standings, and they can currently be found tied for last in the East with Carolina. During their current five-game losing streak, the Sabres have been outscored 23-7. Overall this season, the Sabres are 8-15-0 on the road.

Sabres Stats Leaders:

Points – Jason Pominville, 47
Goals – Thomas Vanek, 19
Assists – Jason Pominville, 30

Projected Sabres Lineup:

Vanek – Adam – Pominville
Boyes- Leino – Stafford
Gerbe – Hecht – Kaleta
Ellis – Roy – McCormick

Sekera – Myers
Leopold – Weber
Finley – Gragnani

Miller
Enroth

Follow the Devils Army Generals on Facebook and on Twitter for more in-depth coverage of Jersey’s Team.

Game 47 Recap: Devils can’t respond to Flyers’ timeout, fall again

New Jersey Devils vs Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has saved his best play this season for the New Jersey Devils.  On October 8th of this season, he earned his only shutout of the season to date.  Today, against the same Devils, he stopped 30 of 31 shots he faced and beat the Devils again.  The Devils outshot, out-hit, had more puck possession, but it didn’t translate into a victory today.  Martin Brodeur, who had a brutal third period against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night, made a pair of incredible saves today, but not even that was enough to keep his team in the game.  Perhaps the biggest Achilles’ heel for the Devils today was special teams.  The penalty kill failed twice in five chances today and the power play came up empty in six chances, although two of them were abbreviated.

The game started out very slow and deliberate from both sides.  For the first ten-plus minutes, both teams seemed to sit back and wait for a push by the other team.  Late in the first period, the Flyers broke out with a 3-on-1 odd-man rush short-handed, but Martin Brodeur made a tremendous sliding save to rob Brayden Coburn of the game’s first goal.  The Devils threatened late in the period, but Ilya Bryzgalov made the saves when needed.  The Devils, and the fans, also disagreed with a few non-calls and penalty calls by the officials at the end of the period.  The highlight of the period, perhaps, was Eric Boulton dominating Philadelphia’s Jody Shelley in a spirited fight.

The Devils warmed to the task in the second period.  They came up empty on a pair of early power plays in the period as well.  Then, mid-way through the period, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette used his timeout in an attempt to spark his team.  The results paid off immediately.  The Flyers temporarily took over the game.  Just before the halfway point of the game, Wayne Simmonds, from behind the net, found Matt Read in front of the net, and Read one-timed the puck past Brodeur and gave Philly the lead.  Three and a half minutes later, Scott Hartnell deflected Kimmo Timonen’s wrister on the power play and the Flyers doubled their lead.  However, just seconds later, it was the newest Devil, Alexei Ponikarovsky, who re-directed a Matt Taormina shot that pulled the Devils to within 2-1.  After that, however, the Devils took a series of penalties that killed their momentum.

They failed on yet another brief power play at the start of the third period, but continued to take shots on Bryzgalov.  They didn’t really generate many high-quality scoring chances for much of the second half of the game.  With the Devils struggling offensively, Hartnell picked up another power play goal eight minutes into the final period to make it 3-1.  While the Devils continued to press, they simply couldn’t beat Bryzgalov.  He wasn’t tested much late in the game, despite the Devils pulling Brodeur will nearly three minutes remaining in the game.  With 2:22 to go, Wayne Simmonds capped the Flyers’ win off with an empty net goal as he was surrounded by a pair of Devils defensemen.  The Devils dropped their second in a row, both by identical 4-1 scores at the hands of some of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

Brodeur wasn’t tested nearly as much as Bryzgalov was in this game, but the Flyers found ways to generate chances when they needed to.  As previously mentioned, Brodeur made a strong save on Coburn’s shot shorthanded in the first period and also made an incredible save sprawling around in the crease as Simmonds though the had an empty netter.  Those saves weren’t enough, though, as the Devils just couldn’t get to any rebounds.  The Flyers played a pretty tight game all day today, as the Bruins did once they took their lead on Thursday.  The Devils simply had no answer for them, and Bryzgalov did play well enough when he needed to be.  It’s a frustrating loss for the Devils, who need to take care of Buffalo on Tuesday to avoid a three-game losing streak heading into the All-Star Break.

Game notes: The Flyers played most of the game without Jaromir Jagr, who left the game after the first period with a “lower body injury.”  Danny Briere also left the game early and has since been diagnosed with a concussion.  Yep, that epidemic continues in the NHL.  The Devils shuffled their lines a bit late in the second period, as David Clarkson was given a 10-minute misconduct.  Ponikarovsky’s goal is the only Devils shot to beat Bryzgalov this season.  He’s stopped 50 of 51 Devils shots in two games this season.  While Ponikarovsky only registered the one shot on goal, he had some of the Devils’ best chances today.  He, like the whole Devils team, played a very physical game today.  With Henrik Tallinder out for a while, Matt Taormina saw his ice time exceed 20 minutes tonight, after averaging 17 and a half minutes per game before today.  Ilya Kovalchuk led all Devils with four shots on net today.  The Devils, as a team, have only scored on two of their 62 shots combined from the Bruins loss and today’s loss.

So what did you think of today’s game?  Take a minute to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Game 47 Preview: Philadelphia Flyers at New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils vs Philadelphia Flyers

New Jersey Devils (26-18-2, 54 points) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (27-14-4, 58 points)

January 21st, 2012 – 1:00 PM EST

TV: MSG+, Radio: WFAN 660 AM

Matchup:

This is the third of six meetings between those guys from Philly and the Devils this season. The Flyers took the Devils’ season opener at the Prudential Center, 3-0. The Devils took the second meeting in Philadelphia, 4-3 in a shootout, and overcame a two-goal deficit to do so, including Adam Henrique’s first career NHL goal. The Devils are on a 7-3-1 run right now, while the Flyers are 6-4-0 in their last 10 games overall. Philly’s last game, however, was their first loss to the Islanders in 14 meetings with the Isles in Philadelphia, as the Islanders cruised, 4-1. The Devils also fell at home by the same score to the Boston Bruins on Thursday.

One goal wasn’t enough, but there’s a new face in town:

The Devils played extremely hard for the first two periods of Thursday’s eventual loss to the Bruins, but the loss didn’t sit well with the team. After getting shelled, 6-1 earlier in the month, the team seemed determined not to allow another letdown. They held a 1-0 lead into the third period, on Petr Sykora’s 12th goal of the season, but the Bruins caught a few breaks that allowed them to come back and defeat the Devils again. Four unanswered third period goals cost the Devils their first win in three tries against Boston this season.

Despite the most recent loss, however, the Devils have been playing better hockey recently, and they by game time, we’ll know if the newest Devil will be making his debut for the team. Late last night, Alexei Ponikarovsky was traded to the Devils from Carolina in exchange for minor league defenseman Joe Sova and a 4th round draft pick. He put up 7 goals and 8 assists in 48 games this season. He gives the Devils size and depth at forward, and he didn’t cost them much in terms of a trade return to Carolina. The trade could result in Mattias Tedenby’s demotion to Albany, as he has recently been a healthy scratch.

In all likelihood, if he makes it to New Jersey in time (with the snow storm, it might not happen), Ponikarovsky will play with Jacob Josefson and David Clarkson on the third line, which gives the Devils three quality lines that can produce offense. After playing the Bruins twice in just over two weeks, it’s obvious that scoring depth is important in this league. Ponikarovsky has also scored four power play goals this season, and that could benefit the Devils tremendously if he can produce on the power play. Improving the power play was the intent of the Devils’ other trade this season: adding defenseman Kurtis Foster from Anaheim.

The Devils also begin life without Henrik Tallinder today, who is out 6-8 weeks with a blood clot in his leg. He unexpectedly missed Thursday’s game and has since been diagnosed with the blood clot. Lou Lamoriello did not trade for or call up any other defenseman from Albany, so Matt Taormina will be in the lineup today.

 

Devils Leaders:

Goals: Ilya Kovalchuk – 19

Assists: Patrik Elias – 28

Points: Patrik Elias – 45

Devils’ projected lineup:

Parise – Henrique – Kovalchuk

Sykora – Elias – Zubrus

Ponikarovsky – Josefson – Clarkson

Boulton – Mills – Carter

Salvador – Fayne

Taormina – Larsson

Volchenkov – Foster

Brodeur (starting), Hedberg

 

Flyers’ latest: goaltending drama:

It just wouldn’t be a Flyers team without some goaltending drama. After taking the loss against the Islanders on Thursday, Sergei Bobrovsky will probably watch his veteran countryman Ilya Bryzgalov man the pipes for Philly against the Devils. Bryzgalov shut the Devils out on October 8th in his only start against them this season so far. Bryzgalov’s season has been a roller coaster to say the least. Overall, he’s 17-10-3 with a 3.00 goals against average and a save percentage seven points shy of .900. He stopped 25 of 26 shots faced against Minnesota in his most recent start, but he’s lost six of his last nine starts (including one shootout loss).

Despite the often-troubled goaltending, the Flyers remain one of the best teams in the conference. They’re four points up on the Devils entering this game and possess one of the NHL’s most elite scoring lines (Hartnell-Giroux-Jagr). When all three are healthy, they’re extremely dangerous every time they’re on the ice. It’s no surprise that the trio is 1-2-3 on the Flyers in terms of scoring points, as each has 34 or more points this season (the Devils’ top three of Parise-Henrique-Kovalchuk also each have 34 points or more).

Also like the Devils, the Flyers have their own pair of prized rookies. For the Devils, it’s been Adam Larsson and Adam Henrique impressing many in their first NHL season. For the Flyers, it’s been Matt Read and Sean Couturier. Read has 14 goals and 30 points this season, while Couturier, playing mostly on the third and fourth line, has 10 goals of his own.

Martin Brodeur and the Devils will have their hands full containing the Flyers’ top line, Danny Briere, the rookies and the entire Philly lineup.

 

Flyers Leaders:

Goals: Scott Hartnell – 20

Assists: Claude Giroux – 32

Points: Claude Giroux – 50

 

Flyers’ projected lineup:

Hartnell – Giroux – Jagr

Talbot – Briere – Voracek

Read – Schenn – Simmonds

Shelley – Couturier – Zolnierczyk

Timonen – Coburn

Carle – Bourdon

Gustafsson – Meszaros

Bryzgalov (likely starter), Bobrovsky

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