Author Archives: ryanqueler

Summing Up The Season: My Feelings From an Unforgettable Season

Ryan and Ilya KovalchukThe 2011-2012 New Jersey Devils season will be one I will never forget. From a fan’s perspective, I watched my beloved Devils defeat two of our biggest rivals (Flyers, Rangers) and come within two wins of a 4th Stanley Cup. Off the ice, I also got my first taste of the business side of sports working and writing as a Devils Army General. It was a great experience for me to interact with other fans who are just as passionate about the team as I am. This is something I definitely want to continue doing for future seasons.

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Eastern Conference Finals Game 3 Preview: Devils Seek 2-1 Series Lead Back At the Rock

2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Eastern Conference Finals

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round 3
New Jersey (9-5) at New York (9-7)
1:00 P.M. ET
TV: NBC
Radio: Bloomberg 1130 AM

After outplaying, out-coaching, and outclassing (36 word press conference Tortorella, really?) the New York Rangers in game 2, the Devils head back to home ice with a chance at consecutive victories and a 2-1 series lead. On Wednesday night, the Devils were able to get three goals by Henrik Lundqvist, who made life extremely difficult for the Devils in his shutout back on Monday. Helped by another superb outing by the 40  year old going on 30 Martin Brodeur, New Jersey was able to get back in the series and avoid returning home with a deep 2-0 hole to overcome. Captain Zach Parise was especially satisfied with the Devils improved effort, stating “…we felt that we could definitely bring it up a notch from the first game and we could play a lot better and we did. I think our intensity was better, our compete level was better and we did a good job on the boards.”

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Eastern Conference Finals Game 2 Preview; Devils Aim For MSG Split

2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Eastern Conference Finals

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round 3
New Jersey (8-5) at New York (9-6)
8:00 P.M. ET
TV: NBCSN, CBC
Radio: Bloomberg 1130 AM

If all goes well for the Devils in game 2, they will head back to the Prudential Center with not only momentum, but more importantly the series tied at 1. Sounds familiar? It should. It was only about two weeks ago where the Devils were in the same position they are in right now, and we all know how that ended up. Four consecutive and dominating victories later, the Devils overcame their game 1 struggles en route to a bid with their arch nemesis New York Rangers. Being in this position before has helped keep the Devils composure after a game 1 loss, and Ilya Kovalchuk stressed the importance of moving on to a crucial game 2: “It’s happened with us before where we lose one game and then we’ll see what’s going to happen. Tomorrow is a must-win game for us and we just have to be focused and do our best. We know what to do to be successful and we just have to do that.”

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Stanley Cup Playoffs Game #5 Preview – Florida Panthers vs. New Jersey Devils

Stanley Cup Playoffs Round One, New Jersey Devils vs Florida Panthers

Stanley Cup Playoffs
New Jersey Devils vs. Florida Panthers
6:30 PM E.T.
TV: MSG Plus (HD), NHLN-US, TSN, RDS, SUN (HD)
Radio: WFAN 660 or SiriusXM 92

In a crucial game 5 with the series tied 2-2, tonight’s game will determine if the Devils head back to the Prudential Center in game 6 looking to close out the series, or only play to stay alive for one more game. The Devils realize the importance of this game and as Ilya Kovalchuk stated, its a “huge game for both teams and I think that will be the deciding game in the series.” This under the radar first round playoff matchup is now set to a best of 3 series, with 2 of the 3 possible games remaining to be skated in Florida. The Bank Atlantic Center will be loud, as it was in games 1 and 2, but the Devils have been a solid road team all year and will not be intimidated.

Leading up to tonight, this series has been so up and down, back and forth, for both teams. Multiple seemingly insurmountable leads have been blown, goaltending has been inconsistent on both sides, and as a result the momentum has gone just like the series: back and forth. However, the momentum factor is definitely in the Devils hands right now. Coming off of a dominating 4-0 win in front of a sell out crowd in New Jersey, the Devils are feeling good about their play right now. Game 4 was the best 60 minute effort the Devils have had in this series, and if they are going to have any success against the gritty Florida Panthers in game 5, another 60 minute effort is key. Fortunate for the Devils and their fans’ sake, they were treated to a game of vintage Marty Brodeur goaltending, as he broke the NHL’s playoff record for most shutouts, picking up his 24th. Additionally, the Devils must stay out of the penalty box. Although they were able to kill off all 6 Florida power plays in game 4, led by Kris Versteeg, they have a dangerous power play unit that has been successful in this series. The #1 ranked PK that the Devils bring has not been up to par with its success during the regular season, but they hope to carry over their PK efforts in game 4 over to tonight.

On the other side of the rink, things are not as set in stone in terms of goaltending as they are in New Jersey, with Brodeur set to play in his 178th straight playoff game. Kevin Dineen once again has to make the call on whether to go back to Scott Clemmensen or Jose Theodore. Clemmensen was the hero in game 3 after Theodore had surrendered a 3-0 lead in the first six minutes, but the Devils were eventually able to score on him in game 4. Theodore was the starter for most of the regular season, but has looked extremely vulnerable early in this series. There are indications that Theodore will be back in net tonight, but Dineen has not officially announced the starter. The Devils will not make any lineup changes, and will go with the same group that they have gone with since the start of the series. Jason Garrison, a key component of Florida’s powerplay, is questionable tonight after not playing in game 4. The Devils are trying to win back to back playoff games for the first time since 2007 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Panthers’ projected lineup:

Fleischmann – Weiss – Versteeg

Bergenheim – Goc – Samuelsson

Wolski – Matthias – Upshall

Sturm – Madden – Kopecky

Garrison (questionable) – Campbell

Kulikov – Weaver

Jovanovski – Gudbranson

Theodore

Clemmensen

Devils’ projected lineup:

Parise – Zajac – Kovalchuk

Sykora – Elias – Zubrus

Ponikarovsky – Henrique – Clarkson

Carter – S. Gionta – Bernier

Greene – Fayne

Salvador – Zidlicky

Volchenkov – Harrold

Brodeur

Hedberg


Game 79 Preview: Your New Jersey Devils at Carolina Hurricanes

New Jersey Devils vs Carolina Hurricanes

 

New Jersey Devils (44-28-6, 94 points) at Carolina Hurricanes (31-31-16, 78 points)

7:00 PM E.T.

TV: MSG Plus

Radio: WFAN 660 A.M.

Last year at this time, as all of us die hard fans know, the Devils took the ice in their last handful of games playing mostly for their own sense of pride. After their miraculous second half eventually became too much to overcome following a dreadful first half, the Devils packed the bags early for the first time since the 1995-1996 season. Oh how things have changed in a year. One year later, the Devils are on the verge of clinching a playoff birth, and sending perhaps the most explosive team to the playoffs since their magical 2003 Stanley Cup run. All that stands in their way:  the Carolina Hurricanes and an always rowdy RBC center crowd.

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Game 71 (Calder Trophy Showdown) Preview: Your New Jersey Devils (Henrique) vs. Colorado Avalanche (Landeskog)

New Jersey Devils vs Colorado Avalanche

New Jersey Devils (40-25-5, 87 points) vs. Colorado Avalanche (38-30-4, 80 points)7:00 PM EDT
TV: MSG +2
Radio: WFAN 660AM

In the midst of their own version of “March Madness,” the Devils tough March continues tonight against a hungry, on the playoff bubble, Colorado Avalanche team that currently holds the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. This will be the 2nd and last time the two teams match up, and for the Devils sake, they hope it ends with a better result. Back on November 30th in the Pepsi Center, the young Avs dominated the Devils, a team still searching for their identity then, in a 6-1 rout with the lone goal coming from Ilya Kovalchuk.

Tonight will be an opportunity for the Devils to make up for their lackluster effort on Tuesday against the Flyers. The Devils barely tested Ilya Bryzgalov, producing only 17 shots and getting shutout for only the 4th time this season. It was a disappointing game for them, being unable to carry along the momentum they had gained from the past 4 straight victories. Ilya Kovalchuk’s 5 game point streak was also snapped, and he remains on the cusp of reaching 400 goals, still stuck with 399. After being outshot 29-17, DeBoer called the Devils “outcompeted” by the Flyers. Although Captain Zach Parise didn’t believe the Devils played their best brand of hockey, he did give credit to how the Flyers performed stating “… tonight it seemed like we didn’t do enough to challenge him [Bryzgalov] enough. We made it pretty easy for him. I think he saw a lot of the shots. We weren’t able to get rebounds. It’s a credit to the way they play too. They just didn’t give us much.” With that loss, the Devils now sit in 6th place in the Eastern Conference with 85 points. With 9 other East teams in action tonight, a Devils have an opportunity to gain ground on a lot of teams depending on the outcomes of the other games. Returning to the Prudential Center tonight should only help the Devils case: they have won three straight at home, outscoring opponents 13-3 in the process.

Meanwhile in Colorado, the Avs come to Newark in dire need of extending their current 3 game winning streak. With 80 points, they lead the Sharks, Flames, and Kings by only two points. However, if they are able to keep up this pace and secure a playoff spot, they will have gotten hot at the perfect time. In the past 12 games, the Avs are 9-3-0. They last hit the ice Wednesday, in which they won in dramatic fashion as Jamie McGinn forced overtime with just 2 seconds left in the 3rd period. Peter Mueller ended up scoring the lone goal in the shootout to lock up another victory for the surging Avalanche. A lot of the focus tonight will be on center Matt Duchene, a dynamic center is making his return to the lineup for the first time since March 6th, after the original prognosis had him sidelined until April. In 48 games this season, Duchene has registered 26 points on 13 goals and 13 assists. He may see limited ice time being it is his first game back, but he is always dangerous for Colorado.

Another story heading into tonight is the matchup between the two front runners for the Calder Trophy (NHL’s version of Rookie of the Year). Adam Henrique of the Devils, and Gabriel Landeskog of the Avalanche are both putting together fantastic rookie years, making the decision for the NHL award voters extremely difficult. Henrique and Landeskog are currently in a deadlock for the rookie lead in points scored, with both of them collecting 46. With a goal and an assist last night, Henrique was well aware that Landeskog had tied him for the lead, but insisted it will not be a factor for tonight: “He’s been fire lately, the last month,” Henrique said. “It makes it fun, going out there and playing. But it’s something you can’t focus on too much. You don’t want to take away from the game. It’s not me against him tonight. They’re in a tight race for a playoff spot, so we’re going to see their best game and we’re going to have to be a lot better.” Regardless of who wins, both players have had a tremendous impact on their teams this season. Adam Henrique’s game has been so solid this season that DeBoer has placed him on the top line with Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. Landeskog leads all rookies with 20 goals, and his recent surge has the Avalanche clinging to a playoff spot.

Finally, the goaltending matchup tonight should bring back good (mostly) memories for Devils fans. With J.S. Giguere getting the nod from head coach Joe Sacco, and Martin Brodeur most likely starting for the Devils, a 2003 Stanley Cup rematch is in effect tonight. The Devils raised Lord’s Stanley Cup that year, defeating the Ducks in game 7, but Devils fans were shocked when Gary Bettman awarded the Conn Smythe trophy to Giguere – 7:25 into this video. Brodeur has lost his last three straight against the Avs, but comes into this game with a 16-8-6 record against them.

New Jersey Devils Projected Lineup

Parise – Henrique – Kovalchuk

Sykora – Elias – Zubrus

Ponikarovsky – Josefson – Clarkson

Boulton – Carter – Bernier

Greene – Fayne

Volchenkov – Larsson

Salvador – Zidlicky

Brodeur

Hedberg

Colorado Avalanche Projected Lineup

McGinn – Stastny – Jones

Landeskog – O’Reilly – Downie

Mueller – Duchene – Hejduk

McLeod – McClement – Oliver

Johnson – Hunwick

O’Byrne – Hejda

O’Brien – Wilson

Giguere

Varlamov

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