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The Devils in the Details will be a weekly post, looking back on the stats from your New Jersey Devils in their past week of play. Games between Sunday and Saturday from every week will be highlighted, with stats like Goals, Assists, PIM, Shots, etc. being the main focus. This week, we take a look at the Devils between March 24 and March 30, a week that saw the Devils walked away with 3 points (0-0-3), but could have done much better. The Devils surrendered a two-goal lead twice against the Lightning on Friday night (with Tampa Bay tying the game with 15 seconds left) and a 1-goal lead twice to the Panthers (with Florida tying the game with 27 seconds left). While the Devils are happy to take the points, it would have been nice to get a bigger gap between themselves and 8th place. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about…let’s look at some stats!
Three Stars of the Game:
3rd Star: Alex Killorn (1 goal, 1 assist)
2nd Star: Andy Greene (1 goal, 1 assist)
1st Star: Steven Stamkos (2 goals, 1 assist)
Stephen Gionta, Alexei Ponikarovsky, and Bryce Salvador all made their returns from injury, but it wasn’t enough as the Devils (15-11-8) dropped another tough one in the shootout Friday night to the Tampa Bay Lightning (15-18-1). The offense wasn’t the problem this time, it was the defensive play. The Devils scored in almost every way they could, scoring goals at even strength, on the power play, shorthanded, and even on a penalty shot, but couldn’t put one past Mathieu Garon during the shootout. The Devils are now 2 – 6 this year in the shootout, a huge drop-off from their shootout success last year.
(headline by @Bcallow_74)
3 stars of the game:
3rd star – Matt Cooke (Penguins: 2 goals)
2nd star – Evgeni Malkin (Penguins: 1 goal, 1 assist)
1st star – Sidney Crosby (Penguins: 3 assists)
First of all, before getting to anything related to the game itself, I wanted to take the opportunity to give a huge shoutout to the Devils organization for a phenomenal job with Retro Day 2012. It started with the retro cap giveaway entering the arena today, then we were treated to Bob Arsena’s voice (and the voice of the Devils during the Brendan Byrne Arena/Continental Airlines Arena days) for the second straight year. The Devils also used their goal horn from the pre-lockout days as well (I’m not sure if they would have used it last year, as they were shut out last year), and even returned to their old introduction video and music on the Jumbotron. So, to the Devils, today was a job well done.
As we sat in a sold out Prudential Center today, we were optimistic that perhaps the Devils would be the team to snap the Pittsburgh Penguins’ seemingly never-ending winning streak. After all, the Devils had won the last three games against Pittsburgh, and the last time Sidney Crosby and the Penguins were healthy, in 2009-10, the Devils swept the season series, so there was reason for optimism. It didn’t take very long for the optimism to wear off, though. The Penguins did something that actual penguins can’t do: they were flying from the opening face-off to the final horn. They absolutely dominated the Devils on Saturday afternoon in a game where the Devils were never really in it at all.
Just 1:55 into the game, Marek Zidlicky got beat by Chris Kunitz, and Zidlicky resorted to taking him down on a partial breakaway. Some would argue that Zidlicky knocked the puck off Kunitz’s stick before he took Kunitz down, but regardless, the officials awarded Kunitz a penalty shot. Martin Brodeur stopped him, and kept the Devils in it for most of the afternoon, because if Brodeur hadn’t been as strong as he was, the game would have been much more lopsided. Despite Brodeur’s strong play, the Penguins scored two face-offs and four seconds after the penalty shot. Evgeni Malkin won the face-off cleanly, and James Neal fired his 32nd of the season past Brodeur.
The Penguins absolutely dominated play for most of the first period. They controlled the puck and forced the Devils’ defensemen into mistakes, yet still allowed no room for the Devils to set up offensively. At one point, the Penguins had 11 of 12 shots on goal overall. Pittsburgh finished the period up 14-6 in the shots department. Six shots would be the most they allowed in any period in this game. However, with 3:03 to go in the first period, Ilya Kovalchuk led a 3-on-2 rush, dropped the puck to the trailer, Andy Greene, and Greene wristed the puck just under the crossbar to tie the game, 1-1, which held through the first intermission. It was Greene’s first goal of the season.
The Devils had no answer to the Pens’ first period dominance in the second period. For the first ten minutes of the period, Brodeur’s at-times brilliant play kept the Devils and Penguins tied, but ten seconds past the halfway point of regulation and the second period, Pittsburgh struck again. Jordan Staal dropped the puck to Pascal Dupuis down the left side, and Dupuis slapped the puck into the net to make it 2-1 Penguins. 1:34 after Dupuis’ goal, Sidney Crosby threw the puck across the crease and Matt Cooke knocked it in off his skate. Like Greene’s goal, the play was reviewed, but the goal counted, and the Penguins led 3-1. 58 seconds after Cooke’s goal, the Penguins, now on a power play after a questionable penalty call on David Clarkson for roughing, struck yet again. Crosby threw another puck across down low and Evgeni Malkin slapped it home. That was how the second period went, and 4-1 was the score after two periods.
In the third period, the Devils got off to a decent start. They had three of the first four shots in the period, but they only had one shot after that point. At 2:26, Petr Sykora scored on a rebound to cut the Devils’ deficit to 4-2, and they could have made a comeback attempt at that point, but they didn’t. Pittsburgh ended up dominating the third period, outshooting the Devils, 18-4 in the final period. Matt Cooke added another goal (which gave Crosby his third assist of the game) 3:30 after Sykora’s goal to make it 5-2 Pittsburgh, which held up as the final score.
Game notes: The Devils, who struggled early in the season at home, hadn’t lost at Prudential Center since February 26th before Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Penguins. It was also the first time Pittsburgh won in New Jersey since October 11th, 2010, when the Penguins won, 3-1. Ilya Kovalchuk and Petr Sykora didn’t necessarily play particularly well on Saturday, but both found the score sheet. Kovalchuk now has 10 points in 5 games against the Penguins this season. Andy Greene’s goal was his first goal since March 30th, 2011, when the Devils beat the Islanders, 3-2 on Greene’s game-winner late in the third period. David Clarkson added 16 penalty minutes, to bring his team-leading total to 134 in Saturday’s game. Despite allowing five goals, Martin Brodeur made 39 saves in the game.
The Devils played their 41st game of the season Saturday evening. If my math is correct (you can correct me if you want), that makes it the official halfway point of the season. So I thought I’d look back at the first half of the year and offer some opinions.
MVP of the Half-Year:
Zach Parise – You may think this is an easy pick but it really wasn’t. Patrik Elias has been steady and is having one of his better years and Ilya Kovalchuk has been, especially lately, provided the game-breaking scoring punch he needs to be. But MVP is who is most valuable to his team and that man is Mr. Parise. Zach has been the Devils heart and soul and hardest worker out there. He’s not a point machine like the Flyers’ Claude Giroux is, but watching him every night is an absolute treasure. power play, penalty killing, the man does it all. If you want a microcosm of how Parise has been playing this year, watch this goal from December 16th. Oh and by the way, THIS IS SHORT-HANDED! Parise doesn’t get the goal but the work he does before that tells you the kind of player he is and how is one of the top 3 best all-around players in the NHL this year. (Honorable Mention: Patrik Elias)
Rookie of the Half-Year:
Adam Henrique – Going into this season all Devils could talk about was 4th overall pick Adam Larsson and the impact he would make to a relatively weak blue line for the Devils. And he has played well and has showed moments where he’s going to be crazy good in a few years. But what the fans didn’t expect was the impact of another rookie, Adam Henrique. The former 3rd round pick made the team out of camp and then got sent down for lack of production. Then a broken clavicle by Jacob Josefson gave Henrique his 2nd chance and he has taken the ball and ran with it (or puck… whatever). With the injuries of both Josefson and Travis Zajac, the center position at the top was looking very thin. Henrique saw the opportunity to make an impact and is now cemented (so far) as the Devils’ 1st line center. He has 32 points in 36 games. That’s an outstanding points-per-game ratio for a first line rookie center. And now with Oilers centerman Ryan Nugent-Hopkins our for the next 4 weeks with an injury, Henrique could take a stranglehold on the race for the Calder Trophy as top rookie. (Honorable Mention: Adam Larsson)
Pleasant Surprise of the Half-Year:
David Clarkson – The man has 15 goals so far. FIFTEEN! He leads the team! If you thought that was going to happen in the beginning of the year, and that his goals were going to be very important ones (first goals, game tying goals, game winning goals), you’d be lying. And I don’t like liars. They’re mean. (Honorable Mention: The second coming of Petr Sykora)
Disappointment of the Half-Year:
Steady 4th Line production – Now I’m not saying that production = points. There’s a lot of times that the 4th line could give a team energy and also play well enough defensively and offensively that it gives the top 3 lines needed rest during a game. That hasn’t been the case with the 4th line this year so far. While the Cam Janssen fights have been there (and LONG), there really hasn’t been that balance where they can go out there 5-7 minutes a game and give top guys like Ilya Kovalchuk some rest. Because of their liabilities, they’ve even double-shifted Kovy some times. (Honorable Mention: Mattias Tedenby)
Low Point of the Half-Year:
6-1 loss to Colorado – This was a game after which the Devils lost a heartbreaker to the Islanders. You would think the team would be able to build on that loss knowing they got hosed (in my humble opinion), and take out their frustrations on a very mediocre Colorado Avalanche team. Well the Devils got trounced 6-1 and never even looked like they wanted to be there. Thankfully there haven’t been any games like this one since. And no, that 6-1 Boston loss was just a good ol’ fashioned butt-whoopin’ by the best team in the league. It’s much easier to come back from a loss like that than the one suffered in Colorado. (Honorable Mention: Zajac tears achilles)
High Point of the Half-Year:
Not Being Dead Last in the NHL – At the halfway point of last season, the Devils were 10-29-2 and losers of 15 of their last 17. We also didn’t win at home until mid-November. This year? 23-16-2 and sitting in the 6th spot in the conference, 4 points from the #4 slot. I wouldn’t care if Kovy got an Ovechtrick for 3 straight games. This is the high point of the season. HANDS. DOWN. (Honorable Mention: December 8th win over Ottawa after being down 3-0)
Biggest Key to the 2nd Half:
Stay Healthy – The Devils have been fortunate enough that they have played well despite injuries from key players such as Travis Zajac, Jacob Josefson, and Andy Greene. They’re also fortunate that it was in the first half of the season. The later the season goes on, the more damaging these injuries can be. The point differential between the Devils and 10th place is only 4 points. They’re going to need all their guns to keep the fight going. Travis Zajac has returned despite missing the past couple of games with soreness, which was expected. Josefson and Greene will be back in the next couple of weeks as well, although Josefson may play in Albany for a while with the emergence of Adam Henrique (my feeling is make him the 4th line center and make that line an actual scoring threat, but I don’t have time to write why). The biggest key is get healthy, stay healthy, and get into the playoffs. The way the NHL Playoffs have been you never know what can happen. Unless we have to play Boston. I don’t want to have to play Boston. Not in the first round at least.
Classic barbecue food, music, games for the kids and a chance to chat with your favorite New Jersey Devils – I’d say that’s a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. This past weekend the Devils hosted their second annual Devils Family BBQ and Fan Fest at the Prudential Center. It’s one of the cool events season ticket holders get to be a part of and a great way to kick off the season.
Anxious fans lined up outside of The Rock waiting to get in and meet their favorite players. They opened up the main concourse of the Prudential Center and let the fans roam. Lunch was served in the Fire & Ice Lounges. If you were lucky you caught Zach Parise behind the counter suited up to serve with an apron and chef hat. Rumor has it that Ilya Kovalchuk was handing out cookies. Bryce Salvador was taking care of the sodas with Nick Palmieri and Andy Greene.
There was plenty for the younger kids to do between shooting pucks into inflatable nets, hanging out with NJ and dancing with the Devils Dancers. All the players were happy to take pictures, share stories and even play a few rounds of floor hockey with the kids (and some of the adult fans, too). Parise and David Steckel played a couple games of hockey, followed by another game around the corner with Jacob Josefson, Mattias Tedenby, Alexander Urbom and Henrik Tallinder – only a few men short of a Swedish National team. Dainius Zubrus and NJ were hanging around the inflatable goalie nets watching our youngest Devils Army members practicing their slap shots.
Lines formed for both our veteran players and new additions to the team. Cam Janssen and Adam Larsson were pretty popular, as were Martin Brodeur and Patrick Elias of course. Even Lou Lamoriello and our new coach, Peter DeBoer, made appearances on the concourse. Every where you looked you saw a Devil in their jersey. It was surreal to see them on the concourse and to be honest, kind of weird. You learn a few things about the guys being so close. Did you know that Janssen loves to dance in place? David Clarkson seems tough on the ice but his face lights up when you mention his little girl (who will not be a hockey player). Clarkson is also a huge Jets fan and has a helmet signed by the team. Tallinder is a bit of a goofball, he was caught sneaking into pictures with other players and teasing Tedenby and Josefson when they lost their hockey game. Oh, and Rod Pelley has no front teeth – but you’ve probably noticed that before.
It’s great getting a chance to talk to the players and see them off the ice. Everyone had a great time and made sure to wish their favorite guys good luck during the season. There was tons to do and lots to see. Check out more photos from the BBQ on the Devils Generals Flickr page. Let us know if you find your face!
Hello again Devils Army. I missed you last week, I hope you missed me too.
After an unfortunate week off, it’s time to get back to work as we figure out the greatest Devils roster, by jersey number.
This week we will tackle number six, and while I think there’s a chance it may be a blow out, again, I think there is potential for a few former Devils to get numerous votes.
You will have until 11:59 PM EDT on Thursday September 8 to cast your vote!
Without any further delay, let’s take a look at the choices of who was the best New Jersey Devils player, to wear number six: