Today is the day, the home opener for our NJ Devils. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are abuzz, and like an unopened present on Christmas morning, a FB request to meet at the Digital Zone during the 1st intermission from fellow Devils General, Kim Sakavich, for Devils Opening Night awaits a response. I can not make the game. It is not because I have to work or have prior commitments, but I have moved out of NJ. I am not talking about leaving the Tri-state area or living on the other side of the Mississippi River but, rather, packing up the kids, pets and furniture and high tailing it to Washington. No, not Washington DC but the state of Washington in the Pacific Northwest where this Jersey girl flies an airline based out of Alaska to get there. I moved 2,500 miles from NJ to Seattle in a land where Russell Wilson of the Seahawks is a demigod, college football means something, and the Mariners are good for catching the Yankees (cheaply) when they are in town. No professional hockey and the closest team two hours away in Vancouver. I’m not sure how a Devils fan would be received in Rogers Arena now that John Tortorella is their coach and Cory Schneider is tending net in our house. Plus it’s Canada.
It’s only May, but I already miss being at The Prudential Center with my friends, watching my favorite team take the ice. Silly as it sounds, thinking of hockey got me thinking of my game day rituals, which got me thinking about my favorite food and treats inside the Prudential Center. It also reminded me of some of the great places that surround The Rock that my friends and I would meet prior to or after games and hang out.
On game days, it’s hard for me to resist the BBQ pulled pork sandwich, which comes with fresh, home made chips, cole slaw and a pickle. It’s my absolute favorite thing to treat myself to at Prudential Center. As for places to hang out, I’ve occasionally met friends at the Edison Ale House, located just behind Championship Plaza. The last time I was there, I enjoyed a plate of their Chili Cheese Fries, which I definitely recommend sharing with a friend! The portion was gigantic (and delicious).
To spice things up and show the great variety surrounding our home arena, I asked my fellow Generals to share their favorite treats and meeting places, too. I’ve learned about a few new places from them that I think I have to go visit. This is what they had to say:
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Last weekend, the NJ Colonial Coaches hosted the NJ Devil Alumni at Mennen Arena for a benefit hockey game. The “War to Restore NJ, Hockey Night in Morristown” was the brain-child of Sue DeBoer, (Peter DeBoer’s wife) and the first time the NJ Colonial Coaches played the Devils alumni in a charity event. Monies were raised for local charities to assist those in need affected by Hurricane Sandy, including the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund founded by Mary Pat Christie. In addition to 100% of the proceeds going to charity, there was also a food drive for the Interfaith Food Pantry serving the Morris County Area.
Back in December of 2011, I got the chance to chat with Ken Daneyko. The interview was interesting as I didn’t ask him the usual questions he gets as a former Stanley Cup Champion. There was no hockey involved in the questions, at all. I wanted to get him to open up so that Devils Army could get to know him better.
Earlier this week, NHL on NBC Analyst, and former NHL Head Coach, Pierre McGuire was at the AmeriHealth Pavilion to take part in a photo shoot for (201) Magazine. I got the chance to ask Pierre a few questions about what his last meal on Earth would be, what’s “now playing” on his iPod, and how he relaxes after a hard day.
If you can’t see the video above, you can watch it here.
For the fifth time in franchise history the New Jersey Devils will be playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. I was fortunate enough to be at Game 7 of 2003 when the Devils won their most recent championship. I stood next to my Dad as the seconds ticked down and Gary Bettman walked out, grabbed Lord Stanley’s Cup and handed it off to Scott Stevens. If you ask me what my best Devils’ memory is, well without a doubt, it’s that game. Now, when you ask my father, he’s often quick to say watching me watching the Devils win the Cup. That always resonated with me.
New Jersey Devils (30-19-3, 63 points) vs New York Rangers (33-12-5, 71 points)
7:00 PM EST
TV: MSG+ 2
Radio: WFAN 660 AM
Tonight will be the third of six matchups between the Atlantic Division rivals, and the first of three to be played at Madison Square Garden. So far this season, the Devils and Rangers each have collected a win. The last game between the two was last Tuesday which saw the Devils tie the game in the closing seconds and take the win in a shootout.
Devils Looking For First Five-Game Winning Streak This Season:
The Devils find themselves 4-0-0 since the All-Star break and have tied their highest winning streak this season at four games. Three of the four wins have come across Atlantic Division rivals who are above the Devils in the standings. The Devils have been on an offensive surge since the All-Star break outscoring their opponents 20-12. Ilya Kovalchuk, who was named this past week’s number two star throughout the NHL, has four goals and seven assists in the first four matchups of the unofficial second-half of the season.
Looking at upcoming games, the Devils really need to pull out wins if they wish to continue climbing the standings. Future games consist of: at Rangers, vs Blues, vs Panthers, vs Sabres, and vs Ducks. The toughest of the next few games will be the Rangers and the Blues, two of the top six teams in the entire league. Despite St. Louis not being in the same conference as the Devils, a win against them on Thursday will be great momentum to carry the Devils through the rest of the season.
In order to secure a “W” tonight, the Devils defense needs to pick up. The main problem lately for the D is not being able to clear rebounds from in front of the net. This has been a concern in the games against the Rangers last Tuesday, Montreal and Philadelphia. Three of the four Flyers goals came from not being able to clear a rebound from in front. The defense appeared better in Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh, but the Devils have to make sure that they don’t get too comfortable on this winning streak.
Projected Devils Lineup:
Parise (C) – Elias (A) – Kovalchuk (A)
Sykora – Zubrus- Clarkson
Ponikarovsky- Henrique- Bernier
Boulton – Josefson- Janssen
Taormina – Foster
The Latest on the New York Rangers:
The Rangers are also coming off a big win against Philadelphia this past weekend. Sunday saw the Blue Shirts take a 5-2 win over their Winter Classic opponents. Star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist stopped 21 shots for his fourth straight win as the Rangers continue to show that they are a force to be reckoned with atop the standings.
The bright side for the Devils going into tonight’s game is the Rangers’ powerplay has only converted twice in its last 44 chances, and haven’t scored on a 5-on-4 situation in over a month.
Defenseman Steve Eminger (shoulder) could be medically cleared to play tonight. If he does, expect rookie Stu Bickel to lose his roster spot.
Projected Rangers Lineup:
Hagelin – Stepan – Gaborik
Dubinsky – Richards (A) – Callahan (C)
Fedotenko – Boyle - Prust
Rupp – Anisimov – Mitchell
McDonagh – Girardi
Del Zotto – Stralman
Staal (A) – Bickel
There will be a viewing party tonight at Texas-Arizona in Hoboken, NJ hosted by the Devils Army Generals. There will be trivia, giveaways, food & drink specials and more! Click here to visit the Facebook Event!