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Best to Wear #14 – Brian Gionta

Brian GiontaNUMBER: 14
HEIGHT: 5’7″
WEIGHT: 175
POSITION: Right Wing
SHOOTS: Right
BORN: January 18, 1979
BIRTHPLACE: Rochester, New York

Brian Gionta was drafted in the third round, 82nd overall, in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils.

Despite his size, Gionta is one of the swiftest skaters in the league. Standing at only 5’7″, Gionta is the second shortest player in the league (currently Buffalo’s Nathan Gerbe is two inches shorter).

Gionta played seven strong seasons with the Devils, before signing with the Montreal Canadiens in the Summer of 2009. As a fan favorite, one of his more memorable seasons was the 2005-2006 season as a part of the EGG (Elias-Gomez-Gionta) line. That season saw Gionta put up a career high 48 goals and 41 assists. His 48 goals in one season is currently the franchise’s record for most goals in a season. Gionta also holds the franchise record for most powerplay goals in a season with 24.

Gionta currently plays for the Montreal Canadiens with former Devils teammate, Scott Gomez. He was also named team captain for the Canadiens last season. Funny, an American is the captain of the Canadiens. Irony rules.

Career Stats with the New Jersey Devils
GP G A P +/- PIM PP SH GW S S%
473 152 160 312 62 227 48 5 30 1351 11.3%

Best to Wear – #11

Let me tell you. I’m excited for this week’s voting.

There are a lot of great players on this list: former Stanley Cup Champions, a New Jersey hockey great, a current Devils Assistant Coach, and a guy who is responsible for handing out suspensions for the NHL.

You will have until 11:59 PM EDT on Thursday October 13 to place your vote.

Game Preview – Game 2: Hurricanes @ Your New Jersey Devils

Adam Larsson vs Flyers Oct 8, 2011“Oh no. Not again.”

Those were quotes I heard upon leaving Prudential Center this past Saturday night after the New Jersey Devils lost their home opener by being shut out against Atlantic Division Rival, the Philadelphia Flyers.

My response: It’s only one game. Chill out. There are 81 more games, and 81 more chances to win. This is not the same team as last season. We just weren’t the best team Saturday night. All will be well.

Personally, despite the loss, I was impressed with the playing of some of the newcomers. Adam Larsson looked calm and collected, and it was his first NHL game. The kid will only get better. I was also happy with the play of Brad Mills. In a way he’s reminding me of a John Madden. Only time will tell.

The Devils (0-1-0) have the chance to put critics to rest today as they take on the Carolina Hurricanes (0-1-1) at a special holiday start time of 1:00 PM.

As Coach DeBoer told the media Sunday after practice, “They haven’t been off to a great start with one point (0-1-1) in their first (two games) and we obviously weren’t happy with our (first game). So, I think you’re going to see two desperate teams going at it tomorrow.”

DeBoer also said the team needs to cutdown on turnovers and up their game speed. He stated he believes the Devils were playing at a practice speed, Saturday night, while the Flyers played at a NHL level speed.

At Sunday’s practice offensives lines were switched around, and are projected to look as follows, as per Tom Gulitti:

Parise-Elias-Sykora
Kovalchuk-Josefson-Palmieri
Tedenby-Zubrus-Clarkson
Boulton-Henrique-Mills

Defensive pairings are the same as Saturday’s home opener:

Greene-Larsson
Tallinder-Fayne
Salvador-Volchenkov

The Devils, in hopes of a win, are desperate enough that they are starting Johan Hedberg, in only the second game of the season in a game that’s not the second of a back-to-back series. Last year Hedberg didn’t get his first start until the eighth game of the season.

As I said earlier, it’s only one game. This team will only get better. Just remember last season. We have to take this one game at a time.

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Game Preview – Game 1: Flyers @ Your New Jersey Devils

Zach Parise Six long, long months have passed since the New Jersey Devils stepped onto the ice at Prudential Center. A lot has changed over summer. New coach, new players joining the squad, former players re-joining the squad, and a new captain.

October 8, 2011: Game One.

The New Jersey Devils will begin regular season play as they take on the Philadelphia Flyers at Prudential Center in Newark. The Devils will hope to rid horrid thoughts of a dismal start of a season last year, only to become the best team in the NHL when it was too late. A season in which their new captain, Zach Parise, didn’t get much of a chance.

Parise was sidelined for most of the 2010-2011 season due to knee surgery, but after being resigned to a one-year deal in the offseason, and being named the ninth captain in New Jersey Devils history, Parise is ready to bounce back.

New faces joined the club out of training camp, including Eric Boulton, Brad Mills, Adam Henrique and the fourth overall draft pick from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Adam Larsson. Fans are excited to see what Larsson, who was called the most NHL ready out of any in the draft, has to offer. If pre-season was any indication, it’s going to be exciting to see Larsson and Kovalchuk sharing the points on the powerplay.

One of the biggest surprises going into this season is the return of Petr Sykora. Now wearing number 15 as opposed to his old 17, Sykora opened eyes and showed that he still has it. He re-gained chemistry with old linemate Patrik Elias, and have now formed what some are calling “A-Line 2.0″ with Zach Parise.

The first game of this season, the Devils will get a look at a new Flyers team. The Flyers shipped out sniper Jeff Carter and Captain Mike Richards in order to sign a number one goaltender. They signed Ilya Bryzgalov who showed he is the real deal as he stopped 22 of 23 shots in the Flyers victory over defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Boston Bruins, on Thursday night.

The big story for the Flyers is seeing if Jaromir Jagr was a good sign. So far, he seems to be creating chemistry with linemate Claude Giroux, even netting his 1,600th career NHL point in Thursday’s contest.

This will be a fun contest to watch these two energetic, fast-paced teams. The Devils need to get off to a great start and plan to do so behind Martin Brodeur who is making his 16th season opener appearance with the Devils.

We would love to hear what you think about the Devils going into this season. Leave a comment below telling us what you’re looking forward to most this season, who’s going to have a breakout year, or just your prediction for the game tonight.

Best to Wear – # 10

Once again, I would like to thank all the voters who voted in Best to Wear # 9. We had a great turnout and a great battle between Parise and Muller.

This week, as we focus on those who wore number 10, voting is more important than ever as there isn’t ONE player who sticks out. Instead, we have a collection of players, including former Stanley Cup Champions, who donned the sweater.

Voting will close Thursday October 6 at 11:59pm EDT.

Best to Wear – #9

It’s that time of the week again Devils Army, time to play your favorite game: “Best to Wear!”

Last week Dainius Zubrus pulled out a tight victory over Mike Peluso. This week, we will be taking a look at number nine.

This week should be a close one as well, as there are a couple of players who I believe are deserving of the title.

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