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Just a Thought: The Devils are Creating a New Identity

Devils Win vs Jets at Prudential Center: Jan 17, 2012We all love to sit and discuss the nuances of the game. The critics and cynics pick apart a bad pass, a bad save or a great PK that turned around the New Jersey Devils’ play.  I’d like to step back and see the bigger picture that is forming. With coaching changes four times in the past three years, a slew of injuries, players leaving and a lot of young guys coming in, it is hard to say that the Devils have had a solid identity.

The players are coming together as a team under Peter DeBoer and are creating a new Devils’ identity. They are sustaining increased pressure on the forecheck (as seen by all the SHGs) and an offense that takes chances. We also can see that the players trust their coach. Parise has been quoted saying, “We would run through a wall for him.” Their coach has a mutual respect and has returned it with positive comments about his players.

Team chemistry is one element we don’t always use to describe the organization. We see across the NHL that teams sometimes have cliques or stand alone players. We also see how much this disrupts team chemistry. With pairings like Elias/Sykora, the Henrique line and the fact that the Devils have 7 players with more than 10 goals; I don’t believe they have any issues with chemistry. The players have built off of their coach’s attitude and are coming together as a team, Jersey’s team.

Game Preview – Game 21: Your New Jersey Devils vs New York Islanders

New Jersey Devils vs New York Islanders
New Jersey Devils (11-8-1, 23 points) vs New York Islanders (5-10-4, 14 points)
3:00 PM EST
TV: MSG Plus 2
Radio: WFAN 660 AM

Matchup:

Today’s black Friday matchup will see the Devils and Islanders meet for the first of six meetings this season, as well as the first game of a home-and-home series. The Devils won the season series last year, 4-2-0. Two of those four wins came in overtime.

Devils vs Blue Jackets Recap:

On Wednesday, the Devils hosted the Columbus Blue Jackets at Prudential Center and were able to secure their seventh win in 10 games.

Dainius Zubrus scored the only Devils goal in regulation, and Ilya Kovalchuk & Zach Parise scored in the shootout to give the Devils their 11th win of the season. Last year, the Devils didn’t get win number 11 until game 42 of the season.

Martin Brodeur also kept the Devils in the game by making 35 saves on the night.

The Devils, now 11-8-1 on the season, are now tied for third place in the Atlantic Division with cross-Hudson rivals, the New York Rangers.

Palmieri sent to Albany (AHL):

Yesterday was not a Happy Thanksgiving for Nick Palmieri who was informed that he was being sent to the Albany Devils of the AHL.

Palmieri’s play this season has not been up to par with his play last season. Last season, Palmieri had nine goals, eight assists and a plus-9 in 43 games.

So far this season, Palmieri only has three goals, three assists and is a minus-5 in 19 games played.

Palmieri didn’t play Monday against the Panthers and played just over eight minutes on the fourth line in the Devils win over Columbus Wednesday.

Palmieri’s demotion comes when Eric Boulton is also in Albany on a conditioning stint. It also means that Mattias Tedenby can expect some more ice-time as he still looks for his first goal of the season.

Against the Islanders:

All-time the Devils are 74-80-20-1 when playing the Islanders and 29-47-12-0 when playing at the Nassau Coliseum.

Patrik Elias is the all-time leading scorer for the Devils against the Islanders with 74 points (30 goals, 44 assists) in 71 games played.

Zach Parise has 33 points (17 goals, 16 assists) in 36 career games against the Islanders.

Johan Hedberg is 6-6-2 in his career against the Islanders with a 3.02 GAA

Projected Devils Lineup:

Parise – Henrique – Kovalchuk
Sykora - Elias - Zubrus

Tedenby - Carter – Clarkson
Pelley - Sestito – Janssen

Greene – Larsson
Tallinder - Fayne
Volchenkov – Salvador

Hedberg
Brodeur

——————–

Islanders’ Bad Luck Continues:

The New York Islanders found themselves down 1-0 early to the Philadelphia Flyers Wednesday night, but were able to score three unanswered goals to take a 3-1 lead.

However, a subpar performance from goaltender Rick DiPietro saw the Flyers tie the game and win it in overtime.

The Islanders find themselves on a three game losing streak, and have dropped the last 13 of 16. 

Random Islanders Stats:

The Islanders have given up a goal on their opponent’s first shot of the game in each of their last two games and a total of five times this season. They are 0-3-2 when this happens this season.

The Islanders are 4-1-2 when scoring first and 1-9-2 when allowing the game’s first goal.

To coincide with the Devils’ third period problems, the Isles have been outscored 15-1 in the final frame over their last seven games, including three empty net goals. So far this season, the Islanders have been outscored 26-8 in the third period.

Projected Islanders Lineup:

Moulson – Tavares – Parenteau
Grabner – Nielsen – Okposo
Martin – Bailey – Niederreiter
Haley – Reasoner – Ullstrom

Streit – Staios
Macdonald – Hamonic
Mottau – Jurcina

Montoya
DiPietro

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Game Preview – Game 17: Your New Jersey Devils @ Buffalo Sabres

New Jersey Devils vs Buffalo Sabres
New Jersey Devils
 
(8-7-1, 17 points) @ Buffalo Sabres (11-6-0, 22 points)
7:30 PM EST
TV: Versus
Radio: WFAN 660 AM

Matchup:

The Devils get their first look of the season at the Buffalo Sabres tonight. This will be the first of four meetings between the two clubs.

Devils Fall to Bruins:

It’s never easy playing the defending Stanley Cup Champions, but the Devils stayed on par with the Bruins for most of the night.

The Devils rallied from two third period deficits with Nick Palmieri scoring the Devils second and third goals giving him his first career two-goal game.

Johan Hedberg, who got the start in the front game of back-to-back games, had his moments in net, but had a couple flubs allowing soft goals to the Bruins.

The Devils came out firing with less than a minute left to play putting several scoring chances on net, but could not get the puck past Tim Thomas. The final score saw the Devils come up just short, 4-3.

Kovalchuk to Play Tonight:

Ilya Kovalchuk has been inserted back into the Devils lineup and will once again play right wing on a line with Devils captain, Zach Parise, and Adam Henrique. Kovalchuk, who has missed the last five games due to a groin injury, told the media this morning that he is excited to be back on the ice and was excited to see the powerplay unit score a goal. “We’re on fire now,” he said.

With Kovalchuk coming back into the lineup, someone must be scratched. For tonight, Coach DeBoer has elected to scratch struggling winger, Mattias Tedenby. Tedenby is looking at it in a positive light saying that it will allow him to save energy and when he gets the chance, he’s going to “go for it.” DeBoer hopes that resting Tedenby will light a spark in Tedenby’s play.

Against the Bruins:

All-time the Devils are 45-40-16-0 against the Sabres, and are 21-20-9-0 when playing in Buffalo.

Patrik Elias & Ilya Kovalchuk both have 31 points in their careers against the Sabres. Elias has 7 goals and 24 assists, while Kovalchuk has 19 goals and 12 assists. Kovalchuk, however, only has two points in four games against the Sabres since joining the Devils in February of 2010.

Dainius Zubrus has only one point (an assist) in 15 games against his former club while playing for the Devils. Tonight will mark a milestone in Zubrus’ NHL career as he plays in game number 1,000.

Martin Brodeur is 30-16-7 in his career against the Sabres with an impressive 2.17 goals against average.

Projected Devils Lineup:

Parise – Henrique – Kovalchuk
Sykora - Elias - Zubrus

Palmieri - Carter – Clarkson
Zharkov - Mills - Janssen

Greene – Larsson
Tallinder - Fayne
Volchenkov – Salvador

Brodeur
Hedberg

——————–

No Miller? No Problem:

After being hit by Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic on Saturday, Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller was diagnosed with a concussion putting him on the shelf for an unknown amount of time.

Usually, seeing your star goaltender go down with a concussion isn’t a good sign, but Sabres fans aren’t worried at all. In net, the Sabres will have Jhonas Enroth which is a blessing in disguise. Enroth is playing better than any goaltender in the league currently. Enroth is 6-0-0 so far this season and has not lost a game in regulation since November 24 2010, in which he only gave up one goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Enroth is also 13-0-1 in his last 14 decisions.

Lindy’s Longevity:

Lindy Ruff was named head coach of the Buffalo Sabres in July of 1997. Since then, there have been 164 coaching changes in the NHL (the Devils have 13 of them with 9 different head coaches).

Ruff is the second-longest tenured coach in the four major professional sports leagues. Ahead of him is Gregg Popovich, coach of the San Antonio Spurs since 1996.

Projected Sabres Lineup:

Vanek – Roy – Pominville
Leino – Adam – Stafford
Kaleta – Gaustad – Gerbe
Eliss – McCormick – Boyes

Leopold – Regehr
Weber – Sekera
Ehrhoff – Gragnani

Enroth
MacIntyre

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Game Preview – Game 16: Your New Jersey Devils @ The BruCrew

New Jersey Devils vs Boston BruinsNew Jersey Devils (8-6-1, 17 points) @ Boston Bruins (8-7-0, 16 points)
7:00 PM EST
TV: MSG Plus 2
Radio: WFAN 660 AM

Matchup:

Tonight marks the first of four games, and first of two in Boston, between the Devils and the Bruins. Last year, the Bruins took the season series 3-1. The Devils beat the Bruins in the final game of the season in a game which meant nothing for either side and saw the Bruins rest some key players, including Tim Thomas (who was 3-0 against the Devils last year).

Devils Win Again in Shootout:

In their last game, the New Jersey Devils looked to be heading for another loss. The Devils found themselves down 2-0 in the second period, until Petr Sykora snapped a shot off a faceoff to pull the Devils within one. Ryan Carter then deflected a shot with just over a minute left in the second period to tie the score.

The Devils held on and Johan Hedberg made remarkable save after remarkable save to force the game into OT and a shootout.

The Devils sent out Zach Parise, Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias in the shootout with Parise scoring. However, Alex Ovechkin scored for the Washington Capitals, so a fourth round was needed. The fourth shooter was chosen by Assistant Coach Adam Oates, and it was David Clarkson. Clarkson was able to put the puck past Capitals goaltender Michael Neuvirth giving the Devils the extra point and the win.

Will Ilya Kovalchuk Play Tonight?:

I wish I could tell you either yes or no.

After injuring his groin in the Devils’ 4-3 win over Philadelphia two weeks ago, Ilya Kovalchuk started participating in full-team practices with the Devils. He was skating as an extra forward with Rod Pelley. During this morning’s skate, Kovalchuk was skating as an extra forward again, BUT was a part of the first powerplay unit when the team ran through powerplay drills.

Originally, Head Coach Peter DeBoer, who officially confirmed the injury to Kovalchuk is a groin injury, said that Kovalchuk would NOT play tonight. However, he will now let Kovalchuk participate in the pre-game warmup.

DeBoer had an idea to use Kovalchuk in only powerplay instances tonight, but felt that Kovalchuk would get stiff while sitting on the bench in between powerplay opportunities.

Odds are Kovalchuk will be scratched again tonight, but it will be a game time decision.

Against the Bruins:

All-time the Devils are 41-44-15-2 against the Bruins, and are 19-23-8-2 when playing in Boston.

Patrik Elias is the all-time leading scorer for the Devils against the Bruins with 39 points (21 goals, 18 assists) in 50 games played.

Ilya Kovalchuk, however, has the most career points against the Bruins with 40 points (22 goals, 18 assists) in 37 games played.

Johan Hedberg is 4-8-2 in his career against the Bruins with a 2.93 GAA.

Projected Devils Lineup:

Parise – Henrique – Palmieri
Sykora - Elias - Zubrus

Tedenby - Carter – Clarkson
Zharkov - Mills - Janssen

Greene – Larsson
Tallinder - Fayne
Volchenkov – Salvador

Hedberg
Brodeur

——————–

Lucic Not Suspended:

The talk of the NHL world this past weekend was whether or not Bruins forward Milan Lucic was going to get suspended for his hit on Buffalo Sabres’ goaltender Ryan Miller. Miller left the game and was later diagnosed with a concussion.

Lucic met with Brendan Shanahan on Monday to discuss disciplinary actions, but the decision was made not to suspend him. Shanahan felt that there wasn’t evidence of the hit being outstandingly bad that warranted a suspension.

Many in the NHL and fans were angry with Shanahan’s decision and believe that if an injury occurs on the play, there should be a suspension.

Seguin earns NHL First Star of the Week:

The Bruins hot offense has been sparked by NHL sophomore, Tyler Seguin.

Seguin, the second overall draft pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, has scored seven goals in his last four games.

He currently has the league’s top plus/minus at +14, is tied for second in the league in goals (11)  and tied for fourth in the NHL in points (20).

Projected Bruins Lineup:

Marchand – Seguin – Bergeron
Lucic – Krejci – Horton
Thornton – Campbell – Caron
Peverly – Kelly – Hamill

Chara – Boychuk
Corvo – Seidenberg
Ference – McQuaid

Thomas
Rask
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Game Preview – Game 12: Atlantapeg Thrashjets @ Your New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils vs Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg Jets (5-6-1) @ New Jersey Devils (5-5-1)
7:00 PM EDT
TV: MSG Plus 2
Radio: WFAN 660 AM

Matchup:

This is the first of four matchups between the Devils and the Jets this season. Last season, the Devils took three of four from the then, Atlanta Thrashers.

Devils Sneak Past Flyers:

A lot happened in Thursday’s game against the Flyers that could make any Devils fan angry. Especially Danny Briere’s shootout move which angered some NHL fans.

The Devils found themselves down 2-0 in the second period, but retaliated quickly after Philly scored their second goal. Zach Parise scored with a quick backhand to pull the Devils within one. Not only was this goal important for the entire team, but it gave the Parise, Henriqure, Kovalchuk line some energy. This proved as minutes later, Ilya Kovalchuk stole a pass and fed it to Adam Henrique for Henrique’s first career NHL goal.

The Devils then found themselves down early in the third period after a penalty shot was awarded to Maxime Talbot. With just over six minutes left in the game, great pressure by the Devils and Patrik Elias, especially, allowed the surging David Clarkson to score and send the game into overtime.

Elias and Parise scored for the Devils in the shootout giving the team a huge win, but not before some controversy with Flyers’ Danny Briere’s shootout move. It appeared that Briere came to a complete stop along with the puck, which is a no-no. Rules state that the puck must maintain a forward motion at all time. From certain replays it appears that the puck does indeed move backwards after Briere stops. The referees reviewed it and called it a goal. It will be interesting to see what happens from here on out.

The Devils’ Curse:

Two of the Devils key centermen, Travis Zajac and Jacob Josefson, are currently out with injuries making the middle of the Devils lineup a bit lacking.

Martin Brodeur missed about three weeks with a sore shoulder. When he returned, he seemed a little off of his game. Even going as far as to say that his shoulder hurt Thursday morning, and he doesn’t know if the shoulder will ever be 100%.

Now, Andy Greene was a last minute scratch on Thursday night due to a lower body injury that Head Coach Pete DeBoer said that Greene had been playing with for a while.

And just when it seemed like it couldn’t get any worse. Ilya Kovalchuk appeared to have pulled a muscle while skating late in the third period. During this morning’s skate, Kovalchuk was skating with Parise and Henrique but left the ice early. Not looking good, but could be a game time decision.

AND THEN, after leading the Devils to a win over the Flyers, Johan Hedberg said he suffered a back injury during the game. He says he feels much better now, though.

Against the Jets/Thrashers:

All time the Devils are 26-10-8-0 when playing the Jets/Thrashers and are 12-6-4-0 when playing in New Jersey.

Patrik Elias has the most points as a Devil against the Jets with 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists).

Dainius Zubrus also has 34 points in his career against the Jets also with 14 goals and 20 assists.

Ilya Kovalchuk has four goals and one assist in five games played against his former club.

Projected Devils Lineup:

Parise – Henrique – Clarkson
Sykora – Elias – Zubrus

Tedenby – Carter – Palmieri
Pelley – Mills – Janssen

Salvador – Larsson
Tallinder – Fayne
Fraser – Volchenkov

Brodeur
Hedberg

——————–

Jets Catch Devils’ Curse

If you thought the New Jersey Devils had it bad with injuries, the Winnipeg Jets will laugh in your face. The Jets blueline is struggling at the moment missing key components of the Jets defense, including backup goaltender Chris Mason. Here are the Jets injuries coming into tonight’s game.

Tobias Entrom (upper body)
Ron Hainsey (upper body)
Chris Mason (groin)
Mark Stuart (upper body)
Randy Jones (right foot)

The Jets are also without forward Eric Fehr due to a shoulder injury.

To offset the missing players, the Jets have called up Paul Postma, Brett Festerling and Mark Flood from the St. John’s IceCaps from the American Hockey League.

Jets Against Devils:

The Jets (not the Atlanta franchise, but the old Jets who are now Phoenix) were 20-8-7-0 when facing the Devils in the regular season, including 8-5-4-0 when playing in New Jersey.

Since this franchise used to be the Atlanta Thrashers, the leading scorer against the Devils, now plays for the Devils. Ilya Kovalchuk had 15 goals and 9 assists against the Devils.

Now the leading scorer against the Devils is Nik Antropov with 18 points (9 goals, 9 assists) in 29 games against the Devils.

Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec is 2-2-1 with a 2.61 goals against average all time against the Devils.

Projected Jets Lineup:

Ladd – Little – Wellwood
Kane – Antropov – Burmistrov
Mcardle – Stapleton – Wheeler
Glass – Slater – Thoburn

Postma – Byfuglien
Festerling – Bogosian
Oduya – Flood

Pavelec
Mason


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Game Preview – Game 11: Your New Jersey Devils @ Broad Street Bullies

New Jersey Devils vs Philadelphia Flyers

New Jersey Devils (4-5-1) @ Philadelphia Flyers (7-4-1)
7:00 PM EDT
TV: MSG Plus
Radio: WFAN 660 AM

Matchup:

This marks the second of six games between the two clubs this season. The Flyers and Devils last played on October 8 which was the Devils home opener, which saw the Flyers ruin the night by shutting out the Devils, 3-0.
Last Game Recap:

Wednesday night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs saw a lot of back and forth action. The Leafs would score, and then the Devils would tie it up. Unfortunately, Joffrey Lupul would lead the Leafs with a hat trick in the second period, giving them the 5-3 win.

The big story of the game was the return of Martin Brodeur in goal. Brodeur had missed nearly three weeks while recovering from a sore shoulder. It is no lie that Brodeur appeared to be rusty in his return, but did produce a highlight reel save on Leafs forward Phil Kessel. The save was almost the same move that Brodeur injured his shoulder on. Afterwards, Brodeur said his shoulder felt fine.

Elias sets Devils Record:

With his 93rd career powerplay goal on Wednesday night, Patrik Elias passed John MacLean and is now the franchise record holder for most powerplay goals. When asked about breaking the record, Elias told the media that it’s “not important at all if it happens in a loss.”

Not only was that goal Elias’ 93rd career powerplay goal, it also saw Adam Larsson’s first career NHL point. Larsson got the primary assist as he fed the puck beautifully to Elias.

Elias felt bad for not collecting the puck for Larsson as a souvenir.  Here’s a picture of the puck.
Against the Flyers:

All-time the Devils are 87-70-18-0 in 54 games played against the Philadelphia Flyers

When playing in Philadelphia, the Devils are 32-45-11-0 against the Flyers.

Patrik Elias is the residential Flyer killer, with 70 points (32 goals, 38 assists) in 70 career games.
Projected Devils Lineup:

Kovalchuk – Parise – Sykora
Elias - Zubrus – Clarkson

Tedenby - Henrique - Palmieri
Mills – Carter – Janssen

Greene – Larsson
Tallinder - Fayne
Volchenkov – Salvador

Hedberg
Brodeur

——————–

Flyers Goaltending:

Ilya Bryzgalov was signed to be the Flyers number one goaltender. But things seemed iffy for the Flyers between the pipes when both Bryzgalov and backup Sergei Bobrovsky gave up a combined nine goals against the Winnipeg Jets. After that, Bryzgalov told the media he had “lost his way.”

The Flyers even announced on Monday morning that Bryzgalov was not going to talk to the media except in postgame (only if he played).  However, the club is informed that it violated the league’s media policy and soon the media ban was lifted. Goalies can continue to talk to the media on a daily basis, but they will have a time limit.

All seems to be right with the number one right now as he has only allowed three goals in back-to-back wins.

Hot Flyers:

Look out for Scott Hartnell, who has scored five goals in five games, and has collected 10 points in that span.
Projected Flyers Lineup:

Hartnell – Giroux – Jagr
van Riemsdyk – Couturier – Voracek
Simmonds – Talbot – Nodl
Rinaldo – Holmstrom – Shelley

Timonen – Coburn
Lilja – Meszaros
Gustafsson – Carle

Bryzgalov
Bobrovsky


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