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Game Preview – Game 23: Your New Jersey Devils @ Colorado Avalanche

New Jersey Devils vs Colorado Avalanche

New Jersey Devils
 
(12-9-1, 25 points) @ Colorado Avalanche (10-13-1, 21 points)
9:30 PM EST
TV: MSG Plus 
Radio: WFAN 660 AM

Matchup:

This will be the first of two matchups between the Avalanche and the Devils this season. They will play again on March 15, 2012 in New Jersey. Last year, in their one and only meeting of the season on October 15, 2010, the Avalanche won 3-2.

Did Parise Kick it In?:

The Devils seemed to have tied the game against the New York Islanders with two seconds left on Saturday, but the NHL War Room had a different opinion.

There is no question that Zach Parise directed the puck in off of his skate, but was it a distinct kicking motion? NHL Rule 49.2 states that if the puck is deflected in off the skate, it will count as a goal, but if the puck is propelled in by a distinct kicking motion, it will not be a legitimate goal. I was always under the impression that a distinct kicking motion was a pendulum, back to front, motion.

Evidently, Parise’s skate going to the right and making contact with the puck was enough for the NHL to declare it a distinct kicking motion, but listen to this:

In the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals, Jay Pandolfo performed almost the same exact move as Parise. Originally the goal was waived off, unlike Parise’s which was called a goal. After going to Toronto to review the goal, the NHL said it was a goal because there was no DISTINCT kicking motion.

Clearly, most Devils fans believe it should’ve been a goal, but to quote head coach Peter DeBoer, “You live with it, and you move on.” 

Against the Avalanche:

All-time the Devils are 30-26-9-0 when playing the Avalanche/Nordiques and 12-16-4-0 when playing in Colorado/Quebec.

Patrik Elias is the all-time leading scorer for the Devils against the Avalanche with 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) in 17 games played.

Zach Parise, has played in 5 career games against the Avalanche and has 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists) in those games.

Martin Brodeur is 16-7-6  in his career against the Avalanche with a 2.22 GAA.

Projected Devils Lineup:

Parise – Henrique – Kovalchuk
Sykora - Elias - Zubrus

Tedenby - Carter – Clarkson
Boulton – Sestito – Janssen

Tallinder - Fayne
Salvador – Larson
Volchenkov – Fraser

Brodeur
Hedberg

——————–

Avalanche Having Hard Time Winning at Home:

Currently the Avalanche find themselves in midst of a eight-game homestand. So far on this homestand, the Avalanche find themselves with only two wins, with three games left. Also, in their last three losses, the Avalanche scored only two goals

On the bright side, the Avalanche’s number one goalie, Semyon Varlamov is starting to come around. The former Capitals goaltender struggled in the beginning of the season with his new squad, but Varlamov has only allowed a pair of goals in each of his past three starts. 

Projected Avalanche Lineup:

Duchene – Stastny – Hejduk
Landeskog – O’Reilly – Winnik
McLeod – Galiardi – Jones
Porter – McClement – Kobasew

Quincey – O’Brien
Hejda – Wilson
Hunwick – O’Byrne

Varlamov
Giguere 


Follow the Devils Army Generals on Facebook and on Twitter for more in-depth coverage of Jersey’s Team.
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Research and DEVILopment

School is almost back in session as summer vacation draws to a close. This is no different for the National Hockey League.

Starting up is the return of the Research, Development and Orientation camp which will be used to test potential changes to the game. Changes that will be tested will include very subtle, almost unnoticed, changes, to the more, “Oh my gosh, did the barber use a weed-whacker on your hair?” changes.

If you ever wanted to know how today’s game would be played if they didn’t have the Brodeur Rule (that little trapezoid behind the net), this is exactly what they will be testing at the camp.

The NHL will have the two past Jack Adams Award (Coach of the Year) winners– Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma and Phoenix’s Dave Tippett — serving as mentors for the young prospects. Not only will the camp serve as a testing ground for potential rule changes, but the camp will also allow teams to take a look at possible 2012 prospects. In total, 36 prospects eligible for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft will be participating in the camp.

Now, I know you’re thinking to yourself, “What kind of rule changes could they possibly be testing?” Let me ease your mind.

1) Trapezoid Rule – The rule was introduced post-lockout as a way to increase scoring. The rule limits goaltenders from leaving the crease to go play a puck in the corners. As a Devils fan, I absolutely detest the rule. Martin Brodeur is noted as one of the greatest puck-handling goalies of all-time. He would always come out of the crease, play the puck in the corner, and lunge it down ice to a streaking player. However, with the trapezoid rule, Brodeur is restricted into staying in his little blue zone in front of the net. Many teams favor this rule because they have very, poor puck-handling goaltenders. The trapezoid limits player movement on the ice, which is not what the game is about. Players should be able to skate and play the puck wherever they want. I won’t even get into the fact that goalies can’t skate over the red-line.

2) No Icing While Shorthanded – While it seems like a good idea to allow shorthanded teams to just heave a puck down the ice since they’re down one or two players, it’s really not. Hockey is supposed to be a game of skill and action. Shooting a puck down ice to clear time off the penalty kill is BORING. What’s being tested at the RDO camp is that the team actually has to play defense. If teams want to be able to dump it into the opposing zone, they must take it past the red-line and dump, just like a regular shift. This will showcase a team’s strong/weak defense since they will actually have to gain possession of the puck and carry it out. Many are mixed on this rule as the NHL gave powerplay teams a sizeable advantage a couple of years ago, when they stated that at the start of a powerplay, the faceoff will be in the offensive zone.

3) Overtime Variations – Every day, I hear people complaining about the shooutout at the end of overtime, and how you would never see a baseball game end in a home run derby, or basketball end in a slam dunk contest. People complain that the shootout takes away that special edge from penalty shots. Hey, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. I, personally, enjoy shootouts. Always have, always will. But let’s try this on for size, shall we. What if there’s a tie after regulation and teams play FOUR minutes of 4-on-4 hockey. No one scores, still tied. Instead of going to a shootout right away, it would be a THREE minute period of 3-on-3 hockey. I would LOVE to see 3-on-3 hockey. There wouldn’t be clusters of players on the ice, wide-open range to skate and set up plays. The league wants to see fast-paced action and high scoring, 3-on-3 is an awesome addition to OT. If no one scores after the 3-on-3, it would go to a shootout. Also, the league is testing out the possibility of switching ends at the end of regulation. For example, third period a team is shooting left to right, that team would shoot right to left in OT. The league is partial to increasing the time of overtime, that way there might be less shootouts to end the game.

Those are a few of the major changes that the league will be looking into. There are a couple minor things, such as:  referees wearing wireless headsets to relay information to each other during a game, and the “bear hug rule.” The bear hug rule, introduced by Brian Burke, would allow players to wrap their arms around an opposing player to take him into the boards as opposed to violently throwing him into the boards, thus reducing injury.

Which rule changes would you like to see implemented into the game? Leave a comment with your favorite rule change, or add a suggestion of your own!

Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevinlankey

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