Three stars of the game:
3rd star: Evgeni Malkin (Penguins – Goal, assist)
2nd star: Pascal Dupuis (Penguins – Goal, assist)
1st star: Sidney Crosby (Penguins – Goal, assist)
Not even a good effort was enough to prevent another 5-2 score in a Devils-Penguins game. The Devils did a lot of good things offensively on Sunday night against the Pens, but they couldn’t finish their chances, and defensive breakdowns haunted them in the end. To summarize: the Devils are in a pretty significant slump right now all-around. The good news: Travis Zajac is back, and he looked really good. Here’s what happened.
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!
Every hockey season has its ups and downs and every team has to deal with injuries. Sometimes they really affect your team’s place in the standings. You can ask the Pittsburgh Penguins about that one. And sometimes they don’t affect a team so adversely because of organizational depth. Luckily that’s what the Devils have experienced this year. When news came out that Travis Zajac would be out for the first couple of months in the season a lot of Devils fans were upset because he was probably the one player that the Devils couldn’t afford to lose. There was a lack of proven depth at the center position and he was the #1 center. Then in the 3rd week of the season, Jacob Josefson (whom Devils fans were counting on to step up and carry the Zajac workload) breaks his clavicle and is out for 3 months. This left the Devils with Brad Mills as the top natural center on the team. Not necessarily someone with the scoring touch you’d hope.
The Devils decided to call up Adam Henrique from Albany to take the spot of Josefson. Henrique had been sent down as the team felt he wasn’t ready or producing as he should on the team. Out of necessity, they called him up and he’s done nothing except become the leading candidate for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. Playing alongside two of the best scorers in the game with Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise, Henrique has established himself as the #1 center this year. An added bonus is that he’s very good defensively and on the penalty kill where he has 4 shorthanded goals (tied for the league lead).
It was announced that Travis Zajac had a set back with his recovery and will be shut down for 2 weeks. We won’t be seeing him until after the All-Star break. This opens the door for the now-healthy Jacob Josefson to step up and be the 3rd line center the Devils need right now. Steve Zalewski hasn’t cost the Devils any games but Josefson is just a better player than him.
When the Devils get 100% healthy they will be an very balanced and talented team up front. Especially up the middle which is so crucial. Zajac will probably be the 3rd line center with Clarkson and Tedenby, making that line a big scoring threat given Clarkson’s new-found ability to score goals at will. You can also have Jacob Josefson center a line with Ryan Carter (another injury signing that has been great) and whoever Pete DeBoer wants to put on the other wing to create a quick, talented 4th line. That is a very deep team that can have all 4 lines contribute at any given time. Very important for a long playoff run.
It’s very interesting to see how one man, in Zajac, can balance out an entire team to make it better. But the emergence of Adam Henrique has made that possible. So I offer just a little advice to Devils fans upset about Zajac’s set back today: Be patient. This team will get healthy and when it does, they’ll be much better.
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.
New York Rangers (18-8-4, 40 points) vs New Jersey Devils (18-13-1, 37 points)
7:00 PM EST
Radio: WFAN 660 AM
Surprisingly, this will be the first of six meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals this season. This comes just eight games before the halfway point of the season for the Devils. Last season, the Rangers took the season series 4-2.
Patrik Elias to Miss Tonight’s Game:
Just three days after breaking the franchise’s career goals record, Patrik Elias is expected to miss the Devils’ first game against the Rangers tonight. Elias, who missed practice yesterday due to feeling ill, says he’s still not feeling well enough to play a full 60 minute game.
Without their leading scorer, this season and all-time, the Devils will move Travis Zajac up to the second line between Petr Sykora and Dainius Zubrus. Zajac has only averaged just above 15 minutes of ice time per game, since returning from a torn achilles, but will have to play just a little bit more tonight.
With Elias’ absence, Adam Henrique has been bumped up to the first powerplay unit with Parise, Clarkson, Kovalchuk and Foster.
This also means that Ryan Carter will center the third line, and Tim Sestito, who has been scratched the past two games, will center the fourth line.
Against the Rangers:
The Devils are 78-70-27-1 all-time versus the Rangers, and are 50-31-7-0 when playing in New Jersey.
Patrik Elias is the leading scorer for the Devils against the Rangers with 61 points (18 goals, 43 assists) in 69 games played.
With Elias’ absence tonight, the active Devil with the most points against the Rangers is Ilya Kovalchuk with 36 points (19 goals, 17 assists) in 38 games played.
David Clarkson leads active Devils in average penalty minutes per game against the Rangers. Currently he has 53 PIM in only 23 games against the Blue Shirts.
Starting goaltender, Martin Brodeur, is 43-26-20 in his career against the Rangers with a 2.13 GAA.
Projected Devils Lineup:
Parise (C) – Henrique – Kovalchuk (A)
Sykora – Zajac – Zubrus
Tedenby - Carter – Clarkson
Boulton – Sestito – Janssen
Salvador – Larsson
Volchenkov – Foster
Taormina – Fayne
The Latest on the New York Rangers:
In the Rangers latest game, on Saturday, Brad Richards scored a goal with less than a second left in regulation to give the Rangers a 3-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes. In the game, Marian Gaborik scored the other two Rangers goals to give him a team lead of 17 on the season (which is 6th in the NHL). Those two goals also marked career goals 299 and 300 for Gaborik.
However the injury plague keeps striking the Rangers. In what might make good TV for HBO’s 24/7, the Rangers are now playing without three of their top six defensemen. Steve Eminger suffered a shoulder injury during the game on Saturday, and he will now join Mike Sauer (concussion) and Mark Staal (concussion) on the injured list. If it couldn’t get any worse, Jeff Woywitka may not be able to play in tonight’s game against the Devils due to a sore foot.
Rookies Stu bickel and Tim Erixon have been recalled from the Connecticut Whale to fill in.
Projected Rangers Lineup:
Anisimov – Stepan – Gaborik
Dubinsky – Richards (A) – Callahan (C)
Hagelin – Boyle – Mitchell
Rupp – Fedotenko – Prust
McDonagh – Girardi (A)
Del Zotto – Stralman
Erixon – Bickel
It’s fitting that Zajac was voted as the best to wear #19, as he is expected to re-join the Devils lineup very soon.
Click here to take a look at Travis Zajac’s player profile that we posted back in May, on his birthday, before his torn achilles injury.
We will return next week with Best to Wear #20. Start thinking of who you will vote for, now.
Travis Zajac skated on his own last week after being cleared by doctors and appears to be making progress with his surgically repaired achilles tendon. Though Zajac said skating was easier than walking earlier this year, getting back on the ice a big step toward seeing the top-line center on the ice for the first time.
Lou Lamoriello seemed pleased with Zajac’s progress according to NHL.com.
“Travis has been released by the doctors and is in town and skated [Tuesday and Wednesday] and will continue to do that for the next week and a half to two weeks,” Lamoriello said. “If everything is on schedule as it has been, he’ll start practicing with the team in two weeks. Everything to this point has been exactly the way the doctors predicted it would be, and it feels good…”
If everything going “exactly how doctors predicted it would be” isn’t “status quo”, I don’t know what is. If he practices in two weeks and conditions for a few more, he’s on track for a return in 2011.
The Devils need their top center as soon as possible. Aside from the chemistry developed with Zach Parise over the last few years, Zajac gives the Devils depth up the middle. With Jacob Josefson out with a broken collar bone, the Devils have been experimenting with Parise and Patrik Elias playing center. Zajac will give the Devils offense stability.
Patrik Elias leads the team with a point-per-game pace, 8 goals and 11 assists. The next closest Devils have 11 each. In two complete seasons from 2008 to 2010 Travis Zajac scored 129 points for platoff Devils teams.
Zajac broke Ken Daneyko’s team record for consecutive game’s played before missing the start of this season but otherwise, last year was certainly a bit of a down season. The New Jersey iron-man was without Zach Parise. In a new system, with a new coach and more wins, Zajac should see more success when he returns.
It is fitting that the person to win Best to Wear #10, is an original on the New Jersey Devils roster.
Aaron Broten was drafted by the Colorado Rockies out of the University of Minnesota in the sixth round of the 1980 NHL Entry Draft. Before starting his NHL career, Broten had an amazing sophomore season at the University of Minnesota in which he put up 106 points (47 goals, 59 assists) in only 45 games played.
Broten started his career with the organization while they were still known as the Colorado Rockies and he was an original member of the 1981-1982 New Jersey Devils roster. He was a crowd favorite as his skills let him be productive on the ice in almost any way possible. Broten could play the power play, kill penalties, and was an essential part of the 1987-1988 playoff bound team as he was on the same line as Kirk Muller and Pat Verbeek.
Broten also was very durable. He held the team’s iron-man record at 288 games until Ken Daneyko, and later Travis Zajac, broke the record.
He did his country proud by representing the United States in several Hockey World Championships. Broten was also inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007.
|Career Stats with the New Jersey Devils|
Be sure to check back on Tuesday as we vote on Best to Wear #11.
The fans took over Anthony’s and ate up! Anthony’s set us up with some great food and drink specials. Between the wings, ribs and speciality pizza’s, there was plenty of food going around. Oh and I forgot about the sausage and peppers plates and flatbread. Needless to say, we were stuffed.
Our very own Jim Dowd stopped by and was happy to take pictures and sign autographs. A Patrik Elias bobblehead and an autographed Travis Zajac stick were raffled off in addition to our table of giveaways for everyone who stopped by.
There was a great turn out with plenty of red flowing through the doors and Devils stamped cars in the parking lot. Fans mingled with other fans, talked about what they expected out of the Devils this season and how excited they were for opening night. Some fans just talked about how excited they were for Jim Dowd, and that’s cool too. Thanks to everyone who joined us, see you on Saturday for Opening Night!
Check out more photos on our Flickr.
It’s finally that time again. Starting with our pre-season opener on Friday, HOCKEY IS BACK! I know I’ve been talking to a lot of my friends and fellow fans over the past few weeks. As training camp got underway and season tickets were received in the mail, the underlying excitement has continued to grow.
I’ve already broken the jerseys out of the closet (I use the excuse that they make good sweatshirts and wear them every chance I get) and I’ve made plans for road trips throughout the season. Friends and I are already discussing who is going to what pre-season game, who will be at the home opener and where we will all meet. Fantasy hockey leagues are popping up all over the place, with everyone on Facebook and Twitter asking “who wants to join in?” I’ve never been a part of a fantasy league before, but I’m going to give it a try with our own Devils Generals League!
As busy as the summer has been, the hockey bug is biting and I can’t wait to get back to the arena. I am looking forward to seeing what our boys have in store for us this year. The end of last year showed so much promise for our upcoming season. Our rookies really stepped up to the plate filling in for our injured veterans, and it will be fun to see how much they have grown and how well they will play now that they have some experience under the belts. We have new players to welcome to the ice, like our top draft pick, Adam Larsson. We’ve hired a new coach, Peter DeBoer and we get to welcome back Bryce Salvador, who missed all of last season with a concussion. I am relieved and ecstatic to hear the news that he cleared his physical and is reported by his team mates to be in incredible physical shape. As if all of that news wasn’t fantastic enough, we also get to welcome back Zach Parise whose knee has completely healed! While I am saddened to hear Travis Zajac injured himself during training and will be missing a month or two, I am curious to see who Lou and our coaches will have fill in for him. Not at all happy news but it will give us a chance to see some more of our young, up and coming talent in action.
There are so many new additions to our Devils family, players we can finally welcome back from injury, and I will finally get to see my friends and favorite staff members again. I have a great feeling about this year!
It’s almost October, what are you most looking forward to?