Stanley Cup Playoffs
Florida Panthers vs. New Jersey Devils
7:30 PM E.T.
TV: MSG Plus (HD), NBCSN, TSN, RDS
Radio: Bloomberg 1130AM or SiriusXM 92
Here we are, Game 6 of this series and the Devils are down 3-2. This is a game of necessities for New Jersey as there is NO tomorrow should they lose tonight. So with that said, the Devils NEED to do everything in their power to win this game. They need to skate hard, crash the net and they need to put the “biscuit in the basket”.
(headline by @imraiv)
Three stars of the game:
3rd star: Stephen Gionta (assist)
2nd star: Zach Parise (goal)
1st star: Martin Brodeur (26-save shutout)
The Devils showed a lot of resiliency and character as they bounced back from a tough loss in Game 3 by playing a very tight-checking game that Jacques Lemaire would be proud of. They had a brilliant night on special teams, as the power play produced two goals and the penalty kill was a perfect 6-for-6. They also played their best all-around game of the series and got their best goaltending performance of the series, as Martin Brodeur stopped 26 shots en route to his new NHL record 24th career playoff shutout. The Devils won Game 4 by a 4-0 final, tying the series in the process, and they won the game by playing “Devils hockey.”
It’s Stanley Cup Playoff time! While we are all excited for the playoffs, let’s take a look back at the season and hand out some fan-voted Player Awards. At the Devils Team Awards ceremony the team voted Zach Parise as their MVP, Johan Hedberg was named the Player’s Player and shared the Unsung Hero award with Bryce Salvador. What we want to know is what you think! We picked a few players and want you to cast your vote for each of the categories below.
(headline by @tomheaney1)
Three stars of the game:
3rd star: Zach Parise (2 assists)
2nd star: Patrik Elias (1 goal, 1 assist)
1st star: Travis Zajac (Game winning goal)
Johan Hedberg entered Tuesday night’s game against the Islanders having allowed just one goal in two games against the Isles this season, so it seemed like a good decision by coach Pete DeBoer to start Hedberg on Tuesday. “Moose” responded by stopping 19 of 20 shots he faced, and picked up his 17th win of the season. The Devils didn’t play their best game by any stretch of the imagination, but it was enough to move up to 98 points, and actually close to within three points of fifth place Philadelphia with two games remaining. Here’s how it all unfolded.
(headline by @SkooterMcGaven)
If you were a casual hockey fan, you probably had no idea that there were games other than Penguins-Rangers, “Crosby’s second return,” because of all the media hype, but there were other games. If you want a recap of Crosby’s return, well, I can’t help you there, as I’ll be recapping the Avalanche-Devils game. The Avs were coming off a dramatic comeback win against Buffalo in a shootout on Wednesday night, and the Devils were shutout in Philadelphia in a lackluster effort on Tuesday night, so the Devils were expected to come out to a strong start. In reality, they didn’t get off to such a strong start. Both teams played a very tight-checking, defensive period, which may have fallen right into what Colorado wanted to do after playing the night before. Both teams came up empty on their lone power play of the night. The Devils in particular allowed nothing to Colorado on their power play.
The team didn’t finish with the best record this week but the games were close and tough. All the fans see how hard Parise works and it finally payed off against the Capitals when he recorded his 2nd career hat-trick in only 9 and a half minutes of ice time. His first goal was a PPG assisted by David Clarkson and Patrik Elias. Parise scored his second goal with a backhand rebound that was assisted by his line mates, Kovalchuk and Henrique. The goal that defined his night was scored 3 minutes into the second period assisted by Henrique and Salvador. If anyone deserves player of the week it surely is Parise, as he leads by example. The fans voted and the Devils player of the week is Zach Parise.
New Jersey Devils (37-24-5) vs. New York Islanders (28-29-9)
7:00 P.M. E.T.
TV: MSG+, MSG+2
Radio – 660 AM WFAN
The Devils face off against the Islanders tonight looking to carry the momentum they gained on Tuesday by beating their Hudson River Rivals, and 1st place in the Eastern Conference, New York Rangers. To do so, they must match the intensity they played with on Tuesday, in a game where the Devils forced turnovers, came up with timely scoring (Ilya Kovalchuk, David Clarkson, Ryan Carter, Patrik Elias) and essentially had the Rangers on their heels for most of the game. Newly acquired defensemen Marek Zidlicky had his best game as a Devil on Tuesday, registering a +1 rating and creating numerous chances throughout the game. Ilya Kovalchuk set the tone early, scoring 49 seconds in on Henrik Lundqvist, and the Devils added another three goals in the third period, arguably their best 20 minute period of the season. The result of the Devils winning in 4-1 fashion: fans were able to chant, “Marty’s Better” as the Blueshirts fans quietly exited Prudential Center.
Tonight’s game will be the 2nd out of 3 in this week between the Atlantic Division rivals. On Sunday at Nassau Coliseum, the Devils faced a disappointing 1-0 loss where they could not figure out Isles rookie goalie, Anders Nilsson. Nilsson stopped all 24 shots he was faced with en route to his first career win and shutout. Nilsson will not start again tonight with Evgeni Nabokov getting the nod, but the Islanders come to Prudential Center leading the season series 2-1 against the Devils. The Islanders will be well rested, having not played since beating the Devils on Sunday. It is important that the Devils play a 60 minute game, and stay out of the penalty box, both of which they were not able to do last Sunday.
The Devils will certainly be looking for revenge against the Islanders after their performance on Sunday. Said captain Zach Parise, “you could have put a peewee goalie in there the first two periods and he probably would have had a shutout too.” While they are still working to bolster their playoff spot and not fall out of the top eight spots, the Islanders currently sit 7 points out of the 8th seed, making every game crucial for them. Regardless, the Devils know and it is fresh in their minds that the Isles will not give them an easy time and that they can not underestimate them. Zach Parise said he expects similar play from the Isles that gave the Devils trouble on Sunday, and that “by no means are (the Islanders) out of it.”
The Islanders will look to match a season high three game winning streak, and get another road victory where they are only 13-15-4 this season. One player who is always a threat on the ice, center John Tavares, hopes to reverse recent trends against the Devils, where he has only 2 goals in 15 games against the Devils. Tavares leads the Isles with 63 points this season. Zach Parise hopes to continue his recent dominance over New York, tallying 16 points in his last nine home games vs the Islanders. Ilya Kovalchuk also has excelled against the Islanders lately, with 21 points in his last 16 match-ups. Ilya Kovalchuk looks to start regaining his scoring touch. Second on the team behind Zach Parise with 26 goals, Kovy finally broke a nine game goal drought against the Rangers.Additionally, the Devils will look forward to the return of left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky, who declared himself “ready to go” after he had missed the last three games with a sprained MCL in his right knee. As expected, Martin Brodeur will be in net for the Devils. Brodeur, who is winless in two starts against the Islanders this season, has done well against the Isles in the past, bringing in a 48-27-2 career record against them. The two teams will match up again on Saturday at Nassau Coliseum.
New Jersey Devils Projected Lineup
Parise – Henrique – Kovalchuk
Sykora – Elias – Zubrus
Ponikarovsky – Josefson – Clarkson
Boulton – Carter – Bernier
Greene – Fayne
Salvador – Larsson
Volchenkov – Zidlicky
Scratches – Janssen, Taormina
New York Islanders Projected Lineup
Moulson – Tavares – Parenteau
Ullstrom – Nielsen – Bailey
Niederreiter – Cizikas- Okposo
Pandolfo – Reasoner – Martin
Harmonic – Streit
MacDonald – Jurcina
Eaton – Staios
Scratches – Grabner, Reese
It is hard to choose a player of the week when the teams record was 1-2-1. The team lost to the Rangers on Monday night, but had a strong comeback against Boston; just wasn’t able to come away with two points. The team came out strong against the Capitals where Parise was able to get a hat trick in only about 10 minutes of ice time. Hedberg registered the shutout that night as well. Because of these tough choices we are asking you the fans that question. We asked some fans on twitter and fans suggested Brodeur, others suggested Parise and more. Here is what they said:
@Bkrayer817: #DevsPlayerOfTheWeek #ZachParise no doubt!HT, almost 4-bagger;gets sandwiched and *still* finished game!!
Two people showed love for Hedberg who got the only win of the week.
@JGSportTalk: Johan Hedberg. Played tremendous against Washington and got the shutout.”
@xo_coll: Hedberg! Got us the win and shut out.. Being able to trust our backup may be something #NJDevils fans take for granted..
Another fan choice, is Marty. His record doesn’t display how well he played. He kept the Devils in the game against the Rangers, Boston and the Islanders.
@DougS-AG6: @DevilsGenerals Brodeur allowed 6 goals in 3 games.. 2 of those the Devils were shutout 2-0(1 was an EN) and 1-0
@wwkuwl: Marty. He kept us alive in a lot of games. Best man on the ice for the games he played, no doubt.
So now it is up to all the fans to vote, which New Jersey Devil do you think deserves Player of the Week for 2/27-3/4?
New Jersey Devils (36-23-5) vs. New York Islanders (27-29-9)
3:00 PM E.T.
TV: MSG Plus
Today’s game against the Islanders is a test to see if the Devils can continue there upward push after putting up 5 goals against the Capitals Friday night. The Islanders are also riding high after beating the Boston Bruins yesterday 3-2. Today’s game will be the first of 3 this week in which these two teams play each other. For the Islanders they will be facing the Devils 3 games in a row. The last time these two played the Islanders won 3-2 at the Prudential Center. So far the teams have split the season series both winning on the road.
The Islanders are not technically out of the playoffs, so the Devils need to play their game. New York still has a lot of fight left in them. They have had pretty solid goaltending lately. Nabokov has 10 wins in his last 15 games. New Jersey needs to be aware of where Tavares is on the ice as he scored the game winner against Boston. Tavares has 26 goals and 37 assists on the season. The Islanders have a lot of young talent and should not be taken lightly, especially since the Devils will see them 3 times this week.
The Devils are 5-4-1 in their last 10 while the Islanders are 4-5-1. Zach Parise is on a roll scoring 5 goals in the team’s last 4 games. The team needs to be strong on special teams and must not give anything away. Last game the Devils lost on Grabner’s shorthanded goal in the third period.
A big milestone today is Petr Sykora’s 1000th NHL game. Congratulations Sykora! Sykora’s first game was with New Jersey against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1995. He was drafted 18th overall by the Devils. It is nice to see Sykora back with the Devils this year. As a fan, it makes me excited to see a player return, reach milestones and still have helped the Devils win games. Petr Sykora has 34 points so far this season, 5 of which are game winning goals.
New Jersey Devils:
Forwards: Parise-Henrique-Kovalchuk; Elias-Zubrus-Sykora; Bernier-Josefson-Clarkson; Boulton-Carter
Defensemen: Fayne-Greene; Salvador-Zidlicky; Volchenkov-Larsson
7th D-man: Taormina
Injuries: Tallinder, Ponikarovsky, Zajac