Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Ex-Devils Could Be Coming Home To Jersey

The Devils already signed former Devils Bobby Holik and Brian Rolston in the off-season and many joked that who was next, Claude Lemieux. Well Claude will not be returning to the Devils but the 43 year old seems poised to sign a one-year two way contract with the San Jose Sharks. Lemieux is currently playing for the San Jose farm club the Worcester Sharks and has 2G-4A in 14 games.

Of the realistic options for the Devils, Brendan Shanahan has been looking for a team all year long. The Rangers felt they did not need him or his leadership, they thought Scott Gomez was someone who could step in and fill that role. Oh boy, were they wrong. The Flyers tried to sign him in November, but they could not clear the cap space. Other teams like the Blues have been interested, but Shanahan has made it clear he wants to stay near the New York area. So that leaves the Devils?

The Devils said they had no interest or do they? Lou always keeps everything tight to the vest so you never know and he never rushes into something, but adding Shanahan would not hurt the team just help. His leadership and power-play expertise is something any team would seem to want. You could easily see him slide into the third line with Rolston and Holik, freeing up Clarkson, Madden or Pandolfo for a trade for a defenseman.

Another ex-Devil of interest could be the Islanders Bill Guerin. The Islanders are going nowhere fast and are looking to unload Guerin and Doug Weight for draft picks. The only problem is that their cap hit is 4.5 million dollars each, so they may be hard to move as not many teams have the cap space to add that amount of money. The Devils could, but would need to make the move right around the trading deadline. In return the Devils would not have to give-up much in return, so keep you eyes and ears open in regard to these two players.

But what the Devils need the most is a top four defenseman who can play the point on the power-play and kill penalties. Well not too many ex-Devils out there on the trade market that fit this role. The top defenseman that could be on the move and fit what the Devils need are Mattheui Schneider (ATL), Jay Bouwmeester (FLA) and Thomas Kaberle (TOR). All three come with high price tags, but Schneider, Bouwmeester will be free agents at the end of the year.

The one ex-Devil defenseman that could be an option is Jason Smith. The Ottawa Senators are desperate to make a trade and Smith brings a strong defensive presence, a leadership quality and a cheaper price tag at 2.5M a year. And he is signed through next year as well.

We will see what happens but wouldn't mind bringing back some more ex-devils that could help. Devils start a two game road trip in St. Louis tonight and a great New Year's for me watching the Devils beat the Dallas Stars and then see the ball drop.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Devils Are Better Off Without Gomez

It seems as if things are getting back to normal and the world order is falling back into place. After a long stretch where the Devils were dominated by the Rangers the tides have turned back to way they should be with the Devils frustrating the Rangers into submission. The latest 4-2 win, not only made it two-in-row but the Devils stormed Lundquvist for four goals which could seem like 20 after he posted a 1.19 GAA in the last ten games against the Devils at the Garden.

After being shut-out two games in-a-row and setting the franchise record for longest streak with-out a goal, the Devils got on the board 2:54 into the game on a Brian Rolston goal. Rolston's goal was his 3rd in the past six games and his first on the power-play. The Devils also got goals from their top three goal scorers Elias (17), Parise (19) and Zajac (10). And the Rangers just never seemed as if they were in the game at all from the drop of the puck.

Scott Gomez was held off the scoreboard and is not living up to the huge salary that he received two years ago. While leading the Rangers in ice time with near twenty-three minutes a game, Gomez has 23pts. (6G-17A) and is playing at a minus-11 rating. So is he missed? No way, no how.

The Devils top two centers of Zubrus and Zajac have combined for 46pts. (18G-28A) and are playing at a combined plus-21 rating. Not too shabby, especially considering Gomez makes 3.6 million more a season than does Zajac and Zubrus combined. I will take that production instead of an overpaid center who can't score goals or play defense any day. So the next time the Devils play the Rangers, don't booo Scotty, just thank him for being just another overpaid center who the Rangers took from us.

-The Fourth Period web-site is reporting that Devils are still an option for Brendan Shanahan. Shanahan is looking to stay close to the New York area and the Flyers and Rangers do not have the cap space to sign him. He would be a great fit and could possibly move into the 3rd line with Holik and Rolston, letting Clarkson play with Madden and Pandolfo. The longer though he goes without signing, the less effective he may be in his return. So if the Devils are gonna make the move it must be sooner than later.
- A feel good story in Barry Tallackson is happening. After surgery during camp to relieve an irregular heartbeat, Tallackson returned to the Devils but was not ready and got sent down to Lowell. After struggling through his first 8 games without a point, Tallackson has started to find the back of the net and now has 4 goals in his last 4 games. So good for him and maybe we will see him somehwere in the NHL soon, whether it is with the Devils or on another club.
- Speaking of Lowell, the AHL affiliate has won their last two games after a long losing streak. They now sit at 13-14-4 and are 6pts. out of a playoff spot with at least one game at hand on everyone in the Eastern Conference.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

151 Minutes, 24 Seconds and Counting

151 Minutes and 24 seconds and counting! Yes Devil fans, that is how long we have gone without a goal. The last Devils goal was by Brian Rolston at 8:36 of the 2nd period against the Flyers last Sunday.

Last night, the Devils shut down the Pens high powered duo of Crosby and Malkin, limiting the Penguins to 18 shots but a goal by Fedetenko in the 2nd period just squeaked through Clemmensen and it seemed as if in slow motion crossed the goal line for the only goal of the game.

For a team that had scored 30 goals in seven games (4.29 Goals-per-Game) before these past two shut-outs, tough times and missed opportunities have been the scenario for the past two games. As in the game against the Bruins, the Devils had glorious opportunities that were missed. Jamie Langenbrunner had several chances that he missed on, Travis Zajac missed a wide-open net late in the 2nd period, David Clarkson missed a goal by literally an inch as the entire puck just couldn't get across the goal line , etc. etc etc.

Despite pestering 37 shots at the Pens, the game seemed lack luster and for three periods and the Devils seemed to lack the sense of urgency to score for two periods. The Devils need to find their offense right away as they held to the garden and face the Rangers tonight, as not getting at least two points out of this week would be a huge set-back.

- The Devils have three players playing in the World Junior Championships in Ottawa. Mike Hoeffel (LW/USA-2007 2nd Rd. Pick), Patrice Cormier (C/Canada-2008 2nd Rd. Pick) and Mattias Teneby (RW/Sweden-2008 1st Rd. Pick).
- Scott Clemmensen can't be blamed for the past two losses. He has only allowed one goal in each of the past two games and has stopped 39-of-41 shots in the two games.
- Coach Sutter finally split up the top 2 lines late in the game last night. Elias was centering Parise and Rolston late in the game. Let us hope that he goes back to the way things were before the two shut-outs and maybe moving Rolston to the wing with Parise and Zajac.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Missed Chances Cost Devils in 2-0 Loss to Bruins

Well, it was not as if the Devils did not have their chances in their 2-0 loss to the Boston Bruins. Elias had the best chance of the night as he had a wide open net, but Tim Thomas made a huge save diving across to stop the puck. Brian Rolston and Colin White both hit posts in the game as well.

The top seeded Bruins came in yo the game winners of 20 of their last 23 games and had the #1 defense and #1 offense in the NHL. As a Devils fan, I can walk away knowing that despite what the scoreboard says, we were just as good if not better than the Bruins tonight. The Devils offense showed they could create scoring chances against the best defense in the league and they limited the Bruins to one rebound goal early in the third period, and we don't even have Marty Broduer in net.

These two teams seem to be mirror images of each other, 12 forwards who are all solid two-way hockey players and no real big name players among them. The defense are a mixture of solid veterans and guys who move the puck well. The differences are the Bruins have two solid goalies, but are either one a true #1 that can carry team deep in the playoffs while the Devils have Clemmensen now but we have the greatest goalie of all time waiting in the wings. The Devils on the other hand are missing that big name defenseman who can do it all, as in the Bruins Zedeno Chara. This is something the Devils need to address come the trade deadline and also the 3rd line needs to click and provide some more offense if the Devils want to beat the deeper teams like the Bruins and Flyers.

But all in all this was a tough start to a tough week, next up the Pens on Friday and then the Rangers on Saturday. So let us all tell Santa to bring us two wins this weekend, that's all I want for Christmas.

Everyone have a great holiday!

- Despite the loss, the Devils are now 12-3-1 in their last 16 games.
- This was only the second time this season the Devils have been shut-out, compared to last year where the Devils had been shut-out seven times by Christmas.
- Salvador missed his third game with an upper body injury, while John Madden finally returned to the line-up and seemed to play on of his better games of late.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Devils Blow Another Lead Late

For the sixth time this season the New Jersey Devils blew a lead late in the 3rd period as Jordan Lupul scored 4:44 remaining in the third period to tie the score at 2-2.The Devils would eventually go on to win the game in the shoot-out, but once again in the process they gave away another point to their opponents in the process.

#1: October 18th, Alexander Semin of Washington scores with 5:11 remaining in the 3rd to tie the game at 3-3. Devils eventually won the game in the shoot-out.

#2: November 5th, Martin ST. Louis of Tampa scores with 3:20 remaining to tie the score at 3-3. Devils won 4-3 in the shoot-out.

#3: November 15th, Alex Ovechkin of Washington scores with 1-second left to tie the score at 5-5. Devils eventually won in shoot-out 6-5.

#4: November 26th, Up 2-0 on Florida, Jay Bouwmeester scores with 2:20 left and then David Booth scores with 8-seconds remaining to tie the game. The Devils eventually won 3-2 in OT on a Johnny Oduya goal.

#5: December 12th, Up 5-1 on the Rangers the Devils let the Rangers come back and eventually tie the game on a Ryan Callahan goal with 8:42 remaining. The Devils would score three more goals to win 8-5, but oooohhhh the ulcers it caused us Devils fans.

#6: December 21st, Lupul of Philly scored with 4:44 remaining to tie the game at 2-2. The Devils won the game in the shoot-out 3-2.

The Good thing is the Devils have comeback to win these game and get the two points, but this could be a concern with tough games late in the year and really scary come playoff time. There are two ways to looking at this, the Devils are 14-1 when taking a lead into the 3rd period this season but on the other hand more than one-third of the time they eventually blow that lead.

Game Notes:
- Bryce Salvador and John Madden both missed the past two games, Salvador has an upper body injury and the extent of the injury is still unknown. Madden is still ill with the flu, or as I said could it be something more. Probably not, just me putting some crazy ideas in your heads.
- Rolston-Holik_Clarkson scored again as Rolston got the second goal of the game to give the Devils a 2-0 lead. The line has 3G-2A over the past three games and seem like they be starting to gain some chemistry.
-After winning 7 of 8 games the Lowell Devils have gone south as they are on a current seven game winless streak. The offense has sputtered as they have only scored 11 goals in the past seven games, being shutout twice.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Power-Play / Penalty Starting To Figure It Out

Well Devil fans, I can admit when I was wrong. I believed that the Devils power-play would struggle once they sent Salmela down to Lowell, but instead they have caught fire. The power-play is 6-for-15 (40.0%) in past 5 games and 8-for-24 (23.53%) in the past 10 games.

So what has been the key? Well the Devils finally figured it out that the power-play should not run from the point men, but their two best players Parise and Elias. The combo has combined for 5G-9A on the power-play in the past ten games and Elias and Parise have garnered two of the three possible points on all but one power-play goal. In fact the last power-play goal not seeing Elias and Parise's names next to it on the score sheet was ten games ago when Gionta scored against Florida.

You can see Parise and Elias floating along the right side boards just looking for openings from the wing or feeding Parise down low on the side of the net. This has left the point men open for quality shooting lanes or to sneak in like Oduya did in last nights 5-1 win over Ottawa. Too much emphasis early on Langenbrunner and Rolston to shoot, caused this team to be pressured at the points and take away shooting lanes and also taking the puck out of the Devils two best scorers.

Hey, let us not forget the penalty kill. In the same time the Devils have killed off 38-of-43 (88.37) chances and 18-of-20 (90.0%) in the last five games. This has been just a pure team effort all around, taking away passing lanes, clearing pucks in front and most of all getting the puck out the zone with strong hard clear (No wimpy clears as my friend says).

Let's hope the Devils don't change their style of play and stick with the formula that has been working lately!

- Madden did not play last night against Ottawa, due to an illness, or was it something else? Is he on his way out? Rupp is a capable 4th line center, so maybe? Madden and Pandolfo have seemed to be relegated to the 4th line and penalty kill opportunities. That is a lot of money to pay for 4th line players (5.75M to be exact for those two players).

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Devils Offense Gets Back On Track ; Rangers Lose Out on Sundin

Before we start on last nights game, lets all grab a tissue and give it a Ranger fan you know. The poor Rangers couldn't find a way to shed cap space and lost out on trying to be the Yankees of the NHL by buying Sundin for their services. Sundin made it official, he has signed with the Vancouver Canucks. Hey who knows maybe they will go after Forsberg now or don't be surprised if Shanahan ends up a Ranger. They will find someone to buy off, too bad for them unlike baseball there is salary cap in the NHL.

Now to the Devils, who got back on track with their offensive game as they downed the Sabres 5-3. The Devils got goals from Zajac, Salvador, a power-play goal from Parise, Clarkson and Rolston. The new line of Rolston-Holik-Clarkson scored the two third period goals and as a unit seemed to get better as the game went on.

Early on I saw the Devils get back to the formula of soft dumps into the corners and a hard pressuring fore-check, not allowing the Sabres defense to get an easy clear. You could see the Devils get the puck and looked to push the puck up the ice and there were several long passes to lead the offensive rush out of their own end. That is what has made these Devils successful on the offensive end this year.

Rolston, who still seems not at 100%, scored his first goal since returning from his ankle injury and Clarkson netted his 6th goal of the year to seal the victory. Both goals came from Clarkson taking the puck to the net. This line seems to have better possibilities of creating offense and coming up a formula for success, rather than Rolston playing with Madden and Pandolfo. Let us not forget that Holik, though signed to be our fourth line center, was a top 2 centerman last year for the Thrashers.

I also want to give a shout out to Travis Zajac. This is someone who couldn't even score an open net early in the year and now has 8 goals, which is tied for 3rd on the team. He is beginning to make me a believer out of me that he may be a top 2 centerman after all.

Now the Devils come home for four games through Christmas, but it will not be easy an the games could be some offensive affairs as the Senators, Flyers, Bruins and Pens come to town.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Devils Lose To Lolely Leafs in Skills Competition

Ughhhhhh! You know I wrote an entire article for tonight's game, but I erased it all. The Devils have simply gotten away from the offense that produced eight goals against the Rangers and had scored 42 goals in the 10 games before these last two pathetic loses.

Yes Devils, you give us a little offense and us fans want to see it coming from the hard work ethic and pressing fore check. So they better get their S**T together before tomorrow nights game at Buffalo.

- The Devils are healthy, well accept for Brodeur, as Andy Greene is with the team on road and may be in the line-up tomorrow at Buffalo.
- Sundin is down to two teams either the Rangers or Vancouver, he will decide on Thursday. The Rangers still need to make cap space to sign Sundin. One option going around is that they will need to trade Prucha and send a forward to the minors. If the Rangers cannot move anybody by Wednesday, it looks as if Sundin will be going to Vancouver. Vancouver offered him a two year contract at 10M a year. (LETS HOPE THAT BIG LUG HEADS WEST)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Let Down After Victory Over Rangers

Well I think most of us saw it coming, the Devils finally beat the Rangers and in process scored eight goals against Lundquvist and the next night they lose to the struggling Sabres. The Devils seemed to not have the same passion to win the battles along the boards and in the corners in the 4-2 loss to the Sabres.

The Devils failure once again, was on the penalty kill as they controlled the Sabres at full strength, but gave up two power-play goals in only two chances against. Before the two power-play goals the Devils had killed off seventeen straight penalties. What was mind boggling to me the entire night was the Devils did not get one power-play opportunity. In the new NHL, how a team could not receive one power-play chance is mind boggling, but shows the Devils were going into the corners and taking the puck to the net where mos penalties are called.

The Sabres seem the Devils fit, as they shut-out the Devils in their first meeting. It was the only time the Devils have been shut-out all year. In the loss Bobby Holik scored his first goal since returning to the Devils. This week in practice, Holik-Clarkson-Rolston have been playing together. Rolston has not scored a point since returning to the line-up and he has seemed to have no chemistry with Madden and Pandolfo. This move may see Holik's line to see more time and move the Madden line to the fourth line, which could even make it more of a possibility that you may see Madden moved for a defenseman or a center with more scoring talents.

- Just so you Devil fans can get all pissed off at how the New York teams like the Yankees, Mets and Rangers try to buy a championship. The Rangers are trying to move salary to sign Sundin. Rumors have it that they may move Rosival to Dallas for Sean Avery. Yes I am not kidding you. The Rangers will then send Avery to the AHL, giving them the salary cap room to sign Sundin and have the option to bring Avery back after he is mentally cleared to return to the NHL. (WHAT WON'T THESE TEAMS DO TO TRY AND WIN.....I KNOW THEY ARE PISSED ALL THEY HAVE IT 1994 AND WE HAVE THREE CUPS SINCE THEN.)

Friday, December 12, 2008


All I can say is thank god the game is over, my stomach couldn't take it anymore. My stomach felt like it did in overtime of Game 6 of the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals.

After blowing a four goal lead, of course this all happened after I texted my friend to gloat how easy this was, but its' the Rangers and it is never easy and this little homo traitor Gomez made a good effort to disappoint Devil fans again.

What stood out for me and seems to be the difference in this team is Parise is now a dominant player and he showed it gaining four assists on the night as he now has 33 pts on the year. This little guy just creates offense. Second is Elias has gained chemistry with Zubrus and Gionta and are a line teams are proving they cannot stop. What a difference two scoring lines that get a ton of minutes and play solid defense can make. Elias (1G-2A), Gionta (1G-3A), Zubrus (1G-2A).

Also the hits some of the "D" put on some of the Rangers. Salvador and White threw their bodies around and if it wasn't for a period where the Devils thought they could relax and sit on a 5-1 lead the Rangers would of never made the comeback they did.

The Devils character, play of their top two lines, depth and overall team defense is showing me that this team may be one of the best in the east. If they can stay healthy, players like Madden-Rolston-Pandolfo-Rupp-Holik-Clarkson can turn their game up and find some chemistry, and if they can fill some holes of defense via a trade this team has a chance to be playing late in the playoffs.

- One sour note was Zajac did not play in the 3rd period and after he scored two goals in the game 3 goals in the last 2 games. Hopefully he will be okay and able to play tomorrow at Buffalo.
- Devils put Petr Vrana on waivers and if no one picks him up him will play the remainder of the season down in Lowell, so it is unlikely he would be recalled if Zajac is injured.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Devils Open Home Stand With Win Over Pens

The Devils returned after a road trip that saw them go 4-1-0 looking to continue their winning ways. They opened the home stand with the Pens, who were responsible for their only loss in the last eight games.

Scott Clemmensen continued to prove himself as he stopped the Pens leading the Devils to a convincing 4-1 win. The Devils got goals by Zajac, Parise, Zubrus and an empty-netter by Elias to finish off pretty boy Sidney Crosby and his teammates.
Coach Sutter continued to keep the top 2 lines together and the Madden-Pandolfo-Rolston line stayed together, but they seemed very out of sync and created barely any offense at all. At the beginning of year most Devil fans expected Madden to be the one re-signed and not to be on the trade block, while Gionta would not be re-signed and probably traded. Well it is appearing the opposite may be true, Gionta is coming on and is 3rd on the team with 21 points (7G-14A) and Madden remains one of only two forwards to be at a negative plus-minus (-4) and have only scored 8 points (3G-5A). With these poor numbers, the penalty kill has been struggling with Madden and Sutter is now not using Madden to check the other teams best line anymore. So Does Madden and his 3-million cap hit pack their bags?

I have always been a fan of Madden, but the Devils under Sutter are changing the way they play the game and are becoming more competitive in the new NHL, so is it wrong to bring in a center who can play with Rolston and someone else? Players like Horton (FLA) and Antropov (TOR) are available and provide more offense than Madden does. Or maybe Holik becomes the 3rd line center and Rupp the fourth line center? Before we rush to judgement, lets give this line a a few more games to gel before we send Madden out of town.

- Anssi Salmela has three goals since being sent to Lowell and now has 7 pts in 14 games and is making a real push to be recalled soon. As I stated, the Devils power-play would struggle once they sent Salmela down. In that time they have one power-play goal and that was a 4-on-3 OT goal by Parise. They are a combined 1-11 (9.09%). LETS JUST SAY IT IS UGLY!
- Leblond was sent back to Lowell and Rupp should return to the line-up and we may even see him playing on the third line with Madden and Rolston.
- Andy Greene is skating with the team and may be able to return sometime next week.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Same Old Song, Elias and Parise Save the Day

You have to admit as a Devils fan the best part of this season is seeing the emergence of Zach Parise and the re-emergence of Patrick Elias as elite players in the league. Even playing with line-mates who are average NHL scoring threats, Parise and Elias are always creating offense for the Devils at always at the most critical moments. Last night once again it was a great pass from Elias that set-up Parise for the overtime game-winner to beat the Montreal Canadians and give the Devils seven wins in their last games.

The goals was Parise's 15th of the year has him tied for 3rd in the league and his 28pts. has him ranked 14th in the league for points. In his four year career Parise has 22 game winning goals and is still on pace to break the Devils single season record in points with 95.

Elias already has 10 goals and 14 assists and for a player who has been paid as one of the top NHL players, over the past three seasons he has only averaged 19 goals and 37 assists a season. At this pace Elias would be back to scoring the way he did during the years of dominance from 2000-2004, averaging 34 goals and 46 assists.

Most of all is the way he and Parise make everyone around them better. Now if they would only let Parise and Elias be the quarterbacks on the power-play from the wings instead of always the point men, maybe we would score a power-play goal.

Let us not forgot the play of Scotty Clemmensen! As I said before, the way he was playing in the pre-season was great but he has started to get a better feel for the game as of late. And last night you could see the biggest difference in his game, (HIS LATERAL MOVEMENT). His ability to move from post to post is getting better every game and he is making some old time kick saves that make me think of my street hockey days.

Pieces are coming together, but changes still need to be made. Maybe it is time for Madden to go? Is Pandolfo a fourth-liner now? Will they be able to score as much as we need them with Rolston on their wing? What is Holik's role? Is Zubrus the answer at center with Elias and Gionta or do the Devils need to find someone else and put his as the third line center?

- Barry Tallackson cleared waivers and is playing at Lowell now.
- Since his four goal game four games ago, Zubrus only has 1pt. in his last four games and only ha 4 shots while he had 8 shots on goal in his four goal game.
-Since Salmela has been sent down the DEVILS defenseman have NO goals and just 2 assists in the past three games.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Elias and Parise Lead Devils to Victory

After I saw the Devils just dominating the Flyers early in the 3rd period and out shooting 10-1 but still tied at 1-1, I was just waiting for the wheels to fall off. Well they did as yet again the Devils gave up a power-play goal, but Elias fixed the Devils flat tire and scored a late goal and the eventual game winner in overtime to help the Devils to victory. As much as I am excited about the two points a few things I am still very concerned about:

1) Though the Devils hold a 4-5-1 record in the division, two wins have come against the weak Islanders and the other two victories (Pens and Flyers) were both in overtime, which still gave up at least a point to these teams. Even worse against the Flyers, Pens and Rangers they have been outscored 14-24 and are only 2-25 on the Power Play (8%) and they have given up 10 goals in 32 chances on their Penalty Kill (68.75%). There is the difference between the Devils and these three teams and that leads me to my next point.

2) The Devils rank 27th on the Power play and 27th on Penalty kill, they have scored 11 power play goals and given up 22, for a minus-11 differential. Only Atlanta at minus-11 and Columbus at minus-14 are worse. The Penguins are plus-3, Flyers plus-7 and the Rangers are plus-10. This is where the fate of the Devils season lies, they need to change this number and fast. Changes need to be made, they are so desperate they are playing five forwards on the top power-play unit. Guess what, 0-for-3 last night and Chico went as far as stating the Devils first power play was their best penalty kill of the season. Remember I said it, Salmela could be the difference maker. OH wait he is helping Lowell with their power-play.

Down on the Farm:
- The Lowell Devils are 7-1-1 in their past 9 games.
- Goalie Jeff Frazee has now won six straight games and is 6-1-1 on the season with and ranks fourth in the AHL with a 2.12 GAA.
- In his two games since being sent down, Anssi Salmela has 1G-1A and is plus-1 with six shots on goal.
- Former Ranger farmhand Chad Wiseman has scored in six straight games and has 15 pts. in 13 games (7G-8A). Wiseman played 5 games with the Rangers over three season in the organization, scoring 1G-1A in those games.
- Alexander Vasyunov now leads the team with eight goals.
- Matt Halischuk is rehabbing his knee from surgery and is expected to return this year to play, as the knee was not as bad as originally diagnosed.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Stupid Devils Leadership Make Suprise Move Sending Salmella to Lowell

In one of the most shocking moves yet by the Devils, they sent rookie defenseman Ansi Salmela to Lowell and journeyman Jay Leach has been recalled. Salmela has been an exciting player to watch since his return from a earlier stint at Lowell. Salmela has been on of the key guys on the power-play providing a shot first attitude and now the Devils bring Jay Leach back, who played solid replacing Mike Mottau during his suspension.

This move makes no sense and the only logical answer I can come up with is that they wanted some bigger defenseman to play against the Flyers, Canadians and Rangers forwards. And that Salmela was the only one who would not have to clear waivers.

But for all purposes this is just a dumb stupid move and if they feel they need to make a change on defense and bring another big defenseman to the mix then trade Mike Mottau and get the likes of a Jay Bouwmeester or Mattius Ohlund. But do not send our only real offensive defenseman down to the minors. DUMB, DUMB, DUMB, DUMB!

Prediction Devils power-play over the next four games will score maybe one or two goals!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Old Pieces to a New Puzzle

At the start of the season the roles of Brian Rolston, Bobby Holik, John Madden and Jay Pandolfo were pretty much set in stone. Holik would be a fourth line center and take some ket face-offs and probably play with two big wingers (Zubrus, Clarkson or Rupp). Rolston was to be on the top line with Elias and Gionta, while Madden and Pandolfo would be side by side checking the other teams best line.

Now as the Devils are seeming to near complete health, Coach Sutter has made the right move and say that the Elias-Zubrus-Gionta line will stay together as well Parise-Zajac-Langenbrunner, so where do the returning players fit in?

Here is our choices for the two best options:
OPTION 1: LINE 1: Parise-Zajac-Rolston / Line 2: Elias-Zubrus-Gionta / Line 3: Pandolfo-Madden-Langenbrunner / Line 4: Rupp-Holik-Clarkson
(Rolston would provide more punch and make Parise and Zajac better than they already are and it would get the struggling Langebrunner off the line and put him with Pandolfo-Madden, whom it has a history playing with. Langebrunner would also provide some more offense to the Pandolfo-Madden tandem. And lastly the Elias line stays in tact, while you have a big strong fourth line that can bang bodies and score some goals.)

OPTION 2: Line 1: Parise-Zajac-Langebrunner / Line 2: Elias-Zubrus-Gionta / Line 3: Pandolfo-Madden-Clarkson / Line 4: Rupp-Holik-Rolston
(Not as good as the first option, but keeps the top two lines together and provides balance throughout the line-up. Also opens the option for LOU to go out and trade for another winger who can score to replace Rupp to give the Devils three lines that can produce offense.)

- Devils recalled Leblond, mostly to maybe play against the Flyers because as always there will be fights and hopefully he knocks out one of the (Bleeps) from Philadelphia. Hey if we are lucky maybe Bobby Clarke himself will come back and get his ass kicked by Leblond.
- Devils sent Vrana to Lowell to get some playing time. With everyone coming back from injuries he will get some needed playing time down there.
- Several teams are looking to trade, but the salary cap is standing in their way. Washington is looking to unload Nylander, Atlanta well is looking to move nearly anyone on the roster, Buffalo is looking to move Afiniganov and his 3.3M salary, Rangers would like to get rid of Prucha, Hurricanes want to make some moves and well it won't be long before Burke will be shopping the entire Toronto roster.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Simply put, the Devils five game win streak was against the least of the eastern conference and now with a tougher schedule the Devils seem that they may be over-matched against the likes of the Pens, Flyers, Canadians and Rangers.

Last nights 4-1 loss to the Pens may be the start of a tough stretch. The Devils defense was harassed by the Pens fore-check all night and did not were not allowed a clean breakout all night. On offense the Devils crashed the net and worked hard down low in their five game win streak, last night we saw none of that from the Devils offense.

Only time will tell but this could be a tough stretch unless the return of Holik, Madden and Rolston help bolster our line-up.

Notes and Thoughts:
- Mike Mottau has not played the way he did last season and at times has been a liability. Bryce Salvador and Colin White are solid defensive defenseman, but are not shutdown defenseman. This is the Devils biggest weakness as they will need to pursue a top line shut down defenseman in the likes of Stevens. That would allow them to have three solid pairings Martin-?, White-Oduya, Salvador-Salmella with Greene or Mattau as the seventh defenseman.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Lowell Following in Devils Footsteps

The Lowell Devils have been on a winning streak just like their senior counterparts. The Lowell Devils have won four straight games and stand at 8-7-3 (19pts.). The Devils turn around on defense has been the difference as over the first 14 games they gave up 51 goals, averging 3.64 GAA per game. Over the past four games they have only allowed 5 goals, 1.25 GAA. Since being recalled from Trenton, goalie Jeff Frazee is 3-1-1 with a 1.73 GAA, 1 shoutout and a .944 save percentage. The 21 yera old from Edina, Minnesota was the Devils second choice (38th overall) in the 2005 entry draft.

Jon DiSalvatore leads the Devils in points with 19 (5G-14A) and is tied for the team lead in goals with Matt Halischuk, Alexander Vasyunov (Devils 2nd choice / 58th overall in 2006 draft) and Patrick Davis. Nicholas Bergfors, who has struggled to score at the NHL level has 11pts (4G-7A) in 9 games at Lowell and leads the team with 4 power-play goals.

Top defensive prospects Tyler Eckford leads all Lowell defensman with 10pts (1G-9A) and Matthew Corrente has 2G-4A, plus-2 rating and second on the team with 56 penalty minutes.

We will continue to keep up with the Lowell Devils this season.

Friday, November 28, 2008

10 Things Devils Fans Can Be Thankful For

Well Devils fans after some shaky times the past few months, we have a lot to be thankful for at this time of year:
1) The Devils are on a 5-game winning streak after the season seemed to be going in the shitter.
2) The Devils escaped with two points after blowing a 2-0 lead late to the Florida Panthers.
3) Rolston, Holik, Madden and Greene all should be returning to the line-up sometime in the near future.
4) Zach Parise is becoming one of the most dominant players in the game, the type of player we have not had since Elias in 2000-2001.
5) Gionta is on a five game goal scoring streak.
6) Elias-Zubrus-Gionta is turning out to be a dominant line.
7) The Devils penalty kill ha snot given up a power-play goal in three straight games.
8) The farm system is filled with soon to be NHL players in Hallischuk, Corrente, Eckford, Zharkov and Bergfors.
9) Ansi Salmela is an actual offensive defenseman who is becoming more and more comfortable at the point on the power-play.
10) The Devils are 13th in offense (2.90 GPG) compared to last season where the finished 27th (2.42 GPG).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Devils Scorch Lightning as Zubrus Lights Lamp Four Times

The Devils seemed to follow the game plan from my last post to a "T" as they scorched the Lightning from start to finish for a 7-3 victory. Zubrus scored four times and the line of Elias-Zubrus-Gionta combined four 5 goals and 4 assists on the afternoon. They now have accounted for 12 goals and 13 assists over the last five games. And it is becoming clearer that Sutter and the coaching staff would make a huge mistake by breaking up this tandem when Rolston returns as the chemistry of this line is something the Devils have been searching for since Arnott and Sykora were shipped off.

Also, I said that Salmela was about to break out and he did with two assists in the game. The second one was a great individual play at the blueline on a delayed penalty that led to Parise scoring his 13 goal of the year. And the defense as a whole continued to add points as they accounted for 5 assists on the game and except for a short time in the second period played a stellar defensive game by shutting down the Lighting stars.

The Devils can make it five in a row with a win on Wednesday at Florida and we could see the likes of Holik, Madden, Rolston, Mottau back in the line-up by sometime next week.

- Jon DiSalvatore was named AHL player of week with 2G-5A . He has been the best forward for the Lowell Devils all year and may be the next to be recalled if any injuries occur again.
- Gionta has now scored in four straight games.
- Parise broke his five game goal scoring drought with his goal against Tampa.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Four Reasons Why The Devils May Be Coming Together

The Devils are now on a three game winning streak, which looking at the opponents (FLA, WAS and NYI) may not seem that impressive yet considering all of the injuries it is coming at the right time. The Rangers and Penguins are taking off in the division and the Flyers you know will be there, so the Devils can ill afford to fall behind too far and after falling to .500 they have won three straight. So what has changed that has seemed to set the Devils in the right direction:

1) Elias, Zuburs and Gionta. The Devils have found a strong second combo that can put the puck in the net. At times these three have cycled the puck down low very much like the Elias-Arnott-Sykora line did. And it is clear that Elias is at his best when his line has players who can create and they work as a unit. Over the past four games this line has accounted for 7 Goals and 9 Assists for 16 Points. Elias leads the way with (4G-4A) and Gionta has scored in three straight games. Big question is what will Sutter do with Rolston when he returns since these three are gaining more and more chemistry.

2) Parise, Parise, Parise. Now he has not scored in four games and people are all worried, don't be. In those four games he has 5 points (0G-5A) and has created offense and has had numerous scoring chances that he has not cashed in on. Parise is becoming the superstar that this team needs and he has made Zajac better and has garnered the attention of teams allowing Elias and his linemates to create. Parise is stuck on 12 goals, but now has 23 points overall and is on pace for 99points, which would break Elias's team record of 96 pts. from 2000-2001.

3) Salmela's shoot first attitude rubbing off. Any Devils fan can see that in his second stint with the Devils Ansi Salmela is a different player and a creative offensive player from the defensive position. We may not see the end to end rushes up the ice and points may not be there yet but they will come in time and may come in bunches. The most impressive thing we have seen is Salmela wants the big slapshot from the point and other Devils defenseman have followed suit. No more weak wrist-shots that get blocked, thank god! The other night Mike Emerick even said that Oduya and Salmela was having a shooting contest as the pounded slapper after slapper towards the net. Think about it over the last four games Salvador and Martin have scored on hard slap shots, Oduya has 3 assists two off deflected pucks off slapshots and Colin White had a slapshot deflected!

4) Reality has set in. The Devils finally woke up and figured it out, Marty Brodeur was not going to back anytime soon. So they decided to change and not let there season go in the shitter cause one player was injured. And as I said before, this could and should make this team better. The belief that they can win without relying on Brodeur and forcing players to earn their paychecks. And over the past four games Elias, Parise, Gionta, Langenbrunner, Zajac, Oduya, Martin, Clarkson and Salmela all deserve a little raise.

- With a tough stretch coming up in December, the need to get at least three of four points over the next two games in Florida is important.
- Madden may miss both games in Florida as will Mottau who got suspended for two games by the NHL for his hit on Nielsen of the Islanders.
- Parise is on pace for 99 points, while Zajac 60pts, Langenbrunner 43 points for a total of 202 pts. In 2000 Arnott scored 56 pts, Sykora 68 pts, Elias 72 pts which equalled 196 pts.
- Two players will be recalled to replace Madden and Mottau from Lowell. Good chance Devils could call up Tyler Eckford or Jay Leach on defense and either Zharkov or DiSalvatore for a spot on the fourth line winger. Leblond and Bergfors were returned to Lowell.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Devils Finally Go On the Offensive

Well for any Devils fan who watched Saturday's game against the Capitals saw a Devils team that finally found the back of the net and had numerous great scoring chances. Even with that it took a shoot-out for the Devils to break their winless streak, but than again no one said it would come easy.

The most impressive part of the Devils offense was where there opportunities were coming. Most of the Devils goals came with clear shots from the high slot and not from the along the boards or the from the point. Clarkson, Langenbrunner and Gionta all scored from the high slot and their were other chances from their that did not result in goals.

With all the injuries, spotty offense and two ugly losses to the Rangers, their have been some positives. Zack Parise has 20pts. in 17 games, Zajac can find the back of the net but he has 11 assists to lead the team and has been getting better each game, Elias now has 7 goals and could you imagine if he had a real center to play with, Clarkson is 3rd on the team with 4 goals despite being with a new line every night and on defense Oduya, Greene and Salmella have been great. Escpecially Oduya who leads the Devils defenseman in points with eight and Greene had 6pts. in 6 games before getting hurt, and Salmella is about ready to break-out.

On the negative side, the Devils best defensive players (Madden, Pandolfo, Salvador and Martin) are a combines minus-14. Only one other regular, David Clarkson at minus-2, is playing at a negative rating.

The Devils have an opportunity to get healthy and get some wins as they play the worst of the conference over the next four games, Florida (twice), Tampa Bay Lightining and the rival Islanders. After that they have a tough six-game stretch that could determine their season as they play the Penguins (twice), Flyers, Rangers, Sabres and the Canadians.

- Rolston is not skating yet, so his return is questionable. Holik should be looking to return around Thanksgiving or just before. Greene will still be out to just before Christmas.
- Lowell is feeling the effects of the Devils injuries as they are winless in their last seven. With Halischuk out (knee surgery), Bergfors (still with Devils), Salmella (back with Devils) and Clemmensen (up with Devils) they are feeling a bit shortrhanded.
- Barry Tallackson is back with the Devils after a heart surgery and then a five game rehab stint with the Lowell Devils. He is still aways off from getting on the ice with the Devils at the NHL level. Hopefully we will see him in the line-up as he can be a positive 4th liner for the Devils.
- Lamiriello is showing interest in Khabibulin (CHI), Roloson (EDM) and Kolzig (TAMPA) to take over in goal. This may put a damper on the Devils looking to add a center or defenseman.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Capital Punishment

The New Jersey Devils who's season started out with such promise continued their endless fall with a 3-1 loss to the Capitals. Once again it seemed that the Devils did not have the offensive firepower upfront to match yet another teams forwards speed and offensive creativity. Alex Ovenchkin had an assist and scored an empty net goal to clinch the game for the Capitals.

Despite playing solid defense and getting another strong performance in net from Clemmensen, the Devils offense has continued to sputter as teams have begun to focus their efforts on stopping Parise. Since Broduers injury the Devils are now 1-5-0 and have only scored more than two goals once, the only game they won. Their 1.60 Goals For per game is only the tip of the iceberg as the real problem has been their powerplay which has scored 1 goal in their last 20 chances, over the span of the past six games. The penalty kill has killed them as well giving up 7 goals in the last 22 chances over that same six game span.

In all despite the injuries, it may be time for the Devils to make a move before the season is lost and a goalie is not what they need, as it seems like Clemmensen has continued his strong play from the preseason and may be seeing more action between the pipes than Weekes. The Devils need to add a play-making centerman and top 4 defenseman.

On defense it is clear that Martin, Salvador, White will stay and Greene and Salmela seem to give the Devils some offense and a decent third pairing. That leaves Oduya and Mottau able to be on the move, but White could be moved for a player like Bouwmeester.

On the forward lines, Zajac-Parise make a good pair but could benefit from adding Rolston to the line and moving Langenbrunner with Madden-Pandolfo, Holik-Rupp-Clarkson make a strong fourth line and that leaves Elias to be paired with a new center and either Gionta or Zubrus on the wing. So as expected Gionta or Zubrus could be on the move.

But in the end the Devils could look for a goalie if Clemmensen and Weekes are not getting the job done and if they find out Brodeur may be out longer than expected.

Well anything to help my ulcer I am getting from watching these games.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Just Flat Out Ugly, as Devils fall to 1-4-0 Since Brodeur Injury

I have no words to comment on how disgusted I am at watching the Devils lose once again to the Rangers. As if the Rangers needed any help, the referees gave the Rangers numerous opportunities on the power-play including two five-on-three's. And on both five-on-three's the Rangers scored. And most of all it is stomach turning to see all the Ranger fans being allowed into the arena. Devils fans need to step up and buy all the tickets to the Ranger games or any fan wearing a Rangers jersey should thrown the fuck out and have his ass beaten in an alley in downtown Newark.

But worse is the Devils are 1-4-0, with only a shootout win, since Brodeur went down. They have only been able to score 7 goals in four games. Mr. Lamiriello better get his move on and find some new players for this team. He better start with getting rid of all those soft players. We need players with an edge, like Parise, to lead this team. And right now there are very few players like that, mostly we have a bunch of soft pussies with no creativity.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Injuries Continue to Add Up

This past weekend while the Devils lost back-to-back games and Zach Parise was the only player who could put the puck in the net, my family and good friend were visiting Canada and the Hockey Hall of Fame. In a post later this week I will have some pictures and go over what a great trip it is and why all hockey fans should make it a point to get there.
Besides the two losses, where both goalies Weekes and Clemmensen, played well enough to keep the Devils in the game, the injuries just kept on coming. The newest additions are Paul Martin who was put on IR today and Gionta and Salvador had to miss Sunday's game against Edmonton after leaving the previous game against Detroit with injuries. Gionta and Salvador should return soon than later to the line-up and I would expect them both to be in the line-up against the Rangers tomorrow night.
Theses injuries add onto Rolston, Holik, Greene and Leblond who are all still out and may not be back for another few weeks. And of course the injury to Brodeur, who underwent successful surgery on his elbow tendon and is expected to miss three to four months.

The injuries have not been limited to the NHL club. Matt Hallischuk, the Devils top prospect, will be out four to six weeks after successful arthroscopic surgery on his knee. Hallischuk had 5G-3A in 8 games at Lowell this season and had an assist in his NHL debut.
In all my years as a Devils fan, I have never seen so many injuries at one time and especially to so many key players. Despite the injuries and a total of seven rookies making their debuts this season (Hallischuk, Vrana, Bergfors, Leblond, Davis, Salmella, Leach) the Devils remain above .500 and in second place in the division.

Some players have shown they have the ability to step-up and other have showed they are not ready, here is our list of our uppers and downers:

Salmella, Parise, Oduya, Weekes, Clemmensen - UPPERS

Vrana, Bergfors, Langenbrunner, Clarkson, Rupp, Elias - DOWNERS

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Weekes Crashes Lighting Hopes In Shootout

Tonight was the first night of many to come over the next few months that the New Jersey Devils leaned on Kevin Weekes in goal to get them a victory. Weekes stopped 24 of 27 shots and then 2 of 3 in the shootout to lead the Devils to a 4-3 shootout victory.

After a goal by Lecalavier in the shootout, Weekes stopped Jokinen and Prospal to win the shootout. After Parise's backhand hit the crossbar, Elias and Langenbrunner scored, beating Lighting goalie Mike Smith low on the glove side to complete the shootout victory.

While falling behind 1-0 on a first period goal by Jokinen, the Devils offense continued to stall. Finally after more than four and half periods a goal by Clarkson off the right wing tied the game 1-1and broke the scoreless drought. Then two-minutes and fourty-second later Elias scored a power-play goal to give the Devils a 2-1 lead.

The third period saw the Devils penalty kill fail once again. A penalty by Petr Vrana led to a Jokinen's second goal of the game to tie the score at 2-2. Then after a Pandolfo goal to take back the lead, Brookbank was called for delay of game when he flipped a backhand into the stands with no Lighting player within 50-feet. Brookbank's mistake led to a St. Louis goal with 3:20 remaining in the game. The Lighting finished 2-for-3 on the power-play and now have given up 13 power-play goals on the season compared to the 7 they have scored on the power-play.

Patrick Elias and Danius Zubrus made huge impact on the game and both players finished with two-points on the night. Zubrus now has 7 pts. (2G-5A) in his last six games.The win makes the Devils 2-1-2 in their last five games and now visit the Stanley Cup Champions on Saturday and then the Edmonton Oilers at home on Sunday before the Rangers come to town next Wednesday.

- Rolston has begun to skate on his own, but no time table has been set for his return.
- For the second game in-a-row, Bergfors was benched in the 3rd period limiting his ice-time. Rookie line-mate, Petr Vrana has not scored a point in his 7 games since his goal in his debut at Washington.
- Paul Martin missed his second game with what has been called upper body soreness.
- Devils are now 6-1-0 when they out-shoot their opponents.