Thursday, October 30, 2008

Devils Fall to Leafs in Shootout

The Devils defense after the starting the season giving up 9 goals in the first six games, now over the last three the light behind Brodeur has been lighting up like a christmas tree. The last three games have seen the Devils give up 14 goals against. Last night the visiting Leafs tore through the Devils defense for 5 goals and pestering the Devils net 48 shots. As it has been the problem in the two games against the Flyers, the Devils allowed the Leafs to crash the front of the net and scramble around the crease in front of Brodeur.

The Devils started off to a great start with a 2-0 lead after the first period, despite being outshot 13 to 7 by the Leafs. David Clarkson deflected a Mike Mottau shot from the point to get the scoring started. Then later in the period, Danius Zubrus scored off a loose puck in the crease that deflected off his knee and in the net. Rookie Matt Halischuk started the play, by forcing a turnover in the corner and then getting the puck to Andy Greene at the point. Greene then slid a pass to Gionta who came off the bench for Halischuk and took the puck to the net and banged two shots off Toskala's pads and then the second shot rebounded off Zubrus for the goal.

The Devils seemed to get complacent after the second goal and took it into the 2nd period. The Leafs scored three goals in the first seven minutes of the 2nd period t take a 3-2 lead. The Devils grabbed the lead back with goals by Jamie Langenbrunner and of all players Colin White to take a 4-3 lead heading into the 3rd period.

The lead would stay until half-way through the 3rd period when the Leafs scored two goals in a 1:10 period to take a 5-4 lead, including their third power-play goal of the game. Zach Parise would tie the game up under a minute later with his 7th goal of the season. The game ended a 5-5 tie and then the Devils who led the shootout after a Patrick Elias goal, could not finish the Leafs again as Gionta and Langenbrunner missed and Hagmann and Kaberle beat the Brodeur to win the shootout.


- Andy Greene has been playing great since being inserted for Salmela. Greene has 6 points (1G-5A) and plus-4 +/- rating in his six games, including three assists last night. Hopefully we will see him more on the point of the power-play.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Left Bloody on the Streets of Philadelphia

After a 5-0 win over the Dallas Stars last Wednesday, Devil fans were flying high and seeing that we could maybe make it through a stretch without Rolston and Holik. Then a desperate and angry 0-3-3 Flyers were next for a home-and-home over the weekend. What preceded was a good old fashioned whipping, as the Flyers won a 6-3 blowout at "The Rock" and a 3-2 OT loss Saturday in Philadelphia.

In the two games the Flyers and Devils combined for six fights and numerous bone crushing hits over the two games. The Flyers big strong and offensively talented forwards controlled and pushed the Devils defense around all weekend. The Flyers continually pounded the Devils defenseman and forwards every chance they got, which forced the Devils into being out of position, losing puck battles along the boards and allowing the big forwards of the Flyers to get to the net.

The Flyers top six forwards dominated the Devils defense charging the net, especially the trio of Jeff Carter (6'3"-200), Mike Knuble (6'3"-230) and Scott Hartnell (6'2"-210), who combined for seven of the nine Flyers goals on the weekend. Before this past weekend the trio has scored five goals in the teams first six games, four of which were scored by Carter. Add in Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Jordan Lupul and the Flyers top six forwards dominated the games and controlled the puck nearly the entire time.

The Devils got off to a quick start with a goal by Travis Zajac 45-seconds into the game, but then Jeff Carter responded 45-seconds later to tie the game and the Flyers seemed to control the weekend from then on. Zach Parise once again provided all the offense for the Devils. Parise contributed on four of the Devils five goals over the two games, accounting for four points (2G-2A). Parise now has 11 points in the first 8 games and part of the reason is the development of Travis Zajac who is second on the team with six points (1G-5A).

While Zajac and Parise have continued to impress, other players have struggled. Patrick Elias who scored two goals in the first two games, has not scored since Rolston went down and has only accounted for 3 assists since the Rolston injury. The Devils also lost Jamie Langenbrunner, who left half-way through the 6-3 loss to the Flyers after being hit from behind and into the boards by a Flyers player. Langenbrunner had struggled on the line with Parise and Zajac as he only had 1G-2A in the first seven games of the year.

The losses this weekend leave the Devils now at 5-2-1, but are 2-2-1 against their divisional opponents. They have a 3.00 GAA against divisional opponents and a 1.00 GAA against the rest of the league. With yet another injury to a top forward and Rolston and Holik put on IR, the Devils have called up Matt Hallischuk and Nicholas Bergfors from Lowell.

Team Notes:
- Devils play 9 of their next 11 games at home and 11 of their next 14 games are against non-divisional opponents.
- Matt Hallischuk and Nicholas Bergfors have been called up for Wednesday's game vs. Toronto. Hallischuk and Bergfors are tied for the team lead in points at Lowell. Halischuk has 5G-3A and Bergfors has 2G-6A. The question will be if we will see either on in the line-up or are they called up under and emergency status only? It would be a shame to bring them up and not see what they can do at the NHL level. If either player can stick and prove to be a NHL caliber player it may make a player like Brian Gionta and his salary available for a trade. Hallischuk will wear #10 and Bergfors #18.
- Matt Corrente the Devils first round pick in 2006 scored his first goal of the season with the Lowell Devils in heir 4-2 win over the Springfield Falcons on saturday night.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Devils Run Over Stars and Avery

Sean Avery! A name that makes the nicest Devils fans want to beat the living pulp out of the first person they can find. In his long awaited return after his circus antics in last seasons playoffs with the Rangers, the so called hockey player returned tonight to the "Rock" as a Dallas Star. The Devils preceded to run over the Dallas Stars and their new antagonizer, winning 5-0.

The Devils got on the board early as Jamie Langenbrunner started the scoring 1:59 into the game. Langenbrunner came out from behind the net and backhanded a shot that went through Stars goalie Marty Turco. Then half way through the first period David Clarkson received a penalty trying to drop the gloves with Avery. Showing his true colors, Avery would not drop the gloves the whole night as he was hit around at every turn and by every one wearing a Devils jersey.

In the second period John Madden took care of putting the game away by himself as he scored two goals to extend the Devils lead to 3-0 after two periods. Madden was fed by Paul Martin on a short two-on-one as he beat Turco on the glove side. Just over a minute later Madden scored again as Salvador shot the puck on Turco who left a rebound out in front of him. Madden beat two Dallas defenders and slid the puck right inside the post from the goal line for his 3rd goal of the season. The goal sent Turco to the bench for the remainder of the night.

The Devils finished off the third period and game by doing what they have done so well this season, controlling the puck and getting pucks to the net. Zach Parise scored his team leading 4th goal of the season off a rebound on an Andy Greene shot from the left wing. David Clarkson capped off the scoring as he found a loose puck just inside the blue line and stick-handled around a defender to get to the center of the ice. Clarkson then sent a scorching slap shot by Turco's replacement, Tobias Stephan, low on the blocker side.

With the win the Devils move to 5-1-0 on the season and Brodeur moves closer to breaking Patrick Roy's career wins record and Terry Sawchuk's career shut-out mark. The Devils now head into a weekend home-and-home series with the struggling Flyers, starting on Friday at the "ROCK".

- Parise now leads the team with 7 pts in 6 games (4G-3A).
- Rookie winger Letourneau-Leblond did not have a fight tonight, but he did get on the score sheet with an assist on Clarkson's third period goal.
- Andy Greene had two assists on the night and now has 3 pts in 3 games, including the lone goal from a Devils Defenseman.
- Travis Zajac's parents were in attendance and they saw him get two assists on the night. They may not be staying long as they have two other sons who play college hockey (Darcy-Jr.-North Dakota) (Kelly-Fr.-Union College-NY).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Is there a Doctor in the House? (Holik and Rolston out of line-up)

The Devils top two free agent signings of the off-season will not be in the line-up anytime in the near future. Rolston injured his ankle in the Atlanta game and Holik left the Washington game with what they called a broken pinkie finger.

Holik will be out 3 to 4 weeks after having surgery to repair the broken finger. With the injury to Holik the Devils have called up Pierre-Luc Letrourneau-Leblond from Lowell. The 6-2 210lb Letrourneau-Leblond, will play left wing on a line centered by Mike Rupp and David Clarkson on right wing. At 22 years of age Letrourneau-Leblond is the youngest Devil to make their NHL appearance this season (Vrana 23, Salmella 24). In 4 games this season at Lowell he has accumulated 32 minutes in penalties. Do not expect the rookie to put the puck in the net, but he will hit a few guys around and throw some fists.

MRI and X-Rays on Brian Rolston were clean but no timetable has been set for his return. Rolston signed a 4-year deal this off-season with the Devils and his and Holik's presence is important to the Devils success this season. Rookie Petr Vrana will continue to play on the top line with Zubrus and Elias for the time being.

Letourneau-Leblond was called up because he fits on the fourth line and fills the toughness and size lost with Holik out of the line-up. But was he the best call-up at this time? The Devils struggling for offense may be better served by calling up Jon DiSalvatore (1G-6A), veteran center Pascal Rheaume or even possibly winger Nicholas Bergfors (1G-5A). All of whom have NHL experience or saw time with the Devils late into the pre-season.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Parise Leads Devils Over Caps in Shootout

The Devils continued their winning ways last night against the Washington Capitals, with a 4-3 shootout victory. Parise led the way with a goal and assistant and capped off the night by scoring the lone shootout goal as he roofed a backhander over the glove of Caps goalie Brent Johnson.

With Rolston out for a undisclosed amount of time with an severe ankle injury, the Devils scored a season high three goals in the game. Rolston's replacement, Petr Vrana, scored the first goal of the game and of his career. The Devils won the face-off and Johnny Oduya fed Patrick Elias along the boards whose wrist-shot was deflected by Vrana that tied the score at 1-1. The assist by Elias gave him 365 as a New Jersey Devil, passing Scott Neidermeyer for the team career leader in assists.

The Devils down 2-1 entering the 3rd period, were able to put pressure on the Caps and finally tied the score at 2-2 when Zach Parise scored a power-play goal with 9:26 remaining. Just over a minute later the Devils got the lead as Zach Parise fed the point and Andy Greene scored on a one-timer.

The Caps would come back and tie the game as Alexander Semin scored his second goal of the game. Semin flung a shot from along the boards that deflected off of Mike Mottau in the crease and past Brodeur. The Devils controlled the 3rd period and over-time as they out-shot the Caps 14-7 and had most of the good scoring chances.

Zach Parise would lead the shoot-out off and scored the lone goal. Brodeur then stopped Nylander, Semin and Ovechkin to preserve the 4-3 shoot-out victory. The Devils move to 4-1-0 on the season and now will play six of their next seven at home.

Devils Notes:
- Either Parise or Elias have either scored or assisted on all but one goal for the Devils this season. Parise (3G-2A-5Pts) / Elias (2G-2A-4Pts).
- Bobby Holik left the game last night and did not return as he broke his pinkie finger. With the injuries to both big free-agent signings the Devils are now back to the same roster as last year.
- Lowell Devils are now 2-1-1 on the season after splitting a home-and-home series with the Manchester Monarchs. John DiSalvatore still leads the team with (1G-6A-7Pts).
- Ansi Salmella was sent down to Lowell and recorded an assist in the two games this weekend and played at a -2 +/-.
- The start time for the Devils Oct. 25th game at Philadelphia has been changed to 4:00pm due to the World Series.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Devils Went Down to Georgia (Shutout Thrashers 1-0)

Coming back to ice after their first loss of the season on Monday against the Rangers, the Devils went down to Georgia and defeated the Atlanta Thrashers 1-0. The win and shutout brought Brodeur closer to two records he should eventually surpass this season. Brodeur is now 10 wins shy from tying Patrick Roy's career win total of 551 and 6 shutouts away from Bernie Parent's career mark of 103 shutouts.

Brodeur was the show stopper again making great saves early to keep the game knotted at zero. The Devils defense has proven early not to be a problem at all as they have been able to clear all the rebounds in front of Brodeur and limit the scoring chances against. So far this season the Devils have only allowed one even-strength goal, a Brandon Dubinsky's knuckle ball shot that Brodeur fanned on with his glove.

On the other side of the ice, the offense has seemed to get worse with every game with limited chances and it seemed that clearly the power play and Brian Rolston at center have not worked so far this season. Coach Sutter desperate for offense split up the lines midway through the second period, which seemed to turn the game in the Devils favor as they were able to pressure the Thrashers down low and around the net.

The big move came by moving Zubrus to center Elias and Rolston. Zubrus seemed comfortable and more energized than last season, as he created some great opportunities for his wingers. He was able to work the puck down low and set-up Brian Rolston in the corner for the lone Devils goal of the night. Zubrus fed Rolston down in the right corner on the power-play and Rolston did the rest of the work. Taking it the net and scoring on a second rebound chance. The goal would be Rolston's first since returning to the Devils. Later in the third period, Rolston would go down sliding into the boards and seemed to hurt his knee or ankle as he was helped off the ice and limped to the locker room. It is still unsure of the severity of the injury, but Devil fans I would not expect to see him out on the ice for a few games or more.

The Devils improve to 3-1-0 on the season despite the pathetic offense they have shown. They now have scored 6 goals on the year in four games and have not scored more than 2 goals in a game. Will we see some changes up-front? Will we see the Devils trade for a true play-making center? We will see in time, but it is coming quite clear that the Devils will need to find scoring if they want to have a chance to win the cup.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Devilish Nightmare

Last night the nightmare of all nightmares continued for Devils fans as the Rangers posted a 4-1 victory at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers are now 12-1-1 over the past two regular seasons and playoffs against the Devils.

What has become even more disturbing and troubling is the lack of offense the Devils have been able to put up during those 14 games. In the past 14 games against the Rangers, the Devils have scored 21 goals an average of 1.50 goals-per-game. The power-play has been even more disturbing scoring 6 goals in 54 chances for a 11.1%, while the Rangers have scored 11 power-play goals in that time for an average of 23.9%.

This domination of our cross-river rivals has all Devils fans disturbed and worried. Despite their 2-1-0 start, the Devils have seen some of their old troubles coming to the surface. The power-play has only scored one goal in 11 opportunities so far and four of the five goals-against have been of the power-play variety. The Devils have only killed off 71.4% of their penalty kills. Even despite averaging 35 shots-per-game they have only scored 5 goals, a shooting percentage of 4.85%. Only one other team in the NHL averaging over 30 shots per game is averaging under 2.67 GF/per game (Anaheim 1.50 G/per Game).

Last night the Devils lone minutes where they were able to dominated the play was when they took the body. During the latter minutes of the second period they did not let the smaller faster Rangers play the puck control game they feel comfortable playing by a strong forecheck and eventually John Madden scored the lone Devils goal of the game.

The Devils will need to iron out how they plan to get more goals, opportunities and power-play success in the coming weeks if they want to be a contender for the cup.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lowell Devils Finding Back of Net Early in Season

The New Jersey Devils have always seemed to have trouble finding the back of the net. That problem has seemed to trickle down to the Devils AHL team in Lowell in recent years.

Over the past three season, the Lowell Devils have not finished better than 24th the league in goals-for and last season finished last netting a mere 183 goals. Each of the past two season there have been two 20-plus goal scorers. Two of those players are with the Devils right now, Clarkson (20 goals in 06-07) and Vrana (20 goals in 07-08). One of the other players is Barry Tallackson (22 goals in 07-08) who has been up and down with the Devils and probably would have made the team this year if it was not for emergency heart surgery. In fact, Petr Vrana is the only player to eclipsed the 50 point mark over the past two seasons (20G-41A-61PT).

After missing the playoffs each of the last three seasons, the Lowell Devils are looking forward to a better season both on offense and in the standings. Thus far the Lowell Devils are 1-0-1 and have netted 9 goals in their first two games this season. With a much more talented roster than in the past few seasons, rookie prospect Matt Halischuk and Vladmir Zharkov have scored 6 of the teams 9 goals. Halischuk tied a team record when he scored five points (4G-1A) in the 6-4 win over Worcester in the teams home opener.

Besides Zharkov and Halischuk, who you could see in NJ in the next year, the Lowell Devils will also count on Nicholas Bergfors. Bergfors, the Devils 1st Round pick in 2005, is looking to bounce back after an injury plagued 07-08 campaign. Bergfors has already posted 5 points this season (1G-4A) and is off to a good start for a player who never scored more than 17 goals or 40pts in his professional career.

The Devils have also gotten production from Jon Disalvatore (1G-4A), who saw time in the pre-season with the Devils. The San Jose Sharks 4th round selection in 2000 has averaged 22 goals a season in his five year AHL career.

Along with other top prospects on defense Matthew Corrente and Tyler Eckford, the Lowell Devils enter this season more talented and younger than they have in the past few seasons. With a roster that is finally filled with players who we could see in NJ or the NHL in the near future, the Lowell Devils should have no problem winning games and putting the puck in the net this season.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Devils pounded 49 shots on Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury last night, outshooting the Pens 39-7 after the first period. Despite the lopsided shots the Devils needed an over-time goal by Zach Parise to come away with the two-points. The Devils now have won their first two games by the score of 2-1 against division rivals.

In a first period that saw the Pens come out strong and out skate the Devils, Brodeur and the defense held tight until the defending Eastern Conference Champions scored on their first power-play of the night. Evgani Malkin's shot from the point slipped through the crease where Miroslav Satan sitting off the left post swept the puck home into the open net to give the Pens 1-0 lead.

That lead held late into the 3rd period despite the Devils controlling the play. Using their size and strenght to wear down the Pens and pin them down in their own end, Elias was finally able to put the puck behind the Pens goalie. With 2:30 remaining in the regulation, Elias centered a pass that went right off Hal Gill's skate right past Fluery.

The Devils kept the pressure on all through over-time when Travis Zajac's long flip pass from his own end led Zach Parise perfectly down the left wing allowing him to put the puck over the right glove of Fleury for the game winner with :38 seconds remaining in over-time.

The Devils now look to make it three-for-three against division rivals when they head to MSG on monday to face off against the 4-0 Rangers.

Team Notes:
- The Devils have not given up an even-strength goal so far this season.
- Rolston, Elias and Parise had 24 shots in the game. Then Pens only had 15 as a team.
- The Devils have started the season 1-10 on the power-play.
- The NJ Devils have only scored 4 goals in their first two games, the Lowell Devils have scored 9 goals. Four alone by rookie Matt Halischuk in a 6-4 win over Worcester.

Friday, October 10, 2008


The New Jersey Devils opened the 2008-2009 season with a 2-1 victory tonight against the New York Islanders at "The Rock". Patrick Elias scored the game winner at 29-seconds of the 2nd period while crashing and into the Isles goalie Joey McDonald off a Brian Gionta shot from the right circle.

The Devils controlled the play for most of the first period pinning the Isles in their zone and using an aggressive forecheck that was consistent by all four lines. The Isles were the first to get onto the scoreboard, despite the Devils efforts. Just seconds into a power-play, a Doug Weight centering pass deflected off Paul Martin and through Brodeur. Brodeur and the Devils would not allow anything else the entire night as they did a great job at limiting the Isles offensively. Most evident was on the penalty kill, where the Devils forward pairs of Madden-Pandolfo and Elias-Rolston controlled the play and never let the Isles set-up after the first power-play as they finished the night 1 for 5 on the power-play.

The Devils responded three-minutes later with a power-play goal of their own. A Paul Martin shot from the left point deflected off Clarkson and right to Parise who dumped the puck into an open net. The Devils power-play who last season was almost pathetic showed good signs from both units, Brian Rolston stood out at the point shooting every opportunity he could get. Rookie "D" Ansi Salmela started his first NHL game and played the point along with Rolston on the power-play.

Last season the Devils earned a mere 10pts. out of a possible 32 against their two NY rivals.A wind tonight along with a 3-0-1 pre-season record against the Rangers and Isles maybe is the start of the Devils reclaiming hockey dominance in the NY Metro area.

The Devils fly to Pittsburgh where they will play the Penguins and a much more high powered offense than what they saw tonight. (Game 7pm; MSG-Plus2)

Thursday, October 9, 2008


The Devils announced their 23-man roster today and their were no real surprises as the Devils had appeared to be set from the get go. Two rookies did make the team in Annsi Salmela (D - #28) and Petr Vrana (C - #22).

Salmela played in every pre-season game and made enough of an impression that he will more than likely be one of the top 6 D-men come opening night. The 24 year old free-agent from Finland will hopefully be the next in free-agent gold for the Devils. Salmela brings a good shot from the point which is something the Devils have missed on the PP since the departure of Jason Arnott. Over the past two years he has scored 27 goals with 28 assists in 112 games playing in Finland. Questions remain if he can move the puck fast enough and play tough enough in the defensive zone to stick in the line-up, but he could develop quickly and be a missing part on the back end the Devils desperately need.

Coming off his best season as a professional (20G-41A at Lowell last season), Petr Vrana came into training camp and was able to put some points on the board. The 23-year old Czech born player was taken by the Devils in the 2nd Round of the 2003 draft and he has finally emerged as someone who can help at the NHL level. At 5'10" and 174lbs., he is not an impressive figure and his biggest challenge will be if he can play bigger than his size, much in the likes of a Zach Parise and Brian Gionta. Do not expect him to see much time in the line-up, but to be used as the extra forward. We could see him in there when injuries occur or when the Devils play some faster teams, when we could see him put on the wing beside Czech counterpart Bobby Holik.

In some other roster news and surprises that came about in the pre-season:

1. Kevin Weekes will be the back-up to Brodeur and rightly so. Scott Clemmensen was sent down to Lowell and will play down there at least to start the season. Clemmensen played well during the pre-season, so much so that in the end if the Devils needed to they could move Weekes, but it is very unlikely.

2. Rookie "D" Matthew Corrente (1st Round pick in 2006) will start the season down in Lowell along with fellow prospect Matt Halischuk (46G-79A-125PTS the past two season in the OHL), Nicklas Bergfors (1st Round in 2005) and Vladimir Zharkov (3rd Round pick in 2006).

3. Rod Pelley will start the season at Lowell as well, as Bobby Holik takes over his role of last year and his departure makes room for the more offensive minded Petr Vrana on the roster.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Who will move to the head of the class?

When I look back at the Devils history, ever time we have won the Stanley Cup we have had some young players step up and become superstars or above average NHL players:

1994-1995: Marty Brodeur was in his second year and we all know what he has done in his career, Scott Neidermeyer in his 3rd year scored 11 pts. in 20 playoff games, Guerin in his 3rd year was third on the team in goals, Brian Rolston as a rookie scored 18pts. in 40 games and Sergie Bryin scored 14pts. in 26 games.
1999-2000: Scott Gomez in his rookie year led the team with 51 assists and second on the team with 70pts., Brian Rafalski in his rookie season was second among Devils defensman with 32pts., and John Madden in his first full season scored 16 goals and was great on the penalty kill.
2002-2003: Brian Gionta in his first full-season netted 12 goals, let us not forgt Mike Rupp who did not produce much but came up big in Game 7 (4pts. in 4 playoff games) and newcomer veterans Jamie Langenbrunner and Jeff Friesen each netted 20-plus goals.

So where are our young guns that need to come through this year if we have any chance of making the playoffs?
Zach Parise, in his 3rd year needs to be the leader on offense and have another 30-plus goal season.
Travis Zajac, is someone who we have waited to blossom into the number two center he has been tabbed as. We wil need to see 50-plus points from him this year if we are to drink from the cup.

David Clarkson, like John Madden in 2000 he needs to stop worrying about dropping the gloves and pissing people off and get to the net and help make the Madden-Pandolfo line a line that can put the puck in the net. Anything less than 15 goals is a dissapointment.

Paul Martin, he will never be Scott Neidermeyer but he can be a Brian Rafalski. He needs to be the leader on the powerplay and the shut-down defenseman we have lacked since Neidermeyer and Rafalski ventured west.

Andy Greene, dubbed as the next Brian Rafalski he has shown flashes but is still young in his development. He has played great this preseason and seems to feel comfortable in the Devils system. Eiether him or Salmella will need to become an important factor on defense this season.

The Devils need to take a longer look at players like Salmella, Corrente and Halischuk. These are three players who can play in the NHL and Corrente and Halischuk will probably start the season at Lowell, while Salmella has been given every opportunity to make the team. His great shot from the point and potential to move the puck quickly is an advantage we would like to have but his weakness in his own end may see him start at Lowell or head back overseas.

We will see, but hopefully our youth will prevail us to our 4th Cup.