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.

Devils Take An Unexpected Look Into the Future

For years Devils fans have always wondered what life would be like without Martin Brodeur in goal. We as fans have been blessed knowing that every year we have maybe the greatest goalie ever between the pipes and sometimes we may have even been spoiled. Devils fans, reporters and NHL insiders have always wondered why the Devils have not drafted or groomed a goalie to eventually replace Brodeur after he retires, well the future is now here and with no young goalie to replace him we as fans now know what many other NHL fans go through every year.

Brodeur's injury came as a surprise and was diagnosed as a bruised elbow, but clearly watching the action live you could see that it was worse than first diagnosed. The rock of this organization will now have surgery on Thursday and will look to return to game action in three to four months. The Devils will now rely on Kevin Weekes, with Scott Clemmensen as his backup, to hold the fort for what will likely be 40 to upwards of 55 games. Clearly it was stated by Lou Lamiriello that the Devils will not pursue a goalie and Kevin Weekes will be the man.

So Devil fans the future is here, so where does this organization go and how to do they handle this setback? Now more than ever the pressure will be on Coach Sutter's shoulders. A coach who was brought in to lead this team through a transition into the new NHL and bring more accountability of the players and bring the best out of them. Is he the leader we expected, when he was hired? But which players will be he be counting on:

1) Kevin Weekes: After barely playing the past few seasons can he be an adequate NHL goalie again? He will not be Brodeur, but Devil fans will be surprised and keep us above water.

2) Elias / Zajac / Gionta / Langenbrunner: The Devils will give up a few more goals and these players will need to be productive not in spurts, but every night.

3) Rolston / Holik / Martin / Greene: The return of these veterans players will give the Devils a healthy line-up and definitely a better defensive club and more leadership on the ice with these four guys in the line-up.

4) Vrana / Bergfors / Salmella: Can these three guys rookies make a greater impact, especially offensively, to make up for the loss of the injured veterans and can they push for playing time even when the vets return.

5) Special Teams: Most important will be the special teams. The Devils have struggled to score goals on the power play and even worse has been the penalty kill. They will need to win the special teams battle every night to win games as they will not have Brodeur to steal games for them night in and night out.

So fans, remain calm during these tough times. This may make the Devils a better team in the end. It will make players more accountable and they will be asked to do more knowing that there is no safety net back between the pipes. Some nights may be ugly, but be patient and we will see if the Devils mature over the next 40 games.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Injuries Pile Up as Devils Slice Past Thrashers

The New Jersey Devils injuries have continued to pile up and before Saturday's game it was known that Andy Greene, who led all Devils defenseman in points with 6 points, will miss a month with a broken hand. Then the worst of the worst happened as Brodeur left half-way through the game with what is being called a bruised elbow. The severity of the injury is not known, but watching the action live Brodeur threw his glove arm up to try and make a glove slave seeming to make a sharp jerking action. Brodeur was unable to move the arm and eventually was removed from the game for back-up goalie Kevin Weekes.

As for the game the Devils offense continued to click as they scored 6 goals against the Thrashers, including five second period goals for a 6-1 win. The Devils have now scored 21 goals in the past five games but have only posted a 2-2-1 mark in that span. One big reason for the offensive success over the past five games has been the defense who has accumulated 18 points (1G-17A) in the past five games, while in the first five games they combined for only 4 points (1G-3A).

Nicholas Bergfors started off the scoring, making him the fourth Devils rookie forward this season to score a point in their first game of the season. Bergfors sent a puck from the end boards that trickled through the Thrashers goalie to give the Devils a 1-0 lead. The lead would remain until the second period where the Devils scored five goals by Elias, Gionta, Pandolfo and two by Parise. Parise's two goals ties a New Jersey Devils record of scoring a goal in six straight games and his nine goals overall have him tied for second in league behind Buffalo's Thomas Vanek, who the Devils will see tonight.

The Devils will face a tough Buffalo team without Brodeur between the pipes as he has been ruled out. Buffalo comes into tonight's contest leading the league with a 2.09 GAA, top goalie Ryan Miller who has a 1.82 GAA to lead the league as well. Their penalty kill ranks 3rd in the league killing off 9 out of every 10 chances which has helped them to a 7-2-2 record. The Devils will look to shut down Vakek who has scored 11 of the Sabres 34 goals this year.

- Salmella and Clemmensen have been recalled from Lowell for tonight's game, while Matt Halischuk was sent back to Lowell after playing his first NHL last week against Toronto.
- An MRI and X-rays on Brodeur's elbow were done on Sunday, but we may not know the severity of the injury as the NHL has implemented new standards that do not make teams accountable to disclose all facts about a players injury.