Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Devils Down Ottawa 4-1, Head To Boston For Big Showdown

The Devils came back from the All-Star break, just the way they went into it. As the hottest team in the NHL. Last nights 4-1 win over the Ottawa Senators gave the Devils six straight wins and wins in eleven of their last fifteen games.

The Devils won the game by holding the Ottawa Senators to 22 shots and got goals from Elias, Shanahan and two goals from Langenbrunner. Patrick Elias got the scoring started by scoring on a centering pass from Brian Gionta that went off Elias's skate and into the net to give the Devils a 1-0 1st period lead.

Just past the midway point, the Senators tied the game on a power-play goal by Picard. After the Senators goal, the Devils took over control of the game. Langebrunner scored after he bounced a puck off the chest of the Senators goalie from the side of the net. Then 19 seconds into the 3rd period, Langenbrunner added his second goal of the game, when Parise fed a pass from behind the net while airborne to give the Devils a commanding 3-1 lead.

The goal was Langenbrunner's 10th of the season, making him the seventh Devil to have 10 or more goals on the season.

The Senators had an opportunity to comeback when Brendan Shanahan went off for a double-minor high sticking penalty. The Devils shut the door and any hope of a Senators comeback, when they did not allow a single shot on the double-minor penalty-kill. Shanahan would make up for taking the penalty as he scored his second goal in three games with the Devils to finish off the scoring and giving the Devils a 4-1 victory.

Now the Devils look forward to a big time match-up on Thursday at Boston. Boston, who leads the Eastern Conference with 75 points (35-8-5), will have Bergeron and Lucic back in the line-up for Thursday's game. The Bruins rank 1st in the league in goals-against, 2nd in goals scored and have the 3rd best power-play. If that was not enough, they have Claude Julian who has a vendetta against Lou Lamiriello and the New Jersey Devils, after he was fired with only a few game to go in the season just two years ago.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Even before the season began, many so-called hockey experts said the New Jersey Devils would not even make the playoffs. When star goalie Martin Brodeur went down with a torn bi-cep tendon that would keep him out until March, everyone rode the Devils off and had them start looking to next year. Everyone that is except for the New Jersey Devils and their die hard fans.

Over the past 13 seasons, the New Jersey Devils have won three Stanley Cups, only the Detriot Red Wings have won more in that time. The Devils have made the playoffs 11 consecutive seasons and had 11 consecutive 40-plus win seasons, never finishing with less than 95 points and breaking the 100 point barrier in nine of those eleven seasons. So why would everyone doubt one of the most successful franchises in sports over the past 15 years? You gt me!

The Devils will return from the All-Star break sitting atop the Atlantic Division with 61 points (29-15-3), one point ahead of the New York Rangers and two points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. The Devils have been able to achieved this, despite being without Martin Brodeur for 37 games and free agent signings Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik for 18 games a piece. So here is a look back at the first half and how the Devils have gotten to where they are?

MVP: Zach Parise / Patrick Elias
Zach Parise has become a bona fide NHL star and Patrick Elias has once again become one of the NHL elite players. For the first time, maybe ever, their could be two Devils who finish the year in the top 10 in scoring in the league.

Parise, whose 28 goals ranks him 3rd behind Ovechkin and Carter, is currently 7th in the league with 55 points, while Elias ranks 9th with 54 points. The best part is they play on different lines, giving the other teams fits and the Devils two scoring lines.

Zajac's 15 goals and 21 assists already surpass his numbers from last season and with 35 games remaining he should easily break his career high of 42 points. Of late, Zajac has been the hot stick for the Devils as he has 5 goals and 3 assists in the past 7 games. Best of all has been his improvement on defense playing at a plus-19 compared to last seasons minus-11 rating.

BIGGEST SUPRISE: Scott Clemmensen
When the season started Scott Clemmensen was barely on the Devils radar. He would be headed to Lowell and spend time there all season and be an insurance policy. Well the Devils cashed in that insurance policy and more than they expected.

Not only has Clemmensen come in and held down the fort, he has asserted his presence. The Devils goal, who may have been snubbed for a trip to the All-Star game, has put up Brodeurian numbers in the absence of the star goaltender. Clemmensen is 7th in the league in wins (19), 6th in Goal-Against-Average (2.29) and 8th in save percentage (.922).

Now the big questions are, can he keep it up and what will the Devils do once Marty comes back at the end of February? Who will go and who will stay? One thing is for certain, Clemmensen will see a nice pay day from some team next season.

The long time Devil signed a three year 7.5M dollar contract over the summer and now with the signing of Brendan Shanahan, Pandolfo is watching the games from the press box.

He and long time linemate, John Madden, have been separated for most of the season and when he has played of late he has only seen time of late on the fourth line. There has been speculation of trading Pandolfo, but he will be difficult to move in the salary cap era.

TRADE DEADLINE: To Trade or not to trade, that is the question?
The Devils added Brendan Shanahan and may be happy with the depth they now have at the forward position. The defense has been underrated all year, but their solid play has the Devils ranked 5th in the league on defense. But GM Lou Lamiriello has been known to always add a veteran to the mix at the trade deadline. Looking back Lamiriello has brought in defenseman like Bryce Salvador, Jason Weimer, Phil Housley, Shawn Chambers and Vladmir Malakhov at the dealine and I would expect him to do the same. Except for Malakhov, there is one thing that ties all these players together. Lou got them for cheap and without breaking up the current roster.

THE FUTURE: Five things to look out for in the second half
Here are a few things to look out for after the all-star break:
1) Can John Madden keep it going? The Devils center has struggled all year and has been rumored in trades for a few weeks. Since Shanahan has joined the team, Madden has 1 goal,6 assists and a plus-6 rating in the past five games. Now can he keep playing the way he has of late, or will the Devils look to move him at the trade deadline?
2) Will Parise be the first Devil to score 50 goals in a season and will he or Elias break the 100 point plateau? Parise is on pace for 95 points and 48 goals, just short of the two marks.
3) How much of a difference will Shanahan make? He scored in his first game, but his presence may be felt far more than just on the score sheet.
4) Will Lou stand still or make a move? As we already stated, will Lou add a veteran blueliner or will he look for a 3rd line centerman to play with his wingers Rolston, Shanahan and Clarkson.
5) How will Brodeur play when he returns? He has never been out of the line-up for this long in his career. Will the rest help him and have him fresh for the playoffs or will he come back not in top form and send the Devils into a funk.

WHAT IS UP NEXT: The homestretch begins.
The Devils will come back from the all-star break with two road games at Ottawa and Boston and then play seven of eight on home ice. Scott Clemmensen and the Devils will need to try and put some distance between them and the Rangers and Flyers, while they await the return of Brodeur between February 26th and March 7th.

With 35 games remaining the Devils have nine divisional games left, including three against the Islanders and two against the Flyers, Rangers and Penguins. The Devils will not be doing much traveling the remainder of the season, as their furthest trip is a game at Chicago on March 27th. Besides that game every game will be played in the eastern time zone.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Madden's Solid Play Continues As Devils Ride Five Game Winning Streak Into All-Star Break

John Madden's name has had a rough go of it all year as he had had a difficult time trying to figure out what his role is under Coach Sutter. Of late it may have seem as if John Madden has found his way.

Last night John Madden had two assists in the Devils 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadians, which extended his point a game streak to five games. Over the past five games, Madden has 1G-6A-7PTS which is a huge improvement from his 4G-7A-11pts through his first 36 games. Even more important than his points is that Madden is a plus-6 over the past five games and now stands at a minus-3 for the entire season.

Madden has seemed to find his place on the line with Clarkson and Rolston, who both have been playing well of late. The trio has combined for 4G-11A and a plus-14 rating over the past five games and much like the top two lines, Madden has been given time to gain chemistry with his linemates, which has seemed to pay off of late. Now with the addition of Shanahan, the Devils have four lines that have the ability to create scoring chances and control the puck.

If you haven't noticed, Madden has been given the role of being out their at the end of the game. Madden assisted on Parise's empty-net goal against the Predators, after winning a big face-off, and assisted on Elias's empty-net goal to finish off the Canadians last night.

The Devils head into the All-Star break riding a five game winning streak and stand alone in first place with 61 points, one ahead of the Rangers and two ahead of the Flyers. They also stand 11 points ahead of the 9th place Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Devils will look ahead to a much deserved break and what awaits them on the other side of the All-Star Break is the two road games and then they will play seven of eight at "THE ROCK". They will also look forward to the return of Marty Brodeur, who begun skating on his own yesterday.

No timetable has been set for Brodeur's return, but he is said to be ahead of schedule and with no setbacks should return before the trade deadline (March 3rd), sometime in late February.

- In some sad news, former Devils Coach Pat Burns has been diagnosed with lung cancer. This is Burns third bout with cancer and our prayers go out to him.
- Brian Rolston was recognized before last nights game for playing in his 1,000 career game, which occurred at the start of the road trip in LA.
- Jay Pandolfo sat out his second straight game last night, since the return of Shanahan.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Shanahan Proves Value as Devils Take Over First Place

It might of taken Brendan Shanahan just over one period to get his feet wet, but from then on he made his presence felt in his Devils return. The Devils with their 3-1 win last night over the Predators, finish their road trip 5-1-0 and in the process take over first place in the Atlantic division.

Shanahan, who led all Devils with 6 shots on goal, started off the scoring for the Devils with a five-on-three power-play goal early in the second period. The veteran who turns 40 on Friday, just missed on several other opportunities on the power-play that would have extended the Devils lead.

The future Hall of Famer showed his true value to team with his play late in the third period. After the Preds had cut the Devils lead late in the third to 2-1 , Sutter placed Shanahan on the wing with Madden and Rolston to sure up their defense. Sutter's decision paid off as the Preds pushed to tie the game down the stretch.

One shift that stood out for me was when Shanahan went down to block a shot from the point, got up and back checked a Predator from behind in front of the net to stop a scoring chance and then cleared the puck along the boards. Not finished on the shift, Shanahan then forechecked the puck away from the Predators goalie and then had the presence and strength to control the puck away from the Predators for a good 15 seconds.

The to be 40 year old Shanahan, was not the only Devil that stood out last night as Scott Clemmensen continued to get back to playing well and John Madden stepped up his game.

Clemmensen, made his second solid start in-a-row stopping 33-of-34 shots. Clemmensen, who had struggled controlling his rebounds over the past few starts has been better over the past two starts at clearing rebounds from in front of his net. After 5 straight games with a save-percentage under 90%, Clemmer has had two straight games with save percentages of 97%.

John Madden, who I had suggested would need to step his game up with the addition of Shanahan to the line-up, did just that. Madden was strong killing penalties, won some big late face-offs, added two assists on the night and played at a plus-2. Madden now has 1G-4A and is a plus-4 in his last four games, he only had 4G-7A through his first 36 games.

In first place for the first time this season, the Devils now head home for a Wednesday night game with Montreal before the All-Star Break. The Rangers have held the top spot for 97 days this season and it is about time the weak have fallen.

Devils Notes:
- Jay Pandolfo was the odd man out last night as Shanahan made his debut. Sutter, claimed that Pando was not an irreplaceable player on the penalty kill anymore with players like Zajac, Parise, Elias, Rolston and Shanahan who all can kill penalties.
- Clarkson scored his 10th goal of the season, which breaks his mark of a year ago (9 goals).
- The Devils had killed off 19-of-20 penalties on this road trip, the only goal was when a Jason Arnott blast hit Bryce Salvador in the gut bounced down off Radek Bonk and into the net. I have to admit I miss the likes of Jason Arnott in a Devils uniform.
- The Devils power-play has been off the charts as they have scored 7 goals in 15 opportunities on the road trip. They have also scored at least one power-play goal in 7 of their last 9 games.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Shanahan is In, So who is Out?

Tonight in Nashville, Brendan Shanahan will make his season debut for the New Jersey Devils. Now with the official addition of Shanahan to the line-up, Coach Sutter will have to make the decision of removing someone from the line-up and put them in the stands.

So which player will he choose? Here is a look at who may be in or out and why.

Jay Pandolfo
Negatives: Pandolfo ranks highest on our poll here at the DEVILS LOUNGE. Pando, who signed a three year deal in the off-season at 2.5M a year, has not lived up to his paycheck. Over the past four season he has average 12G-12A, but this year through 45 games he has 4G-5A and is playing at a minus-8 rating. Besides the 2006-2007 season, Pando has not played at a minus rating since the first two years of his career.

Positives: In Pando's defense, he has never been asked to score goals but he is expected to kill penalties and check the other teams top line. Well, he and Madden are no expected to check the other teams top line under Sutter, so he is in search of finding his role on this team. And for the penalty killing, the Devils have killed 22 of 24 penalties and they are 16 for 16 on this road trip. Pando has been very valuable on the penalty kill.

Mike Rupp
Negatives: The 6'5 forward has never been a big scorer at the NHL level, as he 27 goals in 306 career game.This season in 43 games he has posted 3G-3A. The forward has always been considered a fourth liner and is never expected to play on the power-play or the penalty kill. The end result is his $500,000 salary and his inconsistent play at times this year may be what pushes him out of the line-up.

Positives: Rupp is loved by many Devils fans because of his play in Game 7 against the Ducks in the 2003 Stanley Cup. His physical presence is needed in the line-up and he understands his role on the Devils team. Of late Rupp has not seen his name on the score sheet, but his presence in the games have been noticed as he has been creating opportunities on the fourth line with center Bobby Holik. Lastly, Rupp is the Devils enforcer and the Devils always need someone who will drop the gloves in their line-up and lets not forget he played center when Holik was injured and that versatility is a positive.

David Clarkson
Negatives: Someone voted for him on the poll and as much as I value all of your opinions, I cannot find any reason to take him out of the line-up at this time.

Positives: In the past four games he has 2G-2A, his 9 goals in 45 games ties his mark for all of last year. He is 3 points shy of the 22 he had all of last season. He fights, scores, checks, plays in front of the net on the power-play and is playing at an even plus/minus rating. Clarkson and Rolston have gained some chemistry, despite not having a center who compliments them. He may even eventually fit in well on the fourth line with Holik and Rupp.

John Madden
Negatives: Madden has never scored less than 12 goals in a season, this season may be the worst of his career. The 35 year old center, who is a UFA at years end, has 5G-9A-14pt 39 games and worst of all a minus-7 rating. As Pando, he is trying to find out how he fits in under Coach Sutter. He has played between Rolston and Clarkson, but has not been effective in getting them the puck or creating offense. In the end he or Holik could be taken out and move Rolston to center between Shanahan and Clarkson.

Positives: As Pando, he has been a big part of the improvements on the penalty-kill. He has long been a centerpiece of the Devils and is an assistant captain, despite no goals he brings something to the Devils when it matters. He is still one of the Devils top face-off men, but is more expendable than he was in the past. He should stay for now, but may be gone or out of the line-up.

Bobby Holik
Negatives: Holik is 38 years of age and a 3rd line center at best nowadays. He missed 18 games due to surgery on a broken hand, which may be the reason for his 2G-3A in 27 games. He is playing at a minus-3 rating and has not scored more than 34 points or had a positive plus/minus rating in any of the past 3 seasons in Atlanta. He was tried between Rolston and Clarkson as well, but Madden was moved back in that spot after he couldn't help find chemistry with the two wingers.

Positives: He was brought in because of his size, grit, playoff experience and his ability to win face-offs. He is the best Devil in the face-off circle winning 59.8% of his face-offs. If needed, he can play in front of the net on the power-play and he gives the Devils more size at center-ice.

At first I thought it may be Rupp who will sit, and he still may, but Pandolfo and Madden are also options. I would not be surprised if Sutter sits Pandolfo to make a statement to the veteran forward that he needs to bring up his play. Or another option is a person may sit so that the Devils can showcase some other players for trade possibilities.

Devils Breeze Past Isles; Next Stop Nashville

From the drop of the puck, you could see the Devils were going to the far better team in last nights game against the depleted Islanders. Out hustling, controlling the puck and winning the board battles all night the Devils showed they wanted the puck more than the Islanders did all night.

Throughout the night, the Devils forced turnovers and had room and space to make plays and move the puck freely. The first goal of the night came off a forced turnover by Parise, as he easily took the puck away from goalie Yann Danis behind the net and centered it to Travis Zajac for his 14th goal of the year.

Zajac has been the Devils best player on this road trip, posting 4G-3A-7pts and a plus-6 rating on the current road trip. In his third season with the Devils, Zajac has found a comfort zone and with 37 games remaining his 35 points are already one more than last year's totals of 34 points (14G-20A).

Scott Clemmensen reappeared in goal last night and stopped 32 of 33 shots, but was not tested by the Islanders all night, as the Devils controlled the play the entire night. Clemmensen played better than he had in previous games and controlled his rebounds, which had one of his big problems of late.

Now with Monday's game in Nashville, Coach Sutter has a choice to make in goal. Clemmensen has been the stand-in #1 goalie, but of late Weekes has stepped up his play and been the better of the two goalies. Sutter, still believes he needs both goalies to hold the fort and play well to be successful and I suspect that both goalies play one more game each before the All-Star break coming up next weekend.

Monday's game in Nashville will probably bring another choice for Coach Sutter as Brendan Shanahan is expected to make his season debut. With four lines playing well during this road trip, it will be hard decision for Sutter and will be hard to break up the continuity that these lines have started to gain over the past few games.

Tomorrow I will be looking at all the players who may come out and why they should and why they should not come out of the line-up.

- The Devils only having two power-plays in the past two games can be alarming, but they scored on both opportunities.
- The Devils speciality team struggled early, but have slowly moved up the chains. The power-play ranks 14th in league, up from the mid 20's early in the year. The penalty-kill ranks 13th up from a low ranking of 26th.
- Petr Vrana, who started the season with the Devils had his season ended with a broken leg in an AHL game.
- Devils top prospect Matt Halischuk, who was thought to be out for the year with a knee injury, returned in Friday's 5-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phantoms. He scored a goal which gives him 6 goals in 10 games this season at Lowell.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Devils Continue Road Trip On Island After Win Over Blue Jackets

After grinding out a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets and star rookie goalie Steve Mason on Friday night, the Devils flew right to Long Island for tonight's game against the Islanders. The Devils will play their fifth game on a current six game road trip tonight before they head to Nashville to complete the road trip on Monday.

The Islanders come into tonight's game injury plagued at the goalie position. Already with DiPietro out after having a second knee surgery, the Islanders lost back-up goalie Joey MacDondald with a strained groin on Tuesday. Yann Danis has taken over the goaltending duties for the time being and should start tonight against the Devils. In 5 games this season Danis is 0-4-0 with a 3.99 GAA and a .860 save-percentage.

The Islanders sit at 12-28-4 and in last place in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders are a team who have lost six straight and are looking to sell off many of their veterans like Doug Weight, Bill Guerin, Mike Comrie and Andy Sutton by the trading deadline. The Devils always seem to have trouble with the Islanders, no matter who is in goal or what their record is and should be very cautious of a let down.

Currently the Devils are 3-1-0 on this road trip after a grinding 2-1 victory in Columbus last night.

The Blue Jackets defense was baffling for the Devils, and maybe the best I had seen all year. Struggling to break through, the Devils could not even muster a shot within 20 feet of rookie goalie Steve Mason. Mason came into last nights game with a 1.80 GAA and a league high 6 shutouts.

Exactly half way through the 3rd period, the Devils final got a break as Dorsett took a penalty giving the Devils their one and only power-play of the night. It took only six seconds for Travis Zajac to score his 13th goal of the year off a turnover by R.J. Umberger.

The Devils seemed to pick up their play from that moment on, backing the Jackets down in their own end. Then just 1:13 after Zajac's goal, David Clarkson came around for a wrap around and then jabbed the puck out from underneath Steve Mason's pads across the crease to John Madden who tapped it in the open net.

The goal went to review as the net had come off it's moorings just as the goal was being scored. The goal was upheld under review by of all refs, doughnut eating Don Koharski. Koharski had to work most of the game alone as the other ref had gone down with an injury early in the first period.

Kevin Weekes continued his strong play as he earned his 2nd win on this road trip. He stopped 26 of 27 shots and has given up 2 goals in his past two starts. The veteran goalie will most likely not be playing tonight on Long Island but could get the start Monday in Nashville, depending on how Scott Clemmensen plays tonight.

One Devils who may be in the line-up tonight is Brendan Shanahan. Shanahan, who will wear number 18, has been practicing and traveling with the Devils the past few days and the coaching staff has left it up to Shanahan to tell them when he feels he is ready to go.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Madden Most Effected By Shanahan Signing

Brendan Shanahan participated in his first official practice with the New Jersey Devils on Thursday in Columbus. After signing a one-year $800,000 pro-rated contract on Wednesday, Shanahan flew to Columbus with GM Lou Lamoriello and is speculated to be inserted into the line-up in the next week.

The signing of the veteran forward has sparked speculation of which forward may be watching from the stands once Shanahan is ready to be inserted into the line-up. Shanahan's presence will put pressure on several Devils forwards to step-up their games, but the most effected may be John Madden.

Madden, who is set to become a restricted free-agent after the season, has been mediocre at best this season. After posting a 20 goal season in 2007-2008, he has 4 goals and 8 assists in 37 games this season.

The 10 veteran, all as a New Jersey Devil, has seen his ice time and role diminish under Brent Sutter. The time when you would see John Madden checking the other team top line has become a distant memory as Sutter leads the Devils into the new NHL. This season has seen the long time duo of Madden and Pandolfo separated, Madden go through a 24 game goal scoring drought and at times even seen him relegated to the fourth line. Not something that you would expect for the center who will be playing between two scoring wingers in Rolston and Shanahan.

Lamoriello and Sutter both understand that to be a top contender for the Stanley Cup, you need three lines that can score and play defense. The addition of Shanahan gives the Devils the potential of three productive scoring lines, depending on how John Madden plays at center with the veteran duo of Shanahan and Rolston.

There has been speculation that Madden, who's career high was 23 assists, may be moved by the trading deadline and replaced with a playmaking center. So after 10 years with the Devils, John Madden's future with the organization will all depend on how much offense he can produce over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Devils Win Despite Clemmensen's Return To Reality

At the start of the season no one would of expected to see Scott Clemmensen start a game for the New Jersey Devils this year, and especially play as many games as he has to this point in the season.

It has been a miracle season for the veteran goalie, but fairy tales must end sometime and everyone must come back to reality. That includes Scott Clemmensen, whose play has seemed to drop off over the Devils recent struggles.

Clemmensen started his run by stealing away the #1 job from Kevin Weekes, by posting a 12-5-1 record with a .924 save-percentage and a 2.18 GAA through his first 18 starts. Well things have turned around quickly, as in Clemmensen's past 8 starts he has a 4-4-0 record and .903 save-percentage and a 2.88 GAA. In those 8 games he has given up 3 or more goals seven times, compared to only allowing 3 or more goals five times in his first 18 starts.

Last night was evident of Clemmensen's declining play. With the Devils up 3-0 on the heels of three first period goals in first eleven minutes of play, the Canucks fought back to turn a route into a nail biter. After Zajac made the score 4-1 early in the third, a goal by Demitra off a weak rebound and a short angle goal through the legs of Clemmensen by Bernier made the score 4-3 with 2:41 remaining. Both Canucks goals, were shots that appeared as if they should of been stopped. The Devils eventually got an empty net goal by Zubrus to hold on for a 5-3 victory.

The Devils have rode Clemmensen thus far and with Marty Brodeur still about 6 to 8 weeks away Coach Sutter may need to switch patterns and play Kevin Weekes more in coming weeks. Weekes played his best game of the year against the Kings to open the road trip. Against the Kings he was aggressive in coming out and challenging the shooters and controlling many of the rebounds, which he had not been doing in earlier starts.

With games this weekend at Columbus on Friday and at the Islanders on Saturday, Kevin Weekes and Scott Clemmensen will pobably split the two games. Anything to hold the fort until Marty can get back

- Shanahan officially signed a one-year $800,000 contract, which he will receive half of signing half-way through the season. He will begin practicing with the team in the coming days, but no news on when he will make his first apperance in a game.
- Parise, Zajac and Langenbrunner have used this road trip to get going again. In the 3 games so far on the road trip the trio has combined for 6G-8A-14pts.
- You can now check me and all the NHL rumors out at, as I have been named the official blogger for the Devils. Great site, so check it out!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Devils Power Past Kings To Start Road Trip

The New Jersey Devils started off their 10 day road trip by trouncing the Los Angeles Kings 5-1 last night at the Staples Center.

With the news before the game that the Devils signed Brendan Shanahan, especially for his ability to hopefully help the Devils 20th ranked power-play, the Devils preceded to score three power-play goals in route to the victory. Travis Zajac, Patrick Elias and Brian Rolston all scored power-play goals on the night for the Devils who went a combined 3-for 7 on the power-play. The Devils wasted no time in getting the goals as two of the goals were scored less than 7-seconds into the power-play.

Starting his first game since December 13th, Kevin Weekes played exceptional for a Devils team who were desperate for a victory after playing their worst game of the year in a 4-0 loss to the Thrashers earlier in the week. Weekes stopped 34 of 35 shots and came up big early in the third period. Holding a 3-1 lead early in the third, the Kings pressed to cut into the Devils lead but Weekes came up with several remarkable saves to keep the score at 3-1, until Rolston scored his power-play goal to put the game away at the 6:29 mark of the third period.

This was a Devils team who had not played well since their 4-2 win over the Rangers back on December 27th. With a ten day road trip staring them in the face, this was a team desperate for a victory and needed to play with some desperation in their game.

Several players had been struggling of late including Travis Zajac and the all-star Zach Parise, who had combined for one point in the past three games. Zajac stepped up his play winning two big face-offs that led to two of the power-play goals, scoring a goal and adding two assists on the night. Parise scored a beautiful goal in the second period, which was the 100th of his career, to give the Devils a 3-1 lead and added an assist on Jamie Langebrunner's late third period goal.

Overall you could see the Devils step-up in all areas of their game as they were finishing their checks, forcing the King's defense on the forecheck and the defensemen were clearing the front of the net and jumping into the play last night.

The Devils will need to continue their strong play as they remain behind the Flyers and Rangers in the standing, but have games at hand on each team. Tonight they continue the road trip with a game against the Ducks, before heading to Vancouver to meet the revamped Canucks with Mats Sundin in the line-up.

Notes:and Rumors
- Madden was moved up to center Rolston and Clarkson. There are now rumors surrounding the Devils that the Shanahan signing is not the last move Lamoriello will be making as we near the trade deadline. It is being rumored that Madden could be moved as the Devils will look to find a play-making centerman, most likely who could play between Rolston and eventually Shanahan.
- Jamie Langebrunner has started the New Year off well scoring 3 goals in the first five games of the month. Langenbrunner only had 5 goals through the first 36 games of the season.
- Last nights game against the Kings was the 1,000 game of Brian Rolston's career.
- With the signing of Brendan Shanahan, 14 of the Devils 24 players are 30 years of age or older.
- A Devils goalie will be going top the all-star game after all. Jeff Frazee, the Devils 2nd round selection in the 2005 draft, stepped in for Scott Clemmensen at Lowell when Clemmensen was called up after Brodeur's injury. In that time Frazee has gone 10-6-2 with a 2.31 GAA.
- The Lowell Devils have won 6 of their last 8 games out-scoring their opponents 31-16 in those 8 games. Two players that started the year off with the Devils are playing well. Nicholas Bergfors has 8G-12A-20pts. in 23 games and Anssi Salmela has 6G-9A-15pts in 21 games.

Devils Add Another Old Face In Shanahan

Future Hall of Famer and ex-Devil Brendan Shanahan has agreed in principal in a contract with the New Jersey Devils.

Shanahan, who turns 40 years of age on January 23rd, was not re-signed by the Rangers after scoring 52 goals the past two seasons for the Blueshirts. Several other teams sought after the veterans services, including the Flyers, Blues and Penguins. In the end, salary cap issues and a willingness for Shanahan to stay in the New York area was his deciding factor in signing with the Devils.

The 8-time all-star has played in 1,490 career games and has accumulated 650 career goals, which ranks 11th all-time. Known as a power-play specialist, he is expected to help a struggling Devils power-play which currently ranks 20th in the NHL. A three time winner of the Stanley Cup, Shanhan brings even more experience and leadership to a Devils room stacked with veterans and is expected to see regular ice-time as a forward most likely on the third line with Brian Rolston and center John Madden.

Shanahan who was the Devils 1st round selection and 2nd overall selection in 1987, joins Brian Rolston, Bobby Holik and Scott Clemmensen as ex-Devils to sign with their former club this season. He is well remembered by Devils fans for his decision to leave the Devils in free agency to sign with the St. Louis Blues on July 25, 1991. A move that resulted in Hall-of-Famer Scott Stevens arriving in New Jersey for compensation.

Shanahan, who started skating in New Jersey on Saturday, will not join the team until the contract is settled. It is expected that he will eventually sign a pro-rated contract at a salary of 1.5M for this season.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Parise Added To All-Star Roster; Clemmensen Shafted Over Pathetic Choice In Goal

Today the NHL All-Star reserves were selected and some tough choices had to be made. Fortunately for the Devils, Zach Parise will be attending the All-Star game in Montreal this year, while Patrick Elias and the rest of the Devils will be staying home and relaxing for a few days.

The team selected for the East and West Conferences had no bad choices, but one selection boggles my mind and that is Henrik Lundqvist. The people who made the selections could not find a better goalie in the Eastern Conference than a guy who ranks 25th in save percentage and goals against. Henrik is 3rd in the league in wins with 20, oh ya but wait 7 have come via the shootout so really he has 13 wins. Now in the past I would say that Lunqvist deserves to go, but not with the kind of year he is having. There must be someone with better stats than this guy.

Hey I know somebody, how about Scott Clemmensen? Yeah, this guys has 15 wins and only 2 via the shootout so he has 13 wins as well in 11 less games I might add. Clemmensen also has a goals-against average (GAA) that ranks 7th in league that is 0.40 lower than old Henry and a save-percentage that ranks 9th in the league.

Now I will be realistic and did not believe that Clemmensen would get the All-Star nod, but if he has these numbers that blow away that flopper they call a goalie across the Hudson than is there not someone else with a stronger track record that is far more deserving than Lundqvist this year?

I know so! Shame on you NHL!!! Gary Bettman and the NHL All-Star selection committee you all get a game misconduct for being stupid.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Why The Devils Need Two Points Against Atlanta

The Devils came up short in last nights comeback against the Carolina Hurricanes and have not played stellar hockey over the past eight games. The Devils are 4-4-0 in their past eight games and even their wins against St. Louis and the Senators have not come easy. The only clear cut victories were a 4-2 win against the Rangers and a 4-1 win over the Canadians.

Despite the weak performances lately the Devils remain two-points behind the Rangers and Flyers and a win against the Thrashers on Thursday is needed before the Devils head out on six game nine day road trip.

One of the Devils problems under Brent Sutter has been their inability to play a complete 60-minute game of hard hitting, quick puck movement and hard forechecking hockey that he expects night in and out. This has been evident over the past eight games with every player and every line (Yes even Zach Parise). It has not been one thing that stands out, it may be one thing one night and one thing another.

For example, over the past two games the Devils have given up 3 PPG against in 8 chances, while in the previous six games they had killed off 19-21. In that same time the Devils have 3PPG for in their last 7 chances, but in their previous six games they had only gone 2-for-23 on their power-play. Other times it has been the Devils long streak without scoring a goal or maybe the top line of Parise-Zajac-Langenbrunner scoring like crazy one night and the next night not even seeming as if they can sniff a chance.

Over this time the one player who has shown to be the one true reliable constant is Patrick Elias (2G-7A in last 6 games). Let us hope Sutter can get his team back on track to playing 60-minutes of hard hockey or we could looking up at Philly and the Rangers by the end of the month.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Devils Power Past Sens

The Devils escaped with a much needed two-points against the down and out Ottawa Senators on Sunday night at the Rock. Down 3-2 late in the 3rd period, Mike Rupp drew a penalty and gave the Devils a power-play with 5:20 remaining in the hockey game.

With only 20-seconds remaining on the power-play Jamie Langenbrunner picked up a loose puck at center ice and came thru the blue-line and blasted a shot over the right pad of the Senators goaltender. Langenbrunner has started the new year off right with two goals in two games and now has seven on the year.

The Devils headed into overtime where again they drew a penalty, as Chris Phillips held up Patrick Elias in the neutral zone. The first wave of the power-play just missed as Parise and Elias both had great opportunities that just went wide. Then with 36-second left on this power-play Travis Zajac got the puck to Rolston at the point and he just lined up and fired it as hard as he could through Auld for the game winning goal. The goal was Rolston's 6th of the year and he as well as Langenbrunner and Gionta have been picking up their scoring as of late.

The line of the night was easily the Zubrus-Elias-Gionta line that accounted for the first two Devils goals. Down 1-0 late in the first Elias saucered a pass at the blue-line to Zubrus who tipped a one-timer to Gionta who blasted a shot off of Auld and Zubrus pounded home an easy rebound. The second goal was just as pretty, as Gionta sent a puck across ice to Elias who centered a pass to Zuburs to circled around the net and tapped the puck into a wide open net.

The Devils have been playing well of late and getting contributions from all four lines. They will need to keep it up as after this week against Carolina and Atlanta the Devils head out on an eight game road trip.

-Some Devils are having great years and have picked up their games from last season, here are a few:
Zubrus: Last Year (13-25A-38pts) This Year (10G-13A-23Pts)
Elias : Last Year (20G-35A-55pts) This Year (17G-26A-43pts)
Zajac: Last Year (14G-20A-34pts) This Year (10G-18A-28pts)
Clarkson: Last Year (9G-13A-22pts) This Year (7G-7A-14pts)
- Some other worthy stat comparisons are the Devils who have better plus/minus ratings this year compared to last:
Langenbrunner: Last Year (-1) This Year +10) - difference +11
Zajac: Last Year (-11) This Year (+12) difference +23
Gionta: Last Year (+1) This Year (+14) difference +13
Mottau: Last Year (-11) This Year (+14) difference +25
White: Last Year (-5) This Year (+10) difference +15

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Three Devils Who Should Be Playing On All-Star Weekend

Voting for the starters of the NHL All-Star game just concluded the other day and what a mess this was. At one point it looked as if the Canadians would have five starters in the all-star game, with only three actually being close to deserving on a nomination. The Pittsburgh fans flew in and saved the day by voting for Crosby and Malkin in their place. There is no doubt that those two are absolutely deserving of the honor. And that is what this should be an honor, of who played the best in the first half not who is the most popular. So where does that leave some of our Devils?

Well I see three Devils deserving of going to Montreal. Zach Parise should be a lock and if he doesn't go this thing is a real sham. Parise is 5th in the league in points (46) and 5th in goals (22). He has been one of the most dominant players in the league this year and no reason not to see him in Montreal on All-Star weekend.

Next is Patrick Elias, once one of the top forwards in the league has returned his game to the high level we have come to expect from him. Elias who has only scored 21 goals/69 pts. in 2006-2007 and 20 goals/55 pts. in 2007-2008 is primed to easily surpass those marks this season. Elias's 17 goals ranks 18th in the league and 15th in points (41 pts.) Clearly his among the top forwards in the league with Jeff Carter, Marc Savard, Alex Ovechkin, Nicholas Backstorm, Mike Richards, Phil Kessel and Ilyga Kovalchuk.

Last is the biggest surprise of them all, Scott Clemmensen. When looking at all the goalies in the Eastern Conference Clemmensen is a clear top candidate for the All-Star team. Clemmensen has a 2.17 GAA, which ranks 4th in the league and only the Boston duo of Thomas and Fernandez have lower GAA in the Eastern Conference. Clemmensen also ranks 7th in SV% with a .926, with only Thomas and Fernandez ahead of him again as well as Anderson from FLA. His 14 wins ranks 10th in the league, while every goalie but two ahead of him has played at 5 more games.

Now I know there are more flashy names like Fag Boy Lunquvist (NYR), Ryan Miller (BUF), Cam Ward (CAR) and Marc Fluery (PIT). I mean Fluery missed being named the starter by 29,000 votes and he has a 3.01 GAA, only 11 wins in 22 games and a poor .904 Sv%. So hopefully whoever decides on who is in and who is out really picks the best players.

Then again who are we kidding, the Devils never get respect on Power Rankings the Devils are not even in the top 10, but hey still have the Rangers ranked 8th and the Pens ranked 6th. This just proves some people don't know shit about hockey and yet they get paid to write and evaluate it.

Devils Start Off 2009 On Strong Note

The New Year rang in and the Devils started it off with a strong decisive 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadians. Three Devils (Brian Gionta, Jamie Langenbrunner and John Madden) who at times in the first half of the season, struggled to put the puck in the back of the net started 2009 off with a bang.

Brian Gionta started off the scoring with his 10th of year. Despite being tied for 3rd on the team in goals, Gionta could have even had more goals in the first half. After a later 1st period goal by Zach Parise, John Madden made the score 3-1 in the 2nd period. The goal was Madden's 4th of the year and his first since he netted two goals against Dallas on October 22nd, 32 games ago. Jamie Langebrunner finished off the scoring in the 3rd period with his 6th of the season. Langenbrunner of all three has been really snake bitten, missing numerous glorious opportunities of late. Despite his lack of goal scoring this season the Captain has come through with 20 assists.

With the win the Devils have moved within two points of the New York Rangers with three games at hand and three points behind the Flyers with two games at hand on them. There is a good chance if the Devils take care of business against the struggling Senators today and then take e care of the Hurricanes and Thrashers next week the Devils could in first place.

- The Lowell Devils after a long losing streak, won three in a row before last nights 3-2 loss to the Worcester. Former Devils Claude Lemieux scored his 3rd goal of the season in the game last night.
- Colin White missed his third straight game with an injury. There are reports he return today against Ottawa, but should be back next week. The Devils have had the luxury, esspecially on D to sit players who are injured until they are 100% because of their depth.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Devils Split New Year's Road Trip as They Finish December 9-4-1

For many the holiday season came and went and many will be sad to see the month and another year end. The New Jersey Devils will be among them as the Devils finished December with a 9-4-1 record by splitting their first real road trip west of Pittsburgh this season. On Tuesday the Devils finished off the St. Louis Blues as Zach Parise scored two goals and Brian Rolston added his fifth of the season in the 4-3 win. New Year's Eve presented more of a challenge in Dallas, as the Devils were left punch drunk as they got pounded by the hard hitting Stars in the 4-2 loss.

The month of December was the Devils best to date this year. The big surprise of the month and year has been the play of Scott Clemmensen. Clemmer started all but one game in December going 9-3-1 only allowing more than 3 goals-against once, the 8-5 win against the Rangers. The entire month Clemmer only allowed a total of 26 goals and had a save percentage that would rank among the tops in the league at .931 save-percentage.

Despite being shut-out twice and setting the franchise record for longest time without scoring a goal, the Devils stepped the offense up into a new gear this month scoring 43 goals. In fact the Devils were 8-0-0 when they scored 3 goals or more.

The tandem of Elias and Parise have become one of the top scoring duos in the league. Their combined 38 goals ranks 2nd among all duos behind Philadelphia's Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne's 45 goals. Their 84 combined points ranks 4th behind Malkin/Crosby (PIT-109pts.), Ovechkin/Backstrom (WAS-91pts.) and Savard/Krejci (BOS-86pts.). This month alone the duo combined for 17G-21A-38Pts.

The super-duo had help as other teammates came through with some offense as well. Zajac had 6G and 11pts, Langebrunner and Gionta each chipped in 2G-10A for 12 pts and Brian Rolston returned and scored 4 goals in the final eights of the month. Even David Clarkson started to kick-up his offense as he had 2G-4A-6pts, and 5 of the points have come in the last eight games of the month.

The biggest difference and the reason the Devils have the chance to overtake the Rangers and Flyers in the coming weeks is the play of their specialty teams. The power-play has been better as they were 10-for-50 (20.0%) in December and the penalty-kill which was one of the worst in the league killed off a respectable 45-of-52 (86.53) chances this month. But there is still room for improvement as they both still rank around 20th in the league.

-Marty Brodeur has begun off-ice workouts and his expected return may be moved up to late February. More will be known by the end of January.
-The three Devils prospects at the World Juniors Championships have played well through the preliminary rounds first four games so far. Mattias Tedenby (SWE) has 1G-2A-3pts and a +2 rating, Patrice Cormier (CAN) 0G-1A-1pt and a +1 rating and Mike Hoeffel (USA) 1G-2A-3pt and a +3 rating.
- With the games in St. Louis and Dallas, the Devils played their first multi-game road trip west of Pittsburgh. The Devils will play nine games on the road in January including a trip out west to face the Kings, Ducks and Canucks and them come back eastward to play Columbus before playing the Islanders and then making another trip to Nashville. The Devils are currently 10-5-2 on the road and are 7-2-1 in their last 10 road games.