Scott Clemmensen came up with his best game of the year at the right time as he and the Devils shutout the Rangers 3-0, tonight at the Prudential Center.
The Devils, losers of two of their last three games, knew they had a rough week ahead with the rival Rangers and Islanders coming in, along with conference leaders Boston and San Jose. But this team has been resilient all year and knew tonight would be no different, as Scott Clemmensen stopped 27 shot in route to his first shutout of the season.
Penalties have been a problem for the Devils of late and have been the main cause for their last two losses. The Devils nearly fell into the same trap again as the Rangers, despite being out-shot 13-6 in the first period, had four power-play opportunities and seemed to control the play but the Devils escaped the first period tied at 0-0.
After the first period the Devils settled in, only allowing one more power-play opportunity to the Rangers the rest of the game. Knowing the Rangers struggles 5-on-5, as Zherdev is the only Ranger playing at a plus-rating this season, the Devils then continually rolled four lines at the Rangers.
The Devils broke threw at the 8-minute mark of the second period, as Shanahan centered a pass to Bobby Holik who jammed the puck threw Lundquvist to give the Devils a 1-0 lead. The Devils would add a power-play goal from Zach Parise 1:27 later to make it 2-0. The Devils would not need anymore goals, but Parise added an empty-netter for good measure.
The Devils play in the second and third period was simply amazing, as the Devils were relentless on the puck and seemingly demoralizing the Rangers into frustration. The Rangers, losers of their last 5 games, never seemed to have any passion and you can imagine the stir going on in Rangers camp. The Rangers are looking to do anything inlcuding firing Coach Tom Renney, bring back SeanAvery, make a trade for whoever. In the end the team from across the Hudson is lacking leadership and experience (which they thought Gomez would bring - what a joke) and the Devils too advantage of that.
There were many players who excelled tonight, but the play of Paul Martin, Colin White, Johnny Oduya and Zubrus stood out to me. They might not be on the score sheet, but their play set the tempo of the game and seemed to shut down any chance the Rangers had of scoring. Zubrus especially has been a physical force of late, trying to find his way on the score sheet, but his defense and aggressiveness is just what the Devils have needed from him.
The Devils now have beaten the Rangers three straight, but lets remember these wins mean nothing only the wins come playoff time matter.
-Jay Pandolfo has sat out nine straight games, but it may be time for him to get back in. Mike Rupp has struggled and taken some bad penalties of late. It may be time to play Pando or trade him away for a 4th or 5th round draft pick and free up salary to bring on another player via trade.
- Clemmensen in the first Devils goalie, besides Brodeur, to shut-out the Rangers since Sean Burke.
- Brodeur took shots from coaches and some players after the morning skate today and will begin practice with the team in a few day.
- With Parise's two goals tonight he needs 18 goals in 28 games to become the first Devils player ever to score 50 goals in a season, his current pace puts him at 48 goals for the season.
-The Lowell Devils defeated the the Rangers AHL affiliate the Hartford Wolfpack 5-3 over the weekend. Lowell is 4-0-0 against Hartford this season.