Ilya Kovalchuk has amazingly skilled hands. With those skilled hands, come the ability to make shots that only a handful of players would even consider taking. Friday’s game-winning goal was no different.
With time expiring on an overtime period that never should have been and a minute after a power play that should have ended the game came up empty itself, Kovalchuk found himself standing alone, although maybe that was because he was standing a mere foot above the goal line extended. No matter to Marek Zidlicky, who threaded the pass through the high slot and directly to a wide-open Kovalchuk. Most players would walk the puck out in front of the net, trying to go high on the opposite side — one of Kovy’s favorite shots. Instead, with Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth just slightly out of position, Kovy sling-shot the puck past Neuvirth and into the open net, setting off a delirious reaction inside The Rock.
“You need your best players to make plays,” coach Pete DeBoer said after the game.
Even Kovy’s own goalie was amazed at the goal, marveling at how difficult that can be for a goalie to stop.
“It’s hard and as a goalie, you’re almost so far out you want to make sure he doesn’t bank it off of you, not shoot it right in like he did. It’s impressive,” Brodeur said.
It saved the Devils from having to risk an extra point in a shootout that likely wouldn’t have even been an option if not for three bench minors in the third period, one of which came from an unhappy DeBoer’s unappreciated use of the English language.
But that shot — that ridiculous shot from that ridiculous angle. The coach could not have felt comfortable with his player taking aim from such a difficult spot on the ice, right?
Midway through the third period, the Devils took their second too-many-men penalty of the period, handing the Capitals a 5-on-3 on which they would eventually score.What went unnoticed, that is until the Caps erased one of those penalties with their first goal of the night, was a second bench minor and a second 5-on-3. It was a moment that left most of us in press row thoroughly confused. “Wait — why are the Capitals still on a 5-on-3? Is that another penalty? When did that happen?”
Turns out, it was the coach’s fault.
“You know what, really, the guys bailed me out,” DeBoer said after the game. “We had two too many men on our bench minor. So, I think I’m leading the team in penalty minutes.”
DeBoer admitted he said something to the referees after the second too-many-men call, but wouldn’t say what that something was. Captain Bryce Salvador says he doesn’t know what his coach said either, but he wasn’t exactly a fan of the call.
“You know it’s one those calls where I think they coulda maybe let it go,” Salvador said in the locker room. “I don’t know if we deserved the extra two.”
Whether he deserved the penalty is impossible to know without knowing what four-letter word he dropped on the ref. However, sloppy line changes have been one of the biggest problems early on in this post-lockout season. There’s been an abundance of them and a lot have resulted in excellent scoring chances for the other team. Luckily, the Devils escaped any damage on the second 5-on-3, although it probably didn’t help a team that has already dealt with seven penalties against them. Not helping DeBoer’s temper was likely some sketchy-at-times officiating (on both sides), but my guess is DeBoer was more frustrated with his team’s inconsistent and sometimes undisciplined play for the second straight game. DeBoer may have fallen on the metaphorical sword, but there’s no doubt he was frustrated with his team and after the game he seemed aware that certain things have to change. It’s part of a season that has yet to see the Devils play a complete game, yet still come away with three wins. At least DeBoer’s gotta be happy about that.
Brayden Schenn gets 1 game suspension for hit on Volchenkov. A little surprised. Thought it would be a fine.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) January 23, 2013
For his part, Volchenkov told Gulitti that he thought Schenn left his feet, but said, “it’s hockey.” Here’s the video of the hit, complete with an explanation by the NHL’s Czar of Discipline, Brendan Shanahan.
Bryce Salvador’s journey the Devils captain is fairly captivating. He spent a full five years in juniors, sandwiched around being a sixth-round draft pick of the Lightning in 1994. After completing his overage year, he spent the next three years playing at the AHL level before finally reaching the NHL in 2000 and spending most of the next seven seasons with the St. Louis Blues. Eventually shipped to the Devils during the 2008 season, Salvador fit in well on the Devils’ blueline until an inner-ear (cochlear) concussion wiped out his entire 2010-11 season and had him wondering if he would every play again.
(Note: I’ve excerpted a small section from the story below, but it’s really worth reading in its entirety.)
He demonstrated his resilience again two seasons ago, when two hits in a preseason game against Philadelphia triggered headaches and vertigo caused by the problem with his inner ear. He never gave up hope of resuming his career, however, and made it back last season to play in all 82 of the Devils’ regular season games and all 24 of their playoff contests.
…“It’s been a really interesting last two years for me personally to miss a season and not really now what was going to happen, what the future was going to be,” he said. “Then, the team has a good year last year and now to be named captain, I don’t know what the odds would have been for that in Vegas two years ago. But, that being said, it’s the team around you too that builds the captain. This organization, it’s the coaching staff, it’s the players, it’s management, in their own way they all have their say.
Salvador, who cited former teammate Al MacInnis as his biggest inspiration, is the first Devils defenseman to wear the “C’ since Scott Niedermayer took it over from a concussed Scott Stevens midway through the 2003-04 season. I like the selection of Salvador, who says his leadership style is much less in-your-face and more of the lead-by-example variety. I thought all week that he would be the one to get the C, especially after the way the whole Ilya Kovalchuk saga unfolded — not that Kovy was ever a real candidate in my eyes. I think Salvador is a nice short-term captain, holding the place until someone like Zajac or Clarkson (if he re-signs) takes it over on a full-time basis in a couple years.
What do you think of the selection of Salvador as captain? Like it? Dislike it? Vote below!
Today the Devils placed Mark Fraser and Rod Pelley on waivers. If they are claimed off waivers they will have to play for that particular club. If they are not claimed by tomorrow they will remain on the NHL roster.
On October 16th I posted a rumor that the Phoenix Coyotes’ unsigned center Kyle Turris could be heading to New Jersey. Well today he has asked for a trade and the Coyotes have denied his request. Turris’ agent Kurt Overhardt has said that it was never about the money. He wants a fresh start with a different club. Overhardt has said that numerous clubs have made trade offers but will not name which clubs have made offers. This is very interesting since the Devils are in Phoenix tonight as they take on the Coyotes. Only time will tell because if Turris is not signed by December 1st he can not play this season. Stay tuned.
With the injuries to Travis Zajac and Jacob Josefson the Devils are lacking at center. Since the Devils have an abondance of wings coach Peter DeBoer has decided to move Zach Parise from left wing to center. Parise will center with Ilya Kovalcuk and Nick Palmieri. Last season Parise spent some time at center but that experiment was short lived. It is going to be very interesting to see how Parise does at center. I can’t imagine him being a huge threat in the faceoff circle but he may play surprisingly well in terms of positioning. Tonight will be a good test for Parise as the Devils take on the Kings in Los Angeles.
Martin Brodeur has been listed as day to day since injuring his shoulder against the Los Angeles Kings. Brodeur has not suited up to sit on the bench since. He has been having light practices with goaltender coach Chris Terreri. Brodeur is going on the west coast road trip to Los Angeles, Phoenix and Dallas. Hopefully we can see Brodeur play or at least suit up. Only time will tell.