Game two featured the debut of quite a few new faces for New Jersey. The Islanders jumped out to a 4-1 lead after one period, but the Devils hung tough in the 5-3 loss.
Some notes and observations from the game:
- There are some who are already grumbling about Martin Brodeur’s play in his first preseason action. There’s no need to make sweeping assessments about the play of both Brodeur and Cory Schneider after one preseason game. Brodeur has been through many preseasons, and he knows how to get himself ready for the regular season. If he’s giving up four goals in a period, ten games into the regular season, sure then there’s concern. As for right now, it’s still very early.
- Jon Merrill bounced back from a bad play of a two-on-one that resulted in a goal, to finish with two points on the night. He had the primary assist off of his shot from the point that was tipped in by Rostislav Olesz in the first period. He also added a goal in the second period on a great feed from Eric Gelinas. Merrill excels offensively, but he doesn’t seem like his defensive game is quite there yet.
- Speaking of Olesz, he has quietly gotten off to a strong start in the preseason. With the likes of Mattias Tedenby and Damien Brunner garnering much of the attention, the former Florida Panther draft pick has two points in two games, after scoring in the 2nd period against the Islanders.
- Eric Gelinas is once again showing showed once again why he belongs in New Jersey. The young blueliner has shown the kind of offensive upside from the point that the Devils haven’t seen since Brian Rafalski left for Detroit. At this point, if the Ottawa, Ontario native is able to avoid any sort of major letdown, there’s a good chance that he’ll make this team.
- Damien Brunner didn’t do much to stand out in this game. He’ll need some time to get used to the Devils system and get himself situated. With Mattias Tedenby and Olesz each with a goal and playing well, there’s definitely no guarantee that Brunner is a lock to make the team just because of what he did last season.
- On a side note, it was a funny moment to see Krys Barch and Brett Gallant of the Islanders remove each other’s helmets during their fight. A bit of chivalry? Not so much. The league implemented a new rule this week that forbids players from removing their helmets prior to a fight. The penalty for removing said headgear is an additional two minute minor. Well, Barch and Gallant found the loophole.
The New York Rangers looked like they had something to play for on Saturday afternoon.
The Devils did not.
New Jersey ended its disappointing campaign with a flat, uninspired effort in a 4-0 loss to New York at Madison Square Garden.
Ryan Callahan and Derek Stepan each recorded a goal and an assist, Rick Nash scored twice, and Brad Richards had two assists as New York finished its regular season 26-18-4.
The Rangers locked up at least the No. 7 seed in the upcoming Eastern Conference playoffs and can finish sixth if the Ottawa Senators lose their remaining two games– or if Ottawa finishes 1-1.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 20 shots he faced.
Johan Hedberg stopped 17 shots. The Devils finished their lockout-shortened 48-game campaign with 48 points– a perfectly-mediocre 19-19-10.
While the whole team looked disinterested, the Devils defense looked downright egregious.
Peter Harrold and Andy Greene were the Devils’ only two Even ‘D’ and both took penalties.
Adam Larsson and Marek Zidlicky were both minus-2 — Larsson could’ve gotten a secondary assist on Nash’s first goal. Meanwhile, Zidlicky was caught flatfooted on several occasions and made a weak pass that Stepan easily stole and dished to Callahan on his shorthanded goal late in the first.
Zidlicky will be an unrestricted-free agent at season’s end, and I’d be stunned if he returns. He was minus-10 and was essentially the posterchild for New Jersey’s defensive woes this year.
Ilya Kovalchuk wasn’t much better, finishing a minus-2 and only earning two shots. Kovalchuk was caught watching on Nash’s second goal, failing to backcheck or do anything more than stare as Nash beat Hedberg.
Hedberg’s left pad was Nash’s top foil.
The dynamic winger could’ve had at least four goals– even five– but Hedberg’s pad stymied five of Nash’s game-high seven shots.
Hedberg’s left pad was good in New Jersey’s win Thursday, and he performed admirably in place of Martin Brodeur.
Still, Brodeur was still not immune from MSG ridicule. The Garden’s fans peppered him with “We want Marty” and “Mar-ty” song chants.
Brodeur hadn’t sat an entire game on the bench at MSG in almost 20 years.
New Jersey’s penalty kill was about its only bright spot Saturday.
The Devils held the Rangers shotless in six man-advantages, including a pair of two-man advantages.
The Devils’ penalty kill was a major Achilles’ heel at points this year but closed the campaign killing their last seven, finishing 16th in the NHL in penalty killing.
Anton Volchenkov led the Devils on Saturday with three shots.
That pretty much tells the story, doesn’t it?
If there was one overarching theme from tonight’s game, it was the notion, no the declarative statement, that the Devils didn’t deserve to win tonight’s game despite battling back to tie the game three times. Not with their performance on faceoffs, not after their failed power plays and most definitely not after the way way they killed penalties.
“We didn’t deserve to win. Wer didn’t play well enough to win,” coach Pete DeBoer said after the game. ” … You get what you deserve in this game. We had some opportunities to win, but we didn’t play well enough to earn two points.”
The Devils know they made too many mistakes to deserve two points Thursday.
It was a theme the team’s veteran leaders echoed before DeBoer even told us.
“We didn’t play good enough to deserve a win tonight. We had one line playing the right way,” Patrik Elias said, referring to the third line that accounted for two of the Devils’ four goals.
Captain Bryce Salvador seemingly towed the company line, noting that the Devils were doing fine when they were forechecking and playing their game, but simply made too many mistakes.
“They capitalized seemingly every time we made a bad play,” he said. ” … We’re happy with the point but we shoulda had two tonight.”
It wasn’t hard to sense a trend in the Devils’ words Thursday. They let one get away and they knew it.
“It’s great that we find a way to get a point. Maybe if we woulda played a full 60 the outcome would have been different,” said Adam Henrique, who scored, what else, a game-tying goal in his first game back.
Elias said DeBoer didn’t say anything to the team after the game, but “he doesn’t have to. We know we didn’t play good enough and what we did wrong.”
While the players were certainly hard on themselves, DeBoer wasn’t all doom and gloom. As he has trumpeted all season, the Devils picked up another point despite the loss, something they’ve done in every single game this season, which is pretty spectacular if you think about it.
“It’s a 30-team league and I think there’s only three or four (teams) that can claim that,” DeBoer said of not losing a game in regulation through the first six games. ” … This season is gonna be a grind and there’s gonna be all kinds of different levels of hockey and you just gotta find a way to stick with it and scrape out points and I think that’s what we’re doing.”
That’s a quote NBA fans heard a lot last season during their lockout-shortened season. There won’t be a perfect effort every night. With teams playing basically four games a night, there’s bound to be off nights and sub-par performances, but the fact that the Devils are a self-aware, veteran-laden team should serve them well.
“We’re not happy about the way we played today, but we got a point and we have to move on,” Martin Brodeur said. “We have got two big games this weekend. There’s nothing to dwell on. We’ll get back to work tomorrow.”
Sounds about right.
First Period- Parise (3)
Second Period- Briere (6) and Van Riemsdyk (1) and Zajac (4)
Third Period- Giroux (7) and Sykora (1)
Overtime- Briere (7)
Next Game: 5/1 at Philadelphia Flyers at 7:30 pm
Ilya Kovalchuk Postgame:
“You can’t win all the games in overtime, so you have to watch what you did wrong and make sure you don’t do it again next game.”
Pete DeBoer Postgame:
“We haven’t made excuses for those kind of things all year. I’m not going to start now. They were the hungrier team in the second half, so what the reason for it doesn’t matter right now. We’ve got to get ready for Game 2.”
Flyers outdrew the Devils 38-31
Flyers outshot the Devils 36-26
Devils went 1 for 3 on the power play.
Devils outhit the Flyers 31-27
The Devils are moving on to the Eastern Conference Semifinals thanks to a double overtime goal scored by Adam Henrique.
- Adam Henrique scored at 3:47 of double overtime to win the series for the Devils.
- Henrique also scored the first goal of the game almost fours hours before scoring the winner.
- David Clarkson ended the night with two assists.
- Anton Volchenkov earned his first point of the playoffs with an assist on Henrique’s first goal.
- Martin Brodeur made 43 saves on 45 shots.
- The Panthers outshot the Devils 45-36.
- The Devils will need to work on their penlaty killing. They gave up two power play goals in the third period.
- Zach Parise and Marek Zidlicky both finished with 6 shots in the game.
- Three stars of the game as following: 1. Adam Henrique 2. Martin Brodeur 3.Jose Theodore
First Period- Bernier (2)
Second Period- Kovalchuk (3) and Versteeg (3) and Bergenheim (3)
Third Period- None
Overtime- Zajac (3)
Next Game: at Florida Panthers 4/26 at TBA
Devils outdrew the Panthers 30-28
Devils outshot the Panthers 42-16
Devils went 1 for 4 on the power play.
Devils outhit the Panthers 28-27
The Devils completely outshot the Panthers tonight however the numbers are a bit deceiving. It was more quantity than quality tonight. At times in the 2nd and 3rd period the Devils look out of sync and flat. But when it mattered Zach Parise made a great defensively play on Weiss to stop a 2 on 1 which would ultimately set up Zajac for the game winning goal. The Devils need to carry this momentum into Florida with ton of energy, think 1st period of game 1 kind of energy.
First Period- None
Second Period- Versteeg (2)
Third Period- Upshall (1) and Kopecky (1)
Next Game: vs Florida Panthers 4/24 at TBA
Zach Parise Postgame:
“We don’t care about the past. We have to find a way to win two in a row. We have to win. We have no choice.”
Pete DeBoer Postgame:
“We know the spot we’re in. We’ve got to win at home and then we’re playing one game to move on. So, we’ve got to take care of business at home.”
Panthers outdrew the Devils 31-27
Panthers outshot the Devils 33-30
Devils went 0 for 3 on the power play.
Devils outhit the Panthers 47-46