Czech forward Patrik Elias is not playing in their game against Slovakia on Tuesday in Sochi (Janda).
With the first games of the Men’s Olympic Hockey Tournament set to begin on Wednesday, it’s time to break down the competitive field.
The Devils sent four players to Sochi, with Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias and Marek Zidlicky representing the Czech Republic and Damien Brunner representing the Swiss.
While the host country, Russia, s one of the favorites, the Canadian team is loaded. Of the 12 teams in the field, there are at least six teams that can make a pretty good case as to why they’ll take home the gold medal.
(Bold teams receive byes)
USA 2-1-0-0 7 pts
Group B -
Group C -
Bronze Medal Game
Gold Medal Game
Group A -
Group B -
Group C -
Bronze Medal Game
Gold Medal Game
It seems to most everyone that Team USA is not as good as the 2010 version. We’ll see. The forward pool is mostly the same although I do fear about the defense. There’s a lot of new faces on that backline and a lot of young guys too. Reading between the lines of what head coach Dan Bylsma has been saying, it sounds like this is going to be a one-goalie team. I think that one guy is going to be Ryan Miller, although I’d like to see Jonathan Quick in there. We know Quick is great and he’s had a great team in front of him for a few years now. Can Miller jump back to that same level he did four years ago, now that he’s surrounded by Olympians and not the slug players on the Buffalo Sabres? To a degree yes, but I’m not sure how much is left. Yes, USA does not have as much talent as others, but I think they are a well-built TEAM. There’s scorers, playmakers as well as your glue and grit guys who can also put the puck in the net. It seems like they are being written off already, but nothing would surprise me with this team.
This is a different Team USA in 2014, but a team that certainly has enough talent to get it done. Offensively, they can score with the best. Phil Kessel, Patrick Kane, Zach Parise, Joe Pavelski, the list goes on. Defensively, that’s what should have you worried. Are guys like Cam Fowler and John Carlson ready to step up? Can Dan Bylsma products Brooks Oprik and Paul Martin contribute? Perhaps an even bigger question is in goal. I believe that Ryan Miller deserves the first start and should be allowed to take the job and run with it. Should he falter, then it’s Quick’s turn. Miller’s performance in Vancouver should at least give him the benefit of a fair chance to play. This squad is different than some of the other Olympic teams because they went for a team-first mentality. Canada has an all-star team and even Sweden and Russia leaned that way. Team USA is built like a team that’s ready to scratch and claw it’s way through the Eastern Conference playoffs. Whether or not that translates into success remains to be seen, but they had a clear top-six, bottom-six in mind when they created this roster. I had them off the podium mostly because of the question mark in net, but if they get strong goaltending, this team will have every chance to compete for a gold.
The New Jersey Devils fell 3-0 to the Washington Capitals on Saturday night at Verizon Center, dropping their record to 24-22-13.
The Devils were shut out for the sixth time while Cory Schneider has been in net. He’s held opponents to two-goals-or-less in 13 of his last 14 starts.
Dainius Zubrus led the Devils will five shots on goal tonight.
Julien Brouillette scored his first NHL goal for Washington midway through the third period, as the Caps added a pair of empty netters late in the game to ice the victory.
With the Olympic break ahead, the Devils are off until February 27 when they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets at Prudential Center.
Ryan JahnkeThere have been a lot of questions about the Devils’ defense as of late, particularly their younger members. The fans are clamoring to know where Adam Larsson is, and why, in spite of what he brings to a struggling offensive effort, Eric Gelinas has been sent down to Albany. In the middle of this uncertainty, a true point of stability for the Devils’ D-Men has been Jon Merrill.
In his 31 games since being promoted to the main roster on November 3, Jon has been the most consistent and reliable of any of the vaunted Devils call-ups. After a few early blunders and turnovers during his pairing with Gelinas, which lead to the two rookies being split-up, Merrill’s defensive game has continued to progress to a legitimate, NHL level.
In spite of his youth, the 22-year-old rookie from the University of Michigan plays a smart, confident, hard-working game. He blocks shots, makes the right passes, isn’t afraid of contact and doesn’t shy away from the hard work in the corners. He also shows very strong stick skills for someone so young, and is consistently able to disrupt the opponent’s play with a timely poke-check or blocked pass that sends the play the other way. This is made all the more impressive when you consider the fact that Merrill had only 26 games of experience at the AHL level to call upon before being thrust onto the big stage.
In short, he has the instincts and plays the defensive game that his young counterparts haven’t quite grasped yet. That is why he has gained the trust of coach Pete DeBoer, earning plenty of time with the Devils’ power play and penalty kill units. In any game, any situation, No. 34 is a go to guy for the red and black. So, it should come as no surprise that during last night’s overtime period against an Edmonton team that had won five of six, the Devils rookie mainstay was out there on the blue-line, a decision that would be rewarded moments later when Jon Merrill netted his first NHL goal to secure a much needed two points for his struggling team.
After his game winning, overtime goal over Ilya Bryzgalov, it would appear that the shadow, not to mention the significant weight of 30 scoreless games, has been lifted off Merrill. After falling, almost inexplicably, to the second round of the draft because of some very real questions about his maturity and character, Merrill has worked to shed the image of him that initially overshadowed his strong defensive mind, and solid offensive game in the eyes of NHL scouts. Jon spent several years splitting time between the University of Michigan and the US National U17 and U18 teams to prove that he could be the impact defender that scouts initially had near the top of their draft boards. The composed defenseman that helped the Devils come out on top last night is that player.
Merrill is the sole survivor in this pool of talented young defensemen for a reason. While he doesn’t have the top-flight expectations of Larsson, or the eye-popping numbers of Gelinas, Merrill has the strong fundamental skills to play and make a consistent difference at the NHL level on the defensive side of the ice. That is what anybody should be looking for, someone who can bring a bit of stability to a defense, and a roster, that is in constant flux.
With the New York Yankees’ farewell tour for Mariano Rivera fresh in our minds, it’s easy to have wanted the same thing for Martin Brodeur. If this is, in fact, Brodeur’s final season, it seems like he may be down to his last few starts. With Cory Schneider establishing himself as the No. 1 goalie of late, there may not be much more of No. 30 between the pipes and that’s OK.
We constantly try to humanize sports and make it about the individuals, but at the end of the day, it’s a business. It’s no knock on Brodeur to admit that the better goaltender is in net right now.
Starting Schneider now is about the present and the future.
Since the low point of his season, five goals allowed against the Blackhawks, Schneider has been excellent. He has given up three goals or more only once and he was under a minute away from surrendering just one, before a deflected pass resulted in a goal by David Legwand in the Devils 3-2 overtime loss to Nashville.
The case that the team scores more for Brodeur might be true in terms of sheer numbers, but with Brodeur struggling some, the decision to go to Schneider makes sense.
The former Boston College netminder has some of the best numbers in the game right now. Amongst goaltenders who have started at least 25 games this season, Schneider’s 1.88 ranks second in goals against average. His .925 save percentage ranks sixth among that same pool.
Saying that Brodeur should be the starter based on the team’s offensive production is a statement with wanton disregard for the production of the former Canuck. If you give up less goals, you have a better chance to win; plain and simple. Consider that the Devils are an offensively challenged team, the smaller the number of goals needed to win, the better off they are.
Schneider’s numbers have been spectacular, but his play in itself warrants such a decision. His rebound control has been superb. When he’s on his game, he’s so positionally sound that he makes difficult saves look easy. Even last night against the Oilers, he made a few post-to-post saves with no wasted movement.
What we’re seeing from No. 35 is an ascension towards the top of the NHL goaltending hierarchy. For the first time in his career, he’s been given the keys to the car and he’s taken off with it.
More importantly, it’s about the future. The Devils have seen too many big names depart in prior years. The twenty seven-year-old is slated to become a free agent after next season, but as the Devils have so harshly learned, letting his contract situation to extend into the 2015 offseason may be a recipe for disaster.
Starting Schneider makes sense not just in terms of giving the team the best chance to advance to the postseason this year, but it may help during contract negotiations. Giving No.35 the starting role now and continuing it into next season should certainly help. If he constantly has to look over his shoulder, he may bolt for a situation where he’s guaranteed to start 60-plus games.
Though this team is no lock for the playoffs and it’ll take a strong effort coming out of the Olympic break, there is no doubt who should be in net. Again, this shouldn’t be looked at as a scathing indictment of the greatest goaltender of all-time. Right now, Cory Schneider is playing some of the best hockey of any goalie in the league and should be given the chance to backstop this team towards a playoff run.
The Devils defeated the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 in overtime on Friday night. The win brings their record to 24-21-13 on the season.
- Much like the previous three contests, the Devils found themselves in overtime with a chance to gain an important point. They did so, as Jon Merrill scored his first NHL goal in the extra period to give the Devils the victory.
- Cory Schneider turned in yet another strong performance, stopping 19 of 20 shots on the night.
- Andrei Loktionov scored the other New Jersey goal in the first period.
The New Jersey Devils failed to protect another late lead and fell to the Colorado Avalanche in overtime by a score of 2-1. The loss brings the Devils record to 23-21-13.
- With a power play heading into overtime, the Avs cashed in, as Ryan O’Reilly scored in the extra session to give Colorado the win.
- The Devils had multiple chances all night to score, but managed only one goal, a first period tally by Ryan Carter.
Dave TurnerUnder normal circumstances, holding the Colorado Avalanche to one goal through the first 60 minutes would be considered an excellent night. Just ask the Buffalo Sabres.
This was an all-too familiar scenario as the lack of scoring, coupled by the lack of ability to close out a game, burned the Devils once again.
Multiple posts, a shot by Jagr that inexplicably died on the goal line between the legs of J.S Giguere and an inability to score on the power play doomed the Devils.
For the first 58 minutes of the contest, they played well enough to come away with two points. They had chances in the offensive end and limited Colorado’s ability to get their offense going, but in the end, it wasn’t enough.
There are plenty of culprits to blame for this letdown, but it’s a matter of the entire team not coming up big when needed. With Andy Greene in the box in overtime, Bryce Salvador and Mark Fayne were out there on the kill. Considering that the penalty kill was strong all night, Pete DeBoer’s decision to go with those two is certainly debatable, but seems like the right choice, considering the circumstances. Would it be a better decision to put Marek Zidlicky or Jon Merrill out there? That’s debatable, at the very least.
The fact is, when your team isn’t scoring, any goal against is put under a microscope. If the Devils had a 3-0 lead going into the final few minutes, a goal against wouldn’t come with nearly the same level of angst that it does when it’s only a 1-0 game. Sure, it’s very troubling that they’ve been unable to protect leads, but as a whole, the defense has played well for large stretches of the last three games.
Considering that the Devils were unable to get a change late in the game, it led to the wrong players being on the ice. With Merrill and Peter Harrold being caught for an extremely long shift, it made for a tough situation.
Michael Ryder made a extremely risky pass in the middle of his own end that turned into the penalty for Greene, in turn, essentially ending the game in overtime.
The offense played well enough in terms of scoring chances, shots attempted and zone time, but they were unable to score. Sure, the chances were nice, but unless it’s in the back of the net, no amount of shots for makes any sort of a difference. Ryder hit a post on a 2-on-1, Dainius Zubrus rang a pipe and numerous other chances were there for the taking. Needing only one goal over the final forty to presumably put the game out of reach, the Devils failed to increase the lead. That’s on the offense.
Defensively, it was the same story as the prior two contests. A strong performance thrown away by a poor play at the end. Considering the kind of firepower that Colorado possesses, they actually played a very smart game against an elite offensive team. Harrold, who returned to the lineup after a long absence, was strong in his first game back.
On the game-winning goal, Salvador was caught in between trying to break up the pass and playing in front of O’Reilly. He did well to position himself in front of O’Reilly at first, but when he committed to Matt Duchene up top, it left the O’Reilly wide open to bang home the winning goal. There’s no doubt that Salvador would like to have that play back, but he got pulled out of position and paid for it.
Even still, just one more goal over 60 minutes could have eliminated any chance of that play even happening. If you let a team stick around, there is more of a chance of a mistake happening.
Where to place the blame is one thing, but what is becoming apparent at this juncture is that this team will need to make a move for additional scoring if they hope to stay in the playoff race. Though they sit only one point back of third place in the Metropolitan Division, all of the teams in front of them have at least one game in hand on the Devils. Carolina, who is tied with the Devils at 59 points, has three games at hand. That equates to the fact that these one point games won’t be enough. At some point, they’re going to have to string together wins or they’ll find themselves behind almost everyone in their own division.
The Devils have activated Peter Harrold off of injured reserve, the team announced.
The New Jersey Devils blew another late lead and fell to the Nashville Predators 3-2 in overtime. The loss brings their record to 23-21-12 on the season.
- It looked like the Devils had this one locked up at 2-1 until David Legwand scored for the Predators with 11 seconds left.
- Nashville followed that up with a goal by Shea Weber, just 1:29 into the extra session. For Weber, it was his second goal of the night.
- Patrik Elias and Jaromir Jagr both scored second period goals for the Devils.
With the memory of their late goal against in Dallas still fresh, the Devils failed to protect a late lead for the second time in as many nights. This time, Shea Weber made them pay and the Devils squandered a crucial point.
Earlier in the day, there was uncertainty as to if the the Predators’ captain would play. Not only did he play, but Weber, who possesses one of the hardest shots in the game burned Cory Schneider twice.
Yes, a lot can be made about another late-game collapse. Protecting third period leads is so important, but you can’t put all of that on the defense. Two nights in a row, the Devils could have put the game away with a third period goal and twice they failed to do so. While they did have a lead going into the final 60 seconds tonight, they were unable to capitalize on some big chances in the third to put it away.
The play that tied it was a bit of luck. It seemed like the pass deflected off a stick. Is that on the defense? Yes, to an extent, but sometimes bad bounces just happen. The only way to protect against any sort of unfortunately late bounce is to score an insurance goal, which the Devils have not been able to do.
The reality is that this lost point hurts. With a division as close as the Metropolitan Division, down the road, this point could be the difference between third and sixth, that’s how close things are.
Schneider was solid between the pipes for most of the game, but he was caught in a scrum on the great pass that resulted in Legwand’s tying goal. On the game-winner, Weber did what he does best and ripped it past Schneider, despite a clear view of the shooter for the Devils netminder.
A point on the road is usually considered at least a good effort, but this one is much worse than that. The Devils had a chance to move into a two-way tie with Carolina for third place in the East at 59 points. Instead, they are in a four-way tie for 9th place. That shows you how important every single point is from here on out.
The Devils did come close to winning in overtime, but Michael Ryder’s breakaway attempt was denied by Carter Hutton.
New Jersey will take the ice at home on Monday against the Colorado Avalanche with a chance to turn things around and grab some crucial points before the Olympic break.
This afternoon, the New Jersey Devils announced that they have sent defenseman Eric Gelinas to Albany and recalled forward Mike Sislo to the big club. The Devils had played the previous few games with seven defensemen and 11 forwards.
I know there are many who feel like the sky is falling, but there’s no need for that. Gelinas will play for the Devils again. He will even play seasons for the Devils soon enough. Now is just not the time, for better or worse.
The Devils are going to play out the defensemen they have, regardless of the money they make or the number of years left on their deal. Until Lou Lamoriello is willing to eat a contract, admit a mistake and use his final compliance buyout, this is the way it has to be.
Based on pure performance of play, we all know Bryce Salvador is barely worthy of a roster spot. The same can be said for Anton Volchenkov and others. Like in all workplaces, politics and money are involved. If Salvador isn’t being a rotten apple, it looks bad on the organization to healthy scratch their captain. The Devils management is too stubborn to look bad in regards to a player personnel decision.
Eric Gelinas will get his time. It’s just not right now.