Final Score: Devils 4, Rangers 3

The New Jersey Devils defeated the New York Rangers for the third straight time, this one ending 4-3 in overtime from Madison Square Garden in New York, NY.  The win pushes the Devils to 12-13-6 on the season.

Brad Richards scored on a 2 on 1 against Martin Brodeur in the first period continuing his recent string of good play.  He currently stands at 3 goals in his last 6 games.

- Mats Zuccarello started off the second period with a big goal off a rebound from a shot by Ryan Callahan to give his team a 2-0 lead.

- Cam Janssen stood up strong for his teammates and used his skates rather than his hands to make his biggest contribution with a big response goal for the Devils to bring the game 2-1.

- Travis Zajac tied up the game at 2 midway through the third going top-shelf off a rebound from Jaromir Jagr.

- Michael Ryder netted his third goal in his last four games beating Henrik Lundqvist through the 5-hole to give the Devils a 3-2 lead.

Chris Kreider got a chip-in goal on a 6 on 4 power play in the last minute of the game, after Travis Zajac took a terrible delay-of-game penalty.

Eric Gelinas scored his own power play goal on a bomb from beyond the top of the circle in overtime to secure the OT win for the Devils.

Ryan Jahnke

Coming off three consecutive losses to Eastern Conference foes, the Devils came into Madison Square Garden this Saturday night needing a win to help get things back on track.  In the end, the comeback kids came through, as another never-say-die third period effort and a timely power play in OT lead to a big win for Jersey’s team.

Special teams came through in a huge for New Jersey.  While their penalty kill was nearly lights out again, save for that nearly infamous 6 on 4, the Devils’ power play got to play the role of hero tonight.  Granted, it took an overtime 4 on 3 to set things right, but when they got the chance, they stepped up and Eric Gelinas sealed the deal.  Still, as good as the Devils’ kill was, you have to wonder if the PK crew has seen too much action recently with 15 penalties against the Devils in the last 4 games.  We’re going to have to pay attention to this going forward, as all that time shorthanded is bound to catch up to any team eventually.

There were plenty of good moments for the Red and Black, and so many of them came from fan favorite Cam Janssen.  Cam, well-known as bit of a fire-starter, was all over the ice with big hits and game-changing plays.  He skated over and stood up for Patrik Elias against Rangers’ defender Justin Faulk, before motoring down to the other end of the ice to slide feet first into the Devils’ opening goal.  While controversial to everyone wearing blue, new rules allow for redirection as long as there is still no distinct kicking motion.  So the goal was deemed clean, which was consistent with the way that similar situations have been ruled by the crew in Toronto thus far this year.  But, even beyond that first goal, Janssen made sure that his presence was felt, and his team fed off that energy turning a potential disaster, after the Zuccarello goal, into a very good second period and game for the Devils.  Simply put, the Devils don’t win tonight without #25 on the ice.

As has become the norm this season, the Devils also saw some pretty strong performances from the usual suspects.  Jaromir Jagr was as strong and prominent as anyone on the ice tonight.  Travis Zajac, Andy Greene, and Eric Gelinas played top-flight hockey throughout the game, holding their positions and creating strong chances and points for the offense.  Michael Ryder continued his hot-streak finding the net yet again, this time for the win and Adam Henrique was highly aggressive and was a constant threat to Henrik Lundqvist.  Some surprise contributions also came in from Cam Janssen, as well as Tim Sestito who provided a strong forecheck and the primary assist on Janssen’s and Ryder’s goals.

And, no Devils recap would be complete without mentioning a terrific effort by one of their two superstar goaltenders.  Tonight was Brodeur’s turn between the pipes, and the vet did not disappoint.  After letting in a goal on a rough 2 on 1 against Brad Richards where he dipped his shoulder a hair too low giving Richards the top corner, #30 was fantastic stopping all but the unreachable.  And, while tonight it was the offense who stepped up big, this was another big win in MSG for Martin Brodeur.

For those of you who are wondering, the points challenge between Marty and Cam is on, but because Marty got the secondary assist on the goal, neither player gained any ground tonight.

By the numbers – Where has all the scoring gone?

Dave Turner

Not so long ago, the Devils put together a string of games that saw them post 20 goals in a seven game span, which was an average of 2.86 goals per game. Now, this team has struggled to score, tallying just four goals over their last three games, two of which have been losses.

Aside from Jaromir Jagr and more recently, Patrik Elias, and to some extent Ryan Carter, the Devils have struggled to score. With the goaltending turning in a strong performance almost every night, it’s almost safe to say that two goals may get this team at least a point in more games than not. Scoring that second and even a third goal, has been a major struggle as of late.

Here are some offensive numbers for the Devils notable forwards over each of their own last ten games played:

Jaromir Jagr - 6 goals, 2 assists – plus-4 rating, 28 shots on goal

Patrik Elias - 3 goals, 6 assists – plus-1 rating, 16 shots on goal

Dainius Zubrus - 1 goal, 5 assists – plus-5 rating, 17 shots on goal

Including Elias, who missed a few games in November, these three have been producing. They don’t exactly have jaw-dropping numbers, but Elias is scoring almost a point a game over his last ten games played. Patrik Elias

Jagr has lead the team in shots over that span and it has payed off, his six goals on 28 shots is good for 21.4% which means that just over one in every five shots he’s taken has found the back of the net.

After those three, that’s where things get a little dicey, after that, the scoring numbers drop off drastically:

Travis Zajac - 2 goals, 2 assists – plus-2 rating, 15 shots on goal

Adam Henrique - 1 goal, 2 assists – plus-1 rating, 13 shots on goal

Michael Ryder - 1 goal, 2 assists – minus-2 rating, 16 shots on goal

Andrei Loktionov - 0 goals, 1 assist – minus-2 rating, 16 shots on goal

Damien Brunner - 0 goals, 0 assists – minus-2 rating, 16 shots on goal

Travis Zajac has been playing an excellent two way game, so though his numbers are far from stellar, he’s at least contributing to the club in other ways. Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder were expected to be big parts of the offense this year and their numbers just don’t cut it. Henrique has the fewest shots of anyone who was listed here. Furthermore, he’s had some good chances, but just can’t seem to bury them.

As for Loktionov and Brunner, it has been very much a downhill struggle since the beginning of the season. Andrei Loktionov started strong and looked like he was poised for a breakout season of sorts. Now, he’s struggling, with only one point in his last ten games played. There might not be any bigger disappointment so far this season than Damien Brunner. He got off to such a good start, with five points in his first five games in New Jersey. Since then, he has been held off of the score sheet in 16 of his last 17 games played. That has has to change.

To put this in perspective, Eric Gelinas’s six points over his last ten games are more than Henrique, Ryder and Brunner COMBINED. In that same span, Marek Zidlicky has four points. Combine the two defensemen’s points totals and they have just one fewer point than Zajac, Henrique, Brunner, Ryder and Loktionov combined.

Clearly, the offense has struggled. It almost seems as if players such as Michael Ryder and Damien Brunner have struggled to fit into the Devils system, that requires players to forecheck, win pucks in the corners and grind their way into goals. Damien BrunnerRyder and Brunner are above-average shooters, but both need space to work with. A lot of times you’ll see Ryder with a little room and he tries to make a move. That’s just who he is, an open ice player. For both of them, the best bet would be to put them in a situation that allows them to just shoot the puck. Whether it’s keeping Elias at center to help distribute, or some sort of different line combination that will allow for more shots, something has to be done to help get those players out of their current slumps.

The goaltending has been there. This team is in every game they play because of the strong play of the defense and both Martin Brodeur and Cory Schneider. The difference right now is that this team has been unable to give enough support to either to capitalize on enough of their chances to gain points.

Final Score: Kings 2, Devils 0

The Los Angeles Kings took down the New Jersey Devils 2-0 at the Prudential Center in the first meeting between the two teams since the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals.  The loss drops the Devils to 6-8-5 on the season.

Dwight King scored on a deflection from a point shot by Jake Muzzin late in the 3rd period to give Los Angeles the lead that they would take to the end of the game.

- Patrik Elias’ return was a shot in the arm for the Devils on all fronts, but he failed to register a shot on goal and looked like he was at least one game away from getting his legs back under him.

- Corey Schneider put together a stellar effort despite another shortage of offensive support.  But, tonight belonged to Ben Scrivens, who recorded a 26-save shutout, his second shutout triumph this year.

Ryan Jahnke

The Devils have something good going right now, putting up a record of 3-0-1 in their last 4 games before facing LA.  Their defense has been suffocating and their goaltending has been among the league’s best, no matter who is between the pipes.  Their penalty kill is lights out, particularly at the Rock, where opponents have managed just one power play goal against the Devils (before tonight’s empty-netter).  So with all of this going so right for the team, their fans have just one question left… what is going on with the offense?

The Devils came into Friday night’s game against the Kings and strong backup goaltender Ben Scrivens as one of the lowest scoring teams in the league, and the first few periods did little to change that.  Great pressure and strong chances for New Jersey resulted in 18 shots and no goals through the first two.  Things were even worse for the red and black in the third.  Their legs were gone and their shots had dried up.  Los Angeles used this to their advantage and turned up the pressure on New Jersey, wearing the Devils down until finally recording what would be the game-winning goal on a strong screen and beautiful deflection by Dwight King.  A long empty-netter by Anze Kopitar sealed the deal and a regulation victory for the Kings.

The offense remains a problem for New Jersey.  The first period was one to be proud of as Jersey’s team thoroughly outplayed their opponents.  They worked especially hard in the L.A. zone, creating chances and crashing the net.  After that, things got ugly.  The Devils were outhit by a wide margin and gave the puck away more than three times as much as Los Angeles.

That’s not to say that there weren’t any bright spots from the New Jersey front men.  Jaromir Jagr, Adam Henrique and Danius Zubrus all put up strong efforts, and Andy Greene was a big playmaker tonight.  Unfortunately, the Devils always seemed a step behind the play as countless pucks slid through the crease without anyone in red there to bury them.

The defense and goaltending were dominant.  Cory Schneider did everything a goalie could do to win this game for his team, and the boys in front of him limited  opportunities.  One unfortunate stretch was their undoing, as the relentless Kings’ attack at the end of the game lured two Devils D-men to the side of the goal leaving Dwight King uncontested in front of Schneider.

This kind of game can take the wind out of a team’s sails.  The Devils came in talking about giving Schneider some goal support, and then get blanked at home.  With a lackluster third and an anemic power play to finish the game, the Devils left the ice with their heads hanging and the fans’ frustrations ringing in their ears.  It’ll be a tough test for the team tomorrow night as New Jersey looks to pick themselves up and rise to the challenge against Pittsburgh.  The Red and Black will need to play all three periods tomorrow like they did the first stanza tonight. Martin Brodeur will need to keep up his impressive streak of quality games, put the team back on track and make sure that they don’t lose the momentum that they had built up over the previous four games.

rob-scuderi-steve-bernier-kings-devils-game-6

With Kings in town, mixed memories for Devils fans

Jeff OConnor

Just hours away from the New Jersey Devils playing the Los Angeles Kings in the Prudential Center, mixed rob-scuderi-steve-bernier-kings-devils-game-6feelings are abound.

The Kings and Devils squared off in the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, with the Kings winning the series and the Stanley Cup 4-2.  As a fan, it’s hard to still not be disappointed with the outcome.

I was at Game One of the series and I will always remember that odd man rush late in the third period where Mark Fayne was breaking down the slot, had the puck coming his way and couldn’t push the biscuit into an open net.  We’ll never know what would have happened, but that could have completely changed the outlook of the series.

It was tough not to feel helpless after Game Two.  Ilya Kovalchuk hit the crossbar in the final seconds and it felt like the longer the game kept going, the lesser their chances were at tying the series.  The Devils worked so hard to get each goal in those first two games and when Jeff Carter scored on such a seemingly harmless play, everyone’s heart sank.  They played much better in Game Three but the Kings buried all of their chances, putting the Devils on the brink.

I’ll remember the way they fought back, though.  They finally had a lead in Game Four, but it lasted all of one minute.  It was hard not to think it was over at that point.  The Kings could do no wrong.  When Adam Henrique scored though, it gave life to the fanbase.  If NJ could defend their home ice, all they had to do was win one more game in LA and they could be Stanley Cup Champs.  The sight of Zach Parise scoring the opening goal in Game Five, letting out a primal scream and pounding the boards with his hand will always have a place in my mind.  So will the memory of Bryce Salvador pumping his fist after his fourth goal of the playoffs.

I’ll remember the run up to that point.  Game Six certainly went to the wayside, but it was a great season.  Coming off a year where they missed the playoffs, it was an unexpected ride to the Finals, which made it all the more enjoyable.  Finally getting that first round monkey off their back in sudden death fashion, dominating the rivals from Pennsylvania and the Henrique winner against New York provided moments that Devils fans won’t soon forget.

I’ll remember getting to hear Doc Emrick’s voice every night.  It was a shock to all Devils fans when he stepped away from the Prudential Center microphone after the 2010-11 season.  After hearing he would still do national games, I half-jokingly said to a friend of mine, “Well, we’ll just have to get to the Stanley Cup Finals so Doc will call all our games”.  Turns out we got it a round earlier as well with Emrick calling the Rangers series.  I’ll always appreciate that because he was and always will be the voice of the New Jersey Devils.

Yes, we are reminded of disappointment when we see the Los Angeles Kings take the ice tonight in Newark but we should also reflect on the great moments in that series and recall the wonderful memories that led up to that point.

Final Score: Devils 3, Flyers 0

The New Jersey Devils took down the Philadelphia Flyers 2-0 from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. with a well-earned bounce-back effort.  The win pushes the Devils to 4-7-4 on the season.

Adam Henrique scored on a deflection off of a blast from the point by Eric Gelinas in the first period.  This was the team’s first goal in six periods of hockey.

- Travis Zajac’s return was a big plus for a team in need of some offense and help on the forecheck.  Peter Harrold and Anton Volchenkov also returned to have a positive impact on the game.

- Cam Janssen used his hands for something other than fighting, as he registered his first goal since March 2011, and his second ever goal as a New Jersey Devil.

- Martin Brodeur recorded the 22 save shutout, extending his NHL record to 122 over his career and his 12th against the Flyers.

Ryan Jahnke

The Devils have been hurting recently, following up two big wins against Boston and Tampa with two debilitating, shut-out losses to the Flyers and the Wild.  What little swagger New Jersey gained was ripped away as injuries to key starters, including top two forwards Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac, left the team snake-bit and unable to manufacture goals for over 151 minutes.  Maybe it’s a little too dramatic to call the 15th game of the season a must-win, but it’s hard to deny that the team’s confidence moving forward hung on the outcome of the game in Philadelphia.

New Jersey didn’t disappoint, as the red and black put together strong efforts at both ends of the ice.  The Devils took the game to Philly by out-working and out-hustling their rivals for 60 straight minutes.  Despite being out-hit 30 – 22, it seemed like New Jersey played the better physical game winning the battles in the corners and along the boards.

Their penalty kill was dominant, their forecheck was overwhelming and their overall defensive effort was as impressive as it’s been this season, from both the forwards and the D-Men.  Andy Greene and Travis Zajac really stood-out as the workhorses of New Jersey’s defensive effort accounting for the most minutes on the ice at their respective positions. The strong defense never allowed the Flyers to get a their game going. The Devils held the Philadelphia power play to an 0 – 3 night.  Returning defensemen Anton Volchenkov and Peter Harrold also deserve credit for logging some important minutes and playing a big part in the Devils’ gritty win.

Offensively, there was more in this game to be excited about than the scoresheet might lead you to believe.  In a night that was all about hustle and pressure, the Devils’ offense did their part and got some contributions from some very, very unlikely sources.  Mattias Tedenby and Andrei Loktionov created some wonderful chances, and defensemen Eric Gelinas and Adam Larsson continue to prove why they’re near the top of a very promising young group of blue-line threats.

The team showed a greater commitment to driving the net, and it paid-off in spades as New Jersey netted two deflection goals up high on Ray Emery.  Adam Henrique netted the first one for his fifth of the season and Cam Janssen was elated to nab the second off of a shot from Larsson and a great tandem effort from Janssen himself and Ryan Carter.  After being brought up for this game to the dismay of many who wanted to hear that a goal-scorer was coming into the lineup, it was a great to see the look of joy on the face of New Jersey’s enforcer as Cam lit that lamp.  Then, to cap off a solid offensive night for Jersey’s team, Jaromir Jagr recorded the empty-netter. A nice reward for a man who was once again, arguably, New Jersey’s top forward.

It wasn’t a perfect effort.  It would have been nice to see the Devils throw a few more shots at Emery, and maybe take advantage of one of their three power plays, but really that’s just nit-picking.  Tonight was a good game offensively, especially for a team that is still without Patrik Elias and Ryan Clowe.

Of course this night wouldn’t be complete without discussing the play of no.30.  It was a big night for Martin Brodeur, as he recorded his 122nd career shutout, and his 12th against the Flyers.  To be fair, a combination of solid D and a struggling Flyer lineup meant that this wasn’t Brodeur’s toughest test.  But, when the team needed him, Marty stepped up, made some big saves, and stopped all 22 tries by his opponents.  Tonight, Marty wasn’t just better, he was perfect.

What’s up with Michael Ryder and Damien Brunner?

Jeff OConnor

Michael Ryder has no goals in his last five games.

We know he’s a streaky guy but outside of a post he hit on Saturday night against Philadelphia, he’s been relatively quiet.  For one, he’s not shooting nearly enough.  He has six shots in the team’s last five games.  Even with these last five contests, he’s shooting at an 18 percent clip.  That’s great.

What’s concerning is that he hasn’t scored an even-strength goal since October 7 at Edmonton.  The two even-strength tallies he does have came when he was on a line with Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac.  Of course, Zajac was the center and Henrique was the winger.  Zajac has been out the last few games so Pete DeBoer has had to juggle lines, leaving Ryder without a cemented spot amongst the top three lines.Michael Ryder

Even still, on his two even-strength goals, no one has assisted on Ryder’s markers.  Perhaps Ryder hasn’t found his correct complementary parts yet.  Newcomer Jaromir Jagr found his a few games ago, really connecting with Andrei Loktionov and Patrik Elias.  Compared to other teammates he’s played with on his line for significant minutes, Henrique and Zajac remain his best options in terms of metrics.  When Zajac gets healthy, he needs to consider going with two centers on that line with Ryder.  Ryder was brought here to do one thing; score goals.  If he’s not producing with other linemates, it might be worth sacrificing in other areas if it means No. 17 is on a line where he’ll get lots of great looks.

Where has Damien Brunner been?  He has failed to record a point in seven of his last eight games.  Unlike Ryder, Brunner is firing the puck a lot.  In the last five games, he’s let the puck fly 15 times.  After a hot start, he’s now hitting the back of the net at a 10.8 percent rate.  Unfortunately for the Devils, they are still figuring out what he is.  Despite playing many seasons overseas, Brunner only has one NHL season under his belt.  He had 12 goals in 44 games with Detroit last year but shot 9.8 percent.  Oof.

I think everyone, coaches and management, need to take more time to evaluate Brunner to better identify where he fits with this team.  It should be said that one of the linemates he should be playing with is currently out with an injury, Ryane Clowe.  Clowe and Brunner have been on the ice 5-on-5 for nearly a full game’s worth of ice time.  They’ve created points together and have been on the plus side of the Corsi chart.  He’s played away from Clowe for about half a game and the Corsi mark average during that time is a minus-16.  So while Brunner is still finding his game and role, perhaps the answer is waiting in a man who will hopefully be back with the club soon.

Ryder and Brunner carried the team early in the season when they struggled to get points.  They started to take a backseat to other performers when the team got on a bit of a roll.  Recently, they’ve been nowhere to be found as the team may be heading towards another slide. Damien Brunner

These numbers are of a small sample size, no question, but these guys are only going to play with a select few players all year long.  These two won’t be playing with the CBGB line, so in essence, there are seven other guys to choose from that they’ll match up with and hopefully at some point, click.

So, while others like Jagr have found some chemistry and are getting more comfortable, these two guys are still in search for their security blankets.  Once they have some more time and find that level of trust in others, Pete DeBoer will finally have a well-rounded stable of forwards on the ice, instead of just on paper like most thought he had in August.

Jaromir Jagr

Final Score: Devils 2, Lightning 1

Jaromir Jagr

The New Jersey Devils edged the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 at Prudential Center in Newark on Tuesday night.  The win pushes their record to 3-5-4 on the year.

The Least You Should Know:

- Two odd man rushes netted the Devils their first two goals.  Adam Henrique scored a shorthander on a 2-on-1 and Jaromir Jagr scored on an even strength breakaway.

- In the first 35 minutes of the game, the Devils limited Tampa to just six shots on net.

- One way to stop the line of Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis is to score when they’re on the ice.  The Devils did that twice.  They were both out there for Henrique’s shorthanded goal and St. Louis made the giveaway on Jagr’s goal.

- The Devils held the Lightning to only 17 shots on net.


Everything seemed to click for the Devils in the first 35 minutes.  The forecheck was ferocious.  The breakout was mostly clean from their own end.  There was a neutral zone transition game with sharp passing.  Their passes were also crisp and on the tape when they were in the attacking zone.

Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias teamed up for the first goal of the game just moments into the second period.  Shorthanded, Henrique found himself on his off-wing with Elias on a 2-on-1.  Henrique made an easy pass across the slot and Elias gave it right back to Henrique who buried it, setting the Prudential Center on fire.

“There was a lull in the second for five or six minutes, but other than that, the guys played great,” said Henrique.  “They battled hard.  We’ll keep moving forward here, keep building on it.  Two in a row.  It’s nice.”

Midway through the period, Martin St. Louis had a bad giveaway at the blue line of the offensive zone.  Jaromir Jagr took it all the way, deked goaltender Ben Bishop and beat him blocker side to make it 2-0.

“My attitude changed this year,” said Jagr.  “I feel the cockiness coming back.  I want to be the best I can be.”

The Lightning got their lone goal on a power play.  Teddy Purcell fired a puck into the slot that Steven Stamkos tipped.  Brodeur stopped it cold but the rebound went right back to Stamkos, unmarked, and he poked it home for his ninth goal of the season.

Martin Brodeur didn’t have to make many stops, but he made five or six point-blank saves over the final two periods.

“The way that we played the last two periods in Boston and all three periods of this game, that makes us feel good about what we’ve been talking about; having no result.  Now we’ve got the results.  We got a big weekend in front of us.”

After hitting a lull at the end of that second period, the Devils grinded out a win in the third.  They needed a game like this, where they had to hold off the opponent with the lead and take the victory.  The Ranger win was a rout.  The Bruins triumph was a crazy comeback.  This was the type of game they blew earlier this month; holding a lead entering the third.  This was big in the standings and their confidence.

Three Stars: 

1. Martin Brodeur – I know Jagr was voted No. 1, but Marty turned in a great performance.  He only had to make 16 saves, but four or five of them were high quality stops.  Hopefully, he’s found his rhythm.

2. Jaromir Jagr - Besides the goal, he just gives a consistent shift each time he’s on the ice.  He makes the smart pass and does it crisply and he holds off defenders and controls the puck in the offensive end.

3. Adam Henrique - Rumblings were starting to rise to the surface about his slow start.  That talk can stop.  He’s got goals in back-to-back games and three in his last five.  He’s starting to look like 2011-12 Henrique.

Final Score: Canucks 3 Devils 2 (SO)

The New Jersey Devils fell 3-2 to the Vancouver Canucks in the shootout. The loss has brought their record to 1-5-4 on the season.

The Least You Should Know:

- The Devils drop to 0-3 in the shootout this season after failing to beat Roberto Luongo in the skills competition.

- Rookie defenseman Eric Gelinas played in his first NHL game and scored his first career goal on the power play in the first period.

- The Devils outshot the Canucks 30-21, which included 17 shots in the third period.

- Cory Schneider took much of the blame for the loss. “Those were two bad goals there that cost us a point. It shouldn’t have even gone to a shootout,” said Schneider after the loss. “It’s my fault we lost a point tonight.”

Dave Turner

Another strong night, yet an all too familiar result.

The Devils fell in a shootout for the third time this season after a game where they felt they played well enough to get two points.

Sure, there are positives to take away. The line of Andrei Loktionov, Patrik Elias and Jaromir Jagr was excellent. They connected on a first period goal that was about as pretty as they come.

Eric Gelinas stepped into the lineup and made his presence felt right away. His first period power play goal gave the Devils a 2-1 lead. Gelinas tallied 16:27 of ice time and had a great defensive play in overtime that cancelled a Vancouver opportunity.

Still, all of the strong points to their play don’t hold much merit when the results just aren’t there. One win in their first ten games leaves a lot to be desired.

“I thought we were the better team out there for the 65 minutes, said Patrik Elias. ” We had plenty of chances to win that hockey game.”

Patrik Elias2Elias returned to the lineup after a two game absence and scored on a beautiful set up from Loktionov and Jagr.

“It’s tough because there have been games where we played pretty good hockey and didn’t find a way to win and tonight is another example of that. We’ve got to stay positive, but I wish we got those two points tonight because we deserved it tonight,” added Elias.

Things won’t get much easier for the Devils as they travel to Boston on Saturday to take on the Bruins and Tuukka Rask, who has been nothing short of sensational so far this season.

“I thought a lot of guys played the right way,” said Adam Henrique. “A lot of guys were battling hard and now we have to take that and move forward, we have to do that night in and night out.”

Throughout the game, the Devils showed poise on defense, which resulted in a strong game out of the back end, with no glaring breakdowns. Offensively, they moved the puck very well at times and compiled 17 shots on Roberto Luongo in the third period. Despite the flurry of pucks towards the net, they weren’t able to solve the Canucks goaltender over the final 45 minutes.

Cory Schneider stopped 19 of 21 Vancouver shots on the night, but gave up two goals that he’d certainly like to have back. The first was a misplayed puck in front of the net and the second was a sneaky shot by Daniel Sedin from the left side that snuck under his right pad.  “Danny [Sedin] just stepped into it and I thought he was going to get it up a little bit and I was just a split-second late closing off the ice and it snuck under.”

The young netminder was quick to point out that he felt the team played well enough to get the win.

“It was just two real bad goals that cost us a point, it should never have gotten to a shootout,” said Schneider, who took the blame for the loss. “It’s my fault we lost a point tonight.”

It’s another frustrating loss for this team, but the feeling around the dressing room seems to be that this team knows that they’re playing strong enough hockey to win games.

At some point though, these efforts have to turn into wins. If not, the Devils may soon find themselves in an uphill battle towards qualifying for the postseason.


3 Stars: 

1. Jaromir Jagr - he was tenacious on the boards  and won a plethora of puck battles. He assisted on Patrik Elias’s goal and was a force all night.

2. Patrik Elias - Coming off of an illness, you wouldn’t know it by his play. Elias was creating scoring opportunities all night.

3. Eric Gelinas - The rookie defenseman certainly didn’t look like a rookie out there in his first taste of NHL action. His goal was great, but he was solid in his own zone, which is just as important for him if he hopes to stay in New Jersey.

Quotes: Adam Henrique on last night’s win

“It’s great, I think the effort’s been there but obviously the result hasn’t been there but I think it was tonight. The guys played a full 60 minutes, even when we were ahead going into the third, we wanted to play the right way and finish the game the right way and I thought everybody played great.”

 

“It’s funny, we were slumping a little bit, but we felt we were playing the right way, these games are always intense, there’s always that rivalry, I think it was a good matchup at the right time”

- Adam Henrique on the team’s 4-0 win.

Aiming For Bounce Back Seasons, Salvador And Volchenkov Shut Down Philly

By Jeff O’Connor

It felt like the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals all over again on Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center, as the New Jersey Devils downed the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1.  The game featured sharp goaltending, a fancy Marek Zidlicky, goal and relentless forechecking.  More importantly, there were two players that looked like their 2012 selves: Bryce Salvador and Anton Volchenkov.

Salvador logged 24:24 of ice time with a plus-1 rating and five blocked shots.  Volchenkov was just as brilliant as he posted 17:10 on the ice to go along with a plus-1 rating and two blocked shots.

Bryce Salvador

Last year, Volchenkov and Salvador were weak points of the team.  Volchenkov had his lowest plus/minus rating since 2008-09.  His PIM/game was tremendously high; he averaged 1.0 PIM/game, which equates to 82 minutes over the course of a regular season.  His previous career high in PIM was in 2006-07 with 67.

Salvador was a minus-12 in 39 games, which extrapolates to well over a minus-24 for an 82-game slate.  Sal’s career worst came in 2005-06 when he was exactly minus-24.  According to behindthenet.ca, Salvador’s Corsi rating was a -1.37, worst on the team.  In fact, it ranked 95th among NHL defenseman who played at least 30 games.  Critics grilled Salvador’s first campaign as captain last year, saying he wasn’t vocal enough.  The fact of the matter is that no one is inside that lockerroom to see how he interacts with the team during the course of a game or when the media isn’t around.  Throw in the fact that he was hampered by a hip issue all year, The Captain struggled to lead by example.

For 2013-14, they will be the x-factors to the Devils success.  If they can rebound from the shaky seasons they had last year, their hopes of a championship will get a big shot in the arm.  On Tuesday, both were in vintage form.

Moments into the second period, the Devils found themselves on a penalty kill.  Towards the end of it, the Flyers were swarming and a clear cut chance looked to be on the way from the middle of the slot.  Volchenkov was able to hurry, dive and get his stick on the puck, catapulting it over the net.

At the end of the second period while on the PK, Salvador hit the deck to block a point shot with his lower body.  He did so successfully, grimacing a bit as the puck eventually bounced out to the neutral zone.  Flyers commentators Jim Jackson and Keith Jones gave him high praise for putting his body on the line during a preseason game.  I’m sure his teammates noticed and Devils fans should have too.

Both played very strong contests.  Great plays at time, but for the most part they were consistent and solid.  With Cory Schneider in net, that’s all the Devils defensemen need to be; solid.  Volchenkov and Salvador were on fire during the 2012 playoff run to the Stanley Cup Final.  They both played all 24 games, combining for five goals and 11 assists while checking in at plus-16. Devils-Isles

That’s too far-fetched a pace for them to duplicate in 2013-14.  But their numbers 2012-13 numbers shouldn’t be duplicated either, since they were the exception to the rule compared to their career baselines.

Consider this.  Ilya Kovalchuk and Martin Brodeur missed significant chunks of last season.  They lost 12 straight games.  Their top two centers in Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac had extremely underwhelming seasons.  Salvador and Volchenkov had their worst seasons in Devils uniforms.  All that, and they only missed the playoffs by seven points.  If Salvador and Volchenkov can be, at the very least, somewhat productive this year, the Devils will be better than last year.

From what we saw on Tuesday, there’s hope for more than just being better.  There’s hope for both playing at the same level they did two seasons ago, when they fell just short of a Stanley Cup.