As I said on Twitter postgame, this was an impressive win for a lot of reasons. Yes, the Devils probably should’ve played like this at some point during their 10-game slide. No, two more wins like this won’t drastically change how we look at the season. However, there were bright spots in this game that lend themselves toward a positive look for next season and it’s possible missing the playoffs flipped a switch in the psyche of a lot of these players, which is another topic for another day. As for tonight’s game, some thoughts…
Fortitude: At least for me, the most impressive part of tonight’s win came after the Canadiens scored two unanswered, the second of which came including one in the final minute of the second period. We’ve seen the Devils melt down multiple times in that scenario, giving up an early goal in the third and going on to lose in regulation or in extra play. It’s been one of my biggest criticisms of this Devils team, particularly during their recent slide. This team lacked a strong enough mental edge to their game to rebound from “woe is us” moments. Tonight, though, they didn’t need a timeout to correct them and while they struggled to get shots on net in the third, they still kept the Canadiens at bay for long stretches. Also, the Habs came out in the third and tried to bully the Devils, who fought right back. Ilya Kovalchuk, for one, went right at the Canadiens after he got hit from behind. Kovy’s response, along with the the energy he’s played with and the way he drives the train (so to speak), has me wondering if it should be Kovalchuk with the captain’s “C” next season. I know Salvador is respected in the room and a lot of guys like him, but would it kill them to give it to Kovy and have Salvador take an “A?” I think it would be a wise move that would help shape the team’s mindset going into next season. Food for thought.
Sticking to their motto of planning to give some youngsters a chance in the final few games, the Devils have decided to give Alex Urbom a chance Tuesday night. Henrik Tallinder will be a healthy scratch to make room for Urbom, who will be paired with Peter Harrold.
Urbom, a 2009 third-round draft pick, began the 2010-11 season in New Jersey and ended up playing eight NHL games that season. He played in five games last season, but this will be his first game in the league this season, so he’s looking forward to it.
“It’s always fun to play up here,” Urbom said. “It’s going to be real fun.”
Urbom, 22, had no goals and eight assists in 68 AHL games this season, said he has benefitted from the time he spent with Albany, though.
“I think the year has been real good for me down in Albany to develop, especially defensively,” he said. “I tried to play solid every game. You can’t have too many ups and downs. You have to play on a good level all the time. So, it’s been great to work on that and get some experience.”
When I asked DeBoer what he’s looking for from Urbom tonight, he replied, “He’s here on merit, obviously. I don’t think it’s an accident that he’s the first guy called up. He’s a big guy that can skate, hopefully, move pucks and play with a little bit of an edge.”
The Devils can use all three of those things DeBoer mentioned — strong skater with size, a puck mover and someone with an edge. They could DEFINITELY use someone with an edge on the back end. Too many times this season I’ve seen opponents the crease with the Devils unable to move them out of the way. While the Devils have defensemen with size, they don’t often play with that physical edge and many of New Jersey’s taller blueliners are incredibly slow-footed. I’ll be interested to see if Urbom can edge some jump to the Devils’ blue line group (hah, get it?) and I imagine DeBoer and Lou Lamoriello will be just as keen on seeing if he can possibly play a role for the team next season.
He is on the ice for today’s practice and has No. 33 on the back of his helmet.
Urbom is rotating in with the other six defensemen who are practicing.
Urbom, 22, had no goals and eight assists in 68 games with Albany this season. The 2009 third-round draft pick has two goals and no assists in 13 career NHL games. This is the first time he was called up this season.
Whether Urbom plays Thursday against the Flyers is uncertain, but it’ll good for him to get a couple practices with the NHL club under his belt this season. My guess is he’ll be one of the AHL players with a shot to make the team out of camp next season, although the Devils do have six defensemen under contract for the 2013-14 season.
Alex Urbom and Matt Taormina have been called up from Albany to fill in for Andy Greene who is going to be sidelined for the next 4 weeks with a non-displaced toe fracture. It is unsure if either of them will play Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens. Coach Pete DeBoer will decide tomorrow if and who will play.