Another boring day in Devils-land…

Dave Turner

On Tuesday night the Devils defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 at Bell Centre. Boring!

Martin Brodeur stopped all but one Canadiens’ shot. It was like watching paint dry while listening to a presentation about a timeshare.

Mark Fayne, a defenseman, who didn’t record a point, was the third star of the game. Taking the SATs is more exciting than that.

Protecting a lead going into the third period, well, that’s like waiting on line at the DMV.

Devils hockey isn’t really all that dull, if you appreciate things like defense and three-zone hockey. Defense?!? Really?!

Wednesday night’s national contest between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins featured a team blowing a one-goal third period lead and countless players sitting wide open in the slot. No defense? Seems kind of boring. If I wanted to watch players go up and down the ends of a playing surface at will, I’d watch the NBA.

We all know about the comments that Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk made about the Devils, but it didn’t end there. After the Devils victory over Montreal, a blogger at Habseyesontheprize.com wrote an entire column lamenting over the the New Jersey style of play.

“Getting this out of the way now: The Devils are worse than watching paint dry, grass grow and turtles of the non-teenage mutant variety walk,” Mike O’Brand said in the piece.

To read more of this story, click here

Final Score: Devils 4, Bruins 3

Andy Greene was the hero against Boston

Andy Greene was the hero against Boston

The New Jersey Devils defeated the Boston Bruins 4-3 from TD Garden in Boston. The win brings their record to 2-5-4 on the season.

The Least You Should Know:

- The Devils scored two power play goals in the last 1:08 of the third period to beat the Bruins.

- New Jersey was excellent with the extra skater, tallying four PP goals on the night.

- The Bruins got out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first behind a power play goal by Torey Krug and a fortuitous bounce in front that gave Jarome Iginla his second tally of the season. After that, the Devils added a power play goal by Adam Henrique, but Milan Lucic scored with less than a minute to go in the first to stretch the lead to 3-1.

-  The team battled back behind a strong performance by Martin Brodeur, who was excellent the rest of the way after the three-goal first period. He made timely saves in the third to give the Devils a chance.

Dave Turner

For all of the frustrating finishes, odd bounces and perhaps just bad luck, on Saturday night, it was the Devils who came away with a monumental win up in Boston.

After a first period that saw some fortunate bounces result in a 3-1 lead after the first twenty minutes, New Jersey battled the rest of the way and finally got their chance. Torey Krug went off on a double minor and Patrice Bergeron followed suit with a delay of game penalty that allowed the Devils a rare 6-on-3 advantage that resulted in a goal by Marek Zidlicky. Zidlicky, who has eight points (1g, 7a) on the season, knotted the game with only 68 seconds remaining.

Then it was Andy Greene’s turn to play hero. Sure, it was a busted play after Damien Brunner partially fanned on a shot. The result was an almost perfect “pass” to Greene, who beat Tuukka Rask to give the Devils the lead.

The man-advantage was flat out sensational. Four goals on the power play against a staunch defensive club like Boston is about as good as it gets in terms of execution on the power play in this league.

Not to be lost in the talk of the goals was the play of Martin Brodeur. The first two goals were the result of bounces that went the way of the Bruins. A three-goal period isn’t easy for a goaltender to overcome, but that’s exactly why Brodeur has the hardware and accolades to his name. The  man with the most wins in NHL history blanked the Bruins over the last two periods to give the Devils a chance. He came up with a great save on David Krejci in the third, with Krejci parked in the slot. Brodeur’s strong play over the rest of the game allowed for the comeback attempt.

Jaromir Jagr turned in another strong effort, notching two assists on the night, giving him nine points (2g, 7a) on the season. Damien Brunner had a two-point night as well, with his power play goal and assist on the game-winner.

While the win over the Rangers was big, this one could be the turning point. You have to expect that this team feels rewarded after a game where they refused to give up and eventually cracked a goaltender that has been virtually unbeatable this season.

After the struggles that this team has had over their first eleven games, this one has to feel good. No more talk of squandering a point, or what could have been. This team now has a gutsy, hard-fought win over one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference.

What’s next? They’ll get a chance to keep their home point streak intact when they skate against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

For now, the Devils can sit back and enjoy what is their best win of this young season.


Three Stars: 

1. Andy Greene - have to give Greene the nod after his huge goal gave the Devils the win.

2. Martin Brodeur - how many goalies can shake off a three-goal period to play as well as Brodeur did over the final 40 minutes. An excellent performance by Brodeur

3. Marek Zidlicky - His huge goal with 1:08 left gave the Devils the tie. He has been a tremendous spark on the power play so far.

Another Loss, But Another Great Performance From The Defense

Devils-Isles

By Jeff O’Connor

It’s another disappointment.  Another frustrating night and another loss.  But the season-long weakness was actually a strength last night.

The New Jersey Devils defense was tremendous.  Everyone played their role and played it well.  Last night, none of the goals were their fault.  They smothered the Vancouver Canucks.

The first goal was on Cory Schneider, plain and simple.  If there is a forechecker even somewhere in the neighborhood, a goaltender needs to steer the puck below the circle, and even more preferably,  below the goal line.  He pushed it into the middle of the circle and moments later it was buried.

The defense wasn’t to blame for the second goal either.  Daniel Sedin blasted one from the left circle and beat Schneider down low.  He wasn’t screened, the shot wasn’t deflected or anything.

The D was just as solid as they were in the Rangers game.  Consider the Canucks are a much better team than the Rangers.  Consider the Canucks had no more than a few isolated scoring chances and it makes last night’s hellacious defensive effort that much more impressive.

The Adam Larsson and Eric Gelinas unit played a strong game.  Larsson looked like the early 2013 version.  He was steady and made no big mistakes.  Gelinas was a bit hesitant on D but showed great skating ability, shaking defenders behind the net and bursting on the breakout through his own end and the neutral zone with the puck. Of course, the goal on the power play was great.

Andy Greene was his usual self and Mark Fayne, underwhelming in the first two periods, showed some rare physicality and aggressiveness by delivering some body checks in the third.  Hopefully that’s a sign of things to come.

Marek Zidlicky and Anton Volchenkov were reliable too.  Zids was effective on the power play and kept many pucks in the offensive zone.  A-Train never got beaten in the neutral zone on a rush and threw some heavy checks in the middle of the game.

With Bryce Salvador on the way back from home and Peter Harrold waiting in the wings, who knows if these six will play together again on Saturday.  But for one night, the defense was not the culprit in another Devils loss.

Andy Greene, Bryce Salvador sound off on the upcoming Stadium Series game

photo-1

Dave Turner

In what can only be described as a tumultuous off-season for the Devils, there was a much welcomed positive moment on Thursday from Yankee Stadium. Bryce Salvador and Andy Greene were on hand at the ballpark for the announcement of the upcoming 2014 NHL Stadium Series games to be played at the iconic Bronx venue.

Both players are excited to be playing in the first outdoor game in Devils history, as it adds yet another great chapter to the Devils-Rangers rivalry.

“its going to be one of those experiences that you’ll remember forever and the history here,  you hear all the stories, and to actually say that you played inside Yankee Stadium is one of those things that you’ll definitely remember,” said the Devils Captain. “It’s such a great experience for the fans and the organizations that they’re putting this all together, that it’s one of those things you just feel fortunate to be a part of. “

“It’s one of those great experiences and you can already tell because all of the requests i’m already getting for tickets. People want to come in, and I think it was even more [ticket requests] than the Stanley cup,” joked the defenseman.

Salvador, who grew up in Manitoba, has fond memories of playing outdoors as a child.  “From my house, the rink was a block away and I would put the skates on inside my house and we didn’t have skate guards back then, so i’d walk down the cement and usually there was enough snow on the ground and enough ice that I could skate down the sidewalks and skate down the roads and we’d play when the lights were on and when the lights were off, my parents said I had to come home.”

Outdoor hockey continues to be an integral part of the development of many NHL players, as those who came from snowy climates had the ability to play on frozen ponds and lakes during the winter months. For players, it’s a tremendous opportunity to play outside once again.

“We’re looking forward to it, it’s going to be a fun experience, and having the chance to watch a few of the winter classic games, you can always see the energy and feel the energy through the TV, so it’s going to be a great time and a lot of fun,” said Greene.

Greene, who grew up in Michigan, the site of this year’s Winter Classic at the University of Michigan football stadium, grew up playing baseball as well. “I played all the way up to my junior year of high school, I was center field and shortstop,” said Greene, about his time playing baseball. “I mostly hit for base hits, but hit a few home runs, I wasn’t much of a home run hitter, but I could get my way around.”

Both players spoke of the expected intensity between the two rivals, with 50,000-plus fans expected to be in attendance for the January 26, 2014 game, it should bring a whole different level of excitement to the game.

“I think it’s just another story in the chapter, it’s been a great rivalry between the Devils and the Rangers and it’s always exciting, so it’s an honor to be a part of it,” said Salvador.

Andy Greene echoed that sentiment as well. “It’s always a heated rivalry, it doesn’t matter whats going on with either of our respective seasons, it’s always a very heated game and it should be even more [heated].”

Up next for the team is training camp, which will begin in September. Camp will be a welcomed respite from the constant stream of bad news this offseason, from the losses of David Clarkson and Ilya Kovalchuk, to the current ownership issues. Despite all of that, Bryce Salvador is already looking forward to the beginning of the season.

“Obviously we lost some great players and great teammates, but Lou did a great job of filling those holes. It’s just exciting because we know we’re going to be competitive.”

Some Notes-

- Andy Greene was wearing an “A” on his jersey during the event. Nothing has said by the team yet as to if Greene will be wearing the letter during the upcoming season.

- The rink is going to be set up so that both of the ends will be along the first and third base lines.

- The games will take place during a very busy time for the New York City area. The Super Bowl will be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on February 2, 2014.

- When NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was asked about reports that the NHL was taking over control of the team, his response was firm. “The NHL isn’t taking over the Devils. Just because there are reports, doesn’t mean they’re true”

(From left to right) Matt Moulson, John Tavares, Dan Girardi, Ryan Callahan, Andy Greene, Bryce Salvador

Put down the bats, and grab your sticks, it’s time to talk hockey at Yankee Stadium

(From left to right) Matt Moulson, John Tavares, Dan Girardi, Ryan Callahan, Andy Greene, Bryce Salvador

(From left to right) Matt Moulson, John Tavares, Dan Girardi, Ryan Callahan, Andy Greene, Bryce Salvador

Dave Turner

On a sweltering, humid August afternoon from Yankee Stadium, it’s usually all about balls and strikes, home runs and put-outs. But on Thursday, it was the NHL’s turn to step up to the plate.

The NHL formally introduced the two upcoming Outdoor Series games to be played at Yankee Stadium in 2014. The first matchup features the New Jersey Devils against their cross-Hudson rival New York Rangers, on Saturday, January 26, 2014 at 12:30 p.m. The second game pits the Rangers against their other metropolitan-area rival, New York Islanders. That game will be played on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.

“We are delighted to be here to discuss the playing of two outdoor games in this magnificent stadium,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, from a podium situated just beyond the Yankee dugout. “The Stadium Series is designed to give more teams, more markets, and most importantly, more fans, the opportunity to connect with the excitement of the National Hockey League and to do it with an outdoor game experience, in effect, taking the game back to it’s roots, where so many of our players first learned to skate and play the game.”

In attendance for the event were New York Yankees President Randy Levine, Yankees COO Lonn Trost, NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr and NBC’s Bruce Beck, who was the master of ceremonies.

Each of the three area teams were represented as well, with GM Lou Lamoriello, Bryce Salvador and Andy Greene on the stage for the Devils. For the Islanders, it was GM Garth Snow, along with Matt Moulson and John Tavares, and for the Rangers, Assistant GM Jeff Gorton, Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi.

“This will be our first experience in the outdoor games, and what great a venue to have that experience than Yankee Stadium,” Lamoriello said.  “Our players are excited, our fans are excited and we’re just looking forward to the experience. We know that the games will be heated, we know that we bring competitiveness, and the experience will be something that everyone in our organization will cherish.”

With the players sitting together on the stage, it might be the one and only time that members of the three area clubs will be together and be all smiles at the same time. Come October, the three Metropolitan Division rivals will likely be fighting each other for playoff positioning.

The heated relationships between the clubs certainly adds to the allure of the event. There’s no doubt that the games may have a huge impact in the standings. With the three teams fighting for a spot in the new playoff format, the only way to be guaranteed a playoff spot is to finish third or higher in the new eight-team division.  Finishing fourth runs the risk of losing the final spot in the newly-formed divisional playoffs to a team from the Atlantic Division.

Though there’s always the chance of warmer weather, or a rain storm, all signs point to the outdoor games being a tremendous event for not only the three teams, but the entire NHL. Throwing 50,000-plus fans into a stadium for a rivalry game should yield a fantastic experience for fans.

“The rivalries among the the Rangers, Islanders and Devils are among the most heated in sports, and we will put them on display,” Bettman said.

With the Devils slated to take the ice for their first outdoor game in franchise history in just over five months, it might be a little premature to get the coats and hand warmers ready. With a classic venue and a classic NHL rivalry, the game should be a home run.

Roundup: Devils In World Championships

With the Devils not being part of the playoffs this year, it’s time for everyone second-rate tournament — the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS! So which Devils will be carrying the flag on their backs this month?

Via Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger:

Stephen Gionta and Ryan Carter will both play for Team USA in the world championships in Finland and Sweden.

Ilya Kovalchuk will play for Russia, in the same group as the U.S.

“It will be fun chasing his  (sic) around the big ice surface,” Gionta said sarcastically.

Henrik Tallinder will play for Sweden.

All of those additions make sense, but this omission seems perplexing to me.

Corey Griffin

I’m not sure I understand that one. He should’ve at least gotten a call, right? Greene was the Devils’ best defenseman all year and definitely could’ve helped Team USA. Maybe he let the people in charge know beforehand he wasn’t going to play and they didn’t contact him out of courtesy. I’m not sure if that’s the answer, but not even contacting him makes no sense.

Postgame Thoughts: Rangers 4, Devils 0 (4/27/13)

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?