Final Score: Blues 3 – Devils 0

St. Louis gets a small measure of revenge on their home ice with a shutout over a snakebitten Devils team, who could not find an answer to the perfect play of Jaroslav Halak. This one drops the Devils’ record to 22-21-11 on the season.

- Alex Steen is having the season of a lifetime. Tonight he netted his 27th of the year on a wrister from Jaden Schwartz and David Backes in the first. As it would turn out, that goal was also the game winner.

- The dominant Blues power play that the Devils stoned last time came through in a big way tonight, with Brendan Morrow deflecting a shot from Jay Bouwmeester to break the Devils midway through the third period. On the other side of the ice, the Devils went 0/4 on their power play opportunities.

- With all the talk of Corey Schneider’s play coming into tonight, (which was still fantastic, even in a loss) it was Jaroslav Halak who who made a very strong push to be his team’s starter tonight with a 23 save shutout.

Ryan Jahnke

After crashing back down to Earth in the Bronx on Sunday, New Jersey took another hit via a shutout loss to the St. Louis Blues.

On Tuesday night, the Devils were left flustered, frustrated, and finally — for five periods and counting — scoreless. The Blues brought everything they had for their rematch with the Devils. Unlike the fatigued team that showed up in Newark to play on January 21, tonight St. Louis was fast and physical, and showed why they are considered among the league’s elite teams. The Blues didn’t overwhelm the Devils. For the most part the game was 1-0 until a deflected power play goal and an empty-netter changed the look of the scoresheet. Yet, somehow, the game was never really in doubt for St. Louis. The stat lines were pretty even, and might have even favored New Jersey. But, in the end, St. Louis played relentless coverage against their top scorers, pushed the Devils to the outside, and made sure that the vast majority of the Devils chances were no real threat.

For the Devils, it was a game that they’ll have trouble seeing the bright side of. Corey Schneider put together one of those games that he’s starting to become known for, but, true to their own reputation, the Devils offense failed to hold up their end of the bargain. This was more to the credit of the Blues. Whenever Jaromir Jagr got the puck, Barret Jackman was all over him, taking him off his game. The same could be said of Patrik Elias, Ryan Clowe, Ryan Carter, Michael Ryder and plenty others. While they didn’t necessarily play poorly, they were constantly prevented from hitting the top of their games. Every shot was contested, and every pass had two men in the way.

New Jersey’s defense, despite what the final score might have you think, played fairly well. They held the Blues to two very difficult goals, the empty-netter aside, and made sure that the team was in the game all the way. Eric Gelinas and Andy Greene played their part in the offensive zone, and, in general, the D did what they could to help push the team up the ice. In terms of intensity, however, they failed to match what St. Louis brought to the table. The Devils shooters had to work for every opportunity they had against Halak, and usually got a little roughed up for their trouble. The Blues, on the other hand, seemed to have plenty of time to work with against a very cautious Devils’ team. This is something that they must change if they want to right the ship Thursday in Dallas.

Final Score: Devils 7, Blues 1

New Jersey earned an impressive win against an elite team in the St. Louis Blues. The Devs pulled out all the stops, finding a big reserve of goals for Cory, and treated the fans that braved the elements to a 7-1 victory. This win brings the Devils’ record to 21-19-11 on the season.

Normally a slow starting team, the Devils manufactured two goals in the first three minutes from Mark Fayne and Ryan CarterJaromir Jagr would add one off the skate at the midway point to make it three in the first.

The dominant Blues power play was blanked on all three opportunities, while New Jersey caught fire and went 3/4.

In his first game back Damien Brunner was named the first star, wracking up a goal and a pair of assists in his return. Also earning 1G and 2A was Eric Gelinas.

Any chances that the Blues might have had for a comeback were snuffed out by Corey Schneider who stopped 26/27 shots from St. Louis.

Ryan Jahnke

What a night! And, what a response from a team that was pretty down on itself after last Saturday’s loss to Phoenix. Against the St. Louis Blues, the Devils showed what they can really do when they are healthy and this whole roster can take the ice.

Offensively, what can I really say that the seven-goal headline doesn’t? After the game at Phoenix, Coach Pete DeBoer voiced concerns about the team’s ability to score even strength goals, which only compounded the fears of fans who have long worried about the team’s struggles on the power play. Tonight was a great exhibition of both elements of their offensive game. With tallies from seven different skaters, three of them on the power play, it felt like New Jersey couldn’t be stopped, no matter who was shooting. Mark Fayne scored his first goal since November 29, Ryan Carter and Damien Brunner scored their first goals since coming back from their respective injuries, and the team’s recent top players, Jagr, Clowe, and Adam Henrique continue to produce. Add in multi-point nights from Eric Gelinas and Patrik Elias, and there’s a lot to be excited about following this effort.

There was some concern about Adam Henrique who left the game in the third period after being hit with a slap shot on his surgically repaired left thumb. Hopes are that this was just precautionary, as the game was already well out of St. Louis’ reach by the third. It should be noted that Henrique’s goal came after the injury occurred, so it didn’t seem to slow down his play too much. We’ll keep you updated with any information on his status whenever we get it.

A big part of tonight’s victory for New Jersey was receiving contributions from all four lines, which coach DeBoer admitted after the game is a team goal. But, it wasn’t just the tallies on the scoring sheet that had the team’s manager so excited. He made a point to mention that there were big contributions down the line on both ends of the ice. The Devils laid down to block 14 shots for their goaltender, as opposed to St. Louis’ four. And in the first two periods, before the game was out of hand, the Devils’ suffocating defensive play held the Blues to a mere 13 shots on goal. This was a complete reversal from the 25 SOG they allowed Phoenix in the same amount of time.

With Schneider putting together another stellar performance, turning away 26 out of 27 shots, it’s hard to think of a single aspect of the Devils’ game that didn’t click tonight. That’s not to say that all their woes are behind them. There are still questions to be answered, acquisitions to be made, and a few too many streaky scorers to ever be completely comfortable. What this night was, was great sign of things going forward. When the Devils can play the four-line game that Pete DeBoer wants, and can showcase that depth that had everyone so excited before the season, they are a different team, and a strong threat to make a run for a playoff spot in the tightly contested Metropolitan division.

Damien Brunner

Notes: Janssen waived, Brunner and Harrold back at practice

The New Jersey Devils announced today that forward Cam Janssen has been placed on waivers.  If unclaimed, he will likely be sent to AHL-Albany.  Janssen has three goals in 24 games this year.

Damien Brunner was back at practice today.  Brunner has been out since December 20, when he suffered an MCL injury.  He has missed 14 games with the injury.  Brunner has eight goals and 13 points in 32 games this season.

Peter Harrold also practiced.  He had been out with a non-displaced foot fracture.  He has missed 19 games with the injury, having not played since December 7.  Harrold has two assists in 21 games.

Jeff OConnor

It appears the Devils are getting healthy once again.  Damien Brunner was back at practice today and worked on a line with Patrik Elias and Dainius Zubrus.  Once Brunner is ready to be inserted into the lineup, this team will once again have three solid scoring lines to go along with their bottom unit of the CBGB line.  When healthy, the Devils forwards 1-12 are very solid.  They’re not deadly, we know that.  They go on streaks of droughts as well as goals.  Hopefully, this will be the lineup for the majority of the games going forward.

Peter Harrold is back as well and from the looks of the practice lines this morning, it appears he’ll be back in the lineup.  Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill were the fourth pairing in practice today.  I’d have to assume they’ll be scratched or sent back to Albany.  That’s not likely to make many Devils fans happy.  Don’t forget that Adam Larsson is still working his way back from Albany.  Lou Lamoriello has some decisions to make.

Cam Janssen has been waived and as long as the Devils stay healthy, I can’t see him playing another game for NJ this year.  The Devils have Andrei Loktionov, Jacob Josefson and others waiting in line to get back in the lineup before Janssen.

Final Score: Devils 2, Coyotes 3

New Jersey finished their four game road trip with a visit to Phoenix, and the Jobing.com Arena for a tough matchup with the Coyotes.  The Devils and goalie Martin Brodeur struggled early and couldn’t quite complete the comeback, as they fell 3-2.  This loss drops the Devils’ record to 20-19-11 on the season.

- The Coyotes struck first with a quick wrist shot from Jordan Szwarz at 2:35 into the first period.

- Another 4th liner found the back of the net for Phoenix.  Jeff Halpern beat Brodeur high to the glove side at 13:13 to give the Coyotes a 2-0 lead.

Ryan Clowe scored a power play goal off the rebound at 18:44.  The goal was Clowe’s second of the season, and his eighth point in his last seven games.

- Phoenix finally broke through the Devils’ PK on their third attempt as Martin Hanzal poked the puck free of Brodeur’s grasp and into the net at 14:22 in the second.

- With the goalie pulled, Jaromir Jagr redirected a Ryan Clowe pass past Mike Smith at 17:46 in the third to bring the Devils within one.

Ryan Jahnke

Tonight was an example of what happens when the vaunted Devils’ defensive game isn’t at the top of its game, and it’s not pretty.  Two soft goals let in by Martin Brodeur and some sloppy defense all-around lead to an easy 2-0 lead from which the Devils never really recovered.  The Devils were thoroughly outplayed and outright pushed around in the first, as they were outhit by Phoenix 17-4.  Had it not been for a couple big saves from Brodeur and a late PP goal from Ryan Clowe, this game could have gotten out of hand quickly.

The rest of the game was actually pretty solid for the Devils.  Brodeur found his game and stood on his head to keep the Devils in it, and the Devils offense, Clowe and Jagr in particular, was all over Mike Smith with 34 shots and some legitimate scoring chances.  The defense eventually found their game, holding the Coyotes to a mere two shots in the third period, but overall, it wasn’t enough to overcome the Coyotes who blocked 25 shots in front of Mike Smith and ensured that the Devils would not be able to complete yet another comeback.

This has to be particularly discouraging for the red and black, as their scoring woes continue.  After the game, Coach Pete DeBoer expressed some pleasure with his team’s late effort, but admitted that an early deficit like tonight’s is something that the Devils can’t afford, saying “we can’t spot anybody two goals. That’s the bottom line”.  Jaromir Jagr also showed great disappointment with tonight’s loss.  When asked why the Devils have had such trouble scoring five on five, a visibly frustrated Jagr said, “maybe we’re just not good enough”, and when asked for his opinion about the road trip as a whole, 1-1-2 in those four games, Jagr replied, “it was a lot better before tonight”.  With the Devils falling another two points behind Philly and the Rangers, both victorious earlier tonight, and the team having fewer goals scored than all but one other team in playoff contention, his frustrations are understandable.

On the brighter side for the Devils, there were two standout offensive performances, from Ryan Clowe and Jaromir Jagr, that the team can draw from going forward.  Clowe continues to impress since returning to the lineup.  His goal scoring drought seems to be a thing of the past, with two in  four games.  His overall point totals are even more impressive, as eight of his season total of 11 have come in his past seven games.  While Clowe’s play was encouraging, Jagr’s is inspirational.  #68, who now has 15 goals on the season, continues to lead by example on the ice, playing a strong and smart game that is just as deadly in the final seconds as it is in the first few minutes.

Final Score: Devils 1, Stars 0

The New Jersey Devils bounced back tonight with an important, shutout win over a struggling Dallas Stars team at the Prudential Center.  This one pushes the Devils’ record to 18-18-9 on the season.

Michael Ryder made the most of a perfect play and pass from Travis Zajac, snapping it past Kari Lehtonen to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead midway through the second.  This was Ryder’s 15th goal of the season, and his third straight game lighting the lamp. 

Corey Schneider stops all 26 for his 3rd shutout of the season.  This was the first time all-year that Dallas had been held scoreless.

Ryan Jahnke

New Jersey snapped their skid, coming out ahead in a low-scoring duel between two struggling teams.  With talks of the playoffs beginning to gain more traction, both the Devils and the Stars came in desperate to tally a “W”.  Dallas arrived at the Prudential Center as the losers of three-straight allowing a total of 18 goals across those defeats.  The Devs weren’t looking much better, having blown two-straight leads before tonight, and losing a total of three in-a-row themselves.

As we’ve seen so many times this season, it was the stoppers for the Devils that lead them to the victory.  Between netminder Corey Schneider stopping 26 shots and the exceptional play of the defenders in front who blocked another 18, the Stars were kept off the scoreboard for the first time this year.  Tonight was a big test for the New Jersey defense, facing some dynamic, young scorers in Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.  After stumbling in their last three efforts, the Devils rose to the challenge Dallas provided, even strength and on the penalty kill.

There wasn’t much offense to speak of from New Jersey tonight, but all the credit for that goes to Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen.  The Devils created more than their share of offense, firing 34 shots on net.  Mike Sislo showed surprising speed, and Adam Henrique continues to impress.  But, tonight the offensive stars were Travis Zajac and the red-hot Michael Ryder.  Travis Zajac is showing exactly why the Devils have so much faith in him as their number one center.  Tonight he was a rock, playing the Stars strong at both ends of the ice, and keeping the puck in attacking zone.  This effort turned out to be the key to the game, as Zajac protected the puck and made enough room for a perfect pass to, and shot from, Michael Ryder.  Since coming together with Adam Henrique, and now Ryan Clowe, Michael Ryder has been electric with points in all but one of those games, and goals in the last three.  Tonight though, it was Zajac, and not Henrique, that set Ryder up to continue his impressive play.

Pregame Primer: Game Forty Four – Devils vs. Flyers

New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers – 7:30 pm

Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey

TV: NBCSN  Radio: WFAN 101.9-FM, 660-AM

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Dainius Zubrus – Travis Zajac – Jaromir Jagr
Ryane Clowe – Adam Henrique – Michael Ryder
Ryan Carter – Stephen Gionta – Steve Bernier
Reid Boucher – Andrei Loktionov – Mike Sislo

Andy Greene – Mark Fayne
Jon Merrill – Marek Zidlicky
Bryce Salvador – Anton Volchenkov

Goaltender: Martin Brodeur

Some thoughts on tonight’s game:  New Jersey Devils v Philadelphia Flyers - Game One

1. Watch out for Giroux.  The last time Devils fans saw Claude Giroux, they were making fun of his goal total because, well, Cam Janssen had more goals than him.  He’s turned the corner, though, and now has eight goals and 20 points in his last 16 games.  As Devils broadcaster Sherry Ross astutely noted, let’s hope Giroux doesn’t “Okposo” the Devils tonight.  That refers to Islanders forward Kyle Okposo scoring an OT goal against Chicago, a day after he was snubbed from the U.S. Olympics men’s hockey team.  Giroux received a similar fate earlier today when he was left off Team Canada’s roster.  Tread lightly, Devils fans.

2. Pretty darn close to a must-win.  As much of a must-win as you can have early in January.  The Devils have sunk to sixth in the Metro Division.  Although they are only four points out of third, Columbus has the same point total as them and the red-hot Isles are only five points behind NJ.  If the Devils fall into a funk, they may find themselves snowballing down the mountain.  A win tonight and they are two points behind the Flyers.  A regulation loss and they’ll be seventh in the division and potentially five points back before they are back on the ice on Thursday. 

3. Marty bounce back?   For two periods against Chicago, Martin Brodeur was in vintage form.  He looked as though he could steal a win from the defending champs on home ice.  Then the third period happened, as he got rung up for four goals.  Now he’ll face a team that he’s dominated in two matchups this season.  He’s stopped nearly 98 percent of pucks sent at him by Flyers skaters.  He’s allowed one goal in two games.  This is certainly a different Flyer team than we saw in October but the Devils know their style and should be negate some of the momentum they come in on, having won seven of their last 10.

Prediction – Devils 3 Flyers 2 OT

The Devils really need this game in the worst way and I think they’ll get it done.  It won’t be pretty and they won’t gain full ground on the Flyers, but it’ll be enough for a victory and for the team to feel good about themselves again.  

We called Reid Boucher’s first goal a few games ago.  It’s time for another prediction: I think Ryane Clowe gets his first marker as a Devil tonight.

Enjoy the game, everyone.

Final Score: Devils 5, Capitals 4

The New Jersey Devils came to the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. and fought off an offensive onslaught as they rallied back to beat the Capitals 5-4.  This one pushes the Devils’ record to 15-15-7 on the season.

- Marek Zidlicky with a first period, power play goal that came together after some great puck movement from Andy Greene, Jaromir Jagr, and the rest of the power play line.  That’s Zidlicky’s 4th of the season, all of them coming on the power play

- Jason Chimera scored at the midway point of period number 2 on a rebound off his own wrap-around to tie the game at 1.

- Mikhail Grabovski was left all-alone behind the Devils’ D to pop in the go ahead goal, his 10th goal of the season, off a nice pass from Eric Fehr.

Joel Ward found his own rebound just before the end of the 2nd period off of a Mike Green slap shot to net his 11th of the year, and the Caps’ 3rd of the night.

Jaromir Jagr netted a power play goal from Greene and Patrik Elias to breathe a little bit of life back into the Devs.  This ties him with Mark Messier at 694 career goals, and counting.

Alexander Ovechkin and the Caps took advantage of a turnover by Elias and took a little bit of wind out of the Devils sails making it a 4-2 game.

- Marek Zidlicky responded on a great feed from Travis Zajac, netting his second of the night, and his first even-strength goal of the year.

-Dainius Zubrus got the tip off another beautiful pass by Travis Zajac.  New Jersey rallied back from the brink to tie it up at four.

- Andy Greene sealed the comeback victory after he chipped in a rebound off a shot by Jaromir Jagr.

Ryan Jahnke

The Devils gave their fans another collective heart-attack tonight.  The Devils were winded and hurting, playing their third game in 4 days, and it almost came back to bite them.  But, it was all worth it, as the comeback kids scored 3 unanswered goals to beat take down Washington and bring themselves to NHL .500.

We’ve talked a lot about the impressive youth movement that is exciting the fans in New Jersey, with the likes of Eric Gelinas and Reid Boucher playing important roles in the Devils’ starting lineup.  Tonight was no different, the younger players looked good and hustled hard.  But tonight was all about the vets.  With goals from Zidlicky, Jagr and Zubrus, and Greene, the only man on the New Jersey scoresheet younger than 30 was Travis Zajac.  Jagr, Elias, Greene, and Zajac also each had a pair of assists, meaning that every player on the Devils’ side of the scoresheet had a multi-point night.

And what more can be said about Jaromir Jagr?  The man never ceases to amaze, playing like a number one forward at age 41, and making everyone around him better.  Tonight #68 continued his climb towards history as he recorded his 694th NHL, regular season goal.  This tied him with former Rangers teammate , Mark Messier, for 7th all time.

And, even on a night where they gave up 4 goals, there is something to be said for the Devils’ defense.  Only a few games removed from fighting off top scoring tandems of Crosby and Malkin, and Getzlaf and Perry, tonight the Devils were faced with the task of holding off offensive superstars, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin, and hold them off they did.  Backstrom, the league leader in assists coming into the game, was completely absent, and Ovechkin, was a non-factor until a Patrik Elias turnover in the zone gave the league’s top-scorer an open shot at Martin Brodeur.

It wasn’t a perfect effort, not by any means.  I’m sure a fair amount of people were ready to give up after the second period.  But in the end, they worked hard and earned themselves the 2 points that they desperately needed.  Now they’re sitting at third in a very shaky division and starting to show that they’re a team that can do some damage going forward.