Final Score: Devils 5 Predators 0

The New Jersey Devils closed out a strong weekend of play with a dominating 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators.  The win moves the Devils to 5-7-5 on the season.

- This one was all Devils from the outset, as they were fast, disciplined and controlled the play all night.

- Jaromir Jagr notched the 1,700th point of his career with his first period goal.

- Martin Brodeur turned in yet another stellar performance in net, stopping all fifteen Predator shots.

- Travis Zajac scored his first goal in seven games when he ripped a shot home in the third period to ice the game for New Jersey.

Dave Turner

It may have taken 17 games to do so, but we finally saw a complete 60-minute effort from the New Jersey Devils.

They came out flying and kept up the pressure en-route to the dominating 5-0 win over the Predators.

After a frustrating 2-1 shootout loss on Friday night, the Devils seemed to have found their legs against Nashville. Forechecking, defense, passing, it was all on display on Sunday night from Prudential Center.

The win caps a strong weekend for the Devils, who gained five of a possible six points in just three nights. They seem to be finding their stride at the right time, as they’ll travel to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night before playing a back-to-back against the Penguins and Kings next weekend.

With his early struggles so far away in the rear-view mirror at this point, Martin Brodeur might be the hottest goaltender in the NHL right now.

It was the kind of night where everything seemed to go well. Cam Janssen scored his second goal in three games when he banged home a rebound off of an excellent shot by Ryan Carter and Mattias Tedenby got his first goal of the season as well.

There’s no doubt that their confidence is high after their best effort of the young season, but it’ll take more of the same effort next week if this team hopes to even up their record at .500.

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Pregame Primer: Game Seventeen – Devils vs. Predators

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New Jersey Devils vs. Nashville Predators, 7 pm

Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey

TV: MSG+  Radio: WFAN 101.9 fm, 660 am

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Dainius Zubrus – Andrei Loktionov – Jaromir Jagr
Steve Bernier – Travis Zajac – Damien Brunner
Mattias Tedenby – Adam Henrique – Michael Ryder
Ryan Carter – Jacob Josefson – Cam Janssen

Andy Greene – Peter Harrold
Anton Volchenkov – Marek Zidlicky 
Eric Gelinas – Adam Larsson

Goaltender: Martin Brodeur

Some thoughts on tonight’s game:

1) Prime opportunity to score some goals.  Top goaltender Pekka Rinne is out for the Predators.  Their other options have been really bad so far this season.  Carter Hutton has posted a 3.32 GAA and .898 save percentage in eight games.  That’s not good.  The Devils need to score at least two goals tonight and honestly, they need to score three or more.

2) Discipline needed.  The Devils can’t afford to take a lot of penalties tonight.  They’re facing a Top-5 power play.  Shea Weber has three power play blasts for goals while the crafty David Legwand has a pair as well.  The Devils fought off several power plays but did get burned once.  It’s frightening to take that many penalties on the road.  Hopefully, things will be cleaned up a bit since the team is back at home.  

3) Marty needs to stay hot.  While it does appear the Devils can rack up some goals tonight, this game will come down to Martin Brodeur.  If he’s sharp as the last few games, the Devils should win the game.  If he allows a bad goal or two, it could be too much to overcome.  If Brodeur gives up one goal or less, the Devils have to win this game.  It appears for the time being the goaltending will have to win them games.  At the very least, the Devils should put up two goals a game.  If they get the goaltending they expect going into the season, even mediocre offensive production every night will win them a good share of games.

Prediction:  Devils 3 Predators 1

I wouldn’t call this a “breakout” game, but three goals sure would feel like an offensive outburst for this team.  They won’t dominate this game but they’ll take advantage of enough opportunities to control and dictate the pace of play.  They’ve strung together two strong performances and the extra-session loss on Friday will only motivate this team to play better tonight.

Enjoy the game, everyone.

All of a sudden, we’re witnessing vinatage Brodeur again

Dave Turner

After he gave up four goals the Ottawa Senators, there was chatter that maybe Martin Brodeur might have finally hit the wall.

There was talk that the torch had been passed to Cory Schneider after Schneider was given three straight starts.

Fast forward into November and it’s a completely different story.

Brodeur over his last four games:

Goals allowed: 5

Goals Against Average: 1.26

Shots faced: 88

Saves made: 83

Save Percentage: .943%

Forget all of the talk about Brodeur being open for a trade. Forget everything else that the future hall-of-fame netminder has said and just let his play on the ice speak for itself.

Lately, he’s been carrying this team. The soft goals that plagued him at the onset of this season are gone and he’s seemingly back to his old ways. Five goals allowed in four games? That’s a recipe for success. With the return of Travis Zajac, and the eventual return of Patrik Elias, there will be goals, but not many. Good goaltending is going to be the key to this team getting to and staying above .500.

The question is, can Brodeur keep it up? Having Schneider splitting starts is a good thing. It’ll allow Brodeur to rest and the Devils wont ever need to play him in any of their back-to-backs, barring an injury.alg-brodeur-save-jpg

The preseason seemed to be the beginning of a change, where Brodeur struggled and Schneider was superb. The 2013-2014 regular season started as if it was Schneider’s job to run away with, because at first, it looked exactly like he would do so. Now, the situation is a complete 180, where the former Canuck has struggled, both on the ice and with injuries and Brodeur is making his sub-par preseason and start to the regular season look like nothing but a road bump.

This is what makes No. 30 so special. Just when it seemed people were willing to write him off and let Cory Schneider ascend to the role of the “starter,” Brodeur has shown the kind of mettle and determination that has helped him become the most winning goaltender in NHL history.

There’s no telling if he’ll keep this up throughout the season, but if he can, the Devils will be dangerous. It always starts from the net out and if Brodeur is giving the Devils a strong performance night-in and night-out, then this team will continue to creep back into contention.

Brodeur’s trade comments were poorly timed

Jeff OConnor

The comments by Martin Brodeur to Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger are absolutely baffling.

Martin Brodeur

For one, the timing is really bad. It’s November. The team hasn’t even played 20 games yet. The Devils aren’t exactly dead in the water. There’s no need to even comment at all.

Then, not only does he answer it, he gives the newspaper a book worth of quotes. Simple answer to the question:  “Marty, would you be open to considering a trade to a contender?”  “I’m not even thinking about that right now. I’m focused on helping this team.” He did essentially say that among his sea of quotes, but that should have been his ONLY response.

Even if he has thought about being traded to a top team, why say that to the media? What good will that do? All he’s done now is essentially tell Devils fans that he has pondered playing in another uniform. Not exactly what they wanted to hear in the season’s second month.

I get it. That question was definitely a possibility to pop up. How about answering that way in January or February when the team is out of the race? That would be a little easier for Devils fans to digest. Not a dozen or so games into a season with a lot of change in the forward stable from over the offseason.

Doesn’t he know this fanbase has seen enough with players leaving recently? Really…you needed to say that? This is a team that has lost its best three players in the last 12 months. Now, they have to be prepared for a potential fourth in a 19-month span?

Also, I think Marty is a little bitter over last season. Chicago is one of the teams who came calling last offseason. You know the rest. The Devils upped their offer to two years, Marty stayed and the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup with Corey Crawford in net. You can’t tell me that that doesn’t eat at No. 30, even just a little bit.

Lastly, there’s no way Marty would ever ask to be traded. He’s not that type of guy. GM Lou Lamoriello would have to approach him about such a situation. So yes, Marty is not looking to be traded or wants to be traded, but having that type of response to that question just a handful of games into the season was not the wisest decision he’s ever made.

Breaking down the action: what exactly did the Flyers do defensively last night?

Dave Turner

The Devils mustered on 14 shots on Ray Emery last night.

You can certainly chalk it up to a lack of execution on the offensive side, but it was more about what the Flyers did defensively that stymied the Devils’ attack.

Let’s take a deeper look at the Flyers defensive system.

The first thing that came to mind, was that they Flyers almost used a neutral zone trap last night to slow the Devils. Almost, being the operative word here.

To define the trap, which certainly the Devils are no stranger to, the goal is to play a 1-2-2 system which positions one forechecker in the offensive zone, followed by four players at neutral ice. The goal is to do exactly what the name means, which is to use two or three forwards to pin the team against the boards on their breakout and force them to turn the puck over.

That wasn’t exactly the case last night, instead,the Flyers ran a 1-3-1 system at times, which had a forechecker deep, three men at neutral ice and a defenseman back in his own zone. The 1-3-1 is the “new” trap system that teams have run sparingly throughout the last few seasons. The Tampa Bay Lighting actually used the same system against the Flyers a few seasons ago.

This system gave the Devils fits, because the Flyers when the Devils were coming out of their own zone, but then immediately put pressure across the ice as soon as the Devils crossed their own blue line.

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- source: http://buffalosabresnation.com/2011/11/21/the-1-3-1-neutral-zone-trap-explained/

In addition to the 1-3-1, the Flyers used a three-men-across system, which put pressure with the forecheckers at neutral ice, but had both defensemen back in the zone. This sort of defensive play almost completely crimps the defensive team’s ability to break out, because all five players are usually deeper than in this case, the Devils defensemen.

Basically, what Philadelphia did, was take away any space that allowed for passing through the neutral zone. This left the Devils with nothing to do but dump the puck. Not a dump and chase system, which is designed to get the puck in and then immediately bring in forecheckers to win pucks in the corners. Instead, the Devils were consistently running out of space, so they were just dumping the puck into the zone.

Because the Flyers had those players back, they were easily able to neutralize any chance at establishing a forecheck by having enough bodies in front of the play.

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The image above shows the pressure on the puck, but the Flyers also had a defenseman back, to the near side, which would take away any opportunity of a quick pass towards center ice.


In this image, we see the three forwards pressuring the puck at neutral ice.  Jaromir Jagr almost loses the puck, which could have created a 3-on-2 the other way, but he was able to hang on. Because both Philadelphia defensemen were back, even by beating the three forwards who were aggressively pressuring the puck, there was still no immediate shot or pass for Jagr to take.

How could the Devils have beaten such a system? The best way to beat a system like the Flyers used last night, is to quickly break out of the zone.  If you notice, Martin Brodeur was playing the puck a lot last night, because he had time. The Flyers were quick to get back to neutral ice, which left Brodeur with the ability to pass.

Quick passes out of the zone open up the ice up and stops the ability for the three skaters at neutral ice to pressure the puck carrier. In a sense, because the Flyers were spread out at neutral ice, the best way to get it past that line is to make one pass and hope for an offensive chance.  The idea is to beat those three forwards into the zone, which leaves them out of position for a quick shot or pass.

As we see in the image above, Brodeur’s quick play of the puck allows Adam Henrique to gain the zone before the Flyers could pressure at neutral ice. Rostislav Olesz could have taken a wider angle down the middle, which could have given Henrique an opportunity to pass the puck. The heads-up play by Brodeur left the three Flyers forwards out of the play and if Olesz had perhaps trailed the play a bit, there was an 2-on-2 opportunity.

Whether the Devils were just not expecting such a defensive system, or the losses of Travis Zajac and Patrik Elias impeded their ability to pass the puck with success, New Jersey struggled to get the puck in deep and operate with space on Saturday night.

This is definitely not a system that they’re going to see on a normal basis. What the Flyers did was essentially sacrifice offense and any sort of breakout opportunity to play strong team defense. The bottom line, it worked.

No Elias or Zajac tonight in Minnesota, no starting goaltender announced yet

No pressure, Travis.

After dropping a 1-0 contest to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Devils quickly turned their focus to the Minnesota Wild.

They’ll be shorthanded once again, as Patrik Elias (upper body) and Travis Zajac (ankle) will not make the flight over to St. Paul.

There is no timetable for the return of either.

The Devils goaltending situation for tonight is still not known. Last night, Martin Brodeur responded with a “no” when asked if he was going to start.

Pete DeBoer was also committal as to the return of Cory Schneider, but it’s likely that he is going to get the start tonight if in fact Brodeur is not playing.

We’ll keep you updated on that situation.

Final Score: Flyers 1, Devils 0

The New Jersey Devils fell to the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0 from Prudential Center on Saturday night. The loss drops the Devils to 3-6-4 on the season.

- The only goal of the game came on a shot by Braden Schenn in the first period.

- Martin Brodeur turned in yet another strong effort in net for New Jersey, allowing only one goal on 22 shots.

- The Devils offense seemed out of synch for most of the night, as they were unable to generate enough shots to solve Ray Emery. With both Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac out of the lineup, the reshuffled lines were unable to find any continuity.

- The team also failed to convert on five power play attempts, including two in the third period with a chance to tie the game.

Dave Turner

One night after the Flyers were embarrassed at home in a 7-0 loss to the Washington Capitals, they exacted their revenge on the Devils with a 1-0 win at Prudential Center.

A Brayden Schenn redirection in the first period provided all the scoring, as the Devils failed to record a point for the first time at home this season.

Obviously Zajac, Clowe, Elias, those type of guys being out of your lineup [doesn't] help, but we’ve got to find a way with the group we have out there to get the job done,” said Pete DeBoer. “You can’t win if you don’t get a goal. Between our power play and our 5-on-5 we had some opportunities, we hit a couple posts. We’ve got to be opportunistic and finish some of those off.”

It was a frustrating night for the Devils, as they managed only three shots in the third period, when any chance could have knotted the game up.

The bright spot for the night was Martin Brodeur, who stopped 20 of 21 shots. Brodeur has given up a combined five goals over his last three starts, after Cory Schneider went down with an injury.

The veteran netminder did well to keep the Devils in the game, but without much sustained pressure in the offensive zone, the Devils failed to beat Ray Emery. Their best chance came late in the third period when Michael Ryder hit a post with under a minute to go in the third period.

“I think because of the way these guys played last night, they really played a careful game, they didn’t give us anything,” said Martin Brodeur. “You have to give them credit, they didn’t give us much room out there to try to get going on offense and our power play couldn’t make a difference today.”

The Flyers hounded the Devils at neutral ice and prevented them from establishing much of a forecheck. The power play was kept in check, after they failed to generate many shots even with the man-advantage. The Flyers got the early lead and to their credit, they seemed determined to hold it. They sat back defensively and challenged the Devils whenever they entered the Philadelphia zone.

“It’s a good thing we turn right around and play in the next 24 hours,” said Stephen Gionta.” [There's] not much time to think about this one, put it behind us and worry about [Sunday].

Saturday night’s shutout loss wasn’t the kind of effort that they had hoped for. With a big road contest on Sunday, they can right the ship with a strong performance in Minnesota and quickly put the home loss in the rear view mirror.

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No Controversy Here, Devils Have Great Situation In Net

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Dave Turner

We’re only 12 games into the 2013-2014 season and already there have been a fair share of both positive and negative moments for the Devils. Perhaps the most polarizing “issue” so far has been the split between the two goaltenders.

Make no mistake, New Jersey has a very good problem on its hands.

A little more than a week ago, coming off of the win over the Rangers, Cory Schneider was the talk of the town. He had just notched his first shutout in red and black and was playing well. Fast forward to the final week of October and all of a sudden Martin Brodeur once again looks like he’s winning his battle against father time, after two strong performances in a row.

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It would be silly to call this a controversy, because it’s not. The Devils’ goalie situation is and most likely will be, nothing more than a chance for the team to put a No. 1 caliber goaltender between the pipes every night.

After the injury to Schneider, Brodeur was given the last two starts and he’s been spectacular.  Yes, he did give up three goals to Boston, but a few crazy bounces resulted in that lopsided first twenty minutes. Since the first period in Boston, Brodeur has given up one goal in the last 100 minutes of hockey after surrendering a single tally to the high-octane Tampa Bay offense on Tuesday.

All signs point to Brodeur starting Saturday night against the Flyers and if Schneider is healthy enough, it’s quite possible that he’ll go in Minnesota on Sunday. If Schneider is strong in that start, he could get the nod against the Flyers the following Thursday.

Next week, the Devils play three games in four days (at Flyers 11/7, at Maple Leafs 11/8 and home against Nashville 11/10) For a team with only one viable option in goal, that would be a daunting task. For the Devils, it’s just another opportunity for both netminders to get some games under their belts. Cory Schneider

As this season moves on, barring any long-term injuries to either Schneider or Brodeur, this team is going to reap the benefits of being able to start one of the two every night. Perhaps the best aspect out of all of this will be how the two push each other. Both want to start. Both want to play well enough that they’re the easy choice for Pete DeBoer. The result of the competition between the two will be that the New Jersey Devils take the ice every night with a goaltender that is going to do everything possible to try and get another start. If that’s the case, this team will win it’s share of games.

With a young, promising goaltender pushing the saavy veteran, one thing is for sure: If the Devils are able to turn things around and make the playoffs, it’s going to be on the backs of both Brodeur and Schneider.

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.

Pregame Primer: Game Twelve – Devils vs. Lightning

Devils-Senators

New Jersey Devils vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30pm

Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey 

TV: NBCSN    Radio: WFAN 101.9 fm, 660 am

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Patrik Elias – Andrei Loktionov – Jaromir Jagr
Dainius Zubrus – Travis Zajac – Damien Brunner
Rusty Olesz – Adam Henrique – Michael Ryder
Ryan Carter – Stephen Gionta – Steve Bernier

Andy Greene – Mark Fayne
Anton Volchenkov – Marek Zidlicky 
Eric Gelinas – Adam Larsson

Goaltender: Martin Brodeur

Some thought on tonight’s game:
1. First goal.  It’s an obvious cliche, but Tampa is 6-1 when scoring first and only 2-2 when trailing first.
2. Tampa’s over-aggression:  The Lightning are the third-most penalized team in the league with 16.5 PIM per contest.  Outwork them and make them take bad penalties in their own end.  The Devils on the other hand, are the league’s most disciplined team as they have taken the least amount of penalties minutes per game.
3. Stop Stamkos and St. Louis.  Everyone knows these guys are the key for Tampa.  Combined, they have 15 goals, 31 points and are a plus-17 in the team’s first 11 games.  The dropoff in talent after them is huge.  Not sure how much Pete DeBoer will be playing matchups against those two, but it might not be a bad idea to have Adam Larsson and Eric Gelinas out there when they step on the ice.
4.  Big Ben.  The Devils saw Ben Bishop last year and lost to him in a shootout, a game that actually sent the Devils on their way to a nosedive.  They were 9-3-3 before seeing Bishop.  Including that game, they lost 7 of their next 8 and finished 10-16-7 from that point.  He’s big, takes up a lot of net and he’s a decent athlete.  He’s been great so far this year.  He’s 7-1 with a .914 save percentage.

Prediction:  In years past, it would be easy to predict a letdown loss after a big victory for this team.  I actually see the opposite of that tonight.  That win on Saturday, while obviously a big one, was simply needed.  I think that’s a huge confidence builder for them.  Consider they’ve played well on home ice as well and I see the Devils playing a very sound game, dictating the pace of play and taking it to the Lightning.  It’ll start slow with a 1-1 score through a period of play, but the Devils pour on some goals in the second and seal it early in the third, clamping down defensively and making another statement game.  4-1 New Jersey.