Pregame Primer: Game Fourteen – Devils at Wild

marek-zidlicky-mulhollandjpg-7cc91b25ddd83cd3

New Jersey Devils at Minnesota Wild, 8:00pm

XCel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota 

TV: MSG+2  Radio: WFAN 101.9 fm, 660 am

linelong

Expected lines for tonight:
Dainius Zubrus – Andrei Loktionov – Jaromir Jagr
Rusty Olesz – Jacob Josefson – Damien Brunner
Mattias Tedenby -Adam Henrique – Michael Ryder
Ryan Carter – Stephen Gionta – Steve Bernier

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

Goaltender: Cory Schneider

Some thoughts on tonight’s game:

1. Control the specials team play.  The Minnesota Wild are Jekyll and Hyde when it comes to their special teams.  Their power play is deadly, converting at nearly 25 percent, good enough for third in the league.  Their PK is a different story, however.  Their PK rate is at a less-than-mediocre 75 percent, which is third-worst in the NHL.  Devils need to have the slight edge in the special teams world if they want to win tonight.

2. Re-gain the chemistry - It’s not easy when a pair of top-two line players are scratched on the same night.  Their absence showed last night against the Flyers.  There was little-to-no chemistry between any of the lines not nicknamed CBGB.  Jaromir Jagr had no shots on goal.  Heck, six of the Devils’ 14 shots came from defensemen last night.  That’s never going to win a team hockey games.  Hopefully a game under their belt with a shaken-up roster will help them be a little crisper tonight.

3. Will Cory Schneider be rusty?  He hasn’t played a hockey game in nine days.  He’s been very good when he’s taken on Minnesota.  He’s 6-4 with a 2.13 GAA and .922 save percentage all-time.  Schneider has consistently had good starts, allowing two goals or so per contest.  He’s only had one game allowing one goal or less in his six starts.  Going against a team with a very top-heavy offense, he’ll need to be at his best. 

4. Have to win some draws - The Wild are fourth in the league in the faceoff dot.  The Devils are 28th.  They are separated by 9.6 percent.  Last night, the likes of Andrei Loktionov, Adam Henrique and Jacob Josefson combined to go 18-for-48 in the faceoff circle.  For you non-math majors, that’s 37.5 percent.  Yikes.  They need to at least not get blown away in the faceoff numbers tonight.

Prediction: Devils 3, Wild 2 SO

The Devils will be motivated tonight.  Getting right back on the ice after a tough home loss is a good thing.  The fact that they’re playing a talented Wild team will raise their level of play as well.  We’ll see if Jon Merrill cracks the lineup tonight.  He appears to be insurance in case Eric Gelinas’ hand acts up.  Otherwise, he’ll probably sit.  It’ll come down to shooting the puck more.  The Devils actually had some good chances for ONLY having 14 shots on net.  That shot total needs to rise with help from the forwards, not like last night with the D having nearly 50 percent of the shots.

I’ll say the Devils jump ahead early, give up a pair of goals midway through the game, rally with a late goal to send it into overtime.  Then, the team finally gets a goal in the shootout AND gets their first win in the shootout.  A win tonight would give NJ a 2-1 week.  If you win two out of every three games you play, you’re going to make the playoffs.

Enjoy the game, everyone.

Taking a look back at Zach Parise’s time with the Devils

20120119-120340.jpg

 

Dave Turner

It’s easy for fans to still be mad at old No. 9, even an entire year since he left. The fact is, there are some who will never forgive Zach Parise for going back to his home state of Minnesota to play with the Wild.

It was almost as bad as breaking up with a boyfriend/girlfriend for some. He was a sensational player who brought tenacity, skill and scoring ability to this team like none other before.

Well, it’s been long enough since the break-up right? Let’s take a look at some of Zach’s best moments as a New Jersey Devil.


October 5, 2005 – Sidney Crosby’s and Zach’s first game and the first game after the lockout

Opening night of 2005 was the first ever regular season game for Sidney Crosby. For all of the hoopla surrounding him, it was also the beginning of the Penguins ascension right? Well, not on that night. Sid the Kid was out-dueled by another young player in his first-ever game. Parise had a power play goal and an assist on the power play to help New Jersey to a 5-1 win.

There was always a sort of rivalry between Parise and Crosby. Sid was the one everybody talked about, but Zach was putting up good numbers as well. The Devils had the Penguins number towards the end of Zach’s tenure in NJ and that was definitely part of his doing.


February 26, 2009 – Zach scores a gorgeous goal in Martin Brodeur’s return from injury 

In terms of the goal itself, this might be my personal favorite goal by Parise. This game was important, because it was Martin Brodeur’s first game after missing a large chunk of the season due to injury. Brodeur himself was excellent, but the offense put on a show as well. Zach’s goal in the third period helped to cement the 4-0 win over the Avalanche, after his nifty move beat Andrew Raycroft. He muscled past a defender to get to the net and finished with a sensational move.


January 9, 2010- Zach’s overtime winner against the Montreal Canadiens

A broken stick, a broken play and an overtime winner for No. 9. With the game tied 1-1 in overtime, Parise broke his stick in the defensive zone and the Canadians almost scored to put it away. After Parise retreated to the bench to fetch a new twig, he saw an opening and was calling for the puck in the neutral zone. The pass got there and Zach corralled it to score a gorgeous goal and give the Devils the win. That was the kind of play we were treated to from time to time, a great effort that began with a heads-up play and with a flash, the game was over and the Devils had won.


 February 28, 2010 – Olympic gold medal game

I still believe that this was the most entertaining game I’ve ever watched. Star players on both sides of the ice and an incredible game for the gold medal against Canada. Whether you’re American, Canadian, or just a fan of hockey, this was about as close to a picture-perfect hockey game as you can get. When Zach banged home a rebound with 24 seconds left in the third period, the entire country began to embrace the game of hockey. People who don’t ever watch this wonderful game were watching. Hell, even Ranger fans had to root for Zach at that juncture. Sure, we know how the game ended, (thanks for ruining it, Sid) but this was a moment where Devils fans were so proud of not only their country, but of Zach Parise. It made it that much sweeter when he scored, being that it was a Devil who did it.


Shootouts- pretty much any time over his Devils career 

Zach was a master of the shootout. In fact, I’d say that if there is any area where this team misses him, it’s in the shootout. He was spectacular, mainly due to the fact that he wasn’t a guy with just one move. He’d switch it up with ease. Whether it was a nice forehand to backhand shelf, or a deke that left the goalie scrambling, he was a huge reason why the Devils were so good in the shootout in 2011-2012, which ultimately led to their playoff positioning as so.


When the Devils skate against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday, i’m sure there will be plenty of Devils fans who cringe every time he touches the puck. Though it’s totally valid to have some hatred for Parise, lets also remember how much he did for this club. You hate him, because you loved him so much here in New Jersey. I’m certainly not advocating that anyone should root for him, but just remember the magical moments he gave this team.

As I mentioned before, think of Zach as an old girlfriend/boyfriend. Sure, it stings for a while, but years later, when you’re content with what you currently have, you can remember the great moments.

For No. 9 in red, there were many of those.

This Week In Devils Hockey

(This Week In Devils Hockey is a new column that will run Monday mornings and will take a look at the Devils’ opponents for the upcoming week)

Three games on tap this week following Saturday night’s comeback win in Boston. The Devils finally get two home games in a row, so they’ll be looking to extend their home point streak and begin to climb back towards .500 on the season

Tuesday, October 29th – vs. Tampa Bay Lighting

The Bolts come in as the first place team Atlantic Division. Yes, it’s a fact. Tampa Bay has gotten off to an excellent start behind an offense that has simply dominated at times.

Steven Stamkos has 15 points, (7g, 8a) which points to the fact that he’s willing to dish the puck just as much as he’s willing to rip it. Martin St. Louis has been on a torrid pace as well, with 13 points (6g, 7a). The fact is, Tampa Bay has gotten off to such a great start because they’re getting production throughout their lineup.

The Lightning have 10 players on their roster with at least five points, an impressive feat.

So how you defend the Bolts, or at the very least, slow them down? It’s certainly not easy. The fact is, the Devils have to limit any sort of odd-man rushes, something that had plagued this team early on. The Devils D-corps has been much better of late, but they’ll face a very tough task on Tuesday night.

In goal, Ben Bishop is proving that he was worth the trade that sent Cory Conacher to the Ottawa Senators. He’s sporting a 2.47 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. His height makes him tough to beat and with the kind of offense he’s had in front of him, as long as he’s able to keep a team to 2-3 goals, chances are he’s going to come out ahead. Bishop is 7-1 on the season.

For the Devils, they’ll certainly need to score a few goals if they expect to come out with a win. Holding the Bolts under two goals seems to be an unachievable task these days, so it’ll be up to the offense to pull their weight. The Devils have been a good power play team so far, so another good night with the man-advantage could go a long way.

This Tampa Bay team is playing excellent hockey right now and it will take an excellent effort by New Jersey if they expect to win.

Saturday, November 2nd – vs. Philadelphia Flyers

An old rival comes to town as the two teams meet for the first time as Metropolitan Division rivals.

The Flyers come in struggling, but they won their last two games and seem to be turning things around. Even still, their 18 goals for is second to last in the league.

Philadelphia is still finding it’s way under new coach Craig Berube, after Peter Laviolette was fired just three games into the season, but with two strong wins over the Rangers and Islanders, the orange and black might be close to the light at the end of the tunnel after a dismal 1-7 start to the season.

Vincent Lecavalier has been a nice addition so far, as his six points (4g, 2a) have been crucial. Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek have combined for just two goals so far.

The bright spot for Philly has been the play of Steve Mason. His 2.15 goals against and .930 save percentage are excellent, but the scoring just hasn’t been there. If the Flyers are able to give him some scoring, he’s looking like he could be a very solid addition. Considering the struggles of Ray Emery so far, Mason is going to be the guy.

For the Devils, it’s simple. They need to beat this team now, or they’ll have to contend with them later. It’s still early enough for the Flyers to get right back into contention, so this game might have some early season implications, especially if both teams come in with winning streaks.

The good thing for New Jersey is that the Flyers take on the Washington Capitals the night before.

The gameplan against Philly should always be to win the battles in the corners. Though the Flyers don’t have a lot of flashy offense to speak of, they are a team that will grind in the corners and turn you over and create goals. With the Flyers penchant for taking penalties, the power play will be counted on. The orange and black have done well against the Devils with the man-advantage in the past, as Wayne Simmonds has been a thorn in the Devils side since he was traded to Philly.

Make no mistake, this is a big game for both of these teams as they look to climb out of the Metropolitan Division cellar.

Sunday, November 3rd – at Minnesota Wild 

Hello again, old friend.

The Devils will skate against Zach Parise since the former Devil took his services to Minnesota in 2012-2013.

The boys from the “State of Hockey” have gotten off to a good start so far, out west.

Leading the way with nine points (6g, 3a) is none other than Mr. Parise. Jason Pominville also has six goals for Minnesota.

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of this NHL season so far is the incredible play of Wild goalie Josh Harding. His numbers? Try a 1.00 goals against and a .953 save percentage. He’s been that good.

If there’s a weak spot to the Wild, it’s that right now, they’re somewhat of a one line team. Granted, the Parise, Pominville and Mikko Koivu has been sensational.

You have to expect that Zach would love to beat his old team, so expect a good effort from Minnesota. The Devils would definitely like to beat Parise at his new home as well.

Slowing down Minnesota will involve shutting down their power play, which comes into the week as the fifth ranked unit in the league. Matt Cooke has been a surprising addition to this team so far, as he’s tallied eight points (3g, 5a). Throw in an always productive Ryan Suter and you begin to see where their strengths lie.

For the Wild, 2013-2014 is a big year. After just barely qualifying for the playoffs last season, head coach Mike Yeo has been feeling the pressure. This is a team that expects to not only make the playoffs, but win there a well.

For the Devils, it’s simple. They can’t dig themselves into the kind of hole that they did against Boston, because multiple-goal road comebacks are usually few and far between.

Brian Rolston Announces Retirement

Brian Rolston had one of the NHL’s hardest shots in his 17-year career.

But goalies needn’t fear his laser any longer.

The 1991 Devils draft pick announced his retirement Tuesday.

Rolston played in 1,256 NHL games, winning a Stanley Cup in 1995 with the Devils. The Flint, Mich. native registered 130 of his 342 career goals in two tours in New Jersey.

Many of those tallies were scored using a bruising– sometimes literally– slap shot. Rolston also played in three Olympics, winning a silver medal with Team USA in 2002.

Rolston did not play in 2013 but finished his playing career with the Boston Bruins, with whom he also did two tours. Rolston also played stints in Minnesota, Colorado and an infamous 49-game tenure on Long Island.

Though Rolston was a third-line player, Martin Brodeur recalled how he aided New Jersey’s 1995 Stanley Cup-championship run.

He also was one of the few players you’ll ever see perfectly execute the slap-penalty shot

 

Could Heatley land in New Jersey?

Pat Pickens

The hockey boards lit up toward the end of last week at the prospect of Dany Heatley coming east to New Jersey.

Can you picture this scene, only with Dany Heatley wearing a Devils sweater?

Can you picture this scene, only with Dany Heatley wearing a Devils sweater?

That trade has likely been delayed, considering Tallinder was placed on IR today. But it’s no secret that Heatley’s been frustrated ever since he was pulled from the Minnesota Wild’s top-line back in February.

Heatley’s numbers speak for themselves: 357 goals, 755 points in only 775 NHL games. Six times Heatley has played all 82 games in a season– he also has made up formidable lines in San Jose and Ottawa.

Heatley is also signed through next year, which makes him more than a rental. He’s evidently worn out his welcome in Minnesota, plus his cap number is $7.5 million, which means he could be had for less than other non-rental players. He’s a gamer, who has played with a variety of injuries in the postseason over the years.

Plus, look at his playoff numbers.

Fifty-seven points in 65 career postseason games? On a line with Ilya Kovalchuk?! Sign me up for that.

That’s the upside.

The down side is, Heatley is notoriously sulk-ish. He feuds with everyone– which is the real reason he’s on the trade block to begin with. He was happiest in San Jose, yet he didn’t perform enough in the playoffs to warrant his contract.

This would be the third place out of four that Heatley’s forced his way out of. He pushed a trade from Atlanta– OK, we can see that. He battled with Cory Clouston in Ottawa, and now he’s reportedly upset with Mike Yeo. What if Pete DeBoer gets on Heatley’s back-checking this year– or even next– and Heatley decides he doesn’t want to play in New Jersey anymore?

If Heatley’s available, it seems like the Devils need to listen. But what say ye, Devils fans? Should the Devils pursue Heater?

Breaking News: Marek Zidlicky Waives No Trade Clause To Come To New Jersey

20120215-093005.jpg
Darren Drager tweeted this morning reporting that the Minnesota Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky has waived his no trade clause to come to the Devils. No deal has officially made. Things are in the works. Zidlicky has 1 more year left on his deal after this season at a $4 million cap hit.

I think this would be great for Zidlicky and the Devils. He will provide great depth for the Devils as they hope to move up in the standings. If the Devils don’t have to give up too much for him it’ll be a great deal for the Devils.

Read: Can The Devils Resign Parise?

The Hockey News posted an article about what it would have to take for the Devils to resign their captain. The mention that in order for the Devils to have the availale cap space they are going to have to make some moves that may take the team out of contention for a Stanley Cup ring. Parise wants to play some where he has a chance of winning a ring and can also get a nice pay check.

Right now the Wild are a very hot team and if they continue to play well through out the season and make a good run in the playoffs it would not shock me to see Parise return to his home state of Minnesota. The Wild also have the money to sign him so there is more motivation for him to go back home.

Now you maybe thinking that the Devils might have to trade him away but if the Devils can make a run on their own they might be able to convince Parise to continue to play and give him the salary he wants. But if Lou gets word that Parise is going to be gone either way at the end of the season they only thing left to do is see who will give the Devils the best price for the rest of the season.

Personally, I think that with the Devils playing well recently and the first line clicking, if this continues I can see Parise staying in New Jersey. The Devils are his team where if he goes anywhere else that has a chance of winning he won’t be THE go to guy like he would be in New Jersey. Lets say Brodeur and Hedberg both don’t return and decide to bring up the tandem of Kinkaid and Frazee in net, the Devils will have the available cap space needed to resign Parise.

Give this article a read.

Analysis: Other Potential Suitors For Parise

Now for the record I would like to start off by saying that is NOT fact in any sort of way. This is a look at other teams that Parise would fit well with along with providing a valuable return for the Devils if they are to deal away Parise.

So far this season Parise has not been lighting the lamp as much as we all had hoped. He has just 6 goals and 5 assists in 19 games with a -5 rating while playing on the top line with Henrique and Kovalchuk. Despite the numbers he has been playing very well defensively which maybe just as important as scoring considering the Devils’ defense.

Parise signed a 1 year contract this summer. Everyone had assumed that it was the kiss of death and began to think that Parise’s days in New Jersey were numbered. So trade speculation and rumors are not anything to be surprised about. A couple days ago there was word that the Devils were in talks with the Los Angeles Kings about exchanging Parise for Jonathan Bernier and a top forward. But lets go over some teams that would provide a great return for the Devils in the event that Parise is dealt.

Keep in mind I am looking at the salary cap when it comes to these “deals” so there is no chance they are not possible due to the cap. If you do not know Parise is set to make $6 million this season.

I strongly believe that if Parise is going to be dealt its going to be by a team that is in a “win now” mentality along with giving something back to the Devils. Some other teams that come to mind are the Minnesota Wild and Washington Capitals.

Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild made some big moves this summer in acquiring Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi from the San Jose Sharks in different deals. Even though the Wild are 1st in the Western Conference they are 28th in the NHL in goals per game. They are going to have to score more goals if they want to keep winning. Who better to be scoring than Zach Parise?

Now the Devils are going to be looking for a goaltender and the Wild have a good goaltender named Josh Harding. In the 7 games he has played this season he has a 1.79 GAA and a .945 save percentage. He has  potential to be a great consistent starting goaltender.

Also the Wild are going to have to throw in another player, I’m think its going to have to be someone that is going to be able to feed the puck to Kovalchuk. Even though Setoguchi just arrived with the Wild I think he could be on the move again. He would work really well with Henrique and Kovalchuk on the top line.

Harding and Setoguchi for Parise. Seems like a fair deal to me for both sides. One final point, Parise may want to go home to Minnesota.

Washington Capitals

Its has been obvious that the Capitals want to win right now. The Capitals are in no short of scoring but they need a defensive forward. Parise is just that and if Parise wants to win his best odds are in Washington. Now Parise won’t just be some offensive defensive expert but he will definitely be able to contribute on offense.

The Capitals are also at the top the of salary cap ceiling and they have one contract that is highly moveable. Alexander Semin’s contract is set to expire at the end of the year. So I think this trade would be a simple one for one trade. Semin would be great to play with Kovalchuk which maybe the solution to a more productive Kovalchuk.

Semin for Parise. One for One. I call that fair for both teams.