Elias, Jagr injured in loss

Devils forwards Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias sustained apparent injuries in Tuesday’s 1-0 loss at Pittsburgh (NHL.com, Dec. 2).

Jagr stayed on the ice after being hit into the boards by the Penguins Robert Bortuzzo with 2:03 remaining in the second period. Jagr, a former Penguin, was applauded as he skated off under his own power

Elias did not return after playing five minutes in the first period.

New Jersey also lost forward Stephen Gionta late in the first period with what appeared to be a foot injury.

Olympic Picks: Where Will Team USA Finish in Sochi?

With the first games of the Men’s Olympic Hockey Tournament set to begin on Wednesday, it’s time to break down the competitive field.

The Devils sent four players to Sochi, with Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias and Marek Zidlicky representing the Czech Republic and Damien Brunner representing the Swiss.

While the host country, Russia, s one of the favorites, the Canadian team is loaded. Of the 12 teams in the field, there are at least six teams that can make a pretty good case as to why they’ll take home the gold medal.

800px-RafalskiUSA2010WinterOlympicscelebration

Jeff’s Picks:

(Bold teams receive byes)

Group A -
USA 2-1-0-0  7 pts
Russia 1-1-1-0  6 pts
Slovakia 1-0-1-1  4 pts
Slovenia 0-0-0-3  0 pts

Group B – 
Finland 3-0-0-0  9 pts
Canada 2-0-0-1  6 pts
Norway 1-0-0-2   3 pts
Austria 0-0-0-3  0 pts

Group C – 
Czech Republic  2-1-0- 7 pts
Sweden  2-0-1-0  7 pts
Switzerland 1-0-1-1  4 pts
Latvia 0-0-0-3   0 pts

Bronze Medal Game
USA over Russia

Gold Medal Game
Czech Republic over Finland

Dave’s Picks:

Group A -
Russia 2-1-0-0  8 pts
USA 2-0-1-0  7 pts
Slovakia 1-0-0-2  3 pts
Slovenia 0-0-0-3  0 pts

Group B – 
Canada 3-0-0-0  9 pts
Finland 2-0-0-1  6 pts
Norway 1-0-0-2   3 pts
Austria 0-0-0-3  0 pts

Group C – 
Sweden  3-0-0-0  9 pts
Czech Republic  1-1-0-1 6 pts
Switzerland 1-0-1-1  4 pts
Latvia 0-0-0-3   0 pts

Bronze Medal Game
Russia over Finland

Gold Medal Game
Sweden over Canada

The Outlook for Team USA – 

Jeff OConnor


It seems to most everyone that Team USA is not as good as the 2010 version.  We’ll see.  The forward pool is mostly the same although I do fear about the defense.  There’s a lot of new faces on that backline and a lot of young guys too.  Reading between the lines of what head coach Dan Bylsma has been saying, it sounds like this is going to be a one-goalie team.  I think that one guy is going to be Ryan Miller, although I’d like to see Jonathan Quick in there.  We know Quick is great and he’s had a great team in front of him for a few years now.  Can Miller jump back to that same level he did four years ago, now that he’s surrounded by Olympians and not the slug players on the Buffalo Sabres?  To a degree yes, but I’m not sure how much is left.  Yes, USA does not have as much talent as others, but I think they are a well-built TEAM.  There’s scorers, playmakers as well as your glue and grit guys who can also put the puck in the net.  It seems like they are being written off already, but nothing would surprise me with this team.

Dave Turner

This is a different Team USA in 2014, but a team that certainly has enough talent to get it done. Offensively, they can score with the best. Phil Kessel, Patrick Kane, Zach Parise, Joe Pavelski, the list goes on. Defensively, that’s what should have you worried. Are guys like Cam Fowler and John Carlson ready to step up? Can Dan Bylsma products Brooks Oprik and Paul Martin contribute? Perhaps an even bigger question is in goal. I believe that Ryan Miller deserves the first start and should be allowed to take the job and run with it. Should he falter, then it’s Quick’s turn. Miller’s performance in Vancouver should at least give him the benefit of a fair chance to play. This squad is different than some of the other Olympic teams because they went for a team-first mentality. Canada has an all-star team and even Sweden and Russia leaned that way. Team USA is built like a team that’s ready to scratch and claw it’s way through the Eastern Conference playoffs. Whether or not that translates into success remains to be seen, but they had a clear top-six, bottom-six in mind when they created this roster. I had them off the podium mostly because of the question mark in net, but if they get strong goaltending, this team will have every chance to compete for a gold.

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.

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: Avalanche 2, Devils 1 (SO)

The New Jersey Devils dropped their record to 20-18-11 on Thursday night as they fell to the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center.

The Devils fell to 0-8 in the shootout and 1-for-25 in shootout attempts as Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias were denied, as Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly beat Cory Schneider.

The Devils have earned points in their last six games.  They are 3-0-3 during that time.

Reid Boucher scored the lone goal for the Devils, his second career tally.

Jeff OConnor

Put it on both sides.  Yes, the Devils can’t score in the shootout, but the Devils goaltenders are getting burned just as equally.  It’s not even worth going over at this point.

As far as the game, the first 40 minutes were tough to watch.  Colorado’s speed was very apparent and when the Devils did have possession of the puck, the Avalanche defensemen did not hesitate and sit back at all.  They beat up and bruised any Devil forward that had the puck below the harsh marks.  It took the Devils a while to adjust but they finally found their game in the third period.  20 strong minutes earned them a point.  That’s the sign of a team that’s coming along.

Devils fans shouldn’t sweat this that much.  Colorado plays a West Conference style of offense that is tough to keep up with.  They struggled with Chicago.  They couldn’t keep pace in Los Angeles, despite a victory.  They’ve played really well against the East this year and that’s the important note to keep in mind.

This team needs to still look at the bigger picture.  If the Devils win on Saturday, they’ll take 6 out of 8 points for the road trip.  That’s a darn good swing across the country.  Elias will regain his old form and Damien Brunner is on the way back.  Keep collecting points and avoid the long stretches of losses.

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.