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.


After two dissapointing losses, it’s make or break for the Devils this week

Dave Turner

It’s almost groundhog day for the Devils. It seems that every time they get to or above .500, they slip right back.

One step forward, one step back.

At some point, the Devils will need to make a move up the standings in the Metropolitan Division. Hanging around all season and perpetuating a pattern of wins and losses while gaining no ground.

Second place in the division is just four points away. At this point though, with four other teams ahead of them for that second spot, it’s not as easy as just putting a few wins together.

Tuesday’s game against the Flyers may be the most important game of the season so far. It’s a four-point game, which will either bring the Devils to within two points of second place Philadelphia, or drop them six points behind. After a completely uninspiring loss to the Sabres, the Devils will need to play a great game to beat the streaking Flyers.

The Eric Gelinas situation resolved itself quickly, after he was called up once again from Albany with Patrik Elias placed on IR. If anything, the recall to Albany served as a wake up call to the young defenseman. Though he started out strong, his last few games in New Jersey left a lot to be desired. Turnovers and no points to show for it, he was in a bit of a slump. Perhaps the short stint being sent down will clear his mind. Patrik Elias2

Moving forward, it’s more of the same formula that has worked at times for the Devils this season. They’ll need to continue the strong defense and will have to rely on the goaltending. Of course, the most important aspect is offense. Jaromir Jagr has cooled off lately, with only one point in his last six games.

Michael Ryder and Adam Henrique have emerged as quality options lately, but those two will need to continue to produce. If Jagr has hit a wall, or is just going through a natural slump, the goals will need to come from somewhere. With Damien Brunner and Elias out, the Devils are a much weaker offensive club.

The loss of Elias is huge. He has played ten less games than just about every other player in the top five on the team in scoring, yet he’s still second on the club with 25 points (7 goals, 18 assists). The impact of Elias on this club is immense. Whether its 5-on-5, or on the power play, the Devils are a much better team with him in the lineup. With his injury now being touted as something “not minor,” he may not be back for any of the three games this week.

The Flyers, Stars and Panthers, all from home this week. No back-to-backs, just six huge points on the line. No longer is the excuse of “it’s still early” or “this team is still coming together” going to fly. Either this team has to start ripping off multiple wins in order to stay above NHL-.500, or they will eventually be passed.

With the Flyers and Rangers playing better hockey and teams like the Capitals, Blue Jackets and Hurricanes still in the mix, ordinary isn’t going to cut it moving forward.

It’s time for this team to show their true colors. 3 games, all at home. Now is where they have to make their move.


As 2013 ends, the Devils look to make a splash in 2014

Dave Turner

2013 may go down as one of the most challenging years in the history of the New Jersey Devils. To recap some of the events:

– There was the season that started not in late 2012, but 2013, after the NHL lockout.  The Devils did so without their captain from the previous season, after Zach Parise departed for Minnesota. The 48-game slate was none to kind to the Devils, as they failed to reach the playoffs just one season after making the Stanley Cup Finals.

– Then, the shocking “retirement” of Ilya Kovalchuk shook the franchise as they were tasked with quickly rebuilding in the wake of losing their best player.

David Clarkson also left, signing a big contact with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

– While hosting the draft, the Devils made a major trade that may shape the franchise for years to come, when they acquired Cory Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks in front of a shocked Prudential Center crowd.

– In the wake of those major departures, Lou Lamoriello was tasked with rebuilding the roster. In came Michael Ryder, Damien Brunner, Ryane Clowe and Jaromir Jagr. All three have proven to be integral aspects of the team. Jagr has been an ageless wonder so far and his leadership on and off the ice has been a valuable asset. While Brunner hit a lull after starting fast, up until his knee injury, he was playing some of his best hockey. Michael Ryder had his struggles as well, but as the calender turns, he sits only one goal behind Jagr for the team lead in goals scored. As for Clowe, he’s finally starting to find his way after missing substantial time with a concussion.

– 2013 also saw the introduction of some promising rookies. Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill look like they may be a big part of the future on the blue line. Reid Boucher has shown glimpses of what he may become as well. Not to be forgotten is the stellar season that Keith Kinkaid is having for Albany, giving the Devils another option in goal for the future, or a trade asset.

To read more of this story, click here


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.


Final Score: Penguins 3, Devils 2

The New Jersey Devils rallied to put together a decent effort, but could not overcome early mistakes as they fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins from the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA., by the score of 3-2.  This one pushes the Devils’ record to 12-15-6 on the season.

– Pascal Dupuis got the final touch as he and Chris Kunitz rushed Corey Schneider who thought he had the puck covered.  A mental lapse from the goaltender and the defense that should have been back supporting him put the Devils on the wrong-end of their earliest deficit on the season.

Chris Conner scored off of a pretty pass from Brandon Sutter and a pretty awful defensive breakdown by both Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill.

Jason Megna  put the exclamation point on an awful period from the Devils with a wrist shot goal at 14:40 to put the Pens up 3-0 going into the first intermission.

Patrik Elias brought the New Jersey back to life with a beautiful redirection of an Anton Volchenkov pass from the side boards to give the Devils their first goal at 3:24 into the second.

Dainius Zubrus poked in goal number 2, less than a minute after the first, pushing a Jaromir Jagr shot across the line.

Ryan Jahnke

With the loss to Columbus still fresh in their minds, fans of the New Jersey Devils were hoping for the team to come out angry and looking to make up for lost points.  What they got, however, was a mistake-ladened team that got overwhelmed all-too quickly, and almost let the game slip away without a fight.

The first period was one of the worst in recent memory.  It only took 41 seconds to get this game going in the wrong direction for the Devils as Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz came barreling down on a loose puck that Corey Schneider thought he had covered up.  A big mental mistake by Schneider, but even more so from the defense that let two Penguins come in unimpeded to take their shots at the Jersey goaltender.

Things would only get worse for the Jersey defense in the first, in particular their rookie defensemen, Jon Merrill and Eric Gelinas.  After Merrill mishandled an easy pass from Gelinas, turning it over to the Penguins, Eric Gelinas made a rookie mistake and left his post to cover for Merrill along the boards, leaving Conner open to score his second goal of the season, one-on-one over Schneider.  Shortly after this, the Gelinas – Merrill pairing was separated.  Jason Megna’s somewhat controversial goal towards the end of the third, his fourth of the season, the Devils headed down the tunnel for the first intermission with their heads hanging.

In the second period, however, things got turned upside-down.  The Devils didn’t just play better, they thoroughly dominated the class of the Metro division, outshooting the Penguins 32-11, and outscoring them 2-0.  All of the momentum was on the side of the Red and Black for the final 40 of the game, and had it not been for a few posts in their way, we could be talking about a different outcome here.  But in the end, unfortunately for the Devils’ Army, New Jersey couldn’t find any more than those two quick second period goals, and dropped their second straight game.

In a rare turn, especially considering that we’re talking about a losing effort, the bright spots for the Devils came from the offense tonight.  Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias, and Travis Zajac played superb games for the Devils at both ends of the ice, as did tonight’s fourth line of Jacob JosefsonTim Sestito, and Cam Janssen.  Three players in particular who had great games out there for New Jersey, but were left with nothing to show for it, were Adam Henrique, Steve Bernier and Damien Brunner.  Brunner continued trending upward while playing alongside Elias, and was robbed of his third goal in his last two games by a fantastic save from Marc-Andre Fleury, a feeling that Steve Bernier can relate to tonight.

Henrique, on the other hand, beat Pittsbrugh’s goaltender to the glove side with a chance to tie the game, but couldn’t best the post.  A similar situation occurred in the closing seconds of the game, but that time Henrique’s backhander sailed wide.  It’s unfortunate that all that Adam Henrique can take away from this game are a couple of missed opportunities and a costly penalty for playing with a broken stick, because he had a good game tonight.

The defense didn’t have their best game tonight, although they weren’t terrible.  In a game where defensive mistakes cost New Jersey at least 2, and maybe all three, goals, they were scored by Dupuis, Conner, and Megna.  Pittsburgh’s high-scoring superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were shut down by the Devils’ D.  Between them, the league’s top scorers managed just 2 shots and a lone secondary assist, which Crosby collected on Pittsburgh’s first, fluky goal.

In the crease, another good night by Schneider will be marred by the first goal.  After all, defense or no, if he just drops his pad down on the ice, the whole thing never happens.  After that he played about as well as any goalie could under the circumstances only surrendering the other goals on a bad breakaway and after some contact in the crease from Megna lead to a bad rebound and a goal.  But tonight, regardless of how well Corey played, Marc-Andre Fleury was the star between the pipes.

Fleury has had a bad reputation in the years since the Penguins’ cup victory, and even briefly lost his job to veteran Tomáš Vokoun.  But, he has responded with a grit that many didn’t know he had, and he showed that tonight.  His 37 saves on the Devils 39 shots, especially those against Brunner and Bernier, were what kept Pittsburgh from giving this game away.


Final Score: Devils 4, Rangers 3

The New Jersey Devils defeated the New York Rangers for the third straight time, this one ending 4-3 in overtime from Madison Square Garden in New York, NY.  The win pushes the Devils to 12-13-6 on the season.

– Brad Richards scored on a 2 on 1 against Martin Brodeur in the first period continuing his recent string of good play.  He currently stands at 3 goals in his last 6 games.

Mats Zuccarello started off the second period with a big goal off a rebound from a shot by Ryan Callahan to give his team a 2-0 lead.

Cam Janssen stood up strong for his teammates and used his skates rather than his hands to make his biggest contribution with a big response goal for the Devils to bring the game 2-1.

Travis Zajac tied up the game at 2 midway through the third going top-shelf off a rebound from Jaromir Jagr.

Michael Ryder netted his third goal in his last four games beating Henrik Lundqvist through the 5-hole to give the Devils a 3-2 lead.

– Chris Kreider got a chip-in goal on a 6 on 4 power play in the last minute of the game, after Travis Zajac took a terrible delay-of-game penalty.

– Eric Gelinas scored his own power play goal on a bomb from beyond the top of the circle in overtime to secure the OT win for the Devils.

Ryan Jahnke

Coming off three consecutive losses to Eastern Conference foes, the Devils came into Madison Square Garden this Saturday night needing a win to help get things back on track.  In the end, the comeback kids came through, as another never-say-die third period effort and a timely power play in OT lead to a big win for Jersey’s team.

Special teams came through in a huge for New Jersey.  While their penalty kill was nearly lights out again, save for that nearly infamous 6 on 4, the Devils’ power play got to play the role of hero tonight.  Granted, it took an overtime 4 on 3 to set things right, but when they got the chance, they stepped up and Eric Gelinas sealed the deal.  Still, as good as the Devils’ kill was, you have to wonder if the PK crew has seen too much action recently with 15 penalties against the Devils in the last 4 games.  We’re going to have to pay attention to this going forward, as all that time shorthanded is bound to catch up to any team eventually.

There were plenty of good moments for the Red and Black, and so many of them came from fan favorite Cam Janssen.  Cam, well-known as bit of a fire-starter, was all over the ice with big hits and game-changing plays.  He skated over and stood up for Patrik Elias against Rangers’ defender Justin Faulk, before motoring down to the other end of the ice to slide feet first into the Devils’ opening goal.  While controversial to everyone wearing blue, new rules allow for redirection as long as there is still no distinct kicking motion.  So the goal was deemed clean, which was consistent with the way that similar situations have been ruled by the crew in Toronto thus far this year.  But, even beyond that first goal, Janssen made sure that his presence was felt, and his team fed off that energy turning a potential disaster, after the Zuccarello goal, into a very good second period and game for the Devils.  Simply put, the Devils don’t win tonight without #25 on the ice.

As has become the norm this season, the Devils also saw some pretty strong performances from the usual suspects.  Jaromir Jagr was as strong and prominent as anyone on the ice tonight.  Travis Zajac, Andy Greene, and Eric Gelinas played top-flight hockey throughout the game, holding their positions and creating strong chances and points for the offense.  Michael Ryder continued his hot-streak finding the net yet again, this time for the win and Adam Henrique was highly aggressive and was a constant threat to Henrik Lundqvist.  Some surprise contributions also came in from Cam Janssen, as well as Tim Sestito who provided a strong forecheck and the primary assist on Janssen’s and Ryder’s goals.

And, no Devils recap would be complete without mentioning a terrific effort by one of their two superstar goaltenders.  Tonight was Brodeur’s turn between the pipes, and the vet did not disappoint.  After letting in a goal on a rough 2 on 1 against Brad Richards where he dipped his shoulder a hair too low giving Richards the top corner, #30 was fantastic stopping all but the unreachable.  And, while tonight it was the offense who stepped up big, this was another big win in MSG for Martin Brodeur.

For those of you who are wondering, the points challenge between Marty and Cam is on, but because Marty got the secondary assist on the goal, neither player gained any ground tonight.