Pregame Primer: Game Fifteen – Devils at Flyers


New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers, 7:00pm

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

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


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

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

Goaltender: Martin Brodeur

Some thoughts on tonight’s game:

1) Solve Ray Emery.  For some reason, the Devils haven’t been able to figure out this netminder.  His career numbers vs. NJ include a 6-3-2 mark with a 1.90 GAA, .931 SV% and two shutouts.

2) Take the zero off the board.  The Devils have been blanked a league-high eight times since the beginning of April.  149:06 is the amount of game time that has passed since the New Jersey Devils scored their last goal.  Coincidentally enough, a lot of that time has come with Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac on the sidelines.  Zajac is back tonight and hopefully that makes all four lines a bit more comfortable.  In fact, Zajac loves playing against the Flyers.  In 39 career games, he has 27 points.

3) Expect a low scoring game again.  These are essentially the worst teams in the league at scoring hockey goals.  The Flyers are ranked 30th at 1.57 goals per game, while the Devils check in at 28th with just 1.86 goals per contest.  It was 1-0 on Saturday.  I don’t think it would shock anyone if that is the same final score for tonight.

Prediction:  Devils 3 Flyers 1

I can’t see them losing to the Flyers for a second time in such a short span.  Even if it’s tough to consider the Devils a good hockey team, one would have to figure Pete DeBoer has made the on-ice adjustments necessary to square off against a team they just saw.  I see the Devils jumping out to a 2-0 lead early in the game.  The Flyers will play a tough game though and make it 2-1 before Jersey puts in an empty netter.

Let’s call it 3-1, New Jersey.

Enjoy the game everyone.


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.



– source:

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.

Screen Shot 2013-11-03 at 10.28.14 AM


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.


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.


Pregame Primer: Game Thirteen – Devils vs. Flyers

Jacob Josefson is in the lineup tonight for Travis Zajac

Jacob Josefson is in the lineup tonight for Travis Zajac

New Jersey Devils vs. Philadelphia Flyers, 7:00pm

Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey 

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


Patrik Elias – Andrei Loktionov – Jaromir Jagr
Dainius Zubrus – Jacob Josefson – 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 thoughts on tonight’s game:

1. Scoring first is key. The Flyers were drubbed 7-0 last night at the hands of the Washington Capitals. You have to expect that they are going to do every possible to leave Prudential Center with a different result. Still, the first goal will be crucial for their morale. If the Devils score first, it’ll have the Flyers on their heels, but if Philadelphia lights the lamp quickly, they’ll begin to regain some confidence.

2. Don’t stoop to the Flyers way – There’s no doubt that the Flyers were try to make this a physical affair tonight. They’re a team that will take penalties and can muck up a game pretty easily. For the Devils, they need to stay out of the box and not engage the Flyers in their antics. There doesn’t need to be a stand-off after every whistle. That just plays into their game.

3. How can Jacob Josefson produce tonight? Josefson steps into the lineup after the ankle injury to Travis Zajac. He’ll be centering Dainius Zubrus and Damien Brunner, so he’ll have some good players around him. The Swedish center is still looking to solidify his place on this team and there is no doubt that a strong performance tonight would go a long way towards that.

4.  Get the power play going – The Devils currently have the 11th ranked power play in the NHL at 21.4%. The Flyers have the 11th ranked penalty kill at 82.7%. When the power play goes, so do the Devils. They’ll be without Travis Zajac, but the back end should have a chance to shine once again. Can Marek Zidlicky keep up his hot start? Eric Gelinas is still being evaluated, so a point or two on the power play would go a long way for him.

Prediction: Devils 3, Flyers 2 

Everything about this game says that it should be a win for the Devils. The Flyers are reeling and New Jersey has been playing well. Couple in the fact that the Flyers are playing without Vincent Lecavalier and Steve Downie and it should be a win, right?

This one is going to be a close, grind-it-out sort of game. The Devils get a late goal to come away with it, but not before a hard-fought, physical game. You can look at the Flyers like a nest of angry hornets. They got their nest smacked last night and you can guarantee that they’re going to come out angry and looking to fight, tonight. As long as the Devils stick to their game and don’t let Philadelphia dictate the style of play, New Jersey should do just enough to come away with a win.



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.


Metropolitan Division Picks

By Dave Turner and Jeff O’Connor

With the season upon us, it’s time to see how the Devils stack up with the rest of the Metropolitan Division. With plenty of talent across the board, the Metro division should be one of the most competitive in the league.

Dave’s Picks: 


1. Pittsburgh Penguins – Goaltending/Defensive issues aside, this team is still the class of the division. The only way they won’t finish first is if Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both miss a considerable amount of time. As long as Marc-Andre Fleury doesn’t melt down, they’ll be just fine.

 2. Washington Capitals – The Caps struggled early on in 2013, but once they figured out Adam Oates’s system, they played excellent hockey down the stretch. Their X-factor is Braden Holtby. If he can take another step towards being a top-flight goalie, they’ll be fine. If not, they could easily slip.

3. New York Rangers – This team may struggle out of the gate with a new coach, but they’ll rebound in time to make a push for the top. With a better offensive system, look for Rick Nash and Derek Stepan to have an excellent season together. Things may get interesting if the team isn’t able to lock up Henrik Lundqvist during the season.

 4. New Jersey Devils – Picking the Devils to finish fourth almost seems sacrilegious, considering where they’re being picked everywhere else. They lack a big-time scorer, but they’re a much deeper team than they were last season. Cory Schneider will emerge as a top-ten caliber goalie.


 5. New York Islanders – They took a huge step forward by making the playoffs last season, but over the course of an 82-game span, their goaltending and defensive deficiencies will show. That being said, they’ll score a lot of goals and be a fun team to watch. It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising if they finished in the top-four or even snuck in as the wildcard in the Atlantic Division.


 6. Philadelphia Flyers – I’m still searching for the answer as to how this team got that much better from last season. They replaced Danny Briere with Vincent Lecavalier, which is a minor upgrade. In net, they didn’t improve much. Though Ilya Bryzgalov was wildly inconsistent, he actually had some good moments. Ray Emery and Steve Mason are not going to cut it.


 7. Columbus Blue Jackets – The Jackets made a great run at the playoffs in 2013, but they’re still a year away. They can grind you and as long as Sergei Bobrovsky can put up somewhat similar numbers to the ones he posted last year, they’ll be competitive.

8. Carolina Hurricanes – If the Canes are able to get some consistent goalie play, they might finish a lot higher than the bottom. Cam Ward is coming off of a major injury, so it’s not out of the question to see a lot of Anton Khudobin. They won with the Alexander Semin gamble last season; can they win again with Mike Komisarek?

Jeff’s Picks: 

1. Pittsburgh Penguins – Even with the losses of guys like Iginla, Morrow and Cooke, the Penguins have plenty of youth ready to contribute on the third and fourth lines.  Bringing back Rob Scuderi should provide a huge left to their D?  Winning the division won’t be the issue…will Marc-Andre Fleury show up for the postseason?

2. New York Islanders – Bouchard and Clutterbuck will add a bit more grit to this young squad.  Their young forwards will only get better.  Nabokov is a known commodity in goal but the bottom two pairings for the Isles defense leaves a lot to be desired.  If they want to go further than last year, they’ll need to pick up a blueliner at the deadline.


3. New York Rangers – Alain Vigneault’s system will certainly open things up offensively.  How will the defensive side of things go?  Well, they’ll have the same six back on defense so expect them to be just as sturdy as they were on John Tortorella.  Their forwards are mostly the same as well.  Expect the Rangers to have a better season, solely because Brad Richards cannot be worse than he was last year.


4. Washington Capitals – The pickup of Mikhail Grabovski is going to make Caps fans quickly forget about Mike Ribeiro’s production.  Their roster mostly stayed intact and it appears their young goaltender is on the upward trend.  Braden Holtby showed flashes of being a top-notch goaltender.  One can only think he’ll take another step towards reaching that potential this year.

5. Philadelphia Flyers – Adding Mark Streit will immediately strengthen a weak Philly backline.  If Vincent Lecavalier can find the fountain of youth, the veteran absence Danny Briere won’t be felt as much.  As always for them…it comes down to goaltending.  Can Ray Emery come close to reproducing his magical start with the Blackhawks last season?  If so, they’re in good shape.

Martin Brodeur

6. New Jersey Devils – Given the hand GM Lou Lamoriello was dealt, he did a very solid job patching up the top few lines.  Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder and Jaromir Jagr won’t singularly be able to replace the productivity of Ilya Kovalchuk but that trio should make them a deeper squad.  Can Cory Schneider push Martin Brodeur to play at a high level?

7. Columbus Blue Jackets – The Blue Jackets showed they are on the rise last year, but that was in a wide open West.  Welcome to the East.  Adding Nathan Horton will help, but he can’t carry a team.  They just don’t appear to have the depth right now at either end of the ice, and it’s highly likely that goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky can’t repeat his 2013.


8. Carolina Hurricanes – Their defense has a ton of question marks and their bottom two lines don’t appear reliable at this point.  Cam Ward will have to be much better than last year’s 2.84 GAA.

There’s no doubt that the first year of the new four-division format will make for some exciting playoff races. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if spots two through seven are separated by something like six to eight points. This division will be close and every game will be important.


This Date In Devils History– May 8

Even though the Devils’ 2013 season is over, we can still look back at some great moments in New Jersey’s playoff history.

On May 8…

1988- Officials boycott game 4 of the Wales Conference finals between the Devils and Boston Bruins, after the NHL did not suspend New Jersey coach Jim Schoenfeld for his postgame outburst at referee Don Koharski.

Schoenfeld subsequently was suspended, replacement officials were used and Lou Lamoriello coached New Jersey to a 3-1 win in game 4 at Brendan Byrne Arena. David Maley, Pat Verbeek and Tom Kurvers each scored goals, as the Devils even the best-of-seven series at 2.

1995- Just a day removed from his second-career playoff shutout, Martin Brodeur shuts out the Boston Bruins again, 3-0, in game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Boston Garden.

2000- Brodeur stops all six shots he faces– yes six, that’s not a typo– in New Jersey’s 3-0 Eastern Conference semifinal-clinching game 6 win at Continental Airlines Arena.

Petr Sykora and Jason Arnott each register a goal and an assist, as New Jersey wins the series 4-2.

2012- Ilya Kovalchuk records a goal and an assist, and David Clarkson scores the eventual game-winning goal, as the Devils polish off the Philadelphia Flyers with a 3-1 win in game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Wells Fargo Center.

The Devils claim the series 4-1 and advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

Clarkson’s odd game winner: