Stephen Gionta and Ryan Carter will both play for Team USA in the world championships in Finland and Sweden.
Ilya Kovalchuk will play for Russia, in the same group as the U.S.
“It will be fun chasing his (sic) around the big ice surface,” Gionta said sarcastically.
Henrik Tallinder will play for Sweden.
All of those additions make sense, but this omission seems perplexing to me.
Team USA did not call Andy Greene. Curious decision— Rich Chere (@Ledger_NJDevils) April 29, 2013
I’m not sure I understand that one. He should’ve at least gotten a call, right? Greene was the Devils’ best defenseman all year and definitely could’ve helped Team USA. Maybe he let the people in charge know beforehand he wasn’t going to play and they didn’t contact him out of courtesy. I’m not sure if that’s the answer, but not even contacting him makes no sense.
I got a lot of postgame info last night. Most of it I used in Postgame Thoughts, yet some spilled over into today.
Here are some leftovers from the Devils’ 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
For whatever reason, the arena seemed exceedingly quiet until Travis Zajac’s second-period goal.
Maybe the Pens were playing a perfect road game. Maybe the 16,122 were tense and sad about the Devils’ final home game. But whatever the reason, the crowd was very quiet.
Even as the Devils mounted their comeback it seemed quiet. I guess that’s what happens when you’re unaccustomed to missing the postseason.
Still, Devils coach Peter DeBoer credited the team’s supporters.
“Fans have been amazing,” DeBoer said. “I can’t thank them enough. I really feel badly that we’re not giving them playoff hockey this year.”
Pittsburgh’s much-heralded trade-deadline additions have been outstanding.
Jarome Iginla has nine points in 12 games. Jussi Jokinen scored on Thursday– his fifth goal in nine games as a Penguin– and Brenden Morrow’s assist last night gave him 12 points in 14 games.
I nearly tweeted during the second period Thursday that if the Penguins were going to play defense like they had been, and Sidney Crosby and James Neal return, no one would beat them.
Then Pittsburgh gagged a 2-0 lead and lost 3-2.
Pittsburgh has an embarrassment of riches offensively, and the Pens are pretty strong on ‘D’ as well. Marc-Andre Fleury is a Stanley Cup champion. Still, there’s something lingering I don’t like about this team.
Patrik Elias told reporters last night “They’re good at making plays, and they turn the puck over quite a bit to. You can get some opportunities. “
Teams like that don’t typically win the Stanley Cup these days.
After falling behind 2-0, against the east’s best team, the Devils could’ve packed up the tent but didn’t.
“We played well against them all year,” Devils goalie Johan Hedberg said. “I can’t say that we’ve had very many off-nights the whole season.”
The first two periods seemed like a microcosm of the Devils’ season: outplay and outshoot the competition but trail.
“We’ve outplayed teams, we’ve outshot teams, we’ve done everything right,” Devils forward David Clarkson said, “and we’ve had bounces go against us.”
Still, the Devils caught some breaks. The puck appeared to hop on Evgeni Malkin as he was all alone in front of Hedberg. That brief miscue allowed Ryan Carter to backcheck and deflect Malkin’s shot into the protective netting over the glass.
On Ilya Kovalchuk’s third-period game-winning goal, the Devils’ winger attempted a pass to Andrei Loktionov, which found Brandon’s Sutter’s stick instead. Pittsburgh’s forward redirected the pass into an open net, putting the Devils ahead.
If you didn’t watch the first 10 minutes of today’s game, you’d think it was one of the Devils’ best efforts all season. Despite that (very) sub-par start, the Devils once again managed to “turn it on” after Pete DeBoer’s timeout and just dominated the Panthers for the next 50 minutes. Some thoughts…
Wake-up call: The Pete DeBoer First Period Timeout should be sold in pharmacies across the country. It’s best wake-up call I think I’ve ever seen. Why the Devils continue to need it — especially in the throes of a desperate playoff chase — is beyond me, but it certainly is the magical elixir this roster covets. The Devils came out painfully slow and were lacking any sort of energy. The Panthers were skating circles around them, getting to every loose puck. Both of Florida’s goals were a result of out-efforting New Jersey, but that changed as soon as DeBoer called his infamous timeout. You could see him rotating his hand, signaling the Devils needed to pick up the energy. This wasn’t one of those “settle down” timeouts. This was the “well-time expletive” version and it worked. Boy did it work. It took a few minutes but before long New Jersey was all over Florida, like a train that takes time to build up speed and then all of sudden is barreling down the tracks at 80 miles per hour. I know I’ve spent some time cracking on the Devils for their slow starts this season and their reliance on the P.D.F.P.T. (we might need a better acronym), but at this point, a win is a win is a win.
Did the Devils play an A-plus game? No. I’d argue they played a couple better overall games during the 10-game winless streak. But the important thing is the streak is over and the Devils are back in the win column thanks to a few superlative efforts. It likely won’t get the Devils back in the playoff chase, but a couple wins over the last 10 days would be important for their confidence heading into the offseason. Some thoughts…
It’s over: Everyone can breathe a big sign of relief. The winless streak is finally over and it didn’t even take Ilya Kovalchuk returning to finally stop it. Of course, like I said above, this wasn’t a perfect game. They struggled to put pucks on net in the first and had difficulty finishing in the second before Ryan Carter snapped one of Ilya Bryzgalov’s shoulder. But the important thing was the Devils kept working in two very important areas: the neutral zone and below the Flyers’ goal line. The Devils did a good job in long stretches of stopping the Flyers at the blue line and both of the Devils even-strength goals came as a result of their work in the neutral zone. As for the forecheck, it was strong almost all night long. The Devils generated a ton of chances off their pressure below the goal line and it eventually wore down Philly’s defense. While the Devils aren’t talented enough to out-skill teams, they are dedicated and strong enough to out-work them. It’s a long shot, but wins like this are the kind of victories that send a team to length winning streaks. The Devils worked their way past an inferior opponent to a streak-busting victory and were rewarded after several games in which they played well but didn’t win.
The Devils scored just about every way possible on Friday night.
Yet, they still blew a two-goal lead and lost a very important point.
New Jersey scored a shorthanded goal, on its power-play, an even-strength goal and even on a penalty shot. Still, the Devils lost 5-4 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in a shootout on Friday at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Tom Kostopoulos scored his first goal as a Devil, and Matt D’Agostini registered two assists as the Devils still earned point No. 38, falling to 2-0-2 in their last four. Martin Brodeur stopped 21 shots, stoning Steven Stamkos five times. Brodeur lost for the first time since returning from injury, falling to 10-2-5 overall.
The Devils lost their eighth game in overtime or shootouts this year, dropping to 0-5 in road shootouts.
Stamkos scored twice for Tampa Bay, improving his league-leading goal total to 25. He also assisted on Alex Killorn’s game-tying goal with 15.1 seconds left in regulation. Killorn also added an assist on Stamkos’ second goal at 7:11 of the third.
The Lightning improved to 15-18-1, moving to within four points of the eighth-placed Rangers. Tampa Bay finishes 1-1-1 against the Devils this year.
Though Brodeur only made the 21 saves, and couldn’t make stop either of the two shootout tries, he kept the Devils in the game. many of them were high-quality stops.
You could pick any number of stops as Brodeur’s best. Corey Conacher was stoned on his second-period sharp-angle try after stoning Stamkos. Brodeur also robbed Benoit Pouliot in the first period.
Brodeur successfully masked tough games by Anton Volchenkov, Peter Harrold and an off night for Bryce Salvador. Salvador may have still been laboring with the injury he suffered Monday in Ottawa.
Meanwhile, Volchenkov was minus-2 and Harrold was a minus-3. The pairing got beat on Stamkos’ first goal, then neither moved his feet on Nate Thompson’s game-tying goal at 10:26 of the second.
With Adam Larsson sitting for Mark Fayne, we may see Harrold head back to the healthy-scratch list since he’s a minus-5 in his last five games.
SNew Jersey somehow killed Tampa Bay’s 4-on-3 power play in overtime after D’Agostini was whistled for holding Stamkos. New Jersey killed all three Lightning power plays and even scored a shorthanded goal in the third.
The Devils simply were too complacent defensively in the third period, and it bit them.
Two goals in 51 seconds helped the Devils build a 2-0 second-period lead.
D’Agostini earned his first point as a Devil– a sweet assist on Andrei Loktionov’s goal at 5:50 of the second. Kostopoulos scored 51 seconds later on a penalty shot he received when Eric Brewer slashed him on the hands on a breakaway.
D’Agostini also set up Andy Greene’s power-play goal at 13:58 of the second, a goal that broke a 2-2 tie. Greene also assisted on Loktionov’s goal.
Ryan Carter’s shorthanded goal, a relatively-weak goal allowed by Tampa Bay netminder Mathieu Garon, boosted that lead to 4-2 at 2:39.
Kostopoulos fell an assist short of a Gordie Howe hat trick… Marek Zidlicky led the Devils with 27:14, getting an assist on Greene’s goal… David Clarkson led New Jersey with five shots on goal, Stamkos led all skaters with seven… The Devils now are four points behind the fifth-placed Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference standings… Martin St. Louis recorded his 35th assist on Stamkos’ first goal… Brodeur will start against Saturday night in the Devils’ game in Sunrise against the Florida Panthers… Teddy Purcell and Victor Hedman each potted shootout goals. Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac were stoned by Garon.
Postgame Thoughts: Senators 3, Devils 2, SO (3/25/13)
There’s two different ways you could look at tonight’s game: Disappointing or gutsy. During their first contest without Ilya Kovalchuk, the Devils fought through in-game injuries to two game players and an awful to start to eek out a consolation point. They also played some good hockey in the second and third periods, although there were mistakes and they were clearly tired in overtime. Some thoughts…
One and one: One game without Kovalchuk, one point for the Devils. This is how it will have to be. Yes, they would’ve liked to have picked up the extra point and surely played like it in the third period, but any points are important given the state they’re in right now. If you’d like to be concerned, the Devils’ record in overtimes and shootouts is reason for worry. New Jersey has left a lot of points on the ice this season after excelling in extra hockey last season. Will it be the difference between eighth and ninth? Too early to tell, but for now the Devils simply have to do everything they can to stay stagnant (at worst) in the standings while Kovy is out. Tonight, the Devils managed to overcome a dreadful start and seemingly woke up after being undressed by Pete DeBoer during a first-period timeout. The gears didn’t really begin to turn until the second when Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique had some impressive shifts as DeBoer mixed and matched forwards given his limited bench. Over the final two periods, the Devils looked like a good hockey team that couldn’t finish — which is what they’ve looked like for stretches this season. Except there’s no Kovy coming in to seal the deal with a rocket from the point or a perfect pass across the ice. Make no mistake, this is what the Devils will look like for the next two weeks. They could play very inspired hockey game in and game out and it will still be a challenge to score goals.
Seriously? More injuries?: I’m not going to overreact to Bryce Salvador and Stephen Gionta leaving the game early tonight. We don’t know anything about them other than the general area (lower for Salvador, upper for Gionta). DeBoer says they haven’t seen the doctor yet but will travel with the team to Tampa Bay, where the Devils play Friday. The good news is that Salvador’s injury isn’t connected to the upper-body ailment that caused him to miss a game earlier this month. After Salvador missed a game against the Canes, he admitted he would have to play through the pain and deal with the injury and my first thought tonight was that he aggravated whatever that injury was. Instead, it looks like a separate issue, which is just further evidence of how the bangs and bruises will add up through this short season. We said before the year that there would be plenty of injuries for the teams to deal with, but this is starting to feel like a bit of an onslaught. It’s also what happens when a large chunk of your team is veterans with a lot of miles on their bodies. I’m not saying these injuries could’ve been avoided, but look at the players who have hit the IR this season and then take a look at their ages. That’s not a coincidence. Gionta’s a bit of the exception. Despite being 29, he’s spent most of pro hockey career outside of the NHL. He’s also the one player among these two whose absence I believe would hurt the most. Yes, Salvador is the captain and a reliable piece on defense, but the Devils have eight NHL-caliber defensemen and can get by without him for a time. Gionta? First of all, he’s one of the few true right wings the Devils have right now, which, as we’re seeing with the Kovy injury, is a pretty big deal. Two, he’s one of the few players who pretty much plays his role every time he’s out on the ice. The Devils need his energy and effort on the forecheck, especially with Kovy, Zubrus and Ponikarovsky on IR. If Gionta is out for any long period of time, I’m not sure there’s really a player to replace what he brings to the table.
Forced trios: The one thing Gionta’s injury did force DeBoer to do is get real funky with his line combos again and I think he might have stumbled into a winner. When Gionta first didn’t come out for the second period, DeBoer tried Adam Henrique in between Ryan Carter and Steve Bernier. It was a solid shift, but the next time the remaining two-thirds of the CBGB line hit the ice it was with Andrei Loktionov in the middle. In fact, it was on that shift that the Devils scored their first goal of the night with Carter taking the draw and Loktionov lined up to the left. DeBoer stuck with the trio for most of the rest of the game with Carter taking most of the draws and Loktionov playing the middle for the most part. I liked the immediate chemistry between them and I also like how Loktionov was able to play off Carter and Bernier’s physical in-the-corners and in-your-face style. If DeBoer wanted to leave Loktionov there, he could use Henrique to center the “top” line with D’Agostini (who was invisible tonight) and possibly Pesonen until Ponikarovsky comes back. It would allow DeBoer to get Henrique away from the wing, which clearly does not suit him and where DeBoer is incredibly loathe to use him.
No power: The one place we knew the Devils would struggle without Kovy was the power play. Although the Devils only had one opportunity with the man advantage against Ottawa, it certainly wasn’t pretty. There were multiple turnovers, multiple breakaways (by the Sens) and a general sense of discombobulation and confusion. Basically, the Devils didn’t have any sort of “alpha dog” to take over the two minutes and run plays from start to finish. We hypothesized earlier that it’s possible the Devils will use this time to morph into a better overall power-play unit because they won’t be relying on one player — and that’s still possible. It’s impossible to judge anything about this unit without Kovy after just one game let alone one power play, but what I will say is I don’t have a ton of faith that they’ll suddenly start humming 30-plus games into the season. The best option for them now is to spend as much time trying to fire pucks at the net and hoping for rebounds and mismatches in front or for deflections.
Notes: Martin Brodeur did not have his A-game tonight. That was obvious from the Senators’ very first goal. He gave up far too many rebounds and it finally cost him on that late goal in the second period. Devils aren’t going to win many games these next two weeks if Marty doesn’t bring his top game every night. … Second straight game with a goal in the final seconds of a period. Those kinds of goals are absolute killers. Have to hope that’s a blip on the radar and not a trend. … How many posts was that tonight? I think my ears are still ringing. … Zajac played a strong game once again but that giveaway on the power play was awful. … If there’s one thing I noticed tonight it’s that the Senators have a lot of skill and a lot of depth up front despite the injuries. Guillaume Latendresse is a shining example. I’m really surprised he didn’t have about two or three goals tonight with the way he played. … Not sure whether it was David Clarkson fight or DeBoer’s intermission speech that got the Devils fired up, but Clarkson really handled Zach Smith in that fight. … A fifth-round pick for Loktionov. Just throwing that out there again. … What a game for Marek Zidlicky, eh? All over the ice, single-handedly tied the game and a sound one in his own end. Impressive night for Zids. … Clarkson has GOT to start burying some of these shots. He’s getting far too many opportunities compared to the goals he’s scoring. … The Devils looked exhausted in OT, just completely spent. If the injuries to Salvador and Gionta are of decent severity, it’s only a matter of time before that catches up to New Jersey. … A few shootout notes: 1) Daniel Alfredsson’s snap shot is absurdly good. 2) It’s almost as good as that move Mika Zibanejad put on Brodeur for the game winner. 3) Could Kyle Turris have gone any slower? 4) Why do we still have the shootout?
It was almost a storybook return, but history turned out to be too good to be true for Martin Brodeur. Still, after weathering a hectic first 10 minutes, the Devils responded with an excellent overall effort and have ended their most recent losing streak in impressive fashion. Some thoughts…
Marty: It may not have been history, but it was an excellent return for Brodeur, who single-handedly kept the Devils in the game long enough for them to find their sea legs. Brodeur’s performance during the first 10 minutes of the first period was the shining example of what we wrote earlier this week. While Johan Hedberg was good enough, he wasn’t Brodeur. He didn’t have that extra level. Moose was likely to be beaten on the fifth shot of a rapid-fire barrage. Brodeur, on the other hand, was calm, cool, collected and his usual reliable self. Of course, he was blatantly exhausted at the end of that stretch, but thankfully the rest of the team took over from there, shutting the Hurricanes down so well even Drake would’ve been impressed. But it wasn’t just those saves — or his goal (yes, his goal) — that stood out for me. It was all the little things that Brodeur does that make him such an excellent netminder even at the age of 40. One of those examples came during the first period when there was a turnover and Alexander Semin came rushing up the gut toward the puck. Moose might’ve dove at the puck and he might have disrupted Semin enough to be successful. It’s a risky proposition we’ve seen Hedberg both win and lose this season. Instead, Brodeur stayed calm, stayed upright and came out just far enough that he forced Semin to shoot at one of several tiny windows. Semin, of course, nearly scored, rocketing a shot off the post just over Brodeur’s shoulder, but that’s a nearly impossible shot to make and it’s the only one Brodeur gave him. Marty also made at least two or three excellent decision with the puck on his stick, deftly moving the play away from the net and helping the Devils get out of the zone. Brodeur’s return will likely be remembered for his incredibly bizarre goal and those frantic first minutes, but it was the things that went unnoticed, things not seen in the box score that impressed me the most.
First 10, last 50: As alluded to above, it was a schizophrenic game to be certain, although not nearly a half-and-half situation. The Canes came out of the gate pressing the Devils, which only increased once Brodeur scored on that whacky deflection. Carolina threw everything they could at Brodeur over 10 minutes, amassing 11 shots and seemingly coming within a post or a puck bounce of at least a tie game if not a lead. Thankfully for the Devils, Brodeur was there to man the gates, but what happened after that 10 minutes is what really impressed me about this game. The Devils stopped the Hurricanes in their tracks. I mean absolutely stopped them. After those 11 shots, Carolina mustered three more until the midway point of the third period and it had everything to do with the Devils’ smart play in the neutral zone and the way they kept the Canes from establishing any sort of presence in the the Devils’ zone. This was the style of play that frustrated a lot of teams earlier in the season — take the other team’s top skill players out of the game in the neutral zone and halt their primary method of generating changes. The Hurricanes love to shoot the puck — like, really, really love to shoot it — but the Devils wouldn’t even give them the chance to dump it at the net from the point until Jeff Skinner’s puck deflected off Bryce Salvador’s stick and in during the third period. Seeing this style of play return and seeing the Devils sustain it for basically the last 50 minutes of tonight’s game was as good of a sign as Brodeur’s return.
Answering the bell: Of course, none of that would’ve mattered if guys like Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac didn’t stand up and deliver some offensive hockey tonight. One night after Zajac scored for the first time in 11 games, Henrique scored for just the second time since March 7. While Zajac didn’t register a goal tonight, it was his speed into the offensive zone and work on the forecheck that directly led to Peter Harrold’s goal in the second. Zajac also played a key part in Andrei Loktionov’s game-sealing tally in the fourth, winning an offensive-zone faceoff singlehandedly and deflecting a puck from the point to keep it moving in the offensive end. Tonight was the third game in a row where Zajac was clearly more engaged in the offensive zone and if the Devils can get Henrique going as well, along with the Loktionov-Kovalchuk combination, they could start to be a team that scores more than one or two goals a game. Of course, this is a very small sample size and we’ll have to see if the Devils continue to finish their offensive chances in the next couple games, but it was an encouraging sign for a team that has been wondering when Zajac and Henrique would finally turn it on.
The streak, part 2: As noted above, tonight’s win ended the Devils’ most recent losing streak, a 3-game skid that saw them pick up an overtime point in the first game against Philly. While it certainly wasn’t the disastrous slide of two weeks ago, it was enough to temporarily knock the Devils out of the playoff picture. But this isn’t about that streak, it’s about what the Devils need to do going forward, which is reel off a stretch of four wins in five games or at least rack up points in all of those contests — say, seven points out of five games. That’s not too much to ask, not with the Panthers at home Saturday, an injury-ravaged Ottawa team Monday and a Florida twofer next Friday and Saturday. With the bottom half of the Eastern Conference playoff pictures so tightly packed (eight points separate fifth place and 13th as of this post), even picking up a charity point can bump you a spot or two on any given tonight. As an example, the Devils moved from ninth to seventh Thursday night thanks to their win and a Rangers loss. It’s going to be a crazy few weeks as this season wears down and it’s incredibly crucial the Devils use this opportunity to stack points during games against beatable teams.
Notes: I think it’s a good thing the action slowed down after that first 11 minutes. Marty was gassed and I’m guessing if the Canes had continued to press eventually the rust and conditioning factors would’ve gotten to him. … You could feel a goal coming during the second period. The Devils were getting a lot of chances and Dan Ellis was leaving a lot of loose pucks in front of the net. Ilya Kovalchuk and Ryan Carter each missed or fanned on multiple chances before Henrique scored. … I think Pete DeBoer really wants to use the CBGB line as much as possible, but it’s going to be difficult to do once the Devils are healthy. … Speaking of “when the Devils are healthy,” I wonder what happens to tonight’s interesting third line when that’s the case. I assumd the Devils will continue to carry Krys Barch for pure intimidation factor and while also assuming Tim Sestito is the first one back to Albany when either Dainius Zubrus or Henrik Tallinder come off the IR. Since DeBoer insists on keeping eight defensemen around, that leaves either Tom Kostopolous or Harri Pesonen on the chopping block. I like Pesonen’s game much better, but he doesn’t have to pass through waivers, which Kostoplous would if they wanted to send one of them to Albany. … Good to see Adam Larsson putting the puck on net prior to Henrique’s goal, but would’ve been better if he had kept the shot low. That puck was headed over the net until it hit Kovy in front. … Andy Greene made another of his underrated but excellent plays at the close of the second period. Greene was dealing with a bouncing puck in his own zone and had two or three Canes bearing down on him while the Devils changed lines. Instead of panicking, Greene settled the puck and calmly dodged all three Canes while skating behind his net and up the other side of the zone before eventually leading a breakout. All while being hit, chipped at and pushed by the Canes. Tremendous play by the Devils’ best blueliner. … Marek Zidlicky, do you know how many scoring chances you would have if your stick was on the ice? … The calm Loktionov displayed on his goal was fantastic to see and just another example of how his game grows by the day. That backhander was pretty nice, too — although not as nice as Harrold’s.
After missing the entire third period last night, Alexei Ponikarovsky was not present at Wednesday’s practice. His injury, along with the return of Andrei Loktionov to practice, forced Pete DeBoer to use some line combinations we’ve seen before.
Devils' lines today: Henrique-Loktionov-Kovalchuk; Elias-Zajac-Clarkson; Carter-Gionta-Bernier; Barch-Sestito-Kostopoulos.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) March 20, 2013
I’m sure many Devils fans are happy to see the return of the CBGB line, although all of this was necessitated by the injuries to Ponikarovsky and Dainius Zubrus. Once those two return, unless the Devils want Adam Henrique, Travis Zajac or Loktionov to center the fourth line (they don’t), then I wouldn’t expect that line to appear except for certain points when DeBoer maybe wants to give the whole team a spark. Also, DeBoer really dislikes using Henrique on the wing and only uses him there when he has to. Assuming Poni isn’t seriously hurt, I’d expect him to return to that spot until Zubrus is healthy, at which point all bets are off in terms of line combos. We’ll have to see how serious the injury to Ponikarovsky is later today once DeBoer addresses the media. If he’s out for tomorrow’s game, I’d be willing to bet these are the lines we’ll see against Carolina.