Ryan Carter seems to raise his game when the Devils play the Rangers. Whether it’s the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, or the 2013-2014 regular season, No. 20 brings it against the Blueshirts.
What Carter does night-in and night-out epitomizes the Devils system of hard forechecking and defensive responsibility. Sure, he’s a fourth-liner in terms of minutes, but he brings so much more to the table.
What the former Minnesota State star brings is grit and determination. He might not score highlight reel goals at will, but star players don’t score the type of goals that he scores. Why? Because it’s all about hustle. Take Tuesday night for example. It was the end of the period and it was a puck that was lazily drifting into the Rangers zone. How many players would have gotten a change or just pressured the Ranger player to the puck? Instead, Carter dove on the puck and used a power move towards the net and fired a quick shot that Henrik Lundqvist wasn’t ready for.
The point is, Carter isn’t going to sit back and snipe a goaltender for his goals. He works for them. We saw him make a great move against the Predators that resulted in Cam Janssen’s goal.
These are skills that you can’t necessarily teach. His extra effort and knack for driving to the net at the right time are just pure hockey sense.
It hasn’t exactly been all smooth sailing for Carter and the fourth line this season. Up until this week, when Janssen was called up, the line wasn’t producing. After Stephen Gionta went down with an injury, the fourth line was certainly in question. They’ve responded to the challenge, though. With Janssen’s two goals in the last four games and Carter’s four points, (2g, 2a) the fourth line has been a spark.
“The year didn’t start off the way we wanted to and it’s easy to get negative, to sulk a little bit, but (Janssen) injected some positivity into us and low and behold, look what happened,” said Carter to the media after Tuesday night’s win.
New Jersey Devils at Vancouver Canucks, 10:00pm
Rogers Arena- Vancouver, British Columbia
TV: MSG+ Radio: WFAN 101.9 fm, 660 am
After suffering a heartbreaking shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers less than 24 hours ago, the New Jersey Devils take the ice against the Vancouver Canucks. Cory Schneider is back in the cage for the Devils, five days after his shaky NJ debut against the Penguins.
Across the ice from Schneider, will be his longtime teammate in Roberto Luongo.
The Devils held an optional skate this morning. Here are the likely lines:
Dainius Zubrus – Patrik Elias – Jaromir Jagr
Adam Henrique – Travis Zajac – Michael Ryder
Ryane Clowe – Andrei Loktionov – Damien Brunner
Rusty Olesz – Stephen Gionta – Steve Bernier
Bryce Salvador – Marek Zidlicky Andy Greene – Mark Fayne Anton Volchenkov – Peter Harrold
Goaltender: Cory Schneider
Here are some thoughts on tonight’s game:
1. Can’t fall behind multiple goals - Ideally, the Devils would take the lead first and never relinquish it. Given last night’s results, all bets are off tonight. NJ has come back in the third period twice in their last two games to force overtime and gain a point. If they fall behind and are forced to make up a two or three-goal difference, given their potentially frail state of mind, I can’t see them catching up. They need to stay close all night.
2. Middle ground for Cory Schneider - I think most Devils fans were floored by Cory Schneider’s preseason. His GAA was minuscule. That didn’t translate in Game One against the Pens. I’d expect him to have a game somewhere in between his highs and lows. Will he be motivated by coming back to Vancouver where he once stood in the shadow of Luongo? Or will he allow an early goal or two and allow the crowd to get on him and feed the energy of the Canucks?
3. New additions - Ryan Carter is out and so is Adam Larsson. Larsson needs to watch from the suite level tonight. He was extremely strong in 2013 and for the moment, it looks like he has taken major strides backwards. It was time to get Mark Fayne in a game anyway, no matter who it was for. They need to see what they have in him. Given the current state of the organizational depth on defense, it’s worth it to showcase Fayne for a potential trade. Carter hasn’t had much impact like he did the prior two years so it’s a good spot to get Rusty Olesz in. Olesz had a nice preseason but there was really nowhere to fit him in the top four lines. Olesz showed some skill as well as some grit. Let’s see what he can do.
4. Defense needs to shut it down - Last night’s third period was one of the worst frames of hockey the organization has played in a long time. They were air tight for 40 minutes. Then it all went down hill. Goaltenders or not, they’ve allowed three goals or more in each of the first three games. Bryce Salvador got pushed off the puck by smaller guys in the neutral zone last night. That was frightening to watch. I thought he’d bounce back from last year’s hip issue and certainly be more improved. That hasn’t been the case. No excuses about bounces or faceoffs or anything. Get it done.
Prediction: Devils 3, Canucks 1
As my partner Dave Turner mentioned, it is a great thing that they have a game tonight. They have no choice but to forget about Edmonton. Cory Schneider, as a glimpse into the future, shuts down the opposition in a must-have game for the Devils. NJ spreads out its scoring and gets a goal in each period and the defense has its best performance of the year.
There will be a lot of media chatter about the players and coaches for the next few days if the Devils don’t come out of tonight’s game with two points. 10 p.m. awaits…
We’ll have our Instant Insight article up after the conclusion of tonight’s game.
We’ll be doing a weekly mailbag article each week during the season, so if you have a question or comment, feel free to tweet us @SNYDevils or tweet Dave and Jeff directly @DevilsInsiders.
Jake Wakely – @NJDFan4Life – “Is it too big to say he (Gelinas) is like Shea Weber, that’s what he was compared to when he was drafted?”
(Dave)Though Eric Gelinas has a lot of potential, I think there is a big difference between being very good, and being Shea Weber. Weber is one of the best defensemen in the entire league. He hits, he’s positionally sound, and he’s a monster on the power play.
I believe that Gelinas will turn into a very serviceable NHL player, who will see a lot of minutes once his defensive game becomes more polished. The young blueliner showed what he can do with his shot in the preseason game against the Rangers. It seems like a bit much to compare him to Weber, but he has the potential to be a highly productive offensive defenseman that might top out with 45-point ability out of the back end.
Jonathan Harpula – @Statpula – Can our “interchangeable” forwards score enough for a playoff run? Will loss of Ilya = a Ewing-theory type revival?
(Dave)I love the Ewing theory reference. For those of you who don’t know, the Ewing theory is the idea that even though Patrick Ewing was a sensational player both with Georgetown and the New York Knicks, his team somehow always managed to play better when he was off the court.
This is a team without a big-time scorer. There isn’t anyone on this roster who can give you 40 goals, it’s just not going to happen. With that being said, I think this team will have four lines that are capable of scoring. The additions of Michael Ryder, Ryane Clowe, Jaromir Jagr and Damien Brunner (if he makes the team) will definitely provide offense.
Realistically, this team will not be in the top half of the league in scoring, but I think that somewhere in the 16-20 range in goals scored is realistic. Though they lost Ilya Kovalchuk and David Clarkson, they replaced their 26 combined goals with 47 combined goals from the aforementioned offseason acquisitions. Of course, you can’t go comparing numbers as if they’re the end-all be-all, but at the very least, this a deeper team than they were last year.
Jonathan Harpula – @Starpula – Is Brunner the perfect signing to give Jagr and Elias periodic rests?
Travis Coolidge – @TimOconnor11 – Does Brunner make the team ?
I do think that Damien Brunner will make the team. He has the speed and playmaking ability to warrant a spot. Unless he really struggles in the preseason games, or they come to an impasse with a contract, Brunner should be a Devil in 2013-2014.
Brunner would be a great signing because he was a guy on pace to score approximately 20 goals last season over an 82-game span. The way the Devils are currently constructed, I’m not sure we know enough about the offense where Pete DeBoer will have the luxury of sitting Jagr or Elias just to get them a breather. If Henrique and Zajac continue their struggles into this year, PDB can’t afford to have his most experienced and productive guys watching from the stands.
Pat Kelly – Who do you see being the top 3 shootout players for the devils since Kovy and Clarkson are both gone? I see it being Elias, Henique, and Ryder?
(Dave) That’s a great question. The Devils squandered so many points in the shootout last season, so it’s an area that they have to be better at if they expect to push for a playoff spot.
I would think that Elias is a lock, but after that, things get cloudy. Damien Brunner has the highest percentage on the team, scoring twice in seven attempts. Looking at the statistics, this is an area where the Devils may struggle. They MUST be better in the shootout this year, there are too many important points at stake.
If I had to pick a shootout lineup right now, I’d go Elias, Zajac and Jagr, based on their stats and what i’ve seen from them. Zajac has a deceptively strong shot and Jagr is a wily veteran who can still get a goalie to bite on a fake.
Here are the statistics for current Devils during the shootout in 2012-2013:
Damien Brunner: 2 for 7 – 28.6%
Travis Zajac: 1 for 4 – 25%
Patrik Elias: 2 for 8 – 25%
Jaromir Jagr: 2 for 9 – 22.2%
Ryane Clowe: 0 for 3 – 0%
Adam Henrique: 0 for 2 – 0%
Andrei Loktionov: 0 for 1 – 0%
Michael Ryder: 0 for 1 – 0%
We received quite a few questions about the Carter-Gionta-Bernier line. With the amount of players fighting for roster spots, there is a chance that the line might be broken up.
Fabio Torres – @fabio_torres – With all the new players and young guns wanting a spot in the lineup, is the CBGB line on borrowed time?
Avid Devils Fan – @NJDMCP – Would you break up the CBGB line or scratch Josefson?
Jon Bouchard -You know I love Stephen Gionta- with the upswing of young talent for NJ (Boucher, Tedenby, Cislo, Zajac) and the addition of potentially strong offensive additions (Olesz)… is his job in jeopardy? Is someone else’s from CBGB?
Great question, guys. Personally, I’d break up the CBGB line to start the season. I’d put Jacob Josefson between Carter and Bernier. Lou Lamoriello and Pete DeBoer need to make one final evaluation of Josefson. Gionta is a known commodity at this point; he’s going to grind and hustle. He probably will get 8-10 goals at year at best. I’m not sure the Devils know what Josefson can be yet. While healthy last year, he logged the most PK time for any forward. He’s responsible in his own zone and has a good hockey sense. The offense just hasn’t come consistently. The Devils need to give him one last shot to squeeze whatever talent he has in him and try to salvage their first round draft pick from 2009.
It’s easier to forget he’s only 22 still, despite playing during the course of three seasons. It wouldn’t shock me if Gionta starts the season with the big club, comes in for Josefson 15 games into the season or 40 or maybe he even stays in the minors the whole year. I think Josefson should take Gionta’s spot not because Josefson is a better player; he’s not, Gionta has proved more valuable than him over the last two seasons. The reason Josefson should replace him is that the Devils still not what he can be and if he reaches somewhere close to that first round pick he is, he’s more valuable than Gionta.
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.