Final Score: Devils 4, Ducks 3 OT

The New Jersey Devils rallied in the third period and beat the Anaheim Ducks in overtime by a 4-3 mark at Honda Center on Wednesday night.  The Devils are now 8-8-5 on the season.

The Least You Should Know:

- Jaromir Jagr scored with 1:09 to go in regulation to send the game into overtime.

- The man who helped create Jagr’s goal, Travis Zajac, scored the game winner in overtime at 1:58.

- The Devils are back to .500 on the season and moved into a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division.

Jeff OConnor

Wow.  Who saw that coming?  The Devils trailed after 40 minutes by a 3-2 score.  They dominated and had the first nine or 10 shots of the third period.  It felt like a bad Ducks goal was coming, but it never did.Zajac worried

Zajac deserves a TON of credit for keeping the puck in the zone on that tying goal.  An errant drop pass was labeled to be cleared out to the neutral zone, and perhaps an empty netter to end the game.  Instead, the puck comes behind the net, the Devils grind it and a feed in front was buried by Jagr.

Then the team finally got a bounce in overtime.  Dainius Zubrus hustled up the right side in an odd-man rush with Zajac, who was trying to catch up with him and go to the net.  Zubrus threw it at Zajac who could only kick it towards net.  The Ducks, without caution, tried to whip it out of the zone quickly but it winded up going off Corey Perry’s leg into the vacated net.

It’s easy to forget about the job done by Martin Brodeur.  He was brilliant once again.  The first goal from Matt Beleskey I’m sure he would like to have back but the tallies from Nick Bonino and Ryan Getzlaf he had no prayer on.   The save on Matthieu Perreault in overtime before the Zajac winner won’t soon be forgotten by anyone who’s a fan of the sport.  That glove save by Marty will be replayed on highlight reels…well, forever.

This team is starting to find a more consistent rhythm in the goal-scoring department.  The goaltending has been as rock solid as was thought to be before the season and the team only gave up one goal at even strength.  They are brimming with confidence and that’s needed as they face some high-quality teams this week.  The next two contests will be a great barometer and litmus test for this club to see where they stack up against true Stanley Cup contenders.

The fun continues in less than 24 hours.  The Kings are next, coming up later on tonight at 10:30 p.m. EST.

Final Score: Kings 2, Devils 0

The Los Angeles Kings took down the New Jersey Devils 2-0 at the Prudential Center in the first meeting between the two teams since the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals.  The loss drops the Devils to 6-8-5 on the season.

Dwight King scored on a deflection from a point shot by Jake Muzzin late in the 3rd period to give Los Angeles the lead that they would take to the end of the game.

- Patrik Elias’ return was a shot in the arm for the Devils on all fronts, but he failed to register a shot on goal and looked like he was at least one game away from getting his legs back under him.

- Corey Schneider put together a stellar effort despite another shortage of offensive support.  But, tonight belonged to Ben Scrivens, who recorded a 26-save shutout, his second shutout triumph this year.

Ryan Jahnke

The Devils have something good going right now, putting up a record of 3-0-1 in their last 4 games before facing LA.  Their defense has been suffocating and their goaltending has been among the league’s best, no matter who is between the pipes.  Their penalty kill is lights out, particularly at the Rock, where opponents have managed just one power play goal against the Devils (before tonight’s empty-netter).  So with all of this going so right for the team, their fans have just one question left… what is going on with the offense?

The Devils came into Friday night’s game against the Kings and strong backup goaltender Ben Scrivens as one of the lowest scoring teams in the league, and the first few periods did little to change that.  Great pressure and strong chances for New Jersey resulted in 18 shots and no goals through the first two.  Things were even worse for the red and black in the third.  Their legs were gone and their shots had dried up.  Los Angeles used this to their advantage and turned up the pressure on New Jersey, wearing the Devils down until finally recording what would be the game-winning goal on a strong screen and beautiful deflection by Dwight King.  A long empty-netter by Anze Kopitar sealed the deal and a regulation victory for the Kings.

The offense remains a problem for New Jersey.  The first period was one to be proud of as Jersey’s team thoroughly outplayed their opponents.  They worked especially hard in the L.A. zone, creating chances and crashing the net.  After that, things got ugly.  The Devils were outhit by a wide margin and gave the puck away more than three times as much as Los Angeles.

That’s not to say that there weren’t any bright spots from the New Jersey front men.  Jaromir Jagr, Adam Henrique and Danius Zubrus all put up strong efforts, and Andy Greene was a big playmaker tonight.  Unfortunately, the Devils always seemed a step behind the play as countless pucks slid through the crease without anyone in red there to bury them.

The defense and goaltending were dominant.  Cory Schneider did everything a goalie could do to win this game for his team, and the boys in front of him limited  opportunities.  One unfortunate stretch was their undoing, as the relentless Kings’ attack at the end of the game lured two Devils D-men to the side of the goal leaving Dwight King uncontested in front of Schneider.

This kind of game can take the wind out of a team’s sails.  The Devils came in talking about giving Schneider some goal support, and then get blanked at home.  With a lackluster third and an anemic power play to finish the game, the Devils left the ice with their heads hanging and the fans’ frustrations ringing in their ears.  It’ll be a tough test for the team tomorrow night as New Jersey looks to pick themselves up and rise to the challenge against Pittsburgh.  The Red and Black will need to play all three periods tomorrow like they did the first stanza tonight. Martin Brodeur will need to keep up his impressive streak of quality games, put the team back on track and make sure that they don’t lose the momentum that they had built up over the previous four games.

Final Score: Devils 5 Predators 0

The New Jersey Devils closed out a strong weekend of play with a dominating 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators.  The win moves the Devils to 5-7-5 on the season.

- This one was all Devils from the outset, as they were fast, disciplined and controlled the play all night.

- Jaromir Jagr notched the 1,700th point of his career with his first period goal.

- Martin Brodeur turned in yet another stellar performance in net, stopping all fifteen Predator shots.

- Travis Zajac scored his first goal in seven games when he ripped a shot home in the third period to ice the game for New Jersey.

Dave Turner

It may have taken 17 games to do so, but we finally saw a complete 60-minute effort from the New Jersey Devils.

They came out flying and kept up the pressure en-route to the dominating 5-0 win over the Predators.

After a frustrating 2-1 shootout loss on Friday night, the Devils seemed to have found their legs against Nashville. Forechecking, defense, passing, it was all on display on Sunday night from Prudential Center.

The win caps a strong weekend for the Devils, who gained five of a possible six points in just three nights. They seem to be finding their stride at the right time, as they’ll travel to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night before playing a back-to-back against the Penguins and Kings next weekend.

With his early struggles so far away in the rear-view mirror at this point, Martin Brodeur might be the hottest goaltender in the NHL right now.

It was the kind of night where everything seemed to go well. Cam Janssen scored his second goal in three games when he banged home a rebound off of an excellent shot by Ryan Carter and Mattias Tedenby got his first goal of the season as well.

There’s no doubt that their confidence is high after their best effort of the young season, but it’ll take more of the same effort next week if this team hopes to even up their record at .500.

Final Score: Devils 3, Flyers 0

The New Jersey Devils took down the Philadelphia Flyers 2-0 from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. with a well-earned bounce-back effort.  The win pushes the Devils to 4-7-4 on the season.

Adam Henrique scored on a deflection off of a blast from the point by Eric Gelinas in the first period.  This was the team’s first goal in six periods of hockey.

- Travis Zajac’s return was a big plus for a team in need of some offense and help on the forecheck.  Peter Harrold and Anton Volchenkov also returned to have a positive impact on the game.

- Cam Janssen used his hands for something other than fighting, as he registered his first goal since March 2011, and his second ever goal as a New Jersey Devil.

- Martin Brodeur recorded the 22 save shutout, extending his NHL record to 122 over his career and his 12th against the Flyers.

Ryan Jahnke

The Devils have been hurting recently, following up two big wins against Boston and Tampa with two debilitating, shut-out losses to the Flyers and the Wild.  What little swagger New Jersey gained was ripped away as injuries to key starters, including top two forwards Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac, left the team snake-bit and unable to manufacture goals for over 151 minutes.  Maybe it’s a little too dramatic to call the 15th game of the season a must-win, but it’s hard to deny that the team’s confidence moving forward hung on the outcome of the game in Philadelphia.

New Jersey didn’t disappoint, as the red and black put together strong efforts at both ends of the ice.  The Devils took the game to Philly by out-working and out-hustling their rivals for 60 straight minutes.  Despite being out-hit 30 – 22, it seemed like New Jersey played the better physical game winning the battles in the corners and along the boards.

Their penalty kill was dominant, their forecheck was overwhelming and their overall defensive effort was as impressive as it’s been this season, from both the forwards and the D-Men.  Andy Greene and Travis Zajac really stood-out as the workhorses of New Jersey’s defensive effort accounting for the most minutes on the ice at their respective positions. The strong defense never allowed the Flyers to get a their game going. The Devils held the Philadelphia power play to an 0 – 3 night.  Returning defensemen Anton Volchenkov and Peter Harrold also deserve credit for logging some important minutes and playing a big part in the Devils’ gritty win.

Offensively, there was more in this game to be excited about than the scoresheet might lead you to believe.  In a night that was all about hustle and pressure, the Devils’ offense did their part and got some contributions from some very, very unlikely sources.  Mattias Tedenby and Andrei Loktionov created some wonderful chances, and defensemen Eric Gelinas and Adam Larsson continue to prove why they’re near the top of a very promising young group of blue-line threats.

The team showed a greater commitment to driving the net, and it paid-off in spades as New Jersey netted two deflection goals up high on Ray Emery.  Adam Henrique netted the first one for his fifth of the season and Cam Janssen was elated to nab the second off of a shot from Larsson and a great tandem effort from Janssen himself and Ryan Carter.  After being brought up for this game to the dismay of many who wanted to hear that a goal-scorer was coming into the lineup, it was a great to see the look of joy on the face of New Jersey’s enforcer as Cam lit that lamp.  Then, to cap off a solid offensive night for Jersey’s team, Jaromir Jagr recorded the empty-netter. A nice reward for a man who was once again, arguably, New Jersey’s top forward.

It wasn’t a perfect effort.  It would have been nice to see the Devils throw a few more shots at Emery, and maybe take advantage of one of their three power plays, but really that’s just nit-picking.  Tonight was a good game offensively, especially for a team that is still without Patrik Elias and Ryan Clowe.

Of course this night wouldn’t be complete without discussing the play of no.30.  It was a big night for Martin Brodeur, as he recorded his 122nd career shutout, and his 12th against the Flyers.  To be fair, a combination of solid D and a struggling Flyer lineup meant that this wasn’t Brodeur’s toughest test.  But, when the team needed him, Marty stepped up, made some big saves, and stopped all 22 tries by his opponents.  Tonight, Marty wasn’t just better, he was perfect.

Devils-Flyers

Pregame Primer: Game Fifteen – Devils at Flyers

Devils-Flyers

New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers, 7:00pm

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

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

linelong

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.

By the numbers – Elias, Zajac losses have been key

Dave Turner

The eye test surely tells the story of the Devils struggles without Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac in the lineup.

To no surprise, the Corsi numbers back up that claim, as Elias and Zajac are one and two respectively on the team in on ice-Corsi rating.

Zajac worried

In case you’re not familiar with what Corsi rating is, it’s basically a metric that rates players based on the amount of shots directed towards the net in the offensive zone, versus shots towards the net in the defensive zone.

For Zajac, his 17.10 CorsiOn rating is almost four points higher than the next forward, which is Jaromir Jagr at 13.32. The value of No. 19 in the lineup is so big not just because of his play, but his ability to win faceoffs.

Zajac has won 51 percent of his draws on the season. Though that’s nothing astronomical, compared to the rest of the team, he’s easily the best man in the dot. Andrei Loktionov’s 41.1 percent and Adam Henrique’s 40.2 percent are among the lowest in the league for any player who has taken a consistent amount of draws.

You can also make the case that Zajac is a vital cog on the power play, as he’s won 20 power play face offs to 16 losses on the man advantage. Corsi numbers will always reflect well on a centerman that can win draws. If you’re controlling the puck off the faceoff, chances are you’re either not giving up shots in your own end, or at least getting opportunities in the offensive end.

Zajac’s offensive numbers are far from spectacular, as he only has one goal and three assists on the season, but he means more to this team than just point production. Being the only center on the roster above 50 percent in the faceoff dot is huge, as his absence hurts in all three zones in that regard. As the Corsi numbers dictate though, when he’s on the ice, the team is creating more shots than they’re giving up.

As for Elias, his presence is felt in many ways as well. Playing on the top line with Loktionov and Jagr for most of the season, he has three goals and four assists in ten games. As Patrik has done so well throughout his long career, he creates offense. The first line had been very good before he left the lineup and his team-leading 18.13 Corsi rating reflects that. There’s a large discrepancy between the amount of shots for and against when Elias is on the ice.Patrik Elias

Sidney Crosby has an 18.94 Corsi rating, which puts into perspective just how valuable Elias has been to this club.

Though the recent struggles aren’t just about the losses of these two players, it’s clear that the Devils are a much better team with both Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac in the lineup. The numbers point to the fact that both of those players generate the most offense for this team.

What’s up with Michael Ryder and Damien Brunner?

Jeff OConnor

Michael Ryder has no goals in his last five games.

We know he’s a streaky guy but outside of a post he hit on Saturday night against Philadelphia, he’s been relatively quiet.  For one, he’s not shooting nearly enough.  He has six shots in the team’s last five games.  Even with these last five contests, he’s shooting at an 18 percent clip.  That’s great.

What’s concerning is that he hasn’t scored an even-strength goal since October 7 at Edmonton.  The two even-strength tallies he does have came when he was on a line with Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac.  Of course, Zajac was the center and Henrique was the winger.  Zajac has been out the last few games so Pete DeBoer has had to juggle lines, leaving Ryder without a cemented spot amongst the top three lines.Michael Ryder

Even still, on his two even-strength goals, no one has assisted on Ryder’s markers.  Perhaps Ryder hasn’t found his correct complementary parts yet.  Newcomer Jaromir Jagr found his a few games ago, really connecting with Andrei Loktionov and Patrik Elias.  Compared to other teammates he’s played with on his line for significant minutes, Henrique and Zajac remain his best options in terms of metrics.  When Zajac gets healthy, he needs to consider going with two centers on that line with Ryder.  Ryder was brought here to do one thing; score goals.  If he’s not producing with other linemates, it might be worth sacrificing in other areas if it means No. 17 is on a line where he’ll get lots of great looks.

Where has Damien Brunner been?  He has failed to record a point in seven of his last eight games.  Unlike Ryder, Brunner is firing the puck a lot.  In the last five games, he’s let the puck fly 15 times.  After a hot start, he’s now hitting the back of the net at a 10.8 percent rate.  Unfortunately for the Devils, they are still figuring out what he is.  Despite playing many seasons overseas, Brunner only has one NHL season under his belt.  He had 12 goals in 44 games with Detroit last year but shot 9.8 percent.  Oof.

I think everyone, coaches and management, need to take more time to evaluate Brunner to better identify where he fits with this team.  It should be said that one of the linemates he should be playing with is currently out with an injury, Ryane Clowe.  Clowe and Brunner have been on the ice 5-on-5 for nearly a full game’s worth of ice time.  They’ve created points together and have been on the plus side of the Corsi chart.  He’s played away from Clowe for about half a game and the Corsi mark average during that time is a minus-16.  So while Brunner is still finding his game and role, perhaps the answer is waiting in a man who will hopefully be back with the club soon.

Ryder and Brunner carried the team early in the season when they struggled to get points.  They started to take a backseat to other performers when the team got on a bit of a roll.  Recently, they’ve been nowhere to be found as the team may be heading towards another slide. Damien Brunner

These numbers are of a small sample size, no question, but these guys are only going to play with a select few players all year long.  These two won’t be playing with the CBGB line, so in essence, there are seven other guys to choose from that they’ll match up with and hopefully at some point, click.

So, while others like Jagr have found some chemistry and are getting more comfortable, these two guys are still in search for their security blankets.  Once they have some more time and find that level of trust in others, Pete DeBoer will finally have a well-rounded stable of forwards on the ice, instead of just on paper like most thought he had in August.

No Elias or Zajac tonight in Minnesota, no starting goaltender announced yet

No pressure, Travis.

After dropping a 1-0 contest to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Devils quickly turned their focus to the Minnesota Wild.

They’ll be shorthanded once again, as Patrik Elias (upper body) and Travis Zajac (ankle) will not make the flight over to St. Paul.

There is no timetable for the return of either.

The Devils goaltending situation for tonight is still not known. Last night, Martin Brodeur responded with a “no” when asked if he was going to start.

Pete DeBoer was also committal as to the return of Cory Schneider, but it’s likely that he is going to get the start tonight if in fact Brodeur is not playing.

We’ll keep you updated on that situation.

Travis Zajac Out vs. Flyers

20120130-152120.jpg

After tweaking his ankle in practice, Travis Zajac will be out for Saturday’s game against the Flyers.

Taking his place will be Jacob Josefson who play with Dainius Zubrus and Damien Brunner tonight.

Though it doesn’t seem like the kind of injury that should keep Zajac out long, his availability for tomorrow against Minnesota is certainly in question as well.

We’ll keep you updated with any additional information.

 

Pregame Primer – Game Ten: Devils vs. Canucks

New Jersey Devils vs Vancouver Canucks, 7:00pm

Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey

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

linelong

Patrik Elias – Andrei Loktionov – Jaromir Jagr
Rostislav Olesz – Travis Zajac – Damien Brunner
Dainius Zubrus – Adam Henrique – Michael Ryder
Ryan Carter – Stephen Gionta – Steve Bernier

Andy Greene – Mark Fayne
Anton Volchenkov – Marek Zidlicky
Eric Gelinas – Adam Larsson

Goaltender: Cory Schneider
Some thought on tonight’s game:

1. What can the Gelinas-Larsson pairing bring? Eric Gelinas was called up after Bryce Salvador left due to a death in the family. After a strong preseason, he get’s his chance. Gelinas has a great shot and showed a lot of promise in the defensive end as well during the preseason. Though it’s likely that he’ll be sent down once Salvador returns, a strong game could certainly work towards changing that. As for Adam Larsson, he’s back in after sitting for a few games. He needs to have a strong game as well. The young Swedish defender must limit any defensive zone breakdowns and begin to show some of the progress he had made during last season.

2. Cory Schneider against his former team: take two.  Schneider was good against Vancouver when the teams squared off in British Columbia just a few games ago. He did give up the goal in overtime and you have to expect that with the home ice, he wants to be even better. After a shaky performance against the Blue Jackets, the 27-year-old netminder has to be better tonight, especially with the Canucks scoring goals in bunches so far this season.

3. The new lines, will they work? Once again, the lines are switched for tonight. Though they have to find something that sticks at some point or another, Pete DeBoer is still trying to find the right combinations that will best suit his players. Andrei Loktionov with Patrik Elias and Jaromir Jagr is a tantalizing combination. Though Loktionov has had some gaffes in the defensive end lately, he still possesses creativity and speed in the offensive end. Put him with two hall-of-fame caliber players and he should be in an excellent position to succeed. Rostislav Olesz has almost silently been very effective this year, he’s a big, tough forechecker who can bring some scoring touch as well. Putting him with Travis Zajac and Damien Brunner may elevate all three.

Prediction: Devils 3, Canucks 2

This is a must-win game for this team. 1-5-3 is already a tough hole to climb out of and any loss at this point makes it even harder. They looked good for about a period and a half against Columbus, but got outworked in the third period and it showed. Expect a very strong effort from this team tonight as they look to show that their win against the Rangers wasn’t a fluke.  Patrik Elias’s return makes this lineup deeper and it will translate into some goals.