Final Score: Canucks 3 Devils 2 (SO)

The New Jersey Devils fell 3-2 to the Vancouver Canucks in the shootout. The loss has brought their record to 1-5-4 on the season.

The Least You Should Know:

- The Devils drop to 0-3 in the shootout this season after failing to beat Roberto Luongo in the skills competition.

- Rookie defenseman Eric Gelinas played in his first NHL game and scored his first career goal on the power play in the first period.

- The Devils outshot the Canucks 30-21, which included 17 shots in the third period.

- Cory Schneider took much of the blame for the loss. “Those were two bad goals there that cost us a point. It shouldn’t have even gone to a shootout,” said Schneider after the loss. “It’s my fault we lost a point tonight.”

Dave Turner

Another strong night, yet an all too familiar result.

The Devils fell in a shootout for the third time this season after a game where they felt they played well enough to get two points.

Sure, there are positives to take away. The line of Andrei Loktionov, Patrik Elias and Jaromir Jagr was excellent. They connected on a first period goal that was about as pretty as they come.

Eric Gelinas stepped into the lineup and made his presence felt right away. His first period power play goal gave the Devils a 2-1 lead. Gelinas tallied 16:27 of ice time and had a great defensive play in overtime that cancelled a Vancouver opportunity.

Still, all of the strong points to their play don’t hold much merit when the results just aren’t there. One win in their first ten games leaves a lot to be desired.

“I thought we were the better team out there for the 65 minutes, said Patrik Elias. ” We had plenty of chances to win that hockey game.”

Patrik Elias2Elias returned to the lineup after a two game absence and scored on a beautiful set up from Loktionov and Jagr.

“It’s tough because there have been games where we played pretty good hockey and didn’t find a way to win and tonight is another example of that. We’ve got to stay positive, but I wish we got those two points tonight because we deserved it tonight,” added Elias.

Things won’t get much easier for the Devils as they travel to Boston on Saturday to take on the Bruins and Tuukka Rask, who has been nothing short of sensational so far this season.

“I thought a lot of guys played the right way,” said Adam Henrique. “A lot of guys were battling hard and now we have to take that and move forward, we have to do that night in and night out.”

Throughout the game, the Devils showed poise on defense, which resulted in a strong game out of the back end, with no glaring breakdowns. Offensively, they moved the puck very well at times and compiled 17 shots on Roberto Luongo in the third period. Despite the flurry of pucks towards the net, they weren’t able to solve the Canucks goaltender over the final 45 minutes.

Cory Schneider stopped 19 of 21 Vancouver shots on the night, but gave up two goals that he’d certainly like to have back. The first was a misplayed puck in front of the net and the second was a sneaky shot by Daniel Sedin from the left side that snuck under his right pad.  “Danny [Sedin] just stepped into it and I thought he was going to get it up a little bit and I was just a split-second late closing off the ice and it snuck under.”

The young netminder was quick to point out that he felt the team played well enough to get the win.

“It was just two real bad goals that cost us a point, it should never have gotten to a shootout,” said Schneider, who took the blame for the loss. “It’s my fault we lost a point tonight.”

It’s another frustrating loss for this team, but the feeling around the dressing room seems to be that this team knows that they’re playing strong enough hockey to win games.

At some point though, these efforts have to turn into wins. If not, the Devils may soon find themselves in an uphill battle towards qualifying for the postseason.


3 Stars: 

1. Jaromir Jagr - he was tenacious on the boards  and won a plethora of puck battles. He assisted on Patrik Elias’s goal and was a force all night.

2. Patrik Elias - Coming off of an illness, you wouldn’t know it by his play. Elias was creating scoring opportunities all night.

3. Eric Gelinas - The rookie defenseman certainly didn’t look like a rookie out there in his first taste of NHL action. His goal was great, but he was solid in his own zone, which is just as important for him if he hopes to stay in New Jersey.

Instant Insight: Game Four – Canucks 3, Devils 2 (OT)

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What Happened: The New Jersey Devils blew another multiple-goal lead on Tuesday night as they fell to the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in OT at Rogers Arena.  Jaromir Jagr scored in the first period and Patrik Elias netted one early in the second.  The Canucks got a pair in a five-minute span midway through the second, before Jason Garrison got the winner in OT.

Star of the Game: Jaromir Jagr.  The old man is doing all he can to get the Devils a win.  In the first period, he buried a quick one-timer on a snap shot to give the Devils the lead.  He had an assist on Elias’ quirky goal to make it 2-0.  

Goat of the Game: Damien Brunner.  Yes, he’s done a lot to help this club.  But he’s now been on the ice for the last four goals the Devils have allowed.  I won’t disagree with you if you pick out any of the six defensemen.

Turning Point: Daniel Sedin’s goal.  It came just about a minute after the Devils made it 2-0.  I thought at the time, it would be a wakeup call for them to keep the pedal to the floor.  Wrong.  Less than five minutes later, the Canucks tied it.  

Grades:

Offense- B-minus - A lot to like from Jagr and Elias.  It may be time to start fretting about the others, though.  Has Adam Henrique touched the puck this season?  He’s been invisible.

Defense- C –  Tough to be mad about the second goal since they were essentially shorthanded but Mark Fayne’s foolish pass at his own blue line set up the goal.  None of the six had a considerably solid game.

Special Teams – B-minus - Penalty kill was sharp and the power play got one chance.  Not much to grade here.

Goaltending- C-plus – Not much Schneider could do.  The first goal was tipped by his own defensemen.  The second one happened while an injured player was hobbling off the ice during the long change period.  Screened by two guys on the third goal.  

Instant Insight: Same thing as the previous three games.  Some good and some bad to take.  The goaltending has allowed at least three goals in all four games.  The defense has been tight at points and has been manhandled during others.  The offense has been the most consistent unit.

The more this winless streak builds, the more frustration builds in the locker room, regardless of whether or not they say the right things to the media.  Now they have to wait a full two days to try and end this streak when they head to Calgary on Friday.

Pregame Preview – Game Four: Devils at Canucks

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New Jersey Devils at Vancouver Canucks, 10:00pm
Rogers Arena- Vancouver, British Columbia
TV: MSG+    Radio: WFAN 101.9 fm, 660 am

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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

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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. 

 

In search of a silver lining after last night’s meltdown

Dave Turner

The range of emotions last night was stark. Early in the third period the team was laughing on the bench, enjoying what was at that point, a very good effort.

Then, the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins goal opened up a pandora’s box and the game snowballed out of control.

Some may think the sky is falling.

Take a deep breath and say this three times: “It’s only three games.”

In the wake of their meltdown loss in Edmonton on Monday night, the Devils are a team still trying to find their footing amidst this nascent 2013 campaign. All this team can do is chalk it up to a learning experience and move on. In truth, no matter how bad that loss was, there are still 79 games left to play. In terms of the big picture, this game will be a blip on the radar three months from now, if the Devils are able to learn from this game.

Though it feels like an eternity ago, as they were blowing the lead, another 3-0 game came to mind.

Remember that loss? That was game three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in 2012. This was a home loss in a playoff game and it didn’t cripple the team. They were able to overcome that defeat. That’s all that this year’s club needs to do. It’s almost a good thing that they have another game tonight, because it forces them to quickly put this defeat in the rear view mirror.

Last night, in the process of learning how to win, this team got a good lesson in playing a complete, sixty-minute hockey game. This early in the season, teams have to lose in order to learn how to win. The fact is, no matter how bad last night was, there’s a game tonight in Vancouver and it’s another chance for this team to get their first win of the season.

Still, there are some glaring issues that this team needs to address moving forward.

This team needs more time to work on some of their defensive deficiencies, but those are correctable. The fourth goal by Taylor Hall was about as blatant of a breakdown as you can get, as all of the players were against the boards and it allowed Hall to freely skate in and beat Brodeur.

So far through three games, there are almost an equal number of positives and negatives to take away. The offense doesn’t look like it’ll be an issue. They’ve scored seven goals in the past two games. Usually, if you score three or four goals, that should be enough to win the game.  Both times, however, it was not enough because of the defense.

The defensive breakdowns and struggles at neutral ice are correctable, but the two areas that stand to be a problem are the faceoff dot and the shootout. Last night the Devils won just 25 of 67 faceoffs. That’s 37.3% which is completely unacceptable. Considering that one of the Edmonton goals came directly off of a faceoff loss by Travis Zajac, who won five of seventeen faceoffs for 29.4%, this is an area which will plague this team.20120110-154509.jpg

Losing faceoffs limits offensive zone opportunities and also allows opponents better scoring chances of their own. If this team is going to constantly get beat in the dot, they will struggle.

As I mentioned last night, the shootout is a major area of concern. If this team is going to go quietly into the night every time they get to the shootout, it may cost them down the road.  Whether its taking practice time to work on the shootout, or just simply finding a bit of luck, the Devils simply cannot afford to lose shootouts at the same rate they did last year.

Looking at some of the positives, the offseason acquisitions are already paying dividends. Damien Brunner has been spectacular at times so far, with three goals to start the season. Michael Ryder has shown dead-eye accuracy with his shot, as he has notched two goals on the season.

Considering that the biggest question mark coming into the season was the offense, it’s a strange turn of events when the offense actually looks like the strength of the team thus far.

Whatever the case may be, this team is searching for a W in the worst way. A win tonight, coupled by a strong performance by Cory Schneider in his return to Vancouver, would go a long way. Most teams would sign up for three out of four points to begin a road trip in a heartbeat.

All that’s left is for this team to take what they experienced last night and channel it into a full, three-period effort. A win would go a long way for this team’s confidence. You have to believe that the Devils view tonight’s game as a must win, because if these losses keep piling up, no amount of positives from these last few games will hide the early blemish on their season.

Five Other Goalie Goals

So Martin Brodeur scored a goal last night.

You think it’s a great accomplishment? Ok, it IS a great accomplishment for any netminder to be credited with a goal.

Here are five other great goals by goalies.

5. Carolina’s Cam Ward vs. New Jersey, 2011. Basically the inverse of last night’s goal. 

4. Detroit’s Chris Osgood vs. Hartford, 1996. Bonus points for this coming against a now-defunct NHL team. 

3. San Jose’s Evgeni Nabakov vs. Vancouver, 2002. The only other power-play goal by a goalie. 

2. Philadelphia’s Ron Hextall vs. Washington, 1989. The first playoff goal by a goalie… 

1. Brodeur’s playoff goal vs. Montreal, 1997. …but this one is still the best. 

Headline: Doc Emrick to be Honored

The New Jersey Devils have announced that they are going to honor the great broadcaster Mike “Doc” Emrick on February 24th against the Vancouver Canucks.. Doc was the Devils’ play by play announcer for the past 18 seasons. He was awarded the Lester Patrick Award in 2004 for his service to the sport of hockey. Doc was elected into the U.S Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011. Now he is play by play announcer for NBC sports.