The Devils dropped their Friday night matchup, the one where they wore the old red and green jerseys, to the Washington Capitals, a very good Capitals team I might add. Brodeur said after the game "It's a setback. We were doing well." It was the second loss in as many nights and the first time they dropped two in a row since the very beginning of January. What Brodeur said was an understatement. Basically, the way I see it, the Devils can afford 1 loss the rest of the season. They are still having trouble getting past 6 points out of 8th.
Thankfully, the Devils got back on track last night with a 3-0 win over the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets.? Tomorrow night the Devils head to Boston to take on a Bruins team that was embarrassed in Toronto and on Hockey Night in Canada so that one loss I feel the Devils can afford to lose, could come REALLY early.
You want to keep playing hockey in a few weeks, nows the time to dig down and show us what you are made of.
Despite the injuries that have taken key players out of the lineup, the Capitals played an excellent game against the Wings and were a crossbar away from taking the game to overtime. Look for the Capitals to rebound with a strong showing tonight as they look to start a new streak.
What we think of the Capitals:
Say what you will about NJ being on fire as of late (2 losses in 2 weeks to the last place Senators will get you an argument from me about how good NJ actually is..) but the Capitals are putting it together at the right time. I'll be honest, when I play EA's NHL 11, there are two teams I use where I am untouchable and one of those would be the Washington Capitals. I'm not surprised to see them coming together late in the season. They took a 9 game winning streak into Detroit and saw it come to end. You're going to have a hard time selling me on the thought that the Detroit game starts a losing streak for Washingtong.
Season Series: Washington leads the season series 2-1. Tonight is the final time they will see each other in the regular season (notice I said regular season because I remain hopefully of climbing into the playoffs!!)
Last Meeting: December 21, 2010 - Caps won 5-1
Tonight's Game: Get out those Christmas Tree jerseys because tonight is ugly uniform night retro night. I'm sorry, I know that will get a reaction from readers but for me those jerseys are kind of hideous, it was the reason we did away with them in the first place. I just hope whatever magic those jerseys had against Pittsburgh last year is still in there somewhere.
Find a way to move on from last night. It's not that the Devils played a bad game because they really didn't. They outshot Ottawa and pretty much outplayed them. One lucky goal was the difference in that game but Ottawa is a team you HAVE to beat when battling to get in the playoffs. The Devils haven't played a team of the Caps calibre in a while so if the Devils don't raise their game to the Capitals level, call it early. The last time Washington was in the building, they didn't really respect their opponent and were beaten badly. Don't expect that tonight. This is a must win in my opinion.
Tonight was supposed to mark the first time Arnott returned to NJ since being traded but he'll be sitting out of the lineup for the 3rd straight game. Hopefully, Steckel wants to make his former team pay!!
Playoff Race: Devils currently sitting in 12th with 70 points. Toronto sits in 11th with 72 points and Atlanta sits in 10th with 72. A win tonight moves NJ up in the standings but Atlanta has a critical matchup with Buffalo tomorrow night and Toronto plays host to Boston tomorrow night. 9th place Carolina plays host to the Islanders tonight but are out of the reach of NJ for tonight.
My title of the article was going to be "Devils shit the bed" but I thought that was to drastic. If the Devils do fall short, like Brian Leetch is predicting, I am sure everyone is going to look at the games against Ottawa late in the season where the Devils left 4 points on the table. When you are playing a 15th place team, the night before you play the 2nd place team in your conference, its a must win. Plain and simple. The Devils didn't do that.
Lucky for them that Toronto decided to start Giggy in net for the first time in over a month and he stunk it up so the Devils don't lose much ground, only watch Atlanta jump up above them with 72 points.
Lets get this out of the way. Like last week, when Craig Anderson played better than anyone could have imagines, Curtis McElhinney was fantastic against the Devils. Lately NJ had been capitalizing on the opponents mistakes, like Wheelers the other night and been getting the pucks to bounce there way. Last night, Curtis McElhinney made sure the rebounds didn't bounce their way.
Down 1-0, Chris Neil got an early goal, a flukey goal to put the Sens up 2-0. Take that away and the Devils could have been in this game. Rolston did close the gap in the 3rd with a PP goal through traffic but the Sens would ice the game with an empty net goal.
The Devils, like last week outshot the Sens and probably were the better team on ice, they just didn't get the bounces. The Devils need to regroup though because a tough task is on their way into town.
"In light of Craig Anderson channelling his inner Colorado Avalanche yesterday and completely defecating the mattress in his 22 minutes and 10 seconds of play against the Buffalo Sabres, the Senators three game winning streak is over. Mind you, it was only a matter of time before he looked like any other incapable goaltender that we have grown accustomed to seeing man the pipes over the past few seasons. It's about time too. Like some fans, I was beginning to get a little worried and treated each win like it was a bad birthday gift from a family member."
What we think of the Senators:
Yea, the Senators kind of suck BUT they took it to us last week and when you are trying to make NHL history and squeak into the playoffs after being so far out of it, even the suckiest teams can find their game one night. That's exactly what Craig Anderson did last week in NJ. Hopefully tonight is a much different story.
Season Series: Ottawa leads the season series 2-1. Tonight is the final time they will see each other this season.
Last Meeting: March 8, 2011 - Senators won 2-1
Tonight's Game: Put the puck on net. The Senators just gave up 5 goals on 41 shots in their most recent game. In the game before that, the Senators gave up 6 goals on 33 shots to Buffalo. Craig Anderson looks like anything but the capable goalie we saw last week in NJ.
The Devils are going to need to beat this team 5 on 5 tonight. Surprisingly, the bad Senators are everything but bad when a man of theirs is sitting in the sin bin feeling shame. Their success rate this season on the PK is 83.1%, which is tied for the twelfth best in the NHL. The Devils were 0 for 4 last week against Ottawa and 2 for 8 this season with the 2 goals coming in the December 10th Matchup.
The Devils need to come out strong and put this team away early. I don't like to look ahead in the schedule but a very tough Washington Capitals team comes to NJ tomorrow night and this team is in Ottawa tonight. They need to come out, put Ottawa away early, conserve their energy and find a way to show up tomorrow night. With that said, having Washington in town tomorrow night is dangerous because the Devils could completely overlook the Senators tonight and find themselves dealing with another loss and missed oppurtunity to grab more points.
Playoff Race: Devils currently sitting in 11th with 70 points. Toronto sits in 10th with 72 points, plays at Florida tonight. 9th place Carolina with 74 points is idle tonight and 12th place Atlanta, with 70 points plays host to Philadelphia tonight.
And finally, Brian Leetch thinks the Devils will fall short of making the playoffs. That's fine, everyone is entitled to their opinions but should I be shocked that he picked the Rangers to hang on to their playoff spot? Isn't that kind of like if Scott Stevens were to come out and say the Rangers would miss and the Devils would grab their spot? The only comment worth making about the video below is that Brian Leetch doing commentary/analysis on camera is about as awkward as American Idol contestants doing Nirvana songs!!
Down 2-0 in the first, you have to give credit to NJ for not giving up. Zajac tied the game late in the first period and Elias found the equalizer early on in the second. Josefson one-timed a pass from Tedenby at the top of the left circle past a screened Ondrej Pavelec to snap a 2-2 tie. Kovalchuk would add an empty net goal late to seal the victory.
Of courses Zajac's goal was important because it was one of those late goals that seemsto kill any teams momentum no matter how well they played but for me it was the Elias goal that was the story of this game. Atlanta was starting to make mistakes and Blake Wheeler sent a puck wide of Brodeur and didn't see that his team was pinching up. The Devils made a quick transition, and Elias and Rolston played a little give and go before Elias put the puck in the net. Right there, Atlanta knew that if they wanted to win this game, they were going to have to play a lot better. A early 2-0 lead wasn't going to give them the win.
The Devils continue the march towards making the post season. They've gone over the .500 mark for the first time this season, land in 10th place overall with 70 points and trail the Hurricanes by 4 points and the Sabres by 6. It's hard not to believe in this team because they just keep on winning. Center Travis Zajac played in his 388th consecutive game on Tuesday, equaling a franchise mark established by defenseman Ken Daneyko 17 years ago.
Those Senators that beat us the other night come to town on Thursday and the Devils need to find a way to win because the Caps come to town on Friday night for Retro night and that will be a very big and tough game.
"After dramatic win in Philly can we mention the ‘P’ word again in Thrasherville?"
What we think of the Thrashers:
We just saw them the other night in Atlanta and the Devils found a way to win. Yes, they needed OT to do it and I would have much rather not have given a point away to a team that we were chasing BUT the Devils found a way to kill off a 2 min tripping penalty only to have Atlanta hand the Devils a 4 on 3 by getting called for tripping themselves. Like the rest of the night, the Devils made Atlanta pay for going down a man as Zajac put home the game winner.
Season Series: Devils lead Season Series 2-1
Last Meeting: March 11, 2011 - Devils won 3-2 in OT
Tonight's Game: Final meeting this season between the two team and we need more of the same as the Devils make a push towards the playoffs. I know everyone is high on this playoff push and I would really like to see them get to the playoffs but even though we’ve gone 7-2 in their past nine games, we have only been able to go from 10 points out of a playoff spot to 8. Even though we keep winning, it doesn't seem like we are getting closer. From a fans perspective, I find that stat frustrating.
Hopefully, it isn't frustrating the players because in all honesty, a regulation win tonight put NJ in a 3 way tie with 70 points, 2 behind 9th place Carolina and 6 behind the 8th place Rangers.
This might be huge news for NJ. Dustin Byfuglien is questionable for Tuesday’s game against New Jersey after he left practice early Monday. The All-Star defenseman has a lower-body injury that caused him to miss last Wednesday’s game at Carolina.
Like the other night, the Devils need to take advantage of the man advantages that are handed to them. As always, New Jersey has played nine one-goal games in a row and has come out victorious seven times. Just for my own sanity, I would like to see NJ get away from this for one night, come out, pound a few home and not have to sit on the edge of my seat all night!!
What Thrashing The Blues is saying about the Thrashers: (keep in mind they blog about the Blues too!!)
"The Blues and Thrashers aren't mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet, but it's dangerously close. It's another season that's over in April; another season without playoffs. Yet another one without a Cup, and one for both teams surrounded by ownership issues. Atlanta's fighting to stay put; the Blues'd like an investor to allow them to sign someone for a decent salary. It's frustrating. And it'll probably repeat next year - or at least that's how fans of the two teams feel, because we're conditioned to feel that way."
What we think of the Thrashers:
This team had so much promise just a few months ago. It looked like they were the team reaping the benefits in the Kovalchuk trade. Afterall, that trade is what gave them the draft pick that brought Dustin Byfuglien to town and just a few months ago, he was having an incredible season. Not long ago, the Thrashers embarrassed the Devils, which led to McLean's dismisal. Thrasher fans were looking forward to the playoffs but that seems to have come crashing down to earth. The Thrashers have put themselves in a familiar position, which is below the 8th place cut off line and it seems that Thrasher fans have once again, given up on this team. Sad really, they are closer to the playoffs than we are and yet we are hopeful.
Season Series: Series is tied at 1-1
Last Meeting: December 31, 2010 - Devils won 3-1
Tonight's Game: Kovalchuk said it all the other night. After the loss to the Senators the other night, this game is Do or Die. There is no reason to feel good after this game if the Devils don't skate away with 2 points and they better do it in 60 mins. They cannot afford to hand over a point to the Thrashers. You have to believe the Thrashers look at us the same way.
Power play was absolute crap the other night. The Devils need to correct that tonight. Lately, the PP has been decent but it must have taken a wrong turn the other night on the way to the rink.
NJ better pay attention to Andrew Ladd. He has 8 goals and 2 assists in his last 10 games and is by far the hottest Thrasher tonight.
Lets hope Kovalchuk shows up tonight. He once crushed the Thrasher fans by not taking a huge money deal while in Atlanta, I am sure Kovalchuk scoring a few goals tonight would really crush the spirits of Thrashers fans!!
This is something we haven't talked about a lot of recently but the Devils lost in regulation last night. This loss came against the 15th place Ottawa Senators, a position that we were once in. In fact, on February 1st, the Devils were the 15 seed in this matchup and walked away with a win, by the same score.
The Devils didn't do a bad job tonight but it seemed to be a frustrating game for them. For one, they outshot the Senators 32-21 and you have to give credit to Craig Anderson because he certainly came to the rink tonight with winning in mind. The Devils powerplay, well that did suck, especially in the 2nd period when Ottawa was having their own little parade to the box, giving the Devils a few 2 man advantages. Sure, one of them was only for a handful of seconds but the second one they had over a minute of 5 on 3 time and took a lot time just getting the puck into the zone. Once set up, the Devils never really got a good look at the net. You could argue Rolston got a good look but if you are arguing that, why did he hit Anderson square in the chest?
The first Ottawa goal, in my opinion was completely on Tallinder. Ryan Shannon shouldn't have been allowed to beat him to the puck but did and by doing so, created the chance for Erik Condra. Give Condra credit for sticking with it as he had to wack home the rebound to stick it in the net. In this league, you can do a thousand things correctly but we remember the one thing you did wrong and from last nights game, all I can see in regards to Tallinder is Shannon turning on the jets and getting past him.
Rolston had a nice setup feed to Elias who beat Anderson to tie the game at 1. The Senators would strike late on a horrible goal. Spezza had the puck up high and circled around a few times, obvioulsy waiting for teammates to get into the play and found Condra breaking to the net. I don't see how this puck wasn't stopped but give Spezza credit for being very patient on the play.
So the Devils lose but the good news is 8th Buffalo also lost, meaning the Devils remain 8 points out. The bad news, is that Buffalo lost and the Devils couldn't capitalize on the loss and remain 8 points out.
My 3 Stars
1) Erik Condra - Scored both goals. 2) Craig Anderson - Kept Ottawa in this game and certainly made some brilliant saves. 3) Patrick Elias - For giving NJ a chance.
All in all a frustrating end to a frustrating game but the Devils must put it behind them as they head to Atlanta for a HUGE game on Friday. 2 points means the world for both of these teams. As for last night, I guess Spezza gets the last laugh...
"Now that the Senators are toiling away with the NHL’s worst record, it’s difficult not to scoreboard watch or indulge in some serious prospect porn."
What we think of the Senators:
I guess fans can't be very happy with this team at the moment but they certainly could play the role spoiler as we approach the playoffs. The last thing the Devils need to do tonight is lose and lose ground in the race for #8 but that's exactly what the Senators could do tonight.
Season Series: Series is tied at 1-1
Last Meeting: February 1, 2011 - Devils won 2-1
Tonight's Game: Don't get caught up in what we got caught up in with yesterday's post. Yes, getting to .500 would be nice but we need to not focus on that and just focus on getting the win to keep putting pressure on the teams between us and the playoffs.
I would love to see the Devils score a bucket full of goals tonight. These 1 goal games that we've been winning lately has been doing a job on my finger nails. I look at how relaxed Ranger fans were against the Flyers on Sunday and I would love to have 1 night of that.
The Devils have to be careful with this game. A lot of teams looked past the Devils earlier in the season because the Devils were in 15th place and in some of those games (a Caps game comes to mind), the Devils took that team by surprise and either destroyed them or gave them a real tough time. The Devils can't afford to treat the Senators that way just because they are in 15th place. There are some good young players in Ottawa who are basically auditioning for 2011/2012 roster spots and a few significant veterns.
It's been all smiles for NJ lately and rightfully so...If the Devils can continue their winning ways tomorrow night when they Ottawa Senators come to town, this Devils team will reach the .500 mark. The way this team played and looked in the months of October, November and December, being a .500 team is a significant accomplishment. I don't think at any one point in time during those early months did I think that this team could put together such an impressive run, like they have in the last 24 games.
However, despite going 20-2-2 in the last 24 games, that has only gotten NJ to within 8 points of the final playoff spot. With 17 games left to play this season, it is going to be really difficult to climb into that spot. It's not that I don't believe in this team, it just that I agree with Jaques Lemaire when he says these 17 games are going to go by quickly and we do need for other teams to start losing. If the Devils were to pull off an amazing run and win the final 17 games of the season, they'd end up with 98 points, which would more than likely put them in the playoffs. But how realistic is that, to finish a season on a 37-2-2 run? Especially when NJ has 9 games against current playoff teams and 3 games against teams battling for that final playoff spot? One of these tough 12 games comes against the Rangers at MSG in the final weekend of the season, a game which could have HUGE ramifications on the playoff picture. I'll be sure to be watching that game!!
I'd be thrilled if the Devils climbed into the playoffs, not because I believe that if they do they could win the whole thing. Getting to the playoffs buys you a chance but I'd be more thrilled because this team would have overcome such a huge hole to accomplish something nobody thought was possible. Right now, I am just thrilled watching this team. I wasn't able to watch the Islander game yesterday (the reason for no recap..) but the Penguins game on Friday night was thrilling and thats all I can ask for, from a team that 24 games ago was 27 points out of the playoffs.
The point I wanted to make on this non-game day is that I feel pretty damn proud of this team and think that it is pretty impressive that the Devils are one win from being a .500 team when only a few months ago, they couldn't do anything right. I think a lot of people have erased that image of the puck getting away from Kovalchuk during a shootout where the entire arena bursted into boobirds, and rightfully so, he has completely turned his game around!!