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What has already been a trying year for the Devils organizations and fans may get even worse.
According to Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet in Canada, the NHLPA Executive Director in waiting, Donald Fehr, will conduct an internal review of the collective bargaining to see if - surprise, surprise - the Devils' violated the CBA by dressing only 15 skaters for yesterday's game.
The CBA explicitly states instances where teams can play below the minimum of 18 skaters and two goalies. Article 16.4 states:
"Except in the case of emergency, there shall be no reduction of the required minimum Playing Rosters of the clubs, below eighteen (18) skaters and two (2) goalies."
Yesterday counted as one of those emergency situations. The Devils were without Anton Volchenkov and Brian Rolston because of injury, and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, who was serving a game suspension for instigating a fight in the last five minutes of a game on Saturday night. The team, already playing without Bryce Salvador and Anssi Salmela and lacking the cap space to make a move, had to play with 15 skaters.
Before anyone throws their hands in the air and screams "CIRCUMVENTION! CIRCUMVENTION!", there needs to be a look at the past history of these moves happening:
1. The Calgary Flames played with 15 players at least three times near the end of last season due to injuries and cap restrictions. There was no investigation from the league or the NHLPA.
2. The Devils themselves dressed less than 18 skaters for six games in 2006-2007, and there was no investigation.
Yes, it's a small sample, but the fact of the matter remains that this has happened in the past. But only now, for some reason, the NHL and NHLPA are deciding to take a stand against these moves. But, in an emergency situation, as yesterday was, the idea of penalizing the Devils is ridiculous.
This situation, for most fans, brings right back to the middle of the summer, where the Devils followed the letter of an unwritten, established rule and faced the harsh recourse of the league. Now, it seems like it's happening all over again. The Devils did nothing wrong by skating only 20 healthy players to begin the season, and because of injuries and a foolish suspension, the Devils had to only dress 15 skaters yesterday. Did their current cap situation contribute to the problem? Of course it did. But it wasn't the main factor behind the decision.
At least the Devils have attempted to operate under their own mess. The Rangers, like several other teams, have routinely stashed big contracts in the AHL, which is more direct cap circumvention than the shorthanded lineup the Devils used yesterday.
But, once again, the Devils feel the sharp light of the spotlight, and must prepare for another potential battle with the management of the league.
Photo Credit: Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images
Paul Martin Makes The Devils Pay
Martin returned to the Rock, and made his former team pay. His first point of the night came on the eventual game-winning goal. With Patrik Elias in the box for tripping, the Penguins worked the puck in the Devils zone, and gave it to Martin a the point. Martin sent the puck cross-ice to Kris Letang, who put a shot on net. The puck deflected off of Mark Letestu and Henrik Tallinder, and found its way to the back of the net, giving the Penguins a 2-0 lead at 2:32 of the second period.
But the ex-Devil wasn’t done. Down 2-1 in the third period, and with their goalie out for the extra skater, the Devils were applying pressure in the Penguins zone. But Martin found a way to get the puck past the defense, and as the loose puck rolled into the Devils zone, he picked it up and put it in the net for his first goal of the year.
Martin said he felt bad not setting up teammate Craig Adams for the goal.
“I felt bad after when selfishly I put it in instead of sliding it across,” Martin said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “The puck was rolling, but I still should have flipped it across. to Adams. I think I just got caught up in wanting to make sure I put it in. But I felt bad afterward.”
Martin was booed – loudly – and I don’t blame the crowd for doing so. But he got the last laugh today, and I think that hurts more than him signing somewhere else.
Brent Johnson Stands On His Head
No one expected this type of performance from the Penguin’s backup goalie. Johnson stopped 30 shots – including 14 in the third period – to backstop Pittsburgh to a win. He made great saves tonight, and helped to shut the Devils offense down. His stops, especially on the powerplay, frustrated the Devils all evening long.
The “A-Line Part 2″ Keeps Going Strong
Throughout the first three games, the Devils offense has looked good, especially the top two lines. That continued tonight, with the “A-Line Part 2″ accounting for the only Devils’ goal. If there’s something positive to take out of an 0-2-1 start, it’s that this line has shown they can provide the secondary scoring needed. If this line can continue to build on their early chemistry, coach John MacLean will have some great offensive options.
I attended the game today, and was a little embarrassed at all the empty seats. With a matinee-ish start time and a game against their division rivals, I figured there would be more families at the game. But it was quite empty, and the Penguins fans were out-yelling Devils’ fans at points throughout the game.
Sometimes Ilya Kovalchuk attempts to do too much with the puck, and that happened tonight. With the Devils changing lines, the team only needed a dump into Pittsburgh’s zone. But he held it along the boards in the neutral zone, and he ended up turning the puck over. That led to Pittsburgh’s first goal, and immediately drew the ire of fans. I understand he wants to make the play, but sometimes the smart play is to dump and chase.
For as much flak that Rod Pelley catches from fans, he had a solid start tonight. I think he received a little too much ice time in the third period, but he earned it with his play tonight.
The Devils travel to Buffalo Wednesday to take on the Sabres, still searching for their first win. It’ll be a homecoming for Tallinder, who left Buffalo for New Jersey during the offseason.
Photo Credits: William Pearlman/The Star-Ledger
The Matchup – The Pittsburgh Penguins (0-2-0) face off against the New Jersey Devils (0-1-1) in an afternoon matchup at the Prudential Center. This is the first meeting between the two teams this season.
The Last Penguins Game – The Penguins lost to the Montreal Canadiens, 2-1, Saturday night at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. The Penguins held a 2-1 lead late in the third period, but Michael Cammalleri‘s second goal tied the game with 3:12 left in the period. Scott Gomez completed the comeback, beating Marc-Andre Fleury with 1:48 left in the period to put the Canadiens ahead, 3-2.
The Last Devils Game – The Devils were blown out by the Capitals, 7-2, at the Verizon Center Saturday. The Devils led, 2-1, after one period on goals from Jason Arnott and Henrik Tallinder. But the wheels would fall off in the second period, as the Capitals tallied four unanswered goal – including three in less than five minutes – to move ahead 5-2. Martin Brodeur was pulled after the second period.
Last Season’s Matchup – The Devils swept all six meetings from the Penguins last season. The Devils won the most recent matchup, 5-2, on March 17. After Chris Kunitz gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead at 4:01 of the first period, the Devils scored four unanswered goals – including Paul Martin’s first goal of the season – to take the lead, 4-1. Ruslan Fedotenko made it a two goal game at 5:23 of the third period, but the Devils held off the Penguins. Rob Niedermayer added an empty-netter for insurance in the win. For an in-depth look at the rivalry, click here.
The Return of Martin – Martin visits the Rock for the first time as a Pittsburgh Penguin. During the offseason, Martin signed with the Penguins after realizing the Devils were focused solely on Ilya Kovalchuk. The defenseman told Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger that he never received an offer from the Devils, deciding to go with Pittsburgh over several other teams. I’d expect him to be booed, especially since he stayed within the division.
Today’s Matchup – I think it’s obvious what the Devils need to do. The team has played awful defense, giving up quality scoring chances left and right. Both the Stars and the Capitals made the Devils pay for their mistakes, and the Penguins are another team that can score in bunches. I know the team wants to get going on offense, but they need to be responsible defensively. If the Devils continue to play sloppy in their own zone, I think we can expect another disappointing result.
This game against Pittsburgh, while early in the season, still means something to both teams. By the end of the season, both of these teams should be near the top of the conference and division. Over the past few years, they’ve battled it out for conference seeding and division crowns. The rivalry is intense, and with both teams without a win, expect a hard-fought game. I wouldn’t expect the Devils to come out flat for this one.
Game time is 4 p.m. today, and you can catch the action on MSG Plus and WFAN 660.
Wow...so many people hitting the panic button already. Haven't we been here before? No, wait, actually last season was worse because we walked away from the first two games without a point., this year we at least have one point.
OK, so it appeared after the game against the Stars that the Devils are suffering from the same issues as last season, which is not playing a full 60 minutes, making stupid mistakes and coughing up a win. If you go back and read the analysis from a lot of the games last season, you'll see that I mention the full 60 minute thing A LOT but honestly, I know it happens, I just hope MacLean can minimize the amount of times it does. I was annoyed at the mistakes made Friday night but at least they got a point out of the game.
Saturday is a completely different story. Lets start with the end of the game. If Leblond (PLx3) is going to conduct himself like he did and shorthand the team, please tell us now. Instigating a fight in the final 5 minutes of a blowout is NEVER a good idea. Then, not to have any regrets about what had happened on the ice when he knew the rules and knew a suspension is likely....COME ON!!
So, on to the Caps game. I'll be honest, I didn't expect a win. It was the second night of hockey and they were playing a Caps team that lost the night before. It was the Caps home opener and lets be honest, the Caps are a VERY good hockey team. While the thrashing that the Devils received was an downer and left a bad feeling inside, there is a bigger issue to discuss. I'm not really touching on the Kovalchuk fighting thing because we all know how bad an idea that is.
The 20-man roster isn't going to work. I never thought it would but I didn't think it would take 2 games into the season to prove that. We know PLx3 is suspended for this afternoon's game but the we don't know if Vochenkov and Rolston will be available. If they aren't we are left with 15 skaters.. REALLY?? That is NOT going to work. Injuries happen, stupid penalties resulting in suspensions happen, its part of the game. You can't expect to play an entire season with a 20 man roster. Moves need to happen, they need to happen NOW so just make them and allow the team to create chemistry. It's October, its a LONG season but the sooner this happens, the better.
I am certainly not hitting the panic button. 2 games, 1 point and 1 pounding. You can't put too much emphasis on games played in October. Like I said, last season it was 2 games and no points and the Devils went on to have a decent season. Same can be said about Marty, you can't get on him too much about what happened over the weekend. If anything, this weekend says to me that Lou has to fix the cap issues for good. Players will get injured and there has to be room to deal with that. Lou, like the rest of the team has some work to do.
I will say this, Jason Arnott was THE shining poing of the weekend. 2 games and 2 goals, that is exactly what we traded for. Kovalchuk on the other hand....pick it up Kovy!!
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (0-0-1) face off against the Washington Capitals (0-1-0). This is the first of four meetings between the two teams this season.
The Last Capitals Game: The Atlanta Thrashers defeated the Capitals, 4-2, last night in Atlanta. Ondrej Pavelec, the Thrashers starting goalie, collapsed only 2:25 into the first period, immediately silencing an excited crowd. Pavelec was taken off on a stretcher, and play resumed. Atlanta took the lead, 2-1, at 15:43 of the second period when newcomer Andrew Ladd beat goalie Michal Neuvirth. Evander Kane scored the eventual game-winner on a penalty shot.
The Last Devils Game: The Dallas Stars defeated the Devils, 4-3, in overtime last night. The Devils ZIP Line got the Devils started early, with Travis Zajac and Zach Parise giving New Jersey an early 2-0 lead. But the Stars would respond, tying the game on a Loui Eriksson goal at 3:02 of the second period. Jason Arnott put the Devils ahead in the third period, but the Stars once again tied the game. Eriksson scored the game-winner at 1:36 of the overtime period for the win.
Last Season’s Matchup: For a full recap of last season’s matchup, check this post here. The Devils won three of four meetings last season. The Capitals won the most recent meeting, 4-1, on December 26. Alexander Ovechkin recorded a goal and two assists in that game.
Tonight’s Matchup: The Devils and Caps are both coming into tonight’s game disappointed with their season openers. The Devils had flashes of great play last night, but they cut their nose to spite their face. The team applied pressure offensively, but they didn’t play good defense. The defenders made several mistakes, giving the Stars great chances.
Both of these teams expect to be near the top of their divisions and the conference. It’s only the second game of the season, but both teams will want to bring their “A” game tonight. Look for the Devils to address some of the defensive lapses from last night’s game. New Jersey’s defenders played aggressively and took chances last night, chances that didn’t pay off. That’s the way it goes sometimes. Coach John MacLean won’t hold back, but expect the defense to play better tonight.
But the offense will have to get it done as well. The ZIP Line looked good, accounting for two of the three goals last night. But that was against a subpar Stars defense. The Caps are deeper, and the Devils offense will need to work to generate scoring chances. It was a great start last night, but we’ll see how they can respond to a tough road test on back-to-back games.
There was no morning skate today, so these line combinations are based off of last night’s game.
Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Patrick Elas - Jason Arnott - Jamie Langenbrunner
Brian Rolston - Dainius Zubrus - David Clarkson
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond - Rod Pelley
Henrik Tallinder - Andy Greene
Alexander Urbom - Anton Volchenkov
Colin White - Matt Taormina
Game time is 7 p.m., and you can catch the action on MSG Plus 2 or 660 WFAN.no comments
Here we go!! Welcome to the beginning of the 2010/2011 NHL Season. This summer has been one long strange trip, so much so I feel like linking to a certain song.
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils vs the Dallas Stars
Where and When: The puck drops at the Prudential Center at 7pm and you can watch it on MSG+ or listen to it on 660 AM WFAN.
Season Series: This is the first of two meetings this season. Last year these two met twice and the home team won each time. Stephane Robidas scored twice and had a career-high 4 points as the Stars won 5-3 on Nov. 21. Patrik Elias had a pair of goals and Martin Brodeur stopped all 28 shots he faced to lead the Devils to a 4-0 victory on Jan. 5.
Devils Notes: Everyone will undoubtedly be focused on Kovalchuk as this is game 1 of his huge 15 year contract but this game also marks the NHL coaching debut of John MacLean. This will also first NHL game for defensemen Matt Taormina and Alexander Urbom. Free-agent acquisitions Henrik Tallinder and Anton Volchenkov also make their debuts with the team. As a result of salary-cap issues caused by Kovalchuk's signing, the team was only carrying 20 players on its roster as of Thursday.
Stars Notes: They are also a very differently looking team this season. Dallas said goodbye to Mike Modano and Marty Turco over the summer and have turned to Kari Lehtonen as the man in between the pipes. The Stars will rely on veterans like Brad Richards and Mike Ribeiro and young guys like Loui Eriksson, James Neal and Jamie Benn to get them back to the post-season.
In Case You Were Wondering: The Devils are 12-1-5 all-time when playing their season opener on home ice. That 1 loss coming against the Flyers last season.
Unless Adam Mair signs a contract prior to tonights game, I think the lines are pretty easy to guess.
Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Patrik Elias - Jason Arnott - Jamie Langenbrunner
Brian Rolston - Dainius Zubrus - David Clarkson
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond - Adam Henrique - Rod Pelley
Henrik Tallinder - Andy Greene
Colin White - Alexander Urbom
Mark Fraser - Anton Volchenkov
I'm excited to get this started again. Last season didn't end the way we wanted it to and this summer was probably the craziest summer in the history of the Devils but tonight starts the journey of putting our playoff woes behind us.
It's finally here.
The Devils will open the 2010-2011 season tonight at home, facing off against the Dallas Stars at 7 p.m. Darren already previewed the Devils offense, defense and goalie expectations for the season, so make sure you give those a read. Instead of giving a lengthy preview, Darren and I have narrowed down this season into 10 questions we have about the Devils this season.
And, drumroll please....
For me, I think I would feel better if the Devils moved Jamie to the third line and move David Clarkson up to play with Arnott and Elias. The way that Clarkson goes to the net, which isn't Langenbrunner's game, would open up the ice more for Arnott and Elias. With that said, yes, I do believe that enough scoring from Arnott and Elias will allow the top line to remain in tact. Of course, the other question is can Kovy, Parise and Zajac produce themselves but I will let you answer that for yourself.
2. How Many Games Will Johan Hedberg Play?
Every year we ask this question. Marty is 38 and, realistically, shouldn't be carrying such a workload every season. It's a pretty well known fact that this is Marty's call. If the NHL's greatest goaltender wants to play 70-75 games a season and feels healthy enough to do so, then who is to argue. My hope is that Hedberg gets the call in at least 20 games this season.
In a short answer, no. Volchenkov isn't Pronger. Pronger averages almost a minute and a half more ice time per game then Volchenkov, and Prongers 55 points completely outweighs Volchenkov's 14 points. Thankfully, there is more to the game than that. The Flyers rolled over the Devils defense last spring, but the addition of Volchenov does give NJ an intimidating player on the blue-line. He can certainly lay down the big checks and isn't afraid to give up his body to block shots. So to answer this question, Volchenkov won't do what Pronger does in Philadelphia, but he does make NJ a better and more intimidating defense and that is really what we are looking for.
4. Will the perennial playoff contender get past the first round of the playoffs???
This is the question that I am sure will get asked many more times as the season moves along. On paper, this team is built to go deep into the playoffs. But that is only on paper. This team has to go out there and perform. I do believe in this team and I do believe this team has a deep run in their future.
5. Is Kovalchuk worth everything that happened since July 1st?
I'll be honest, having Ilya on this team makes me extremely nervous. We are tied to this guy for the next 15 years and this deal is not something the Devils do. Well, I guess they do because they did it but, ordinarily, they don't do. They are $35,835 under the cap and carrying 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders, which is the bare minimum. There is no flexibility if a player is ill or suffers a minor injury that sidelines him for a game or two. That would likely force the Devils to play a game with less than 18 skaters or cause them to make a roster move they really don't want to make.
For me, for all this to be a success, Ilya must be a 40 goal scorer (I would like 45 minumum) and must be the first Devil to reach 100 points and it all must happen THIS YEAR.
For the next five questions, follow after the jump!