Game 71: Colorado Avalanche vs New Jersey Devils Date and Time: Thursday March 15, 2012, 7 PM Location: Prudential Center TV: MSG Plus 2 (Devils Pregame at 6:30) Radio: WFAN 660 AM
The Matchup:The Avs come to town tonight to wrap up the regular season meetings between these two teams. This will be the second time we meet and let’s hope it goes A LOT better than the last. The Avalanche won 6-1 back on Nov. 30 in Denver
Keys to the Game: Let’s show up tonight!! I didn’t think the Devils did a very good job at anything the other night in Philly so we need to do a better job all around. The Avs are coming off a huge win in Buffalo last night so let’s hope they are a little fatigued tonight. The Avs are in a battle for 8th place in the west so you have to believe they are going to bring it tonight.
If the Devils do anything different tonight, it has to be getting pucks to the net. They got 17 shots on net Tuesday night which I can honestly say should never be enough to win a game. The Avs do a decent job keeping pucks from getting to the net so saying to get more pucks on net isn’t an easy task.
Would be nice to see the Devils Power Play come back to life as well and do you know how they go about doing that? Getting more pucks to the net!!
I expect a HUGE game from Henrique tonight. The Calder trophy for me comes down to Henrique and Gabriel Landeskog so if Henrique wants to prove why the trophy should be his, no better night to shine than when the other guy trying to win that trophy is on the ice.
Playoff Picture: NJ is in 6th place and honestly, that’s where I want them to stay. I didn’t like the effort the other night but didn’t mind the loss to keep us in 6th. I think it’s a no-brainer that I would rather play Florida than Pittsburgh. Win or lose, the Devils aren’t moving out of 6th tonight.
… And Finally:One of the best goals Parise ever scored came against the Avs in NJ….
Game 70: New Jersey Devils @ Philadelphia Flyers Date and Time: Tuesday March 13, 2012, 7 PM Location: Wells Fargo Center TV: MSG Plus 2 (Devils Pregame at 6:30) Radio: WFAN 660 AM
The Matchup: The Devils face the Flyers in the finale of both the home-and-home this week and the regular season meetings. This is the 6th time these two teams will meet this season with the Devils winning 3 of the previous 5 meetings. Most recently, the Devils knocked off the Flyers at home on Sunday night 4-1. The two teams are also battling of 5th place overall in the Eastern Conference.
Keys to the Game: Again strong defense is going to be needed to knock off the Flyers. The Devils did an excellent job the other night in our own building but it takes a tighter game to win in Philadelphia. Look for this game to have an edge. The Flyers can’t be pleased with how they’ve been playing and the fact that they lost to NJ on Sunday night and have the potential to drop in the playoff picture with a loss tonight. The Devils shooters will have to bring their A game tonight as Igor Bryzgalov will be in goal tonight and he’s been the better goal on the roster lately..
Injury Report: The Flyers likely will be without forward Jakub Voracek (head) and defensemen Kimmo Timonen (lower body) and Andrej Meszaros (lower body). Defenseman Pavel Kubina is day-to-day (upper body). … The Devils continue to be without defenseman Henrik Tallinder (blood clots in leg) and center Travis Zajac (Achilles).
Playoff Picture: NJ and Philly are tied for 5th place overall in the Eastern Conference with 85 points. The winner tonight will take sole possession of 5th place and be matched up with the Pittsburgh Penguins at the moment. Ottawa is in 7th place with 81 points and not in action tonight.
… And Finally: This has to be my hands down most favorite moment of the Flyers/Devils matchups this season and probably well beyond that. K-O-valchuk!!!!
Game 69: Philadelphia Flyers vs. New Jersey Devils Date and Time: Sunday, March 11, 2012, 7 PM Location: Prudential Center TV: MSG (Devils Pregame at 6:30) Radio: WFAN 660 AM
The Matchup: The Philadelphia Flyers are riding a five game win streak as they take on the hometown New Jersey Devils at 7 o'clock this evening. The Devils, who are 4-1 in their last five, defeated the Flyers in the last meeting between the two teams, 6-4. Martin Brodeur will start tonight for New Jersey as he looks for career win number 650.
Keys to the Game: Strong defense will be the key in this game for both teams. Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, and David Clarkson have been lighting up the goal lamps recently and Philadelphia will have to keep them in check. On the other side of the fense, Claude Giroux is Philadelphia's leading point-getter; New Jersey's strong defensive effort against the Islanders on Saturday evening will have to carry over into Sunday if the Devils want to win.
Score early and score first. In big rivalry games such as this, it is very important to get the first goal. By giving the puck to Kovalchuk, Parise, and Clarkson very often, the Devils will have a good chance at scoring first. This will take some pressure off of Martin Brodeur and the defense. Look for the Devils to break out early and possibly score in the first five minutes.
Playoff Picture: The Devils currently sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 83 points, just two behind Philadelphia. The two points at stake tonight are of great importance to New Jersey. Both teams look to have solidified a playoff spot and are now looking to better their position in the standings. Although it seems unlikely that either team will catch up to the New York Rangers, anything can happen.
Injuries: For New Jersey, Travis Zajac (Achilles) and Henrik Tallinder (blood clot) will sit out of tonight's game. For the Flyers, Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros will be out with lower-body injuries. James van Riemsdyk will also be out (foot surgery), and Jacob Voracek (head) is doubtful.
Season Series: The season series is currently tied at two. Philadelphia defeated the Devils on opening night by a score of 3-0. On November 3, the Devils defeated the Flyers by a score of 4-3 in a shootout. On January 21, 2012, the Flyers defeated New Jersey 4-1. And finally, the Devils defeated the Flyers on February 4, 2012, by a score of 6-4. Interestingly enough, both of the two teams' wins against one another has come on the road.
Prediction: I'll be at the game tonight... and I haven't seen the Devils win a game I've been to since January 17. However, the Devils have been playing better hockey recently, and I feel like they can pull out a 3-1 victory tonight. Scoring for the Devils will be Kovalchuk, Clarkson, and Henrique; for the Flyers, Scott Hartnell. If you'll be at the game this evening, I'll be in Section 111. Come say hello!
Let’s hope the Devils were so focused on this game that they completely overlooked their Sunday matchup against the Islanders. The first place overall (I can’t believe that) Rangers come to town tonight. This is the 5th meeting between the two teams with each team winning 2 of the 4 meetings so far this season. The 6th and final regular season matchup will be on March 19th at MSG.
Keys To The Game
First and foremost, put in a better effort than we saw against the Islanders. The Devils played an incredible game from the moment the puck dropped to the moment the final buzzer sounded last Friday in Washington but then looked extremely fatigued and lethargic against the Islanders on Sunday afternoon. I tweeted it yesterday but back when I played, if we put a performance in like that, our next practice always started out by the coach yelling at us “no need for pucks today boys.” Hopefully DeBoer leaned into them a bit yesterday.
The Rangers LOVE to block shots and they are good at it. I mean anytime you stack 4 deep in your zone, who won’t succeed at blocking pucks? The Devils just need to keep shooting and not let the shot blocking frustrate them. Last week in the Garden, I thought the Devils were trying to get too cute with the puck and waiting for the perfect shot, which never came. The Devils also need to try and get shots in from the point, something they failed to do a week ago in MSG. Point shots usually creat rebounds which create scoring oppurtunities. The Rangers are as good as they are because of the guy in between the pipes. The rest of the team is just average so if we can poke a hole in the best part of their game, no reason we can’t win. The Rangers are 30-1-3 when scoring the first goal of the game so we know what we have to do….
Players To Watch:
I’m going to have my eye on Clarkson tonight. A week ago, he had a terrible game against the Rangers because he couldn’t seem to stay out of the box in the second period. He’s been a huge asset this season for NJ, scoring goals at key moments (think bad bounce off the glass a few weeks ago) but the Rangers were able to unravel him and take him right out of the game.
Like I said, the Rangers success comes down to one player. Lundqvist is 11-2-1 with a 1.55 goals-against average, .943 save percentage and four shutouts in his last 14 games. If the Rangers are going to lose, it’s going to be because someone figures out how to get the puck past is enormous pads.
The Devils are coming off an impressive 5-0 win over the Washington Capitals. The Islanders are coming off of a 3-2 win at the expense of the Boston Bruins. This game marks the beginning of a 6 game span where the Devils face nothing but Atlantic Division teams and we see the Islanders 3 times in the next week. Just because the Islanders aren’t going to make the playoffs this season, don’t expect them to just roll over and die. There’s plenty of meaningful hockey to be played for the Islanders.
Keys To The Game:
I preached wanting a 60 minute effort from the team before the Capitals game and got an impressive 60 minutes from everyone. If the Devils played with that kind of determination every game, there is no reason to not believe they couldn’t make a run. Combine the aggressive play we saw the other night, the great goaltending we’ve been getting and the way that we’ve balanced out our scoring among a number of guys, this team can be deadly. These are the Islanders, not a great team, not a contender but do not take your foot of the gas. Take it to them.
The Devils did a good job at being disciplined the other night in Washington and I am going to be preaching that a lot this week. The reason, we play nothing but rivals and those game tend to bring out the emotions and undisciplined play. I also mentioned the other day that if Parise wanted that contract, now was the time to shine and boy did he shine the other night. Keep it Zach!!
Players To Watch:
We’ll have to continue to watch Parise to see if he keeps his game at the level his game was at the other night in Washington. He had 3 goals on 3 shots before getting the butt end of Laich’s stick in the jaw and sat the rest of the guy, minus a power play opportunity in the 3rd. If he continues to play like this, no reason not to throw every dollar we can at him.
It’s hard to find someone on the Islanders to be interested in. I’m sorry to any Islander fan reading this but I speak the truth from someone that isn’t a fan. The only positive I really pick out from this team is that Nabokov is 10-4-1 in his last 15 decisions after beating the Bruins.
Petr Sykora will play in his 1000th NHL game today. That’s pretty impressive for a guy who only a couple of years ago found himself out of the NHL and was just hoping to have a shot at making this team this year. It’s even more impressive that he’s doing it as a Devil because the way he was shipped out of town for Jeff Friesen back in the summer of 2002, I never thought Lou would want him back. He’s played well this year and there is no reason to not want him to return next season.
There could be a whole bunch of movement today. The Devils sit in 6th with 77 points, which is the same point value as 5th place Philadelphia. The Flyers visit Washington today. The Devils are 1 point ahead of 7th place Ottawa who visits Florida today. The Bruins sit only a few points ahead of Ottawa for the Northeast Division lead and the Bruins play at the Rangers today, where there is a good chance Boston won’t win that game so expect Ottawa to come out gunning for the W tonight to try and close that gap.e
The Matchup: The Devils continue their tour of the biggest cities on the east coast. Monday it was New York, last night it was Boston and tonight it’s Washington D.C. This will be the 4th and final meeting of the regular season between these two. The Devils lead the season series 2-1 but we haven’t seen the Caps since that game on December 23rd where we blew a 3-0 third period lead only to win in 4-3 in OT.
Keys To The Game: If we learned anything from last night it’s that the defense needs to show up and play an entire 60 minutes (or 65 if that’s the case). Last night, the Devils D got off to a slow start, not that their offense was stellar early either. If it weren’t for Marty Brodeur, last night’s game in Boston would have gotten out of reach quickly. The defense will have to hope Hedburg is up to the task should they start slowly again tonight. Washington is currently in 9th place and points are everything to them at the moment. The Devils need to secure these 2 points tonight because Washington and Winnipeg, while still a few points behind, could make it a tight race for the lower positions in the playoffs.
The defense might have their hands full because ever since Mike Green has returned to the lineup for the Caps, Alex Ovechkin seems to have stepped up his game. That’s never a good thing for the defenseman of the NHL.
The Devils went 0/3 on the power play in Boston last night. I’m sure I am not alone in thinking that the reason we gave up so much for Marek Zidlicky was for his success on the power play. Of his 60 career goals, 42 of them have come on the power play and since his arrival in NJ, he has 0 and is logging some big PP minutes. It is a little frustrating because when you get a guy at the trade deadline, you need him to produce immediately. A successful power play would go a long way tonight.
Playoff Watch: Washington, NJ and Ottawa are in action tonight so there could be some juggling of playoff positions. We aren’t close to dropping to 8th but moving up to 6th would be nice.
For you older Devils fans, there has never been any love lossed between these two teams. Occasionally we seem to have a game that is filled with fight after fight. Just last season we had one of those games where even Kovalchuk threw a few with Mike Green but I am going down memory lane today to get you pumped for tonight's game...
The Matchup: The Devils head to Boston tonight to face the defending Stanley Cup Champions in the midst of a three-game losing streak. This will be the 4th and final meeting of the regular season between these two teams and Boston has easily had their way with NJ this season, having won all 3 previous meetings and outscoring NJ 14-5 in those three meetings. The glaring issue for NJ during this 3 game losing streak and against the Bruins this season is the inability to put pucks in the net. The most recent example was a 2-0 shutout loss to the rival NY Rangers.
Both teams have been struggling lately. Boston is falling further and further from the East leading NY Rangers who now lead Boston by 9 points. Ottawa is also catching up to Boston as they trail the Bruins by just 1 point for the Northeast Division, however, Boston has 4 games in hand. Meanwhile, the Devils who were sitting in 4th place in the Eastern Conference, have now lost 3 straight and have slipped to 7th place in the East.
If the playoffs were to start today, the Devils would face off against the Boston Bruins. Yikes!!
Keys To The Game: 13 shots is all the Devils managed against the Rangers the other night. 13 shots is NEVER going to get the job done. NJ was too concerned about trying to move the puck around the other night, which they did well with at times and not concerned about getting the puck on net. The puck can’t go in the net if you don’t put it on net. I thought Marty did an excellent job against the Rangers the other night and will obviously need to bring that kind of effort to the rink tonight. Hopefully the Devils defense can help him out again tonight, as they did on Monday.
I was aggravated with Clarkson on Monday night against the Rangers. He took a dumb 10 minute misconduct penalty and then seemed to go right back into the box for an unsportsmanlike minor. Once he was out again, he left his feet on a check, which ended in a fight with Dubinsky and a charging call. Clarkson has been a big part of this team this season, scoring big goals at big moments and having him sit 19 minutes in the box isn’t going to help anyone but the opposition. He has to understand that teams see the year he is having and are going to try and get him to do dumb things in order to get him off the ice. Hopefully he understands he can’t do what he did Monday night. The Devils can’t give a leg up to other teams like that.
Players To Watch:
For me, Brad Marchand is the epitome of a Boston Bruin. He’s the type of player that won’t back down, will go that extra step to lay a smack on a player and has the tendency to run his mouth. Oh, and he knows how to put the puck in the net.
The trading deadline has come and gone and like we all suspected, Zach Parise is still a member of the NJ Devils. That’s not to say he will be come July 1st but he is here now and if he wants a big pay day, well he needs to prove he deserves a big pay day. In a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately kind of league, he needs to start doing consistently. What better way to start that then by helping NJ beat the Bruins in Boston to snap a 3 game losing streak.
Playoff Watch: A win tonight could move the Devils from 7th and into 5th place as it would put them into a tie in points with idle Ottawa (who we would still have 2 games in hand against). Of course for that scenario to happen, the Flyers would need to lose in regulation to the Islanders. The Flyers are currently in 6th place, 1 point ahead of us so you can figure out all the scenarios.
In all honesty, a win tonight in HUGE. It looks like the Devils might end up with the Bruins in the first round and if the Devils go into the first round not having beat the Bruins at all, that's a huge confidence killer. Even if the Devils don't play Boston in the first round, the road to the cup probably goes through Boston. HUGE HUGE game...
Matchup: The New Jersey Devils take their two game losing streak on the road into Madison Square Garden tonight. The Rangers are coming off a 3-2 win over Buffalo but currently lead the Eastern Conference with 84 points. This is the 4th time the Devils and Rangers will meet this season and the Devils lead the series, 2-1. The two game losing streak that the Devils are currently trying to snap has dropped them from 4th place to 6th place in the East.
Keys to the Game:Shoot the damn puck. Against the Tampa Bay Lightning and their weak defense, the Devils managed 22 shots on net. Unacceptable and when you are going up against Henrik Lundqvist and his big pads. The Rangers are 4th in the NHL when it comes to blocking shots so NJ is going to need to keep firing the puck. The good news for NJ is that the Rangers are 21st in the league at putting their own shots on net, so it’s not outrageous to believe that NJ can outshoot the Rangers, as long as they don’t play like they did yesterday. The Defense will need to do a much better job than they did yesterday. The lightning found the back of the net 4 times on only 16 shots. Adam Larsson will return to the lineup tonight.
The Rangers wouldn’t be where they are if it weren’t for Henrik Lundqvist sitting in between the pipes. His numbers this season have been outstanding and certainly having it looking like he will win the Vezina this season. Lundqvist has a .940 save percentage (.945 at even strength) which is just disgusting if you are a fan of any other team.
As for the Devils, my eyes will be on Zidlicky tonight. Game 1 against the Lightning didn’t get off to the start that I would have liked to seen but what was clear is that he did a better job on the power play than the man he replaced, Kurtis Foster. Zidlicky is more mobile and extremely creative with the puck which should help the power play score more goals.
Playoff Watch: The Devils currently sit in 6th place, one point behind idle Philadelphia and three points behind Pittsburgh. The Devils have the same amount of points as 7th place Ottawa but have 3 games in hand so I’m not worried about losing ground there. Two points would be HUGE tonight
Morning Skate: It’s tough to figure out the lines for tonight’s game as the Devils held an optional skate this morning. Marek Zidlicky, David Clarkson, Petr Sykora, Patrik Elias, Dainius Zubrus and Bryce Salvador skipped the optional skate. Cam Janssen, Jacob Josefson, Steve Bernier, Ryan Carter, Adam Henrique, Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise and Eric Boulton (who cleared waivers at noon) were on the ice. Defensemen who skated were Andy Greene, Matt Taormina, Mark Fayne, Adam Larsson, Anton Volchenkov as well as goalies Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg.
Matchup: The Devils return home tonight looking for their 5th straight win but that isn’t going to be an easy task since the Vancouver Canucks will be the other team on the ice tonight. The Devils are an impressive 8-1-1 in their last 10 but that is matched by the Canucks who are also 8-1-1 and coming off a shootout win that ended Detroit’s record setting consecutive home wins last night.
Keys to the Game:This on rests on the defense who better show up tonight because we are going to need their help. The Canucks are second overall in the NHL in totals goals scored with 192. Compare that to our Devils who rank 14th with 158. The Canucks rank 8th on the list in total shots with 1905 compared to NJ who has 1630, 28th best in the league. So, as you can see, the Canucks aren’t afraid to shoot and they are pretty good about finding the net. On the other side of the puck, the Canucks have a decent defense and a decent goalie who know how to stop the puck. The Devils will need to put some pucks on net tonight in hopes that something gets through. This Canucks team scares me as they almost had the cup last season and appear to be a team that has enough tools to make another run at it again this season.
Injuries: For Vancouver, winger Byron Bitz has missed back-to-back games due to a sore hip, while defenseman Keith Ballard is out with a neck injury. … For the Devils, defensemen Larsson (back), Foster (back) and Carter (right hand), who all skated with the team on Thursday, are probable. DefensemanHenrik Tallinder (blood clot) and center Travis Zajac (left Achilles tendon) are out.
Players To Watch:
For the Canucks, it almost isn’t about 1 player as it is about their top line. Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows have combined for 9 goals and 21 points in just the last 5 games. Wow, that is some production so the Devils are going to need to be focused on trying to slow that line down, which on paper is A LOT to ask. Henrik Sedin leads the league in Assists with 53 and is 5th in the league with 73 points. Of course, you have to ask yourself, is that picture Henrik or is that Daniel?
It’s going to be a defensive effort that gets us a win tonight but defense isn’t going to score goals, we are going to need someone to step up and get us on the board. Adam Henrique continues to have an amazing rookie season and has a goal and five assists in his last 4 games. He leads all rookies with 41 points and appears to be in the driver’s seat for the Calder.
Tonight we honor Doc Emrick for the many years he was a part of our organization. Emrick, “The Voice of Hockey,” was an announcer with MSG Networks for 23 years, winning seven New York Emmy Awards, and spent 21 years in the New Jersey Devils’ broadcast booth, in which he called three Stanley Cup seasons.
Matchup: The Devils roll into Toronto tonight to take on the 8th place Maple Leafs. The Devils are coming off a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens, which brough NJ’s current winning streak to 3 straight games. The Devils are also 8-1-1 over their last 10 games. The Leafs are coming off of a 6-2 loss in Vancouver and haven’t been playing the best hockey as of late. Toronto is 4-5-1 in their last 10 and currently in a battle with Winnipeg and Washington for the 8th and final playoff spot. This is the third meeting between the Leafs and the Devils with each taking a game on the other's ice.
Keys to the Game: Don’t let the Leafs current position in the standings fool you, they actually do have a lot of fire power and the ability to score goals so NJ will need to play a smart defensive game tonight. Phil Kessel leads the team with 30 goals, which happens to be 3rd best league wide in that category and Joffrey Lupal is another scoring threat with 23 goals. The Devils have issues on their blue line because of injuries so defense will need to be a team effort. Marty is in net and been playing some outstanding hockey as of late, which he will need to do again tonight.
Offensively, the Devils will keep looking to Kovalchuk, Parise, Clarkson and Elias for some scoring. I believe the real key to winning tonight is keeping the Leafs top two players quiet and finding a way to put 2 pucks past Gustavsson. Yes, I believe 2 goals is enough to skate past the Maple Leafs tonight.
Injuries: According to head coach Peter DeBoer, we should expect to see Anton Volchenkov in the lineup tonight but is still considered questionable. Also on the questionable list is Kurtis Foster (stiff back). The Devils blue line is still taking a hit with Henrik Tallinder (blood clot) and Adam Larsson (bruised back) on the injured list. Toronto's lone injured-reserve denizen, Carl Gunnarson, has missed three games with an ankle injury, but is expected to play according to coach Ron Wilson. Joffrey Lupul missed practice Monday, but he, too, is expected to be in the lineup.
Players To Watch:
I’ve got my eye on Phil Kessel. He’s been very quiet in the goal scoring department lately and for the Leafs to find some success, I believe he needs to start pumping in some goals to go along with his assists. The Leafs started out the season on a tear and Kessel’s ability to score lots of goals back then was a key part to their success.
There have been a number of Devils that have been playing outstanding hockey recently but if NJ is going to continue to hold on to the 4th spot in the east (barring injury, I think the Rangers too far out of reach for us), then Marty is going to have to continue to play spectacular hockey. While he’s not the 35-30 year old version of Marty Brodeur, he has been coming up big lately. With guys like Kessel, Lupal and Grabovski, he will need to again tonight.
Trip Down Memory Lane:
It was just over two years ago. The Leafs were in town and Ilya Kovalchuk was making his Devils debut. Down 3-1 with just 3 minutes to go, the Devils do all the right things and knock off the Leafs 4-3 in regulation. This is definitely one of my favorite moments in recent years.