A game that started in an absolutely awful display of defense by a Devils team coming off of a horrific offensive showcasing in a losing effort to rival New York, 2-0 on Monday evening in The Garden. The Devils would need to come outta the gate QUICK against a Boston squad which has won all 3 previous meetings between Boston and New Jersey this season, out scoring Jersey's Team 14-5 in those 3 games.
The game began in disaster, it appeared as all hope had been lost well before the mid way point of the first. Boston struck for two quick goals; one being scored 1:13 in by David Krejci from Tyler Seguin, followed by a Seguin goal recieving passes from Lucic and Bruins goalie Tim Thomas a few seconds past the 8 minute marker. The Devils were in a hole. The only player who was managing to keep New Jersey in the game, despite the 2 goals allowed, was future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur. Brodeur stopped 7 of 9 shots faced, at least 3 of which were absolute beauty's. The teams would continue to go back and forth up and down the ice, not scoring again until the second period. In the first, the two teams would exchange a penalty a piece (Brian Rolston, BOS, 9:53, Tripping/ Ryan Carter, NJD, 17:27, Roughing) along side a fighting major assessed to Shawn Thornton and Eric Boulton.
As we all were witness to in the first period, a dismal period of hockey ultimately dominated by the defending Cup champs, it would be the Bruins' faithful who were eye witnesses to a scoring frenzy led by Devils' captain Zach Parise, beating Tim Thomas high blocker side for his 24th of the season on a pass from the nearly invisible Ilya Kovalchuk, who hasnt registered a goal in his last 7 games. Following Zach's goal, Patrik Elias would join New Jersey's "20+ Goal Club" with his 20th marker of the year with 6 minutes remaining in the middle segment. Patty's goal was assisted by Sykora and Volchenkov. They had tied it up, 2 goals a piece. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! David Clarkson pushed one past Tim Thomas on a wrap around attempt for his 25th of the campaign. Clarky put the Devils in the lead, 3-2 heading into the final 20 minutes.
A third period highlighted by big saves, shut-down defensive plays and offensive opportunities. The 3rd period had three penalties, one for the B's, two for the Dev's; a call on Sykora and Kovy would grant Boston two powerplay opportunities which were inevitably stoned by the Devils' 2nd ranked penalty killing unit. The Boston short handed chance was abruptly brought to a stand still once Kovalchuk got his hi-sticking minor in the middle of Chara's duece in the sin bin. Prior to the two penalties, Boston was in complete control of the puck deep in the Devils' zone when a debatable play was unfolding. What had looked to be a hand pass from Big Z, would eventually lead to a goal, the game tying goal scored by David Krejci for his 2nd of the night, as he beat Brodeur low blocker side. The play would be reviewed and the on ice call stood, and boy oh boy did it stand tall. No other pucks were pushed past Brodeur, or Thomas for that matter and the teams would head to their respective bench's, tied, 3-3, and would begin a sudden death overtime period.
This game would only make sense to be forced into overtime and how else could you expect it to end? The overtime period was short, 2:59 minutes short to be exact... New Jersey and Boston would trade posession of the puck carting it up and down the ice, making pass after pass and then turning it over. The Devils would crank 2 quick shots that'd be moved aside by Tim Thomas as Boston would only take one shot. The catch: Boston would lite the lamp. You guessed it, David Krejci of the Boston Bruins, scoring his 3rd goal of the night for the Hat Trick would hand the Bruins the victory over a slumping Devils team, 4-3 the score in O.T.
With the OT loss to the Bruins, New Jersey would muster up a measly 1 point, which, in regards to their last 3 games is a positive... The Devils currently hold ground as the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture; 1pt behind idle Ottawa (76), 2pts behind rival Philadelphia who resides in the 5th place with 77pts. Another plus to look at is the gap between 7th and 8th. Tomorrow night New Jersey heads to the nations capital to face 8th place Washington. The Caps have 69pts and will most certainly fall to 9th in the standings by nights end due to a ravage of the Florida Panthers by the Winnipeg Jets who scored a touchdown in tonights game, winning 7-0 over their division leaders. With the win by the Jets, they will "fly" into 8th seed gaining points 69 & 70, dropping Washington to 9th place, just on the outside looking in. A win in Washington would set as a total swing of momentum for the Dev's as they'd win their first game since a 4-3 OT victory over Toronto dating back to February the 21st.
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The New Jersey Devils dropped their third straight contest on Monday evening, falling to the Rangers by a score of 2-0. Both teams played strong defensively; however, a lack of shots on goal and the inability to capitalize on scoring chances plagued the Devils tonight. Rangers' goalie Henrik Lundqvist won his 30th game of the season, extending the Rangers' lead in the Eastern Conference standings.
Both teams played outstanding defense through the first fifteen minutes of hockey. Neither the Devils nor the Rangers could seem to get something going offensively and had difficulty putting pressure on one another. The first goal of the game was netted at 16:59 by Carl Hagelin of the New York Rangers. New Jersey suffered yet another defensive breakdown and Hagelin pushed the puck in between Brodeur's right pad and the goal post for a 1-0 lead. At the end of the first period, both teams had a less-than-stunning four shots on goal.
Physical play picked up in the second period. Over forty penalty minutes were accumulated between the Rangers and Devils. David Clarkson took a 10 minute misconduct penalty in addition to a five minute fighting major and two minor penalties. Eric Boulton and Brandon Prust exchanged five minute majors for fighting. All of the chaos in the second period, however, yielded no actual results for either squad and New Jersey continued to trail by one at the end of period number two.
The Devils were unable to capitalize on several scoring opportunities in the third. Henrik Lundqvist was outstanding and robbed Ilya Kovalchuk on one of his best chances in the game. Kovalchuk broke loose to Lundqvist's right and snapped a wrist shot from the circle; after a deflection in front, Lundqvist was able to glove the puck and freeze play. Ryan Callahan scored an empty netter with 1:06 to play to seal the deal as Lundqvist picked up his eighth shutout of the season.
The Devils look to rebound from an awful performance over the last three games on Thursday night when they take on the Bruins at 7 PM EST. After a few days of rest, hopefully, New Jersey is able to get something started. The Devils still sit at sixth place in the Eastern Conference with a total of 74 points. For all the latest on New Jersey's hockey team, follow @RWTDblog, @DEVIN88MATTERA, and @RealScottRobb on twitter.
In a matinee game versus the Tampa Bay Lightning, who were coming off of a BLOW OUT loss to Evgeni Malkin and the Pens. An 8-1 rout of the Bolts was led by the alternate captain when he struck for 3 goals and an assist in a 4pt game in which the centerman would end the day +3 jumping 4 points over Lightning forward, Steven Stamkos (73pts.) in the overall points race as Malkin gained points 74, 75, 76, and 77. Bolts leading scorer Steven Stamkos looks to lead the Lightning out of Pennsylvania and into New Jersey on a rebound with a "W" when Tampa netminder Mathieu Garon looks to shut down the Devils scorers Kovalchuk, Parise, Clarkson, Elias, and newest defender, Marek Zidlicky. Zidlicky was acquired Friday evening during a game between the Devils and Canucks (2-1 Vancouver) in a trade between NJ and Minnesota. The Devils would ship off defenseman Kurtis Foster, forward Nick Palmieri, winger Stephane Vellieux, a second round pick as well as an additional conditional pick to the Wild. Zidlicky will dress in the #2 for todays game; in 41 games played, Marek has 0 goals, 14 assists for 14 points, a +/- rating of -6 with 24 penalty minutes. His 8th season as a professional, Zidlicky has 298 points in his career, 160 points on the powerplay unit which is a big addition to a powerplay unit which is in need of blue line support.
The first period was quick! Fast paced, and a defensive showcase (which is good since the team traded for a defenseman) which showed a lot of "makeup" help for Marty after defensemen weren't exactly where they were supposed to be on plays which were "made up" by big poke checks and clears out of the zone. Despite opportunities for both clubs through the first 10 minutes of play, both teams looked very good, and both teams didnt look like they had come off of defeats in their last games. New Jersey managed to stay tough and physical throughout the opening 20 minutes. Scoring would be initiated by Alexi Ponikarovsky, his 5th of the year for New Jersey, 12th of the year in a conjoined season between the Devils and Hurricanes. 23-8-3 is New Jersey's record this year when scoring first against their opponents, a feat they had completed for 9 straight games before being scored on first against Vancouver on Friday night; the 9 straight games with a goal first is a team record. Poni's goal was scored 12:07 minutes into the period was an unassisted goal which was put past Garon on the low glove side. Shortly after the Devils goal, it'd be Steven Stamkos with the opportunity in 1 on 1 rushing in on Brodeur before it was broken up by Marek Zidlicky on a holding call. The 2nd ranked penalty killing unit league-wide would hit the ice. Successfully killing off the 2 minute minor allowing no shots on net. After giving up 2 even strength goals Friday in a losing effort, the Devils had a message to send to the slumping Lightning who currently reside in 12th place (before todays game), 14 points behind their opponent today, New Jersey, who sits alone in 6th place with 74pts, 2 points ahead of 7th place Ottawa, and 1 point behind BOTH Atlantic Division rivals, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia who have a tie with 75pts. A win today would put New Jersey into 4th place in the East, leading into a matchup at the "World's Most Famous Arena", Madison Square Garden against the Rangers. The Devils and Lightning headed into the locker room's with a 1-0 game in favor of the home town team.
In the second period, the opening 20 seconds as a matter of fact, drive by New Jersey was still in full effect. A determined effort by Henrique on a pass behind his back from his knee's to Kovy behind the net on a wrap-around attempt that was stuffed by the leg of Garon showed they were ready for some hockey. Scoring opportunities would primarily stay on the one side of the ice, the side in which Mathieu Garon would be for the period. The second period's scoring would open up though, eventually, for the away team. A goal scored by Lightning alternate captain Martin St. Louis 6:39 minutes in on an odd man rush on Brodeur which was due to a poorly timed line change by coach Pete DeBoer, a dump pass by Garon who would get the secondary assist on a wrister from Marty's left, put in the cage on Marty's right side. The game was tied. Tampa Bay would be given their second powerplay opportunity of the day on a holding the stick call on New Jersey's Dainius Zubrus; two minutes later, the Zuby was back on the ice after a second successful penalty kill by the Devils' short hand unit. Tampa managed one shot on net with the man advantage. Tampa Bay AGAIN would go for the man advantage, it'd be Kovalchuk this time and this time, the Lightning would strike. Again for Tampa, it'd be Marty St. Louis, his 41st career multi goal game, a powerplay goal scored by St. Louis fed from Teddy Purcell (secondary assist) and Ryan Malone. Brodeur had just finished recording one save before falling on his back and watching the black block of rubber hit the back of the twine for the 2-1 lead. New Jersey after forfeiting one goal, would then shortly after go up on the man advantage with 4:13 left in the period. The call would be on Lightning centerman Trevor Smith, a 2 minute minor hooking call which would be un eventful and goalless for either team. New Jersey was now 0-1 on the man advantage, mirroring a 1-3 effort thus far by their on ice opponents. The middle period would conclude with a few big saves by both starting goalies before the final buzzer would ring out through the arena. In the words of Chich Resch, "Hard work and effort doesnt always count on the scoreboard", which couldnt be more true; New Jersey out played the Bolts, matching them in "shots for" with 5 a piece. The Devils would begin the 3rd period up again on the man advantage after a last second penalty was called on Steven Stamkos at the 20 minute mark for hooking on Ilya Kovalchuk in front of the net.
The third period would be a nightmare, in my eyes for that matter. New Jersey would tie it up early on a goal by Petr Sykora in the opening minutes of the period. The goal would be Sykky's 15th, matching his jersey number scored nearly 2 and a half minutes into the period on passes from Steve Bernier and Dainius Zubrus. No sooner does the crowd get back into it, they get deflated once more on a goal scored by Matt Gilroy not even a minute later on a pass from St. Louis and Purcell. 3-2 the score between the Lightning and the Devils up until the half way point when Marty St. Louis would light the lamp one more time, his 3rd of the game, 4th point of the afternoon; Marty St. Louis scored his 3rd goal of the afternoon for the hat trick on a tip in from infront of the net, gaining his 58th point of the year, putting the Bolts up by 2 goals mid way in the 3rd. Before the period would end, Tampa scorer Steven Stamkos would head to the sin bin for a tripping penalty with just under 5 minutes left to play. Stammer's time in the box would be cut short as he'd be released from punishment when the Devils answered 2 Tampa Bay goals with one of their own on a powerplay snap shot goal, his 23rd of the year, scored by our captain, Zach Parise! Parise's goal would also account for Kovalchuk's 35th assist, and Elias' 39th helper. It wouldnt be enough... St. Louis would eventually get a penalty with 1 minute remaining in the game giving New Jersey a 6 on 4 opportunity with Brodeur on the bench, but an icing would ultimatly, ice the Devils and their opportunity for a come from behind victory. The Devils would fall for the 2nd consecutive game before a meeting tomorrow night versus the rival New York Rangers. Brodeur stopped 12-16 shots faced while being upstaged by Tampa backup Mathieu Garon, shutting down 19-22, 8 shots in the 1st and 3rd periods. In the next 7 days, New Jersey will play against the Rangers tomorrow evening to close out the month of February, openining up March on the road against the Bruins on the 1st, the Capitals on the 2nd, and the Islanders in the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY.
On the night that the Devils honored their long time announcer Mike "Doc" Emrick, the Vancouver Canucks, the league's best road team roll into the Prudential Center looking to put an end to the Devils 4 game winning streak, one night after the Canucks put an end to the Red Wings record setting home winning streak.
All Devils fans were hoping that honoring Mike “Doc” Emrick tonight would give the Devils a leg up in the momentum department. After all, that is usually what happens during player retirement ceremonies and tonight was like sending another number to the rafters but surprisingly the Devils came out a little flat to begin the game. The Canucks caught the Devils standing around and Aaron Rome, a defenseman was able to sneak up and bang home the first goal of the game at 8:44. The Devils did seem to pick up the effort in the last 7 minutes of the period and had a few chances to tie it up. The top line of Kovalchuk, Parise and Henrique did a good job battling for pucks and seemed to be getting in decent positions to try and put home the equalizer but Schneider was up to the task able to keep the Devils off of the score sheet. The big news from the first period was the domination of face-offs by the Canucks, who led 18-3 in that category.
Shots on Goal in the 1st: New Jersey 8 – Vancouver 6
The Canucks come out and quickly make it 2-0 at 2:07. The goal surprised Marty because I’m not sure he ever saw the puck until it was too late. The goal looked to have happened because Greene, who should have given up the body to block the puck instead looked like he wanted to bail out on the play. The replay showed Greene leaning away from blocking the puck which caused him to get his leg into the shooting lane, which cause the puck to change direction as it glanced off his shin.
News came in the middle of the period that Kurtis Foster, Nick Palmieri, Stephane Veilleux,a 2nd rd pick in '12 and a conditional pick in '13 have been dealt to the Minnesota Wild for Marek Zidlicky, which explains why Foster was missing from the lineup tonight. It does seem like A LOT to give up for one defenseman who has 0 goals and 14 assists and oh by the way, he’s 35. We should see Zidlicky on Sunday.
David Clarkson got the Devils back into the game at with his 24th of the season at 11:30. Elias made an incredible move in the neutral zone to get the puck into the zone and was able to find Clarkson crashing the net and banked it off his skate. Chris Higgins rings one off the post shorthanded in the final two minutes of the period. Higgins made a sick move that completely fooled Fayne but thankfully the post was there for us.
I thought the Canucks started to slow down a bit in the second which isn’t surprising since they played such an emotional game last night in Detroit.
On a sad note, Chuck the Duck is being retired and was presented to Doc Emrick in between the 2nd and 3rd period.
Shots on Goal in the 2nd: New Jersey 13 – Vancouver 5
Without a doubt, the Devils top line of Henrique, Parise and Kovalchuk have been the best line through the first two periods of the game and early into the third, that was still at it but they just aren’t capitalizing which you’d have to credit to Schneider. Vancouver looked to be getting a little chippy in the 3rd period but Lapierre only looked to willing to run his mouth and not take it any further with Clarkson. Brodeur made a great save on Hansen close to the 6:00 mark of the 3rd. Zubrus took a hooking penalty on Sedin and the Devils have a couple shorthanded opportunities, none better than a Kovalchuk feed to Greene who had a one-timer chance. Halfway through the 3rd, Parise missed a wraparound attempt and I am not quite sure how he missed. The Devils are pouring it on late in the 3rd but Schneider just keeps answering. The Devils had their chances in the final 10 seconds of the game but just couldn’t find the equalizer. Schneider was the story of this game as he made a number of outstanding saves to get Vancouver the win. Vancouver is a very good team but on this night, the Devils outplayed them for most of the game. The few minutes that they didn’t, the Canucks found the back of the net. The Devils outshot the Canucks 31-16 so that just tells you how well Schneider did. Believe it or not, this is only the 2nd loss in regulation since the All-Star break. The one area that Vancouver outplayed NJ was in the faceoff circle where they dominated 42-19. Hopefully NJ doesn’t get too down about this game as they really did a lot of good things tonight and the man between the pipes for Vancouver stole them a game. Tampa Bay comes into town on Sunday afternoon followed by huge games at the Rangers on Monday and at the Bruins on Thursday.
Shots on Goal in the 3rd: New Jersey 10 – Vancouver 5
3 Stars of the Game
3 – Zack Parise
2 – Mason Raymond
1 – Cory Scheider
The New Jersey Devils won their fourth straight contest on Tuesday night by defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 4-3. The Devils are now 9-1-1 since the All Star Break. New Jersey also extended their point total to 74 on Tuesday night, good enough for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Devils came out strong in the first period. Defenseman Anton Volchenkov was in the lineup after taking a puck to the face in Montreal on Sunday evening; Volchenkov played great, as he has all year. Martin Brodeur continued his great play in the first period of tonight's game, stopping eight of nine shots that came his way. The Devils set a new club record by scoring the first goal in nine consecutive games; Petr Sykora scored 9:44 into the first period to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead. David Clarkson added to the lead with his 23rd goal of the season at 14:16 into the period. Tim Connolly scored 16 seconds later to bring the Maple Leafs within one.
The Devils defense continued to look strong in the second period. However, a key turnover led to a Toronto goal 14:43 into the period. Clarke MacArthur netted his 18th goal of the season to tie the game at two. Martin Brodeur denied the Leafs on several other scoring opportunities. Alexei Ponikarovsky answered for the Devils at 18:11 into the period as he trickled one through the legs of Toronto goaltender Jonas Gustavsson. Both teams went 0-for-1 on the power play in the second period and New Jersey carried a 3-2 lead into the third.
Again, the Devils defense looked great in the third period. Anton Volchenkov blocked several Toronto shots in front of the net. Despite a great defensive effort, the Leafs scored with just 44 seconds to play to tie the game at three, as Phil Kessel scored his 31st goal of the season. With the game going into overtime, the crowd was energized and the Leafs seemed to have gained some momentum.
Both teams played energized in the overtime period and had great chances to win the game. Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner rang a slap shot off the pipe 52 seconds into overtime and the Leafs failed to score on the rebound. New Jersey took control of the puck and skated into the offensive zone. Ilya Kovalchuk took a shot that went wide; Adam Henrique got the rebound off the boards and sent it back to Mark Fayne. Fayne took a shot that appeared to have been going wide, but Gustavsson deflected the puck back into his own net to send the Devils to victory.
The Devils are back in action on Friday night against the Vancouver Canucks in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils will celebrate Doc Emrick night at 7 PM EST and will be looking for their fifth consecutive victory.
Here's a look at the current standings in the Eastern Conference:
It'd be an 8th straight game in which New Jersey would light the lamp first. It wouldnt be until Zach Parise's stick would be infront of a Kovalchuk blast to beat Carey Price for the first tally of the game. The goal would be the captain's 22nd of the campaign. Parise has been an exceptionally key player in weeks of late, along with Kovalchuk (who was credited with his 33rd assist of the year). Along with Kovy, rookie centerman Adam Henrique got the secondary assist. Henrique is on fire. In his last 5 games before entering play tonight, Adam has 4 points on 2 goals and 2 assists and was a +3 during a stretch which saw the Dev's winning 3 of 5. Tonight strobg play would continue by the Devils team leaders. A very strong outing by the team would result in another victory. In the teams last 10, New Jersy has an impressive 8-1-1 record including the game tonight against Montreal. The Devils would strike for 3 goals, all of which were very well set up, and finished off. Including the one goal scored by Montreal's red hot Max Pacioretty, his 25th goal of the year. The Devils' goal scorers for the evening would be Zach Parise, scoring his 22nd on feeds from Kovalchuk and Henrique; Parise would wind up +1. After Parise's goal, David Clarkson would score HIS 22nd of the year as well in the closing minutes of the 2nd period on passes from Elias and Sykora. Disrupting the streak of Devils' goals, Pacioretty would put one past Brodeur who was spot on all game long, recording 21 saves and managed a .955 save percentage. Night after night, Marty continues to exceed expectations playing to his fullest game in and game out. The Devils scoring for the evening would conclude with a blast by Matt Taormina from the point on a pass from Mark Fayne, and Dainius Zubrus. Taormina's 1st of the season would be a goal that would seem to last a little bit longer than the other goals scored in the game due to the puck breaking the lense of the goal-cam. New Jersey would claim the victory 3-1 of the Habs in a game that'd begin sloppy, and would be capped off solid. The Devils gained points 71 and 72 gaining sole posession of 4th place in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, one point ahead of Atlantic Division rivals Philadelphia and Pittsburgh who are tied with 71 points a piece. New Jersey now sits a meer 7 points behind first place New York, a team whom we a tie breaker against winning 2 games against, dropping 1 to the rival Rangers. The team will resume play Tuesday evening against the Maple Leafs before the Devils return home for a meeting between the Vancouver Canucks Friday Night on Doc Emrick Night at the Prudential Center. Be sure to check in here again tomorrow evening to read my next installment of "Second Look" where I will discuss the last 3 games of hockey for Jerseys Team. Be sure to follow us on twitter at @RWTDblog or you can follow me only at @DEVIN88MATTERA.no comments
The New Jersey Devils picked up their second straight victory on Friday night with an impressive 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Martin Brodeur was solid in net, stopping 36 of 38 shots. Adam Henrique and Alexei Ponikarovsky scored in regulation for New Jersey and Patrik Elias added the game winner in a shootout.
The Devils offense looked strong out of the gate. Patrik Elias had a strong scoring opportunity in the first period that was denied by Jonas Hiller. Martin Brodeur also played spectacular and denied the Ducks on several key scoring opportunities, including two chances from former Devil Rod Pelley. Devils defenseman Kurtis Foster was called for delay of game 9:01 into the period; however, Anaheim missed their only power play opportunity of the first. Both teams skated into the locker room tied at zero at the end of twenty minutes of play.
The zero-zero tie would not last long, however, as Adam Henrique netted his fifteenth goal of the season 1:25 into the second period; Ilya Kovalchuk fired a shot from the circle and Henrique quickly jumped on the rebound. Alexei Ponikarovsky added a goal 10:56 into the period to put New Jersey on top by a score of 2-0. Anaheim drew within one goal after Corey Perry scored his 29th goal of the year 16:08 into the period. Although Anaheim led in the shots on goal category by a tally of 23-15 at the end of the second, they found themselves behind by a score of 2-1 heading into the third period.
Martin Brodeur continued his amazing play in net in the third period, denying Anaheim yet again on several scoring opportunities. Sheldon Brookbank, however, scored his first goal since 2009 and tied the game with 2:13 to play. The Devils were denied by Hiller several times in the last minute and a half, sending the game into overtime.
Ryan Getzlaf, of Anaheim, seemed to score 1:10 into the overtime period; however, after further review, which showed that the puck was kicked into the net, the goal was waved off. Both teams had good scoring chances in overtime but were unable to capitalize, which sent the game into a shootout.
Ilya Kovalchuk started the shootout for the Devils with a goal. Anaheim quickly responded with a shootout goal by Teemu Selanne. Zach Parise was denied on his shootout attempt and Corey Perry sent one wide of Brodeur. Tied at one goal a piece headed into the third round of the shootout, Patrik Elias scored for New Jersey to give the Devils a 2-1 advantage. Martin Brodeur made a great save on Ryan Getzlaf to win the game for New Jersey.
The Devils are back in action on Sunday against the Montreal Canadiens at 6:00 PM EST. The Devils, 33-20-4, have racked up 70 points on the season thus far, good enough for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Here's a look at the current standings in the east:
What a game for the Devils faithful to watch from the comfort of their seats because THIS GAME was smooth sailing, start to finish. From a fans perspective, its good to see my team get the "W" in a game thats decided by more than 1 goal. A very easy, stress free game that was played well on all fronts. Brodeur played arguably one of his best games of the year, Kovalchuk was all over the Sabres defense and had Ryan Miller's number, and the Devils defensemen played to standards. Along with that, our powerplay clicked for 2 out of the 4 goals! Onto the review...
The first period unlike the other two was a period that appeared to be very even. Shots on goal were 8 a piece in the 1st, despite Kovalchuk's goal, both New Jersey and Buffalo seemed to have brought their A game. Despite Buffalo's 8 shots on net, it was New Jersey's opportunities in the period that shined brightest. On the powerplay in the 1st period, Buffalo would only manage to kill off one of two, scoring on the second one, a penalty taken by Sabres forward Thomas Vanek for tripping just before the 19 minute mark in the period. Vanek would conclude the evening with a +/- ratio of 0, managing 2 shots and no goals while recording a very lazy 2 minute minor for tripping which ultimately led to a beautifully executed passing play. A tic-tac-toe style of passes from Kovalchuk, to Elias, back to Kovalchuk for the powerplay goal which was fired on a nearly empty net after twisting Buffalo netminder Ryan Miller inside out. The powerplay goal would be the first of two for New Jersey in the game, and first goal of three by Kovy on the night. The Devils would walk into the locker room with a lead for the first time in 3 games after the opening twenty minutes, 1-0.
As all Devils fans are WELL aware of, we know this is a team that has a brief track record of collapses in the closing 40 minutes, and the second period might have been another prooving factor. Buffalo would strike late in the middle stanza, when the captain Jason Pominville would get credit for a wacky goal that looked more like a pinball than a hockey puck as it would nestle itself up and over the right elbow of Brodeur after bouncing off of and taking a ricochet off of multiple Sabres and finally NJ Devil Dainius Zubrus before finding its way in the net for a tie game. You would begin to think that after a weird goal like that, one that broke a shutout late in the second, it would be a BIG momentum swinger for Buffalo; that was not the case. In a second period that was filled with scoring opportunities for both teams that were eventually staved off by the tremendous skill at both ends of the ice, the gentlemen playing between the pipes, both of whom are former Vezina Trophy winners, it was one big save by Brodeur, followed up by one for Miller. The goalies in these Buffalo-New Jersey games are spectacular! Like Brodeur-Lundqvist Devil-Ranger games, these games played against Buffalo, regardless of the score, are always entertaining to me, as are games played against the Habs. You truly get to see the work of real NHL Elite goalies. Brodeur would shut down 10 of 11 shots in the period, while Ryan Miller at the opposite end would close off 12-12.
The teams would begin the 3rd period tied at 1 goal each. The catch... New Jersey would be on a breif 5-3 powerplay due to two late second period penalties called on Sabres' Christian Ehroff for tripping (which was killed off in the 3rd) and then a Mike Weber cross-check issued at the 20 minute mark. Weber's penalty would be the 4th Sabre penalty called in the 2nd period, (4th of 7 total for Buffalo). The third period is where the game would rip wide open and most certainly in favor of New Jersey! Not even 2 minutes into the closing period with the score tied, it would be New Jersey up on the 5-3 powerplay. Like I had written before, Buffalo would manage to hold off the odd man opportunity for the remaining seconds on the first penalty. It was that last penalty in the second period that was called on Weber that would come back around to bite Buffalo right in their back's as they'd get lit up on a goal blasted by Petr Sykora being fed from Ilya Kovalchuk and Adam Henrique for the Devils' 2nd powerplay goal of the game.
With his name in mention, id like to direct a bit of focus on our rookie Adam Henrique. Henrique concluded tonights victory over Buffalo with 2 assists for 2 points, a +/- ratio of +1, while only taking 1 shot; with Adam's 2 point night, he now leads all NHL rookies in points with 37. Henrique passed Edmonton's rookie sensation Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tonight for points in his 48th game on the year; Adam has played in 8 more games (48), scoring 1 more goal (14) and 1 more assist (23) for a total of 37 points, 2 ahead of Nugent-Hopkins. Henrique is a +9 on the year (ranked 6th amongst NHL rookies), tied with team mate Zach Parise for the league lead in short handed points with 7 each, 2 ahead of team mate Ilya Kovalchuk (5). The 22 year old fan-favorite is making his presence known league wide showing he can play along side NHL superstars night after night and being able to contend with the big guys. Despite only having 14 goals (91st league wide) which is a decent amount of scores for a rookie playing with names like Kovalchuk, Parise, Elias, and Sykora (Clarkson too!) on his team, Adam Henrique leads the NHL, rookie or not, with 4 short handed goals.
After Sykora scored what would be the eventual game winner, it would take a few minutes for the red light above Miller's cage to light up again. Scoring his second goal of the night, it was Ilya Kovalchuk; just before the halfway mark of the period Kovy would put another one past and through the Sabres defense and goalie for his 24th of the night. Henrique would be the lone assist on Kovy's 2nd. A couple penalties would be called in the 20 minute window of play before regualtion would conclude such as a whistle for a trip called on Devils defenseman Andy Greene which was killed off as well as Derek Roy's second tripping penalty of the game, which, was killed off as well in the closing minutes of the game. With time winding down and Miller dashing to the bench, a turnover would send Ryan retreating to his crease, diving to make a save on a shot fired at an empty net by Petr Sykora, which, rang LOUD off the cross bar and went out of play. A faceoff would be won back by the Sabres and carried into the zone before a transition would commence, leading to a mad dash by Parise and Kovy to score the empty netter. After a couple of nice defensive moves by scrambling Sabres defensemen, it was gathered up by Parise, as he dealt it back to Kovalchuk, who would fake a defender and put it in the net, cashing in on his first career hat trick as a member of the New Jersey Devils.
4-1 would be the final score in First Niagra Center, Buffalo, New York as the Devils would see a very easy victory against a team that has been bad in games of late. Regardless of where they sit in the playoffs, Buffalo always puts up a fight and its always a great game, regardless the outcome like I said before. New Jersey now sits 1 point behind idle Pittsburgh (5th) and Philadelphia (4th) who both have a tie for 4th place in the Eastern Conference with 69 points. As well as gaining points 67 and 68, the Devils now maintain a 2 point lead over Ottawa in 7th place with 3 games at hand in concluding their 56th game against the Sabres this evening and a 6 point lead over 8th place Toronto. New Jersey resumes play back home at The Rock Friday night against the "Not-So-Mighty" Ducks of Anaheim who are a team that is in the center of what seems to be EVERY trade talk/rumor in the league right now as the deadline approaches. "To buy, or to sell... THAT, is the question." As if William Shakespear would have worded it. Anaheim has a -.500% win percentage claiming victories in 23 of 56 games, losing 24 in regulation, and gaining the 1 point in 9 games lost that have lasted longer than 60 minutes. The Ducks sit in 13th place in the Western Conference with 55 points after defeating the Minnesota Wild this evening, 2-1.
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Coming off of a 5th straight victory and 1st on the road during the streak, 2nd against the Rangers in that stretch, the Devils returned home to take on the Blues from St. Louis. As the Devils in the last week have been forming an identity for themselves as a team that can compete with the league's elite clubs, they would face yet another challange in St. Louis, who in their last 10 holds a strong record of 6-2-2 winning in their last game, looking to extend that to a 2 game win streak. What seemed to be a game that would be won by New Jersey, it didnt necessarily result that way.. The Devils would score first, then give one up before the period would close. At the start of the 2nd, St. Louis would take the lead before loosing it and then going down by 1 when New Jersey would answer the call, scoring twice in the second with goals by Henrique and Elias. With a victory in site, it was a surprise tip in goal scored by the Blues with under six minutes left in the period that would tie it, eventually forcing an overtime period which would FURTHER lead to a shootout that'd be won by St. Louis. All good things must come to an end at some point. The Devils would drop their first game in the second half of the year, their first defeat since they played the Sabres January 24th.
Looking to rebound at home after a close game against the Blues, New Jersey would play host to the Florida Panthers. Like their game against St. Louis, the Dev's would score first, and early... just over a minute in is when the Devils would hear the goal horn. Almost like a mirror to their loss against St. Louis, Jersey would allow a goal before the first 20 minutes would close, allowing both teams to head to the locker rooms tied up. The remainder of the game would be all Panthers, no Devils. It was as if New Jersey was in a shell for the closing 58 minutes of play, which is utterly embarassing if you ask me. Florida would score in the second period just once and once more on the empty net in the final minutes of the third. Florida would walk right in, and out of Newark as easily as its put. 3-1 the final against the Cats, a game who's importance doesnt shine as brightly as it should to the team I believe, as well as us fans. Thats almost as disappointing as being outshot 24-1 in the third period of a game versus Philadelphia (Devils 6-4 Flyers).
The Devils need a serious rebound game tomorrow night on the road and what better opponent to play against than the slumping Buffalo Sabres who currently reside in 14th place in the Eastern Conference. Jersey's Team dropped their last head-to-head matchup against the Sabres in a shootout which was determined by stellar goaltending by U.S. born goalie, Ryan Miller. In next week's installment of Second Look, i will be recapping games against the Sabres (2/14), Anaheim (2/17), and a bout north of the border against Montreal (2/19).
The New Jersey Devils dropped their second straight game on Saturday after falling to the Florida Panthers by a score of 3-1. The Devils were haunted by sloppy defense, takeaways, and penalties; whereas the Panthers were aggressive on offense and solid on defense, leading them to victory.
The Devils looked strong out of the gate and energized. The Devils applied pressure early and kept the Panthers in the defensive zone. Steve Bernier notched his first goal as a Devil 1:39 into the first period, sending the Devils out to a 1-0 lead. Later in the period, Sean Bergenheim scored his eleventh goal of the season--a power play goal--to tie the game at one a piece. The Devils looked sloppy at the end of the period and looked to turn the game around in the second.
Locked in a 1-1 tie, both teams looked to break the tie early in the second period as both New Jersey and Florida had several scoring chances. Kris Versteeg scored his 21st goal of the season 7:43 into the period to put Florida up by a score of 2-1. Martin Brodeur, however, denied the Panthers on several other scoring opportunities and continued to look sharp. New Jersey's best scoring chance of the period was nullified by an obvious defensive holding penalty which was not called. Unfortunately, New Jersey could not get anything started offensively and trailed by a score of 2-1 going into the third period.
The Devils played arguably their worst third period of the season against the Panthers on Saturday. Several of New Jersey's long-ice-passes were intercepted and led to scoring opportunities for the Panthers. Brodeur kept the Devils in the game; however, New Jersey was unable to capitalize on their only power play of the day. The Devils did not apply a lot of pressure in the third period. Time and time again, the Devils dumped the puck into the Florida zone and changed lines rather than shooting the puck. Mikael Samuelsson added an empty net goal with 25 seconds to play to give Florida a 3-1 lead, which would stand as the final score.
The Devils are back in action on Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres. New Jersey looks to jump back into the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference after falling one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. A look at the current playoff picture:
1 - Rangers* (75)
2 - Bruins* (70)
3 - Panthers* (63)
4 - Flyers (69)
5 - Penguins (67)
6 - Devils (66)
7 - Senators (64)
8 - Maple Leafs (62)