Post game interviews after the Devils 3-1 victory over the Islanders.
Post game interviews after the Devils 3-1 victory over the Islanders.
Tonight closes out the season series between the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils. The Devils would look to gain 2 more points to help aid the cushion between themselves and the 7th placed Ottawa Senators. New York is a very dangerous team this time of year, considering their role in the playoff picture as a spoiler. The Islanders being officially eliminated Saturday in a loss to Boston followed up by another loss Sunday to the 7th seeded Sens, New York would be itching for a late season victory against a team which they've had some success against throughout the season. The Devils would continue their powerplay goal streak tonight when Travis Zajac scored in the middle period, extending that streak to 3 games with a PPG.
In my opinion, the most exciting period of play in the game, unfortunately, since the rest of the game to me, was a bit on the slow side. Johan Hedberg would get the call from coach Pete DeBoer as he'd be the Devils starting goaltender, presumably leaving the next two games open for Marty Brodeur. It wouldn't take long for the scoreboard to light up; New Jersey's Patrik Elias would put the Dev's on top early on passes recieved from linemate Petr Sykora and defenseman Mark Fayne. Shortly following the goal, the Isles would stirke for a goal of their own. Arguably the league's best top line would produce a rebound goal scored by Islanders forward Matt Moulson. Moulson collected his 35th goal of the year on a backhander from in front of the cage, beating Moose with nearly 16 minutes left to play. Islanders captain Mark Streit and John Tavares would recieve a point each for primary and secondary assists on the lone marker for New York in the game. Action wouldn't pick back up until the middle of the period when a scrum broke out following a hit assessed by Devils enforecer Cam Jannsen on an Islander in the corner which would wind up being the causing factor for the scuffle. Micheal Hailey of New York rushed Jannsen in open ice, tossing his gloves to the playing surface, initiating the fight between the two brawlers. In the wake of the fight, New Jersey would be assessed the powerplay opportunity on an unsportsmanlike conduct call issued to Hailey for approaching Cam. The penalty would be killed off resulting in no shots for New Jersey. Before the period's final horn would sound, a closing second penalty would send Islander Marty Reasoner to the sin bin for a deuce for hooking Bryce Salvador with 6 seconds left on the clock. The penalty would carry over.
With a carry over powerplay opportunity for New Jersey and the game tied one goal a piece, this man advantage would have to be a good one if the team wanted a chance of gaining momentum through the last 40 minutes of play; sure enough, it was! Travis Zajac only 22 seconds into the period would break the tie scoring on the powerplay for New Jersey putting them up 2-1 on the rather sluggish Isles. Zajac's goal was assisted by Parise, playing in his 500th career game as well as Elias. Scoring for the period would conclude there and would be on hold until the 3rd period of play for the teams.
In arguable one of the most boring periods of hockey I've been witness to this season, the Devils would manage to stave off a comeback from the Islanders, and, really, it was exceptionally easy to do. New York had 4 shots in the period. The Devils and Islanders would move up and down the ice essentially care free. No legitmate opportunities presented by either club, the Devils taking no penalties with a late period empty net glaring down ice at them. Islanders Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo were both credited with 10 minute misconduct penalties at 19:05 as well as Okposo getting an additional 2 minute minor tacked on for unsportsmanlike conduct, also at 19:05; the 2min minor would be served by Nino Niederreiter. With the Isles on the attack, and a big save made by Moose with the right pad to prevent the tie, a trip up by Isles captain Streit would result in a turnover leading to Ilya Kovalchuk adding a little salt in the wound, putting Jersey's Team up 3-1 with the empty net goal, Kovy's 35th of the year. New Jersey increased its win streak to 4 games after defeating the Isles in Newark.
New Jersey will hit up Detroit on the road Thursday night in the teams final road game of the regular season before returning home for a Saturday matinee against Ottawa. With the win, the Devils increase their point total, now reaching 98 for the year with 2 games remaining meaning they can finish off the year on a 6 game win streak and reaching a grand total of 102pts by seasons end. Be sure to check our site again tomorrow evening after the Devils Flyers game. To hear the latest Devils information, be sure to follow us on twitter at @RWTDblog@DEVIN88MATTERA @RealScottRobb and our newest writer @Rvaidya33 and you can like us on our facebook page! From all of us here at Running With The Devils, singing off until the playoffs begin, I'm Devin Mattera, you stay classy Devils Fans.
The all-of-the-sudden red hot scoring machine that is the New Jersey Devils play host to the season’s done/not much left to play for New York Islanders tonight at The Rock. Here’s the thing, when it comes to the Islanders this season, we’ve played some real stinkers. Here’s a fact that you might not know, that won’t make you feel good about tonight. 3 times this season the Devils have scored 6 goals in a game and 3 times that 6 goal game was followed up by a 5 goal game, most recently last week against Tampa Bay and then Carolina on Saturday. The previous 2 6 goal game then 5 goal games were followed up by a 1 goal game, 1 which we lost 4-1 to the Rangers on 12/16 and one that we beat the Rangers 1-0 on 2/7. SO, if I am a betting man, we are only putting 1 puck in the net tonight. Come on Hedburg, we need to keep every puck out of the net.
This will be the final meeting between the Islanders and the Devils this season. The Devils lead the season series 3-2 but those 2 losses to the Islanders this season have been memorable, at least in my mind.
Word is that Clarkson will be out of the lineup tonight as a precaution, he missed Monday’s practice and Larsson will be a healthy scratch for the third straight game, more on that in a minute. Hedburg will get the start.
Injury Report: The Devils are still without defenseman Henrik Tallinder (blood clot). … Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov has missed the last two games with a lower-body injury.
These are the probable lines for NJ.
Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Adam Henrique - Steve Bernier
Ryan Carter - Jacob Josefson - Cam Janssen
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold
Some of the other things I will be looking at tonight:
- The Devils clinched a playoff spot but they are still battling the Ottawa Senators for 6th place. With 3 games to play, NJ leads Ottawa by 4 points but the two teams face off on Saturday to close out the regular season. A win tonight is HUGE and a must.
- As I mentioned already, NJ has had three 6 goal games this season followed up by three 5 goals games followed up by 2 stinkers when it comes to offense. Hopefully the offense doesn’t dry up all of the sudden but the good news is that Montoya is getting the start, not Nilsson who we’ve struggled against in 2 games this season.
- Tonight will be career game #500 for Zach Parise. That is unbelievable. How did he get to 500 already even missing most of last season?
- As for Larsson, I’m actually surprised that he’s been scratched this much. I could see a game or two but three is a big worry for me. What is it doing to his confidence, how will he be if he ever returns this season? It’s almost too much for me at this time of year. If you sit for 3 straight in Dec/Jan ok, who cares but playoff push hockey and you’re getting the healthy scratch time and time again, maybe you get to be a spectator until next season. I’m just afraid if he comes back he will be afraid to make a mistake and come the playoffs, the last thing I want is a defenseman who is tentative with the puck. Maybe I am alone in my thinking but I say sit him until October. Who’s with me?
I thought this was a great article on the joke that has become the New York Islanders. They have some great players in their history but it seems as if they want to wipe Pat Lafontaine from their history. Having grown up a hockey fan in the United States in the early 80’s, Pat LaFontaine was pretty much a role model because he was succeeding in a game that was dominated by Canadian’s. Read the article, it’s a good one!!
Welcome back Devils Fans! Im on a "back-to-back" blog swing once again this evening as well as tomorrow night. Tonight on Second Look, I will be reviewing the Devils' recent 3 game win streak which began on March 27th in a shootout victory over the Blackhawks at home in Newark followed up to a scoring frenzy in another home game against the Bolts wrapped up by a playoff berth-clinching victory over the Canes down south in Raleigh the day after an open practice/autograph session in Newark.
The game against the Rangers on Tuesday one was a BIG responding game to their previous loss against the Rags back on February 27th. New Jersey showed both New York and the league that they are not a team to be messed with. If you can beat the 1st ranked team, weather its in the East or the West, you've presented enough evidence that you're a contender; if, in New Jersey's case, you can manage to win 3 of 5, I feel you've got what it takes to be a real powerhouse and a force to be reckoned with come the post season. With one more game remaining between these two teams this season (Monday, March 19th in MSG) and this being a potential first round matchup (if NJ can climb to 5th & NYR drops to 4th thanks to the help of the streaking Pens, winners of 9 straight) which would be a blood bath! New York's "King Henrik" would get lit up a total of 4 times by Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk, David Clarkson, Ryan Carter and an empty netter by Patrik Elias would stave off the Rangers and their, rather weak showcasing of hockey in last Tuesday's game. Final score at The Rock, New Jersey 4-1 New York Rangers.
This game against the 6th place Hawks was a tight one. An early power play goal scored by Petr Sykora at the end of the 1st period appeared to be a goal that would stand for the entirety of the game especially based on the spectacular play in the net by our very own Martin Brodeur. Marty looked and ultimately played FLAWLESS all game long. Save after save made by the 39 year old goalie would be the difference up until the 3rd period when Chicago D-Man Brent Seabrook squeezed a puck from the point through Marty's right arm, as it found its way into the twine. The Blackhawks tied the game with under 12 minutes left in the period. It seemed so fitting that this contest would be decided in extra time as these two teams rushed up and down the ice before the 5 minute sudden death OT period would expire. New Jersey would enter the shoot out. Patrik Elias would record the first mark in the shoot out only to be answered by Chicago's Patrick Sharp in the 3rd round. After saves were made on efforts by David Clarkson on Marian Hossa, it'd come down to Travis Zajac to put New Jersey in the drivers seat. A quick move in the shoot out would see Zajac score! With the puck on Andrew Shaw's tape, Marty Brodeur would decide the fate of the Devils; SAVE MADE! New Jersey wins pulls out the win over the Blackhawks, 2-1 in a shoot out.
Despite the hat trick allowed by Marty in this one, the Devils prevailed victorious. After going down 1-0 in the closing minute of play in the 1st period on a tip-in goal scored by Ryan Malone, it'd be Dainius Zubrus scoring New Jersey's league-leading 15th short handed goal of the season on a pass from Patrik Elias early on in the second to knot it up, one goal a piece. No sooner than the tying goal, it'd be Malone again putting the Bolts up by one once again. After the 2nd goal by Malone, New Jersey answered again, this time, it'd be Jacob Josefson scoring even strength to tie the game at two. YET AGAIN, Tampa Bay would pull ahead, YET AGAIN, it would be Lightning forward Ryan Malone, scoring his 3rd of the game to put Tampa up 3-2 over the Devils mid way through the period. Then, when it seemed nearly like New Jersey would pack their bags and head down south to face Carolina, none other then Cap'n Clutch, Ilya Kovalchuk, would rise to the occassion to tie the game and lead the scoring parade for the Devils. Following Ilya's 33rd of the year, goals would be scored by Marek Zidlicky on the powerplay in the 2nd period, Alexi Ponikarovsky and then David Clarkson both in the 3rd period. New Jersey rallied back from a one goal defecit to put up 4 unanswered goals, which, in time, would be answered by Tampa's Trevor Smith. The goal would be scored a bit too late. The Devils extended their streak to 2 via the help of 6 goals Thursday evening.
One player shined bright in this game, in my opinion, was Martin Brodeur. Brodeur stopped all 22 shots faced from the Hurricanes recording his 119th career shutout, his 3rd of the season carrying New Jersey on his back, clinching the teams 14th playoff berth in 15 seasons. Along with Brodeur's shut out, the Devils offense continued to click following a 6 goal outing three nights earlier, scoring 5 times on 31 shots. Brian Boucher recorded 26 saves on the evening in a losing effort, despite making a couple of highlight reel, goal preventing saves. David Clarkson netted his 30th goal of the season, a career mark for Clarky, followed up by four more goals by Ilya Kovalchuk, Ryan Carter, Petr Sykora, and Zach Parise. Kovy finished the evening with 3pts, a 2pt outing by Elias as well as Sykky would lead the Devils to victory over the Hurricanes. All four lines continued to produce in back-to-back games, which, at this point in the season, is HUGE.
New Jersey will conclude the season Saturday afternoon in a game against the Ottawa Senators after returning home from the Motor City when the Devils visit Joe Louis Arena and faceoff against the Detroit Red Wings. The Devils will continue play tomorrow evening at home against the New York Islanders as they continue to increase their lead over the 7th place Senators. To hear the latest Devils information, be sure to follow us on twitter at @RWTDblog@DEVIN88MATTERA @RealScottRobb and our newest writer @Rvaidya33 and you can like us on our facebook page! From all of us here at Running With The Devils, I'm Devin Mattera, you stay classy Devils Fans.
This was essentially THE GAME for the New Jersey Devils. After an impressive display of offense in a 6-4 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday, the Devils hoped they could clinch with a Washington loss in Boston. Unfortunately that did not happen but the positive was that they needed just a point against the Carolina Hurricanes tonight to officially clinch. In other words, a win and they’re in. Tonight, in my opinion, was even better than Thursday night as New Jersey cruised on in Raleigh. They’re officially in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs!
Early in the first, I kind of felt a bit nervous because there was some light pressure by the Canes in the first minute. The Devils seemed to turn it over carelessly but thank goodness Marty Brodeur was there to keep Carolina off the scoreboard. At the 16:33 point, Zach Parise took an interference penalty to give the Hurricanes their first power play of the night. Only a minute into this power play, Marty had to make a big save on the Canes’ Jeff Skinner! However, it definitely was a dandy. From that point on, the Devils took control of this period. At the 8:11 point, I got really confused because a shot from Petr Sykora looked to have beaten Hurricane goaltender Brian Boucher. Replay later showed that the puck was tucked inside Boucher’s arm. About a minute later, Ilya Kovalchuk took a cross checking penalty which resulted in another Carolina penalty. I’m not sure how many people realized this but the power play didn’t start inside the Devils’ zone. Instead it started outside the Hurricanes’ blue line. The PK looked strong and Carolina didn’t generate many chances. Momentum was restored back into the Devils’ spirit. Marty made the key saves and the Devils drew a penalty at the 4:07 point. Jussi Jokinen went off for holding and the Devils went on the power play. Though there were no goals on this power play...I was impressed! I’ve never seen the Devils this season move the puck that well, pass that well, and take that many shots on a power play. If we see that kind of power play from NJ, look for beneficial results. With just 0:42 to play in the period, Skinner took an interference penalty which set the Devils up for another power play. This one, however, resembled the first power play in a much quicker fashion. It took New Jersey 18 seconds to capitalize. The birthday boy David Clarkson scored his 30th of the season with just 22 seconds remaining! Clarkson’s goal was assisted by Patrik Elias and Kovalchuk… but wait there’s more! Skinner who came out of the box apparently said something to the refs which ticked them off. Silly Skinner took an ill-advised unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and the Devils went right back onto the power play! Time ran out though and the Devils were ensured a large chunk of carry over power play time. Shots-on-goal- after one were 16-7 in favor of New Jersey.
I guess you can call this second period déjà vu because in terms of goals, it almost mimicked the second period of the game vs. Tampa on Thursday. Kovalchuk increased the Devils lead to 2-0 with a great shot just 1:44 in! It wasn’t a power play goal but Kovy’s 34th was assisted by Sykora and Dainius Zubrus. Without a doubt, momentum was in favor of the Devils. At the 16:32 point, New Jersey proved that they have depth capable of generating offense. Steve Bernier and Ryan Carter (4th liners!) generated a 2-on-1. A nice pass from Bernier to Carter and an even greater snap shot from Carter was all it took for the Devils to beat Boucher again and lead 3-0! Carter’s 4th goal of the season was assisted by Bernier and Jacob Josefson. Sykora took an interference penalty later but the ensuing Carolina power play was simply shut down by the top-ranked Devils Penalty Kill. If anything has been more impressive this season about Devils hockey, it’s definitely the PK. Contrary, Carolina captain Eric Staal bumped into Marty after he made a stop and thus took a goalie interference penalty. This Devils power play didn’t generate any goals but there were definitely some strong chances that could have increased the lead. At the 8:50 point, Marty made THE stop on Jeff Skinner which got a loud ovation from Devils fans in the crowd and completely sucked the life out of Hurricanes fans. With just 2:30 to go, the signature Sykora goal reoccurred! Petr shot the puck off the face off past Boucher and I couldn’t believe it. The Devils were actually beating the Hurricanes (who they’ve had some struggles with over the years) 4-0. Sykora’s 19th was assisted by Elias. In the Tampa game the, the Devils scored 4 in the 2nd. Here, they scored 3. Nonetheless, New Jersey’s goal scoring touch was back in action! Shots-on-goal after two were 28-13 in favor of NJ!
Yawn… really not much action in this one. The opening was very nice though. Just 1:15 in, captain Zach added to the misery of Carolina fans yet, created a bigger smile on the faces of Devils fans everywhere! Parise snapped one past Boucher for a commanding 5-0 lead. His 31st was assisted by Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac. Actually, Adam Henrique had a great chance to make it 6-0 but he was tripped by a Hurricane defender and was unable to reach out for the puck. Literally, the net was wide open for him. Nonetheless, it didn’t change the tempo of the game. From this point on, it was simple up and down hockey. With 3:13 to go in the game, Carter took a slashing penalty. In this power play, the Hurricanes, I think, had a great chance to beat a vulnerable Brodeur. It’s surprising how they didn’t score but I’m glad they didn’t! In that same power play, the MSG+ cameras showed Marty sucker punching a Hurricane in the face. It was quite entertaining to watch and the good mood carried on throughout the night. New Jersey defeated Carolina 5-0, Marty got the shutout, and the Devils are heading to the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs!
- Ilya Kovalchuk
- Petr Sykora
- Patrik Elias (probably could have put Marty here for the shutout)
Key Notes: As mentioned throughout, yes, the Devils are in the playoffs for the 14th time in 15 seasons! They only needed a minimum 1 point to clinch. If they couldn’t get that, a Washington or Buffalo loss of any kind would get them in too. The Capitals beat Montréal in a shootout 3-2 but Buffalo lost to Toronto 4-3 so the Devils would have clinched anyway. A win is still better though. The RBC Center in Raleigh, NC is now called the PNC Arena. The newly named arena sold out tonight with an attendance of 18,680. Alex Ponikarovsky seems to like NJ more than Carolina. He has 6 goals since joining the Devils after being traded from the Hurricanes. Adam Larsson, Eric Boulton, and Cam Janssen were scratches. New Jersey was a perfect 4/4 on the PK tonight. The Devils are the only NHL team with 3, 30 goal scorers (Kovalchuk, Parise, and Clarkson). Adam Henrique has only taken one penalty this season. That’s among the fewest in the NHL. There were many birthdays in the hockey world today (March 31st). A happy birthday to all of the following from us here at Running With the Devils! David Clarkson (NJ – 28 years), Steve Bernier (NJ – 27 years), Michael Ryder (DAL - 32 years), Stan “The Maven” Fischler (MSG Networks – 80 years), and the legendary Gordie Howe (84 years).
Next game: Tuesday April 3rd, 2012 vs. NY Islanders @ The Rock at 7 P.M
Post game interviews after the dismantling of the Tampa Bay Lightning.....
That's right, folks. The New Jersey Devils' magic number is down to one. By defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 6-4 on Thursday evening, the Devils moved closer to the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Washington Capitals defeated the Boston Bruins in a shooutout, 3-2, which prevented New Jersey from clinching. However, Martin Brodeur looked sharp tonight and the Devils were able to capitalize on several scoring opportunities, leading them to victory.
New Jersey played exciting hockey in the first period of tonight's game. Martin Brodeur was outstanding, as he has been all season, and the defense played well. Although the offense looked somewhat flat, the Devils were able to manage some scoring opportunities. With just 44 seconds to play in the opening period, Ryan Malone netted his 16th goal of the season to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead. Trailing by one after one, the Devils looked to come back in the second period with a great amount of energy--and they did.
If the Devils had a better offensive period this season than they did in the second period tonight, I would like to know about it. Dainius Zubrus opened the scoring for New Jersey just 3:07 into the middle period to tie the game at one. It was Zubrus' 17th of the season and it came while the Devils were on the penalty kill. About a minute and a half later, however, Ryan Malone scored his second goal of the game to put Tampa Bay back up by one. Jacob Josefson answered with his second goal of the season 6:54 into the period. Yet again, none other than Ryan Malone put the Lightning back up by one with his third goal of the game, 10:13 into the period. Ilya Kovalchuk netted goal number 33 3:13 later to bring the Devils even at three. Marek Zidlicky scored his second of the season on the power play shortly afterwards. New Jersey held on to a 4-3 lead heading into the third period.
This third period was particularly impressive. Although they had the lead, the Devils were not giving up. New Jersey continued its aggressive play and capitalized on some scoring chances. Alexei Ponikarovsky scored 2:25 into the third period to put the Devils up 5-3; this would stand as the game winning goal. David Clarkson moved closer to a 30-goal season by scoring 6:05 into the third, his 29th of the year. Tampa Bay switched goaltenders immediately after, which was "too little, too late" for the Lightning. With nine seconds to play, Trevor Smith scored for Tampa Bay; however, New Jersey would hang on to win the game by a score of 6-2.
Key Stat: The Devils had 38 shots on goal tonight while holding Tampa Bay to a mere 20. It is obvious that New Jersey has enough talent on offense to help them win. When they put the puck on net, the Devils get results. It's as simple as that.
Three Stars: (3) Ilya Kovalchuk ... (2) Ryan Malone ... (1) Patrik Elias
Magic Number: ONE. With a Devils win OR a Capitals loss on Saturday, the Devils will clinch a playoff berth. As of right now, the Devils sit in the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference--a spot that fans seem to be content with. If the playoffs started tomorrow, New Jersey would play the Florida Panthers in the first round.
Next Game: Saturday, March 31, 2012 vs. Carolina Hurricanes
For all of your latest Devils news, follow @RealScottRobb, @DEVIN88MATTERA, @Rvaidya33, and @RWTDblog on twitter! Check us out on facebook, too!
The 11th place Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Rock for the final time this season. The Devils lead the season series 2-1 with both wins coming in Tampa Bay, which seems like a common theme this season. How many teams have we split the season series with this season? Tampa Bay is basically out of the playoffs, which having played in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, having taken Boston to 7 games in that final and losing game 7 by a score of 1-0, that’s a LONG way to fall. But, don’t be fooled, Tampa Bay can still bring it and they certainly have a player that knows how to score. Steve Stamkos has found the back of the net 55 times this season and in his short 4 year career, has found it 174 times. Remember when Barry Melrose refused to put this guy on the ice?? This game tonight is by no means an easy one for the Devils.
The Devils are back to shuffling the lines to try and find something that sparks them. I think we can all agree that the Devils have lost something over the last 2 weeks and line shuffling at this point isn’t a bad idea in order to find chemistry for the playoffs. Tonight’s line look to be:
Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Adam Henrique - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Jacob Josefson - Steve Bernier
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Which means Larsson is sitting again and Volchenkov is healthy enough to return.
Here are some other things to discuss going into tonight’s game:
- The Devils could clinch a playoff spot tonight with a win and a Capitals loss.” 3, oh it’s the magic number, yes it is, it’s the magic number!!”
- The Devils need to find their offense. Shots haven’t been a problem but a lack of actual scoring has. Both Kovalchuk and Parise have 2 goals over the last 5 games and Clarkson has a big ol’ goose egg in the goal department over the last 5 games.
- The defense was better (not great) against the Blackhawks. Hopefully, improvement continues tonight. The Devils had conceded at least four goals in four of their last five games going into the Blackhawks game but only gave up 1 to Chicago. But lets be honest, the Devils made a lot of mistakes and Brodeur won them a game that they didn’t really have any business winning.
Whenever we play the Lightning, especially this time of year, I can’t help but think back to that game in the 2003 playoffs where Grant Marshall sent the Devils to the next round with a goal in triple overtime. That game is also considered one of Doc’s greatest moments…
After dropping their last two, and the Senators closing in on 6th place in the Eastern Conference Playoff picture, a game against the Blackhawks tonight would be a VITAL two point outing. New Jersey's magic number entering play tonight is 6. By night's end, REGARDLESS of a win or loss for NJ, the Dev's magic number would eventually be 5 due to a matchup between the 8th & 9th seeded Sabres & Capitals in the nations capital. In the team's last 5 games, New Jersey's record is 1-3-1, two loses to Pittsburgh, one to New York, and a shoot out loss to the Leafs award Jersey with 3 points out of a potential 10.
WOW! What a first period there for New Jersey and for Martin Brodeur. Marty shut down all 13 shots faced from the Hawks in the opening twenty including a Chicago powerplay on a Marek Zidlicky interference penalty. Brodeur was solid. Playing posessed at some points, shutting down the puck with nearly EVERY PART OF HIS EQUIPMENT; saves off the mask, the pads, blocker & glove, the stick, Marty was everywhere! After Zidlicky's penalty was killed off, it would'nt be long before New Jersey would have their opportunity on the man advantage. Brent Seabrook was whistled for hooking at 13:50 of the 1st period and boy oh boy, this one would be a lasting play for this game. On the power play, it'd be none other than recently demoted 4th liner, Petr Sykora, clicking on the only shot taken by the Devils on the man advantage, blasting one past Corey Crawford for the goal. Sykky's goal was his 18th of the season, a tip in goal on a pass from Adam Henrique and Mark Fayne. Adam's assist would place him one point behind NHL rookie point leaders Gabriel Langdeskog & Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Shortly before the conclusion of the period, Chicago would get one more big opportunity on Brodeur, firing a shot that Marty would fight off and then would have to bat out of mid air before it was batted out of mid air by a Hawk, ringing it off the cross bar, shortly wrapping up the chaos and then the period. Shots were 13-11 in favor of Chicago; both teams had one man advantage, New Jersey going 1-1, Chicago 0-1.
For Devils fans, this period was frightening. A tremendous amout of scoring chances and shots on goal for Chicago, including a 5 on 3 power play. The Devils would only manage to get 4 shots on Crawford in the middle period while facing 10 more blasts from the Hawks. New Jersey just couldnt manage to get the puck out out of their zone, DESPITE winning faceoffs. Chicago looked very dominant despite the lack of scoring. The play was predominantly in their favor but when every shot was hitting a brick wall, there's nothing really you can do. Brodeur CONTINUED to show his strength and stand his ground. Believe it or not, when the two minor penalties were taken by Ilya Kovalchuk & by Bryce Salvador, it would'nt be Marty highlighting the penalty kill. The 3 men on the ice would be the spotlight players. A key play with the skate by Mark Fayne, kicking a puck out of the path of a potential back door put in goal by Patrick Kane would manage to deflate any particular momentum gained by the Hawks on the 2 man advantage. New Jersey looked sloppy, plain and simple. Shots were 10-4 for Chicago.
These late game collapses will be the ultimate downfall of this team come playoff time, ESPECIALLY in low scoring affairs like New Jersey has become so accustomed to playing in games of late. When all seemed to be smooth sailing and everything seemed NEARLY perfect, I have to stress that one word, "NEARLY". A screened Brodeur would lead to the lone mishap on Marty's resume for the evening in regulation. Brent Seabrook recieved the puck cross ice from Dave Bolland setting up the drive leading to a goal that squeaked through Brodeur's right arm and into the mesh behind him. Two late penalties called in the closing minutes of the 3rd period would set up a brief Chicago power play which would eventually turn into a 4 on 4 when Hossa would get called for the trip. New Jersey killed off the penalty in the 3rd period walking into the 5 minute OT period a man up. Shots were 13-4 for Chicago.
Overtime tonight in comparison to Friday night looked like a completly different Devils team. Tonight, New Jersey looked determined to pull out a victory, regardless of weather it was in a shootout or not. It seemed like a helluva lot more shots were fired at each net during the overtime period, but, only 5 shots were recorded, 3-2 in favor of New Jersey even with the man advantage to begin the sudden death period. Chicago killed off the Hossa tripping call assessed in the closing minute of the 3rd period, recording a 2-3 PK on the evening. Teams would end the O.T. still caught in a stalemate, and away they went, into the shootout.
The lineups and results of the shootout were as follows:
New Jersey (2-5)
Round 1) I. Kovalchuk-Save
Round 2) Z. Parise-Save
Round 3) P. Elias-Goal
Round 4) D. Clarkson-Save
Round 5) T. Zajac-Goal
Round 1) P. Kane-Miss
Round 2) V. Stalberg-Save
Round 3) P. Sharp-Goal
Round 4) M. Hossa-Save
Round 5) A. Shaw-Miss
1 Final/SO 2
The Devils led by Martin Brodeur who stopped 37 of 38 shots through 65 minutes of play and 4 of 5 shootout shooters, would manage to stave off a relentless Chicago Blackhawks team to gain the 2 MUCH needed points, pushing them to 92pts on the season, now placing them a mere 4pts behind Philadelphia with a relatively comfertable 4pt lead over the idle Ottawa Senators with one more game to play this season between the 6th & 7th seeds. The Devils look to continue their rebound Thursday evening against the Tampa Bay Lightning at The Rock, the final matchup between these two teams. For more information regarding Running With The Devils or any of us writers, be sure to check any of us out on twitter at @RWTDblog @Rvaidya33 @RealScottRobb and @DEVIN88MATTERA or like us on Facebook. Im Devin Mattera, you stay classy Devils Fans!
The Matchup: The Chicago Blackhawks come rolling into town tonight to take on our Devils. The puck drops at 7pm and you can watch it on MSG Plus HD or listen to it on WFAN 660 AM.
This is the only time we will see the Blackhawks this season (unless we both make it to the Finals). The last time we saw Chicago, Nov 3, 2010 where the Devils prevailed 5-3. Of course we'll always remember Chicago as the team Marty got #552 against.
What you need to know: Chicago, like New Jersey, currently sits in 6th place overall in their conference. If the playoffs started today, both Chicago and NJ would face off against the conference’s weakest division winner, which is usually the benefit of 6th place. There are apparently a number of lineup changes for NJ tonight and the Blackhawks continue to miss a lot of players in their lineup (see injury report!!). Chicago is 7-2-1 in their last 10 while NJ is 5-4-1 but a concerning 1-3-1 over their last 5.
Chicago is getting hot at the moment which is dangerous at this time of the year and the fact they are doing it without captain Jonathon Toews should be concerning for most Western Conference fans. Bottom line, Chicago is an excellent hockey team with just one weakness that I see…inconsistent goaltending. Tonight won’t be an easy 2 points.
What I expect tonight: The Devils have been firing the puck lately but just not finding twine. On top of that, the defense has been a little loose over the last few games. The Devils have conceded at least four goals in four of their last five games. If the Devils are going to hang on to 6th place, that HAS to stop. The Hawks have a number of weapons on offense so the defense is going to need be on their A game tonight. Marty gets the start tonight.
Injury Report: For Chicago, Marcus Kruger (concussion-like symptoms) is questionable for Tuesday's game. Sami Lepisto (left leg), Jonathan Toews (concussion), Steve Montador (upper body) and Daniel Carcillo (left-knee surgery) are all out indefinitely. … Anton Volchenkov is questionable for the Devils with a lower-body injury. Henrik Tallinder is out indefinitely with a blood clot in his left leg.
Line Changes: The big news this morning was that Adam Larsson is going to be a healthy scratch tonight. Peter Harrold, who was called up from Albany yesterday will take his place in the lineup. Larsson has been struggling with some consistency as of late and taking a night off might do him some good. He’s a young kid, he’s probably feeling the pressure of being the future of the Devils defense and trying to make a push into a decent playoff position. I really have nothing but respect for Larsson but I agree with siting him for a game or few to try and get him refocused on playing some sound defense.
This is probably what you will see tonight…
Adam Henrique - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Petr Sykora - Ryan Carter - Steve Bernier
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Matt Taormina - Peter Harrold
There isn’t a lot of bad blood between the Blackhawks and the Devils, mainly because we don’t play them enough but as a hockey fan, I watch them enough and I have to say, when it comes to my list of douche’s in the NHL, Patrick Kane is pretty far up the list. Maybe it’s his look, maybe it’s his attitude but I honestly believe if he could hop in a time machine and change professions, he could easily have been the guy that played the douchebag role in most 80’s flicks. This guy is just begging to be put through the boards night after night. Unfortunately, I don’t see any muscle in our lineup tonight that can do just that…