After knocking off the Flyers 3-0 last night at The Rock, the over-all feeling about this team was a good feeling. I thought they put in a great effort, did some good things and stuck up for one another. That isn’t to say that there are things to work on because there are ALWAYS things that need a little work. Then I started thinking about Cam Janssen and I am just confused as to why he has a spot on this roster.
I thought his purpose in NJ was obvious. When it comes down to hockey skills, he doesn’t really have much. He failed multiple clearing attempts against the Flyers top line at one point in the game and basic hockey skills are something we've seen that he lacks in the past. So if clearing the puck, a basic hockey skill all hockey players should possess is something he has trouble with, he’s obviously not taking up a roster spot for his superb hockey skills. He’s enforcer, a guy that gets off on pounding in the face of an opponent yet last night when he should have been on the ice dealing with Wayne Simmonds, he was kept on the bench. Eventually near the end of the game Clarkson took on Simmonds and then Bernier took on Schenn all while Cam Janssen was kept on the bench. It wasn’t until the final seconds of the game that we saw Cam Janssen on the ice and at that point, his enforcer services weren't needed.
I can almost defend keeping him on the bench during a 1 goal game due to his lack of skills but in a game where you are up by 3 goals, some idiot cross checked your goalie, another idiot left his feet to make a big hit, you keep him on the bench?
I ask you, what exactly is it that Cam Janssen is supposed to bring to the table for the Devils??
Let’s start with the pre-game coverage because it bothered me. Before we even get to the broadcast, NBC cuts to an interview between Salvador and Brian Engblom and all he’s interest is the team’s mindset now that Parise is in Minnesota. In fact, according to Engblom, the Devils have remained intact from last season except for the departure of Zach Parise. No mention of Sykora and Ponikarovsy who were both very important to this team one season ago. What a terrible interview on the part of NBC. After a brief studio segment, we make it to the start of the Devils and Flyers. I’ve sat through a bunch of NBC broadcasts so far this season, all of which were home openers and this Devils game has been the ONLY one where NBC didn’t broadcast the player introductions. BIG TIME FAIL on the part of NBC but why should I be surprised?
Now, to the game and just like that, the Devils find the back of the net. Bryce Salvador did everything he was supposed to and put the puck on net from the point. In typical Bryzgalov fashion, at least against NJ, he put out a nice juicy rebound which Zajac, streaking out in front all alone, put into a net that was wide open for his second of the year. Through the first 4 periods of the season, Zajac is definitely quieting the critics about his big, long-term contract.
The Flyers seemed to settle down a bit and took control of the game, which is being played at a high tempo. The Flyers were skating a little faster, getting to the puck quicker and appeared to be knocking on the doorstep. Unfortunately for them, that doorstep belonged to the one and only Marty Brodeur. Hartnell had a couple of good chances that were denied. The Flyers came away with two power plays in the first period but NJ shut them down.
At the end of the first, the Flyers took a bad interference penalty. The Flyers have struggled on the penalty kill so far this season and their struggles would continue as David Clarkson would get his second of the year.
Period Over – Devils up 2-0. Biggest stat of the first period: Flyers hold NJ to 3 shots on goal but find themselves down 2-0.
They say that coaches hate goals scored early on in a period and late in a period. Well, the Devils had one of each in the first, how would the second period go? 1:39 into the period, a Zidlicky penalty would lead to a power play for Philly. Unfortunately for Philly, this would be a power play against NJ. Picking up right where they left off last season, Kovalchuk gets the puck on a breakaway for a chance at a shorthanded goal but gets hooked from behind. In the resulting Penalty Shot, Kovalchuk beats Bryzgalov up high for his first of the season, a shorthanded penalty shot. FYI, Kovalchuk is now 3 for 4 in penalty shots that count (not counting that skills crap to decide games).
Things would then get a little chippy. Clarkson steamrolled Timmonen at center ice which would start a scrum. In fact, 3 Flyers went after Clarkson and the hit was nothing but clean. A few minutes later, Schenn would put a huge hit on Volchenkov and then immediately after that, Simmons made deliberate contact with Marty following a save. Now this is Devils / Flyers rivalry hockey.
At the end of the 2nd, the Devils would get a 5 on 3 opportunity that could really decide the game. Unfortunately the start of the 5 on 3 was very sloppy but they did regroup and get a couple of opportunities but nothing came of it. The final :30 seconds of the period saw the Flyers starting to buzz but the clock ran out before they could do anything with it.
The third period was kind of quiet offensively. The Devils got a few chances on the power play but nothing came of it. Toward the end of the period, things got a little chippy again. First Salvador put Talbot on the ice for being too chippy and then Clarkson took on Simmons and did a great job.
Schenn and Bernier got into it as well.
In the end, Marty gets his 120th shutout of his career, 10th against the Flyers. Devils improve to 2-0 while the Flyers drop to 0-3.
- Throughout the game I was questioning if the Devils could play strong for the entire 60 minutes and the answer to that would be a big fat yes.
- The Devils continue to get under the skin of the Flyers and we witnessed a lot of frustration on the part of the Flyers which led to a couple of power play opportunities.
- Marty looked fantastic. In fact, I think I am going to start campaigning for more 48 game seasons if this is the Marty we get when the season starts in January.
- The first goal by Zajac was more of what made the Devils so successful last spring. Quick little flips of the puck followed by the winning of the battles in the corners which lead to great chances and finding a way to finish those chances.
- Matteau continues to impress me. True, he hasn’t put a puck in the net but he’s close and he’s working hard.
- The defense looks great and while I hate the decision to keep sitting Larsson, he’s not really needed at this point.
- Was a little disappointed that Janssen was kept on the bench so much, especially when Simmons needed to be taught a lesson. What exactly is Janssen’s place here if he’s not going to get out there to rough a guy up?
- While the shot totals eventually piled up, what will be lost in the recaps is that NJ was up 3-0 on just 5 shots on goal.
- Overall, it was a great effort from start to finish. Devils get a couple of days to feel good about this one before they get a shot at Adam Oates and his Capitals on Friday.
Throughout the game, a couple of us on twitter were joking around with #PariseNJDrinkingGame but honestly, let the Parise storyline die. NBC refused to let it die and kept bringing up. With the exception of Brodeur and maybe Stevens, the Devils have always been more about the front of the jersey than the back. Parise is gone, it’s fine and the Devils will be just fine without him. Let the storyline die.
Philadelphia Flyers (0-2-0) @ New Jersey Devils (1-0-0)
The Devils return home tonight for the first time this season. There will be a new banner in the ceiling (although it’s not the banner 99.999% of us REALLY wanted but it did come at the expense of the Rangers so if you are bummed it’s not a Stanley Cup banner, at least find comfort in knowing that it isn’t hanging in Madison Square Garden).
Puck Drop: 7:30pm EST
The Broadcast: TV - NBC Sports Network; Radio - 660 AM WFAN
Season Series: 0-0
The Last Time We Saw Philadelphia: That was Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals where the Devils sent the Claude Giroux-less Flyers home for what would turn out to be a VERY LOOOOONG summer.
The Last Devils Game: The Devils opened up the season on Saturday night against the Islanders in Long Island. The final result would suggest a close game but that doesn’t paint a clear picture. The Devils outshot, outhit and outworked the Islanders for most of the evening. The Devils defense, under the direction of rookie coach Scott Stevens was SOLID. Should we expect anything different from something Scott Stevens puts his name on? Zajac got the Devils on the board first and then after watching the Islanders eventually tie the game, David Clarkson picked up right where he left off last season and put home a clutch, game winner.
The Last Flyers Game: The Flyers traveled to Buffalo on Sunday, a day after losing at home to the Penguins. The Flyers found themselves up 2-1 in the second period before the wheels came off. With the scored tied at 2 after 2, there was still a chance for the Flyers to get a point or two. Unfortunately for the Flyers, that chance never left the locker room between the second and third periods. Buffalo took control of the game in the third by scoring 3 goals within 5 minutes, sending Philly back home to start the season 0-2.
Thoughts on Tonight’s Game: I am sure that Philly is going to come out tonight with a little extra “giddy up and go” because of their disappointing start. I didn’t really consider the Islanders a great test the other night but a team like Philly, who is pretty deep offensively, will be a good test for our team.
Philly does look to be a little weak defensively so far this season so if NJ can put forth another solid effort on defense, we should have enough offense to send Philly home with another loss. Philadelphia has taken a lot of penalties so far this season and given up quite a few power play goals. They been shorthanded 9 times and given up 5 goals. To be fair, one of those 5 came with the net empty but there is definitely a weakness to exploit there. This is a rivalry game so I would expect a number of calls on both sides of the puck.
Philadelphia Flyers Notes:
- Danny Briere will be out tonight.
- Zac Rinaldo will also miss tonight’s game.
- Cosmonaut Ilya Bryzgalov will man the pipes.
New Jersey Devils Notes:
- Looks like Adam Larsson will be sitting again.
- Stephan Matteau will make his home debut.
- Brodeur gets the call tonight, which he should.
Players To Watch:
When it comes to the Philadelphia Flyers, you always have to keep your eye on Claude Giroux. Given the opportunity, he can score some clutch goals for his club. I’m also keeping my eye on Sean Couturier because I believe that he could have a breakout season this year.
As for NJ, I want to see how Stephan Matteau does tonight. He had a lot of energy the other night in Long Island and seem to be places where the pucked ended up but this is a rival game and he has a pretty well know issue with taking a good amount of penalties at the junior level this season. Will the extra adrenalin of a rival game and home opener push him over the edge?
It should be a great game. Philly hasn't started like they had hoped and I am sure will be eager to try and get their first win against the team that sent them home last summer. I'm a little bummed that it looks like Larsson is sitting again. I know he's an NHL calibre defenseman, I just don't get why we keep scratching him.
We wanted to send out a little reminder to Brayden Schenn. There's a lot of hockey left to play this season. Try not to let the Devils use you as their own personal punching bag.
As always, check us out on our Twitter accounts during the game and then come back for our recap after.
The New Jersey Devils opened the 2013 season with a win against the division-rival New York Islanders. Martin Brodeur played well between the pipes, Travis Zajac and David Clarkson provided the offense, and the Devils jumped out to a quick two points.
I was extremely impressed with the pace of the game in the first period. The Devils moved the puck well and had a few good scoring opportunities. New Jersey's defense also played a key role in the first period, limiting the New York Islanders to a mere three shots on goal. Ilya Kovalchuk was in mid-season form, as was Martin Brodeur. The Devils and Isles went into the intermission locked up in a scoreless game.
The Devils came out strong again in the second period and finally cashed in on an opportunity. With 5:59 to play in the middle period, Travis Zajac opened the scoring off a beautiful feed from Ilya Kovalchuk. Henrik Tallinder tallied the second assist on Zajac's first goal of the season. The defense did its job again, holding the Islanders to seven shots. Brodeur looked flawless and kept New York off the board for a second consecutive period.
Things got interesting in the third period. New York tied the game up 7:12 into the third frame on a goal from Travis Hamonic (1). The power play goal came too easily for Hamonic, who stood wide open in front of Brodeur as three Devils' defensemen got caught in the corner. David Clarkson responded just over a minute later with a wrist shot that trickled through for his first goal of the year; Patrik Elias and Mattais Tedenby assisted Clarkson's eventual game-winning goal. The Islanders went 0-for-2 on the powerplay in the third (not counting the penalty assessed to Elias with two seconds remaining) and failed to capitalize on several key chances.
My Thoughts: The Devils played strong tonight and looked good. Rookie Stefan Matteau was focused and seemed ready to play tonight. Hopefully, we will see a lot more out of him this season. If Brodeur can keep up his stellar play, the Devils will be back into the postseason with ease. The absence of Adam Henrique is also big for New Jersey right now; once he is back, the offense will pick up and we will not see many one-goal games.
The puck movement was also extremely impressive tonight. With the extended lockout and lack of preparation time, I was worried that New Jersey might come out flat. That was not the case at all, and thankfully so.
New Jersey is back in action on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. Philly will travel to Newark to play the Devils in their home opener, which will be broadcasted on NBCSN. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 PM. I will see YOU at the ROCK as we raise yet another banner to the rafters at the Prudential Center.
New Jersey Devils (0-0-0) @ New York Islanders (0-0-0)
In a few years we will stop having to visit that place they call an arena on Long Island and head to Brooklyn to play the Islanders but for now, we will continue to play in them in the Nassau Coliseum.
Here we go… CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?? Finally, after months and months of fighting over money and more money and contract terms and a whole bunch of stuff the average fan could care less about, it is time to drop the puck!!
This is the first preview so it will be kind of light because we really don’t know what to preview for tonight’s game but thank god there is finally a game.
It was very late in the 2011/2012 season where we last saw the Islanders. Their season was over, ours of course was not as the Devils just clinched a playoff spot a few days before. Travis Zajac playing in just his 5th game since returning from a very long injury put home the game winner. A lot had been made about this goal at the time because many felt it helped Zajac’s confidence level which was going to be needed for the upcoming playoffs.
Players To Watch
Well as Devils fans we are going to be watching everyone I am sure but the big news going into this season was the lack of replacements added for the departures of Parise, Sykora and Ponikarovsky. Together, those three put 59 pucks in the net last season. Where will the scoring come from? Without Parise on the team and without Henrique in the lineup, EVERYONE is probably going to focus on Ilya Kovalchuk. That is why I will be watching him tonight. How does he respond?
I’ll be keeping my eyes on two Islanders tonight. Matt Moulson led the team with 36 goals last season and John Tavres led the team with 81 points. The Islanders are still the 5th best team in the Atlantic division but these two guys certainly have the ability to win a few games on their own for the Islanders. They proved that last season.
What To Expect
To be honest, I am not quite sure. Some of our guys have been playing in the AHL during the lockout, others went to Europe but a large number didn't do either. So that is going to be my main focus tonight, to see if the coaches worked them hard enough this week and got them ready...game ready.
The Islanders always play us tough and being that this is a short season and points are going to be critical in all 48 games, I would expect a battle tonight. Let's just hope after months of waiting, our guys are ready!!
As always, check us out on Twitter during the game and then come back for our recap after.
We are now just days away from dropping the puck on the 2013 season. It’s been a long road to get here but I think we are all ready. Due to the lockout, we get a short 48 game season and it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that long losing streaks or giving away crucial points will be a huge problem this season. Let’s also remember that we play only Eastern Conference opponents this year so points are going to be CRITICAL. At times, the Devils gave away points last season, blowing leads in the 3rd period but in the end, that didn’t matter much as they made the playoffs and then made their run. This year it could be the difference between making the playoffs and making early tee times, more so than any other year.
The Devils have six (6) games on the schedule for the month of January and some of those games come against opponents that could easily be mentioned for having a shot at the cup.
Game 1 - @ The Islanders – Hey look, the Islanders have come a long way in recent years. I think they made some decent acquisitions in the off-season and the play of Nabakov last season really did them well. I also think they are still the bottom dwellers of the Atlantic Division. I’m not saying we should sweep the Islanders this season, we never seem to do that and they always play us well but I do think we are the better team.
Game 2 – Home against The Flyers – The Flyers scared me last season, especially with their dismantling of the Penguins in Round 1 but then, let’s be honest, we completely outplayed them in round 2. I’m sure the suspension he received last year is still on the mind of Claude Giroux and I would expect that he has something to prove against the Devils. Tough opponent to get for your home opener.
Game 3 – Capitals at the Devils – Welcome back Adam Oates, that didn’t take long to run into you. The Caps are a team that underachieved last year. When you have a natural goal scorer like Ovechkin and guys like Backstrom and Laich and Green and a decent guy in between the pipes, making the playoffs on the final night of the regular season is pathetic. Oates, while many didn’t like him here, is a good coach. Look for them to be dangerous offensively and why do I get the feeling the Devils forecheck that worked so well in the playoffs will find its way to Washington this season?
Game 4 – At Montreal – I kind of thought when Marty tested the waters last July, Montreal might be the place he ended up. Thank god that didn’t happen!! Marty loves playing in Montreal and I don’t think the Habs made enough moves in the offseason to improve on the team they have.
Game 5 – At Boston – Even without Thomas, the Bruins are going to steam roll over the rest of their Division and probably be in a spot to be a favorite to win another cup. Always a tough battle in Boston.
Game 6 – Islanders at the Devils – See, very quickly we have 4 points in the Atlantic Division on the table. Hopefully we will make it 2-0 against Atlantic Division teams going into February.
My biggest worries going into this season are:
Can we close out teams and not give away points. Even if you end up winning in OT/shootout, let’s not hand teams a point.
We didn’t win the cup but we still have a bullseye on our backs as the Eastern Conference Champ, especially when it comes to play those Rangers.
It’s a short season but worse than that, it’s a short camp to get ready for the short season. Are guys going to be in game shape come Saturday? Can we stay healthy?
The key seems to be 52-56 points in order to make the playoffs this season. Let’s get it started right by finishing off the Islanders in their building in 3 periods.
Training camp officially opened yesterday but due to the lockout, this isn’t your normal training camp. Decisions have to be made quickly on players trying to make the team and all the other roster moves that need to be made.
The Devils open the season Saturday night in Long Island so you can see that there isn’t a lot of time for decisions to be made.
So what do we make of this roster? Who will we see in Long Island on Saturday night? I’m very interested to see how the guys that didn’t go to Albany or Europe to play. Are they in shape? Here are some thoughts:
The Gionta/Carter/Bernier line was so effective last spring that I believe without a doubt they should be given the chance to return this season. Will they be as effective, I don’t know but all three should certainly be on the Devils final roster.
Bobby Butler has emerged as Albany's leading scorer with 15 goals and 8 assists in 32 games. He also has led them in shots with 92. I can’t for any reason figure out why we would send him back to Albany. Let’s hope he makes it and keeps the #9 he is wearing in camp.
A lot of people are hot about Mattias Tedenby but I for one am not. He has talent but he’s been given a shot before and managed to play his way to an AHL ticket. That’s not to say guys don’t deserve multiple chances, they do. We know maturity helps in all sports, I’m just saying I’m not hot on this guy like many are.
I’ll take a pass on Tim Sestito. He’s never really done much for me and he hasn’t been lighting the AHL world on fire this season either.
I believe that Stefan Matteau is there only so we can get a better look at him. I don’t think he will make the team this season. He needs work, especially when it comes to discipline but he’s a kid, he’ll grow.
Mathieu Darche played for Montreal last season but the free agent has not been signed by anyone. He's in camp on a tryout basis and a lot has already been made about his presence because he appears to have taken Sykora’s place in camp. Lou's decision were made to bring in youth rather than Sykora but they brought Darche in, who is the same age and scores a lot less. I still think the move is smart. You have to respect that the Devils are looking toward their youth and the one thing Darche has over Sykora is size. He’s 6’1” and 217lbs and let’s be honest, Sykora isn’t really much of a tough guy. In a limited role, Darche could be useful.
Coming tomorrow, we will take a look at the Devils first 6 games of the season which will bring us to the beginning of February.
The framework to end the lockout is in place and while we wait for the ratification process for the new CBA to be completed, it is now time to start focusing on a little Devils hockey.
I will address a rumor first because I need to address it in order to move on with the point of this article. We woke up this morning to rumors that Ilya Kovalchuk might be staying put in the KHL and not returning to the Devils this season. Sorry, I’m not buying it. The guy has more than a decade left with NJ and lots a lot of money to leave on the table. He’s going to become the main focus of the Devils offense now that Parise is gone and I just can’t believe he’d leave that. When the Devils open their 2013 season, you better believe that #17 will be there.
With the departure of our Captain last July 4th, that leaves a vacancy on our team for a new captain. Who should wear the “C” from this point on? Here are a few thoughts:
Ilya Kovalchuk – Seems to make the most season. He’s locked up long term and I for one want to give the “C” to a guy who is going to be around for a while. No one likes watching their Captain walk away from the team. We’ve watched it happen twice now and I don’t want to see it happen again. He’s changed his game and bought into the Devils philosophy since joining the team, so I ask you to come up with a reason not to give it to him.
Kovalchuk is my choice but let’s look at some other guys that might hear their names in this conversation.
Patrik Elias – No doubt that Elias has been a leader for us on the ice. He’s even worn the “C” for the Devils before but I always got the feeling that he wasn’t exactly comfortable with that on his uniform. I don’t really think he’d jump at the chance to wear it again and I believe the DeBoer probably can see that.
Bryce Salvador – I prefer to have my captain be a defenseman but when you look at the Devils defense, no one really stands out above the rest. It’s a very good group of guys that get the job done but there isn’t a Stevens or Niedermayer among them. If you had to pick a defenseman, Salvador is the veteran but I don’t see him or any other defenseman wearing the C.
Travis Zajac – You could make an argument for this guy. The team seems to be lost when he is out of the lineup. He missed most of last season and the Devils were noticeably improved when he returned to the lineup and was very helpful in their run to the Cup Finals, BUT and it’s a but that would get the likes of Sir Mix-a-lot all riled up, Zajac is a UFA in 7 months and do the Devils really want to go through this again?
So that’s my short list and it really is a VERY short list because I think Kovalchuk is really the only guy that should get the “C” on his jersey. Who do you think should be the next captain of the Devils? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section!