I can honestly say I was a little worried going into this game. Actually, scratch that, I was a lot worried. My biggest fear was watching this team lose in regulation and starting the season 0-2-0. We keep talking about last season’s horrible start but that was an 0-1-1 start at this juncture. This doesn’t mean that the Devils are off to a better start than last season, that’s going to take time to prove , it just don’t have to worry about after two games.
Let’s focus on some of the good things to start:
The Devils had great jump to start the game and Parise put them on the board early. That’s exactly what the Devils need to do every game because it seemed to give them a little confidence. Sure, the ‘Canes eventually tied it up, but the confidence was there because NJ bounced right back. I certainly didn’t expect Fayne to put that second goal in the net but great job. They outscored and outshot the Hurricanes in the first period which is something you like to see. I do have tendency to set my expectations a little high but with guys named Parise and Kovalchuk, I expect to see one of those names on a score sheet each and every game. Tonight, we were lucky because we got both of them on there.
Like last season, Hedberg did a solid job in net. He didn’t have much a chance on the first goal as Sutter was camped out in front of him and maybe the second goal was a little soft but all in all a great performance.
I thought the Devils came away with a hard fought win tonight against a team that always gives us issues.
There was bad stuff as well:
I do want to take a moment a touch upon something Deb brought up the other night. WHY THE HELL IS ADAM OATES STILL THE POWER PLAY COACH??? The Devils are now 1 for 12 on the PP and the only reason they got the one tonight is because the Hurricanes had to pull Ward and Parise put it in an empty net. They look a little lost on the man-advantage, not moving the puck efficiently, standing around, etc. but at least they didn’t give up a shorthanded break away.
Yes, Kovalchuk got the eventual game winner but his game certainly wasn’t flawless. One, he broke his stick on a one-timer during a power play and then took his sweet time to get over to the bench for a new stick. This is where Lemaire excelled last season, getting the most out of Ilya Kovalchuk and I certainly hope DeBoer can do the same.. Two, his little stick handling mishap that had Hedberg not been paying attention to, would have resulted in the go-ahead goal for Carolina at the end of the second period. I won’t deny that Kovalchuk is a talent and can break a game open like no one else can but he makes a lot of stick handling mistakes for a guy paid $100 million dollars. I don’t think he’s at a point in his career where that can be fixed, we can only hope to survive them.
David Clarkson – If you read my in game notes, I was all over him but maybe I am being a little unfair to him? Maybe I need to be harder on the coaches to use him correctly. See, Clarkson is a lot like me when I play hockey. My best attribute is to camp out in front of the net, screen the goalie and bang home rebounds. I once had a team captain that wanted me to model my game after Randy McKay and I did just that and became a better hockey player because of that. I think that’s the type of player that Clarkson is and should be but for some reason, no coach has done that with him. He’s out there on the power play, stick him above the crease.
At the end of the day the Devils do have a number of things to work on but a win is a win and I will take it. It’s early in the season and they showed some resiliency when Carolina kept finding a way to tie the game. The Kings come into NJ on Thursday and I think they are a team with a few more offensive weapons than Carolina. Let’s hope the Devils are ready.
For those of you that missed the game, enjoy the highlights.