Running With The Devils - A New Jersey Devils Blog
When Are Pads Doing More Than Protecting?
Written by Darren S   
Tuesday, 09 February 2010 13:47
We've seen it time and time again. One minute a guy has the puck and the next minute he's lying motionless on the ice with his eyes no longer focusing on the puck or goal but rather on the ceiling of the arena, probably trying to figure out exactly where he is and what just happened. Sometimes this is the result of the head being smacked against the ice but lately, it seems more common that this is a result of the check itself and not from the ice surface.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the protective gear guys are wearing today go above and beyond that. It’s a double-edged sword because the equipment can protect the players but now the way it's designed can cause serious injuries to players and is doing so at an alarming rate. The plastic used in this equipment is extremely hard. Go search Google Images for "hockey shoulder pads" and go see what the pads that players are wearing today look like. It honestly looks like Armor.

Just to clarify, I am not talking about the shin guards that are being worn because to block a 90 mph puck, a player has to have that type of protection. Plus, we aren't checking guys with our legs. It's the upper body equipment that I am speaking of.

The NHL has gone to some lengths to try and regulate they equipment being used. Look up Section 3, Rule 12.3 and you will find: All elbow pads which do not have a soft protective outer covering of sponge rubber or similar material at least one-half inch (1/2'') thick shall be considered dangerous equipment. Too bad this isn't enough to actually keep guys from getting injured.

Look at the Jeff Carter / Annsi Salmela hit from last night's Flyers/Devils game. I have a problem with how the hit was delivered as Carter came from behind Salmela but honestly believe that if the equipment Carter was wearing was a made differently, injury may have been avoided on this play.

If everybody wore the old school shoulder pads of our hockey forefathers, yes there might be a few more shoulder injuries, but on a positive note, there would also be less concussions. Is it likely that hockey players will go back to the hockey shoulder pads of old? Probably not but with the technology that exists in todays world, I am sure somebody can manufacture equipment that is light in weight and protects the player just as well without risking the safety of the guy taking the hit.

Sure, you could make an argument that hockey players should realize that they do have a responsibility to try and check opposing players without making direct contact with the head. But it is also important to realize that this is an extremely fast game and all hockey players are different sizes and completely eliminating hits to the head is next to impossible. This is why I believe this issue rests more of the guys making the equipment than the guys wearing the equipment.
 
Flyers Knock Out Devils
Written by Darren S   
Tuesday, 09 February 2010 09:50

I think at this point, I am certainly looking forward to the Olympic break. I am hoping that for most of the Devils, this will be a chance to go home, take a breather and come back more focused on the tasks at hand. I don't get this team lately. We've brought an extremely talented snipper named Ilya Kovalchuk to the Devils and so far, it hasn't made an ounce of difference. I don't blame him, I can't blame him. Have you seen him play? Have you seen what he's capable of? Kovy had 24 mins of ice time and 9 shots on goal last night, other than actually scoring a goal, which will come, believe me they will come, what more can you ask him to do?

I actually thought this game was going to be different. The Devils got on the board first with a Zack Parise Powerplay goal that made Pronger look dumb. The Devils kept the pressure on and eventually got a second goal on the board when Anssi Salmela drove hard to the net. On that play, Jeff Carter put a shoulder hit on Salmela sending him to the ice very hard. He would end up leaving the ice on a stretcher but was later to be said up and walking. (I'll get more into that hit in a later post).

Once that happened, the Devils seemed to sit back. I'm not sure if it was the fact of being up 2-0 that made the Devils feel they could stop playing or maybe it was being down 1 D-man that really changed this game. Whatever it was, the Flyers took control of this game.

I'm sick of these game where the opposition scores and then seems to immediately score again. It happened in MSG on Saturday night and it happened again last night. In fact this is the fourth game in a row where the Devils gave up multiple goals in the second period. It looked as if the Devils might survive the injury and the second period up 2-0 but then James van Reimsdyk fired a nice shot past Marty. A few mins later, Pronger gathered a rebound and found Hartnell in the neutral zone with perfect pass. Mottau got himself committed to Hartnell and didn't pick up Carter sneaking into the zone and stayed in the middle of the ice allowing Hartnell to easily feed Carter who had a wide open net to fire it into. Didn't hurt that he's a right handed shot flying up the left side of the ice.

On the third and final goal, Mottau left his feet which allowed Timonen to setup behind the net. Mottau did get up but was beaten easily by Timonen pass which found Richards parked in front of the net...ALL ALONE.

There were a lot of breakdowns in this game. The Powerplay was awful even though they scored one. The Devils had so much trouble getting anything setup and how many times did Kovalchuk want to slap a one-timer and the pass to him was off?

This game was extremely frustrating and guess what, we get to do it all over again tomorrow night. As always, if you missed the game, here are the highlights.

 

 
GameDay 58: Headed To Philly
Written by Darren S   
Monday, 08 February 2010 11:33

The final week before the Olympic break and it certainly is a doozy with 4 games in 6 days including two against the Flyers.

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (36-19-2) at the Philadelphia Flyers (28-25-3). This is the 4th of 6 meetings this season and the first of two meetings this week.

The Last Devils Game: Thought they played a pretty good game, got a lot of shots on net but Henrik Lundqvist (and his huge pads) came up big for the Rangers as they went on to a 3-1 win over the Devils. If you go back and watch the highlights, Lundqvist robbed NJ at least half a dozen times.

The Last Flyers Game: They also ran into a hot goalie as the Flyers only got one goal on 39 shots and the Wild got 2 past the Flyers for the win.

The Last Devils / Flyers Game: Going into this game it seemed that the Flyers had the Devils number this season. They had won the previous two games 5-2 and then 3-2 but the Devils didn't want to hear that nonsense. Elias scored twice, including his 300th of his career and Marty stopped 22 of 23 as NJ got the 4-1 victory.

Tonight's Matchup: Follow the formula that was used in New York on Saturday night. Sure, Emery (if he plays) can be a spotlight stealing goalie but he's nursing an injury so I don't imagine him being 100%.

Devils had an optional practice yesterday morning which caught Mottau and Fraser working on passing. I was glad to see Mottau working hard yesterday because the one big error he made Satruday resulted in a goal against, something he was certainly disappointed in.
As for the lines, I liked what I saw on Saturday with the exception of Peters. That guy never does much and Saturday he got into two quick fights and then got benched in the third as we double shifted a wing. I'd keep the lines the same, including Peters since we'll probably need a little muscle tonight. I certainly would keep Kovalchuk and Elias together as their chemistry needs to grow and once it does, should be incredible.

Zach Parise  - Travis Zajac  - Jamie Langenbrunner
Ilya Kovalchuk - Dainius Zubrus - Patrik Elias
Jay Pandolfo - Rob Niedermayer - Brian Rolston
Andrew Peters - Dean McAmmond - Vladimir Zharkov

Andy Greene - Bryce Salvador
Colin White - Mike Mottau
Anssi Salmela - Mark Fraser

Martin Brodeur

Devils better expect the Flyers to be up for the game. They need the points and who better to get points against than a division rival. Flyers haven't been doing well lately and will want to make a statement tonight. For some reason I think this game is more about the offense of both teams rather than the man in between the pipes.
 
Monday Morning Quick Thoughts
Written by Darren S   
Monday, 08 February 2010 09:31
I thought the Devils didn't play well at all on Friday night against the Leafs but somehow put it all together in the last 3 minutes and sent the Leafs home without a point. I thought the Devils did a much better job on Saturday night and give a lot of credit to Lundqvist as he kept the Devils off the scoreboard for most of the game. A few bad minutes in the second cost NJ but these things happen.

I think the Devils need to learn how to play with Kovalchuk, not play for him. I found myself watching these games and thinking that the Devils were trying to hard to get him the puck. I know the guy is extremely talented and you want him to have the puck but these long, homerun type passes aren't the way to get it to him. It comes down to getting time to practice with Kovalchuk, finding his linemates and learning about each other. Even this weekend you could see how the guy moved and how he has tremendous vision of the ice. Once he learns his teammates and gets more comfortable with his new team, this guy is going to be lethal.

This is the final week before the Olympics and boy its a doozy. Preview of tonight coming up later...
 
GameDay 56: Leafs In Town, Some Guy Named Kovalchuk Debuts
Written by Darren S   
Friday, 05 February 2010 10:40

 

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (35-18-2) vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs (18-28-11). This is the third meeting between the two teams this season.

The Last Devils Game, The Last Leafs Game, & The Last Devils-Leafs Game: These two just met on Tuesday night in which Dion Phaneuf and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made their Leafs debut. Phaneuf made some hits, threw some fist and acted like a total pansy by not taking of his visor (maybe my #1 pet peeve in fighting). Giggy wasn't challenged and Toronto kept NJ off the board while getting 3 of their own. Overall, it was a disappointing game.

Tonight's Matchup: Kovalchuk makes his NJ Devils debut. I can actually say I never thought I'd write that sentence. So the goal tonight is to do everything differently than they did on Tuesday, make Kovalchuk feel at ease with his new team and hopefully start some kind of chemisty with the fantastic #17.

I'd imagine Brodeur will get the start tonight after getting to sit on Tuesday night.

I trashed Oduya a little bit in my Kovalchuk piece but now I will throw him a little bone. The defense won't have Oduya out there now so they will have to do a little better job containing the Leafs tonight. I'm sure we'll get to see Salmela tonight as well and certainly hope he brings something to the table as well.

NJ will need to make Giguere work. After last weekend, the Leafs team is a better team as we found out on Tuesday. I'm just hoping after yesterday, this Devils team is a much better team and the Leafs will find that out tonight.

Wonder what Kovalchuk can do? Watch this....

Yea, I think he's got some talent in those hands of his.

As for the lines, I really have no idea but I'll take a stab. (Don't be surprised if Kovy ends up on with Parise and Zajac tho).

Zach Parise  - Travis Zajac  - Jamie Langenbrunner
Brian Rolston - Dainius Zubrus - Ilya Kovalchuk
Jay Pandolfo - Rob Niedermayer - Patrick Davis
Rod Pelley - Dean McAmmond - Vladimir Zharkov

Andy Greene - Bryce Salvador
Colin White - Mike Mottau
Anssi Salmela - Mark Fraser

Martin Brodeur

 

 
Devils Land Kovalchuk
Written by Darren S   
Friday, 05 February 2010 09:08
Stunned is the best way to put it. When I read what the Rangers were expected to give up for Kovalchuk, the list had to iclude either a Staal or a Dubinsky, I was sure if the Devils were landing him, Zajac's name was going to be a demand. The Devils gave up Johnny Oduya, who's been awful with a large contract this season, Nik Bergfors who's been decent in his rookie season but not so good lately, Patrice Cormier, who we've all heard so much about lately but not proven at this level and nothing more than a prospect, and a 1st rd pick. If you are Lou and this is on the table, how do you NOT pull the trigger. Lou just landed a guy who's easily top 5 in this league and one of the best pure snippers in the league.

I don't know where to put him yet, on the line with Parise and Zajac or on the line with Elias and Rolston, oh by the way, Elias is back practicing with the team. The Devils haven't been playing well and while I think Kovalchuk will add a spark, it's not going to be enough to just rely on him, the Devils have to play better as a team. Kovalchuk is a huge upgrade on offense, no doubt. I mean look at the guys he had in Atlanta and he still scored 31 goals. There's the issue of trying to sign him now but if the Devils can show this guy how great NJ is and show him this team can win, he might just decide to stay here.

When I heard the news last night, I was so thrilled, almost jumping up and down thrilled and then I thought for a moment what it must be like to be a Thrashers fan. I remember 2005 when Niedermayer announced his signing with Anaheim, how disappointed I felt. Well, Don Waddell just traded one of the league's best scorer and a young defenseman for Oduya and Bergfors, with a prospect and a pick to make it look better. How dissappointing for Thrashers fans because I thought the goal was for guys to help the Thrashers win now.

Usually Lou is quiet and never does anything too big. This is big, this is bold and I respect the move, even if it turns out to be a rental. Can't wait for tonight's game!!
 
Addressing The Kovalchuk Rumors and Other Stuff
Written by Darren S   
Thursday, 04 February 2010 11:01
I've been detained by real life the past week so I apologize that this site gets put on the back burner when that happens but I will be doing something about that in the near future.

Devils don't play again until tomorrow night but there is a lot of Devils talk this morning because apparently Denis Potvin made some comment on XM/Sirius this morning about Kovalchuk coming to the Devils. I'll state that there is nothing to confirm what he said was true. He compare the deal to the deal that brought Mogilny to the Devils in 2000. TSN's Bob McKenzie also seems to be mentioning Kovalchuk and Devils a lot in the same sentence.

I for one have a hard time picturing it because Lou doesn't usually pull the trigger on the big names like Kovalchuk but I'll run with this for now because anything is possible I suppose. There has been a lot of talk on various NJ forums that Kovalchuk isn't a "Devils Kind of Player" that he's lazy on defense and therefore a liability. For those who are saying this, may I point out that Jason Arnott and Alexander Mogilny didn't exactly fit the mold of the Devils typical players but both added something to this organization and got a ring for it.

On the powerplay alone, a Kovalchuk slapper would make them much more dangerous. Rolston is a great shot on the PP but finds board more than net where Kovalchuk gets the same velocity but is far more accurate. Currently Kovalchuk has more goals than any other Devils (6 more than Parise) and 1 less assist than team leader Zack Parise. That's a tremendous player and I for one would be happy to see Kovalchuk in a Devils uniform if the price were reasonable.

I guess this story will continue and as I stated above, I am not a believer until I see the headline.

*******

I know its a few days old but Paul Martin pulled out of the Olympics. I don't think any of us are suprised, I mean he's missed 45 games so far this season. Martin skated on his own last week and was told by doctors on Monday that he would have to wear his cast another two weeks. I feel bad for Martin because the Olympics is a big deal but I am more interested in the Devils and this is better for them as he can take the Olympic break to get ready for the Playoffs.

The rumors on Elias is that he may return as early as this weekend or maybe Monday vs the Flyers which would be good news for the Devils scoring, not to mention good news for the Czechs. Elias was actually practicing with the team this morning which is great news.

The flu is going around the team which I hope was the cause of the disasterous game against the Leafs the other night.
 
Game #52: Sabres Win 2-1 in Shootout
Written by Darren S   
Thursday, 28 January 2010 09:17

I thought the effort made by the Devils last night against the Sabres was a million times better than the effort made the night before against the Senators. Actually, an average performace would have been welcomed last night over what was given to us on Tuesday night.

The Devils got chances last night and kept the pressure on for most of the game. As usual, I thought that Ryan Miller was excellent for the Sabres and is certainly the reason the Sabres stayed in the game. The Devils played a very clean game only taking one penalty, which I had to disagree with Jamie on, he did elbow Miller as he skated through the crease. The Devils penalty kill on that one penalty was fantastic and kept the Sabres scratching their head as their fans really got on their case.

Passing, which was down right awful on Tuesday was much better. Johnny Oduya made a nice heads up pass to a streaking Brian Rolston who found himself behind the Sabres D and took a nice low slapper that beat Miller above the pad and below the glove. (There was once a point in time we were complaining about Rolston right?!!)

The Devils defense did a nice job keeping the Sabres from sustaining any kind of pressure. The Sabres would come in the zone and get off a good shot or two, but then the Devils would clean up a loose puck or stop a pass or get a block and go turn the play up the other end of the ice.

The only point in which the Sabres were better was the shootout. Marty did a nice job on stopping Drew Stafford but then couldn't stop the next two shooters. Parise who I usually have no issues with seems to be stuck using the same move in every shootout. Miller did an excellent move to keep the leg down but part of me thinks he knew what Parise was going to do. Jamie's attempt wasn't any better.

I'll take the point, I always will. I would have prefered 2 but I thought the Devils played much better and that at least is a moral victory. The Leafs come into town tomorrow night which isn't the hardest matchup on the schedule and at a good time too.

As always. if you missed the game, watch the highlights here...

 

 
Chat with Ken Daneyko
Written by Darren S   
Tuesday, 26 January 2010 11:43

The Devils are doing an online chat with Ken Daneyko, today at 2pm EST. You can follow the chat right here and ask Ken your questions.

 

 

 
Game 51: Final Showdown in Ottawa
Written by Darren S   
Tuesday, 26 January 2010 11:37

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (34-15-1) at the Ottawa Senators (28-21-4). This is the 4th and final matchup of the regular season. The Devils are 3-0 against Ottawa and looking for the season sweep tonight.

The Last Devils Game:
It was a game that I was certainly nervous about given the fact that NJ went into Long Island and got the worst beating of the season only 5 days prior but the Devils got revenge and beat the Islanders 4-2. The Devils had been struggling with scoring goals up until the Islanders game but found the back of the net 4 times. Let's hope that continues tonight against the Senators.

The Last Senators Game: When the Sens were forced to trade Dany Heatley in the summer, did anyone give them a chance at playing more than 82 games this season? The enators extended their winning streak to 6 with a close victory over their Northeast division rival Boston Bruins but Alfredson and Spezza were the difference makers in a 2-1 victory.

The Last Devils/Senators Game: These two teams last met in NJ and the Devils skated away with a 4-2 victory, although I felt it was a lucky victory. The Senators had chances, in fact the Devils took 6 penalties and the Senators couldn't capitalize on any of those chances. This was a game where I felt the Devils weren't very good but luckily the Senators weren't very good either.

Tonight's Matchup:
Keep getting the puck to the net. The Devils got a lot of shots on DiPietro on Saturday night and got 4 past him. The more the puck is thrown at the net, the more chances of it going in the net. It's a basic rule in hockey and sometimes players forget that. Remember the Bryce Salvador goal the last time these two teams met? He just threw it at the net and somehow it bounced in. The Senators are a hot team as of recent so the Devils will need to show up for the entire 60 minutes. The Senators certainly aren't going to roll over and die tonight, not in their own building.

Zubrus will be back in the lineup tonight. It will be nice to have his size back in the lineup. Marty will be making his 30th start in a row and Colin White has only been fined - not suspended - for his hit from behind so he will also be available tonight. I think the Devils need to maybe dress Peters tonight, since Clarkson is not available as the Devils will have Chris Neil and Jarkko Ruutu to deal with.

These are the lines I would go with..


Zach Parise  - Travis Zajac  - Jamie Langenbrunner
Brian Rolston - Dainius Zubrus - Niclas Bergfors
Jay Pandolfo - Rob Niedermayer - Vladimir Zharkov
Andrew Peters - Dean McAmmond - Nick Palmieri


Andy Greene - Bryce Salvador
Colin White - Mike Mottau
Johnny Oduya - Mark Fraser


Martin Brodeur


One more thing, the Devils are hosting an online chat with Devils legend Ken Daneyko today at 2 PM on the official web site (You can also follow right here). Submit your questions in the chat, or by Twitter with the hashtag, #DaneykoChat (though you'll need to be in the chat to see if it's answered).

 
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