Running With The Devils - A New Jersey Devils Blog
Congratulations To The 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks!
Written by AJ Manderichio   
Thursday, 10 June 2010 00:47

The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-3, in tonight’s game six of the Stanley Cup finals to win their first Cup in 49 years.

Patrick Kane netted the winning goal at 4:10 of the overtime period. Kane skated the puck down the side boards and released a shot from the goal line. The puck snuck through the pads of Flyers’ goalie Michael Leighton and into the side of the net.

There was some confusion on whether or not the goal counted, but eventually replays confirmed the goal.

Jonathan Toews, captain of the Blackhawks, received the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP. Toews finished with 29 points, which ranked second among all skaters this postseason. Ex-Devil John Madden won his third Stanley Cup ring.

Devils News and Notes: Monday June 7th
Written by Darren S   
Monday, 07 June 2010 12:48

Madden's Comments

So apparently John Madden is getting some press in the great state of NJ over the last couple of days because he mentioned that his Blackhawks team that he is currently a member of and currently one win away from the Stanley Cup is the best team in which he has ever been associated with.

I'll admit, over the last 10 years, John Madden was certainly one of my favorites that played for the Devils. I'm not sure I entirely agree with his statements but I also do not entirely disagree with his statements. As for disagreeing, the 2000 cup winner was a very deep and talented team with 2 Hall of Famers and 1 future Hall of Famer and overcame a lot that spring to win the cup. As for agreeing with what he said, the Blackhawks are a quick and speedy team with a lot of talented scorers up front. I'm not going to be too hard on Madden's comments because the Blackhawks sign his checks and as a member of that team you can't make comments like "Yes, we are good, just not as good as other teams I've been on." If Chicago wins the cup this year, ask Madden in 20 years which was the best team and we shall find out the real answer in his heart.

Coaching Rumors

Rumors are circulating that the Devils have offered Michel Therrien a 3 year contract, and rumor that Lou Lamoriello has denied this morning. "There has been no decision on anything yet. There are reasons for that." It is thought the reason might be that Lou would like to talk to Blackhawks assistant, Mike Haviland.

At this point, this seems to be the list of candidates that Lou is probably looking at.

1. Therrien - Lou wants experience and Therrien has it.
2. Johnny Mac - But one has to wonder if he was the guy, wouldn't he be the guy already?
3. Mike Haviland - It has come up during the Finals that the Devils want to talk with him.
4. Kirk Muller - It is know he wants the job in NJ but has never held a head coaching job in the NHL or AHL which is a big negative.
5. Ken Hitchcock - The longshot for the job.

More on Mottau

After I wrote on this site last week that a rumor about Mottau and the Devils was hitting the airways, that rumor was shot down by Mottau himself by saying any claim that he is close to signing a new deal with the Devils is pure fiction. Like I said, I hate reporting rumors but Devils news at this point is a little slow so rumors are all we have.

A Little Devils News
Written by Darren S   
Wednesday, 02 June 2010 12:40

A Few Devils things floating around the news wires this morning. I don't usually like reporting rumors because they can always come back and haunt you but the Cup hasn't been skated yet and it has already been a long off-season in my opinion.

Mottau and Devils close to a deal.

According to columnist Mark Everson it appears that the Devils and Mr. Hoby Baker winner Mike Mottau are close to signing a deal that would keep Mottau in a Devils uniform. Of course numbers aren't really being talked about in this story but Mottau made $775K with the Devils last season and really doesn't warrant anything more than that. With the injury to Ansi Salmela, I don't see this story being untrue. I also wonder what kind of player Mottau could be if we could get him away from Colin White. Yup, you read that right, I blame someone else for Mottau's shortcomings.

Paul Martin Just Waiting

Paul Martin has informed Lou Lamoriello, to which Lou agreed, that he would like to wait until the Devils have hired their new coach to discuss a possible contract with the Devils. This certainly makes a fan worry a bit because the Devils entered the Free Agency period last summer without a head coach. Paul Martin is going to be a wanted commodity by many teams. Jaques Lemaire signed on as the Devils coach last summer on July 13, well after a number of top free agents were off the market.

Kovalchuk News

No shocker here that Ilya Kovalchuk has informed the Devils that he is going to test the open market on July 1st. Kovy is going to find big money from some team and my gut tells me that team isn't the one this blog follows.

Parise Goal

I'm a little late to the party on this but the NHL is running a bracket-style competition for the 16 best goals of the year and Zack Parise was pegged as having one of the 16 best this season. His shorthanded goal against the Flyers in the Playoffs was nominated but beat out in Round 1 of the competition.

Please view it on the NHL site here:

Salmela To Miss 12-16 Weeks After Surgery
Written by AJ Manderichio   
Saturday, 29 May 2010 07:38

Devils’ general manager Lou Lamoriello confirmed that Devils’ defenseman Anssi Salmela will miss 12-16 weeks after undergoing surgery Friday to repair a torn ACL.

Salmela injured his knee while playing for Finland in the LG Games earlier this month. At the time, Salmela’s agent, Jay Grossman, tweeted the defenseman would head back to New Jersey for tests on the knee.

Grossman first broke the news about the surgery on Wednesday, when he tweeted that Salmela would have surgery Friday. Lamoriello said the organization will not rush the defenseman back from the injury.

Salmela did not play in the Devils’ first-round loss against the Philadelphia Flyers. The defenseman, acquired in the Ilya Kovalchuk trade, only played in nine games for the Devils this season. He recorded one goal and two assists, but had a +/- rating of -5.

Lemaire Defends Decisions This Past Season
Written by AJ Manderichio   
Friday, 28 May 2010 22:47

After the Devils loss to the Flyers this postseason, the team searched for answers to explain yet another first round exit. Jamie Langenbrunner came out to the media, criticizing former coach Jacques Lemaire for his decisions throughout the season. Even Brian Gionta, a former Devil, weighed in with his opinion.

In an article by Star-Ledger beat reporter Rich Chere, Lemaire defended his decisions during the regular season and playoffs this season. There were many things the coach addressed, but I’d like to take a look at a few quotes relating to several posts I’ve wrote about on the blog the past few weeks.

Issue 1: Line Juggling

One of the criticisms leveled at Lemaire this past season was his constant line-juggling. I addressed the coach’s decision to break up the ZZ Pops line, but Lemaire juggled more lines than the ZZ Pops line. Lemaire moved several players around, working for the optimal lineup against a given team. As Lemaire said in the article

“I look at the teams still in the playoffs right now. They match lines. I don’t see why we would be so special that we don’t have to match lines,” Lemaire said.

“As far as switching the players on lines, Scotty Bowman has been known as a great coach and he moved players around a lot. There are a lot of coaches who move players around when things aren’t going well or playing against certain teams. I’ve done it my whole career. I don’t think it’s an issue. It could be an issue if you’re not good enough and you need to play with certain guys to get better. Then, for that particular guy, it would be an issue.”

Hockey coaches have to switch lines. In year’s past, Brent Sutter would use the Devils’ third line to match against the team’s first line. If a coach doesn’t change lines and match up with the other team, they don’t give themselves the optimal lineup out on the ice. But I don’t agree with the constant line-juggling this season. The coach had a dynamite first line, one that could easily lead the team in scoring. They also brought energy and talent to the ice. By breaking them up, Lemaire eliminated one of better scoring lines in the entire league.

When asked about the decision to break up the ZZ Pops line, Lemaire said

“I try to get the best out of players. Sometimes, yes, I did put guys with certain other guys so they play better,” Lemaire said, “but I have to think about the team and what is good for the team. I’m happy with the way I’ve done things. No regrets. I’ve always done this and the success was there.”

I understand Lemaire’s idea here – spread the scoring, maybe allow for some other players to get going. But when the team needed offense or a spark, the ZZ Pops line should have played together. There was no need to continually switch those players around. We all know they played well together, and I believe the line should have been kept together, giving the Devils their best offensive line (and one of the better defensive lines as well).

For the rest of my reaction to the article, continue reading after the jump!

Kovalchuk Staying in the NHL...For Now!!
Written by Darren S   
Thursday, 27 May 2010 14:32

Ilya Kovalchuk is not heading to Russia to play for the KHL, at least not yet. According to various hockey sources, the KHL will be an option for Kovalchuk, but there is nothing imminent. Sovsports, a Russian sports website, is reporting that SKA St Petersburg made an offer to Kovalchuk that would see the sniper make $30 million over a three-year span. His desire is to reportedly play in the NHL and he won't consider the KHL until all of his options are on the table as an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Until then, New Jersey owns his rights and may utilize it to re-sign him.

I Play The Part of Lou!!
Written by Darren S   
Thursday, 27 May 2010 10:17

It can be tough to write about hockey when your team is spending their days either fishing, golfing or hanging out with their families and, like it did yesterday here in NJ, when the temperature soars above 90 degrees but this is a hockey blog and that is what we try to do. With July 1st rapidly approaching, we are getting to the point where Lou needs to make a few decisions. Financially I don't see how we can sign both Martin and Kovalchuk without making another move to free up space. I've been doing a review of players since the close of the season but we are going to wrap that up today with a post where I play GM and say who stays and who goes.


23  David Clarkson - Not a great season due to injury but he's the resident "Tough Guy." He's gritty and that is a rarity in the Devils locker room these days.
14  Patrick Davis - He appears too low on the depth chart for my liking. He's a RFA so if someone wants him, go ahead. 
26  Patrik Elias - Absolutely a stay. Is he still not one of the best 2 way players in the NHL, not to mention absolutely money in the shootout when he's the sudden death man?
17  Ilya Kovalchuk  - Turned down $101 million in Atlanta and he's not going to see that offer with Lou's name on it. I don't see him returning but it doesn't mean we shouldn't try. 
15  Jamie Langenbrunner - He's one I would actually consider moving but he has a pesky "No Trade Clause" so I don't think he's going anywhere. I'd like to thing the Olympics took a toll on him this season and that is why he limped through the playoffs.
22  Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond - He fights but he doesn't score. Sure we could fill his spot with a guy that has at least 1 career goal right?
11  Dean McAmmond - Turns 37 next month and there are a lot of young guys that could step into his spot.  
21  Rob Niedermayer - Started out strong but when the calendar hit December, he disappeared. Now, that exactly what he should do from the roster  
20  Jay Pandolfo - Struggled because of a shoulder injury all season long. Surprisingly he has a "No Trade Clause" so we can't move him but I can't figure out what role he still plays on this team.
9   Zach Parise - Should be wearing the "C" that is how important he is to this team.
10  Rod Pelley - Was pegged as John Madden's replacement but I never saw it
25  Andrew Peters - Only thing that will miss this guy are the seats that his ass was usually planted in.
12  Brian Rolston - Didn't have a great season but didn't have as bad a season as I pictured. Not worth the $$ we gave him but he's here to stay. 
19  Travis Zajac - A huge piece to the puzzle for the Devils. He plays a very important role on this team we just aren't sure its #1 or #2 centerman on the team.   
18  Vladimir Zharkov - Played 40 games this season, didn't find the net once and that's not an easy thing to do. Maybe he can find the door!!   
8   Dainius Zubrus - Was arguably the best forward in the playoffs. He had injuries this season but he still produced the numbers we expect of him.


2   Mark Fraser - I'd like to see what he does with some of the guys from Lowell that he has some chemisty with. He proved he's capable of playing in the NHL. 
6   Andy Greene - He's a keeper because he's the guy that stepped up when Martin was out. Biggest bargain on the team.
7   Paul Martin - He's the Devils number 1 blue liner. Write this injury filled season off and sign him.   
27  Mike Mottau - I know he works hard but it seems that the mistakes that Mottau makes are usually magnified.  
29  Anssi Salmela - Has a lot to learn, for instance, minimizing the mistakes he made. I think he has potential but I need more than that.  
24  Bryce Salvador - A physical presence on the blue line and while he didn't do much against Philly, he's a keeper.
28  Martin Skoula - Shouldn't have ever landed on the Devils roster to begin with. 
5   Colin White - Not the player he once was. His effectiveness around his own net is simply atrocious and I don't know if that is due to his eyesight or what. Wouldn't be sad to see him go.


30  Martin Brodeur - He's on the downside of his career but he is not the reason we lost to Philly. He made some great plays in that series but the rest of the team just didn't help him out. Trading him would probably net us a 1st line center, some draft picks and change the look and future of this team but trading him would also create a huge hole in our net. With the right guys, there is no reason he can't win his 4th cup. Personally don't see him going anywhere but I would like to see him sit a few more games.

35  Yann Danis  - Appeared in 12 games and is capable of playing the backup, if that is what he wants to do.

So there are a few guys that we could move (some have to agreee to it) and that would allow Lou to find the cash to resign Martin and Kovalchuk. I still think Ilya moves to another team though. For some reason, St. Louis just seems to stand out in my head for his destination. Either way, Martin is a must and hopefully Lou's priority this summer, right behind a new head coach that is!!

How Much Is David Clarkson Worth?
Written by AJ Manderichio   
Saturday, 22 May 2010 10:41

This offseason, the Devils have several player questions which need to be answered. Should the team pursue Ilya Kovalchuk, leaving Paul Martin to free agency? Maybe the opposite should occur. Can general manager Lou Lamoriello find a solid, second-line center? And how much would that center cost?

In the commotion over Kovalchuk and Martin, one restricted free agent has moved to the back burner in the minds of many fans. David Clarkson, the team’s skilled tough-guy, can entertain offers from other teams in the league. Which brings me to my main question – how much is Clarkson worth?

The Devils had high expectations for Clarkson this year, and many fans echoed the same thought. Clarkson played in all 82 games last year, tallying 32 points (17 goals, 15 assists). The resident tough-guy also took 164 penalty minutes. Finally, Clarkson scored four powerplay goals, showing his versatility with the extra man. But stats don’t tell the entire story. Clarkson provided the Devils with a big body, someone who wasn’t afraid to mix it up and crash the net. Clarkson’s play seemed to be endearing himself to the Devils organization and fans alike, and expectations grew.

It seemed Clarkson would take off this season, but he didn’t have the best of luck. Clarkson twice injured his ankle – the first coming after he blocked a Zdeno Chara shot. The injury set him back, and Clarkson missed significant parts of December, January and February. His absence was noticeable, as the Devils lacked a big body to mix it up in front of the net the entire season. When on the ice, Clarkson seemed to provide a spark, giving the Devils the physical presence they so desperately lacked.

This off-season, the Devils talented young winner becomes a restricted free agent, one I believe would garner some interest from teams around the league. While Clarkson has shown he can be a talented scorer, I don’t believe he’s worth breaking the bank over. In an offseason where the Devils must decide if Martin or Kovalchuk will receive a big payday, Clarkson shouldn’t expect a bank-breaking deal. The winger only made $875,000 last season, and I don’t see much of a raise coming his way. I would have to believe Lamoriello would only offer two or three million dollars for the next few years. At most, a three or four year contract for four million would be acceptable. But that would be pushing it. I think Clarkson isn’t worth that much money, especially with bigger holes to fill.

So what do you think? What is David Clarkson really worth? Make your opinions known in the comment section of the article!

2009 / 2010 Player Reviews: #17 Ilya Kovalchuk
Written by Darren S   
Friday, 21 May 2010 10:34

Kovalchuk's Numbers: As we all know, Ilya Kovalchuk played most of the season in Atlanta before coming to NJ on Feb 4th. In 49 games played in Atlanta he had 31 goals and 27 assists. In the 27 games he appeared in for NJ, he had 10 goals and 17 assists. In the series against the Flyers, Kovalchuk has 2 goals and 4 assists.

My Thoughts: Kovalchuk certainly got his fair share of critism during his time in NJ this season. When a guy of his talents only scores 10 goals for his new team combined with an early exit from the postseason, the critics are certainly going to show up. In my view the critism thrown his way was a little unfair.

Reason #1 - If you look at his numbers, he was basically a point-a-game type of player after his arrival. Sure, we'd all love to see that translated into the goal column but I personally don't care if you are putting the pucks in the net or creating oppurtunities for your teammates to do so, the bottom line is that he was contributing to his team.

Reason #2 - If you have ever played the game of hockey (or any sport really) you know how important chemistry is when it comes to success. Kovalchuk was never allowed to really find chemistry because of Lemaire's constant line shuffling.

Reason #3 - I don't care who you are, whenever you switch teams there is a learning period where your production numbers may go down. The Devils play a different game than Atlanta so Kocalchuk had to learn a whole new system, learn to play with new guys and off the ice he was away from a certain comfort he had come to know playing in Atlanta...home!!

Kovalchuk's Future: We don't know what it holds. He will certainly be the most sought after guy on July 1st and Lou has promised to do everything he can to try and keep him. I would certainly like to keep him and find a place for him on this team where he scores 50 goals a season, which he is capable of doing but at the same time, I don't want to be a team whos only threat consists of him because we overpaid for his services and can't afford to give him the support he needs.

World Championships Update: Team USA Avoids Relegation; Russia vs. Canada - Part Two
Written by AJ Manderichio   
Wednesday, 19 May 2010 22:30
Here’s some news from this year’s IIHF World Championship:

USA Avoids Relegation

T.J. Oshie (St. Louis Blues) scored a sudden-death shootout goal to help Team USA defeat Team Italy, 3-2, and avoid relegation yesterday.

Brandon Dubinsky (New York Rangers) opened the scoring at 11:45 of the first period. With Team USA  on its second powerplay, Dubinsky ripped a slap shot that beat Italian goaltender Daniel Bellissimo high on the blocker side for his third goal of the tournament.

Team Italy fought back, tying the game at the 14-minute mark of the first. Giulio Scandella skated the past the Team USA defense, moving in alone on a breakaway. Scandella put home the puck, tying the game and ending Team USA’s shutout streak at 154 minutes.

The Italians seemed poised for the upset, taking the lead 6:49 into the third period. Stefano Margoli took a pass at center and made his way through Team USA’s defense. He took a wrist shot that beat Team USA goalie Scott Clemmensen (Florida Panthers).

Ryan Potulny (Edmonton Oilers) scored the equalizer, tying the game at 11:08 of the third period. With Team USA on a powerplay, Potulny crashed the net, putting a rebound past Bellissimo.

David Moss (Calgary Flames) almost gave the Americans a late victory with a breakaway chance. Moss tried a backhanded shot, but Bellissimo kicked out the right pad to block the shot to the corner.

By heading to overtime, Team USA clinched its spot in the IIHF’s upper division. The win helped relegate Italy to the federation’s second tier.

Team USA finished 13th overall in the tournament.

Russia vs. Canada – Part Two

The last time these two teams met, the Russians were on the wrong end of a drubbing.

Team Canada defeated the Russians, 7-3, in this year’s Winter Olympics en-route to winning the gold medal. Team Russia, sporting such NHL stars as Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) and Ilya Kovalchuk (New Jersey Devils) didn’t medal.

The rivalry continues to grow, and the quarterfinals match will be no different. Team Russia is undefeated in this year’s tournament, winning the first six games. They also have a 25 game IIHF World Championship winning streak, which started in the 2007 bronze medal game against – you guessed it – Canada.

Team Canada brought a young team to Germany, and its still trying to gel. They’ve lost their last two coming into the game against the Russians.

When asked about the matchup, Kovalchuk said he wished it would come later in the tournament.

“Russia-Canada, it is too bad we meet in the quarterfinals but it will be a big match for us,” said Kovalchuk, the captain of Team Russia. “It is always nice when we face each other in the final but it seems the last couple of big tournaments we have faced each other in the quarterfinals.”

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