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State of Devils Hockey

Written by D. Wesley on .

The Devils season hasn’t exactly started out the way most fans would have liked. They are coming of back to back shutout losses which only begins to tell the story of the very young 2013/2014 season. When you sat down after training camp and took a look at this team, the thought was that they weren’t going to run away with the new Metropolitan Division but they would at least be competitive. Yes, the sudden retirement of Kovalchuk and departure of Clarkson left the Devils with an identity problem but with additions like Schneider, Ryder, Jagr and Brunner, the thought was that the Devils would be just fine. Apparently they aren’t.

Let’s start this off by taking a look at some key stats that are important to the success of any hockey club.

  • Goals For: 26
  • Goals Against: 42
  • Times Shutout: 4 (which wouldn’t be awful if we left out the part that they’ve only played 14 games)

The bottom line is that the Devils just aren’t scoring. Coming off a 4-3 victory against the Bruins and then a 2-1 victory over the Lightning, it looked like the Devils might be starting to put some momentum together. They followed that up by a 1-0 shutout loss to a Flyers team that got obliterated by the Caps the night before and then followed that up against the Wild with a 4-0 shutout loss.

I can’t write this little article without bringing up the injury issues for New Jersey. They’ve had a lot of them and that will certainly derail many teams. The biggest name in this category for me this season would be Patrik Elias. He’s either been sick and dealing with some type of lingering injury but whatever the story is, any night that Elias isn’t in the lineup, the Devils are then dealing with a decent size whole to fill. Ryan Clowe is also a big injury story but all the fans knew he had injury issues when they brought him on board in July so can we really be shocked he’s having issues with injuries so far? However, he’s supposed to fill the hole that was left by Clarkson and that is a hole that needs to be filled. (Quick check on Clarkson stats – 10 games missed due to suspension, 5 games played, 1 assist so he’s not being missed here yet!!)

On paper I liked the Marty Brodeur / Cory Schneider tandem but I am starting to rethink it. Both goalies have played 7 games each. Marty’s record is 2-3-2 with a GAA of 2.68 and a Sv% of .888 while Schneider’s record is 1-4-2 with a GAA of 2.27 and a Sv% of .907. Neither goalie has played awful and at times you can say the play of the goaltenders is what has kept them in some games but the Devils need consistency and it would be great to get consistency in the net and then throughout the lineup. We will have to keep our eye on Brodeur as this tweet sent the Devils Army into a bit of a frenzy on Tuesday evening:

It’s the Devils, you never know what could happen with this team. I hope they don’t replace DeBoer anytime soon but that’s a road we’ve been down many times. This is also a team, which I have said many times, very capable of turning things around and stringing together a bunch of wins and putting themselves back into a very good position in the standings. When it comes to Devils hockey, you just NEVER know.

The highlighs of this young season would be the 4-3 come back from behind win in Boston and the 4-0 shutout of the rival NY Rangers. Hopefully, there are many more hightlights to come.

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Devils Pre-Camp Preview

Written by D. Wesley on .

That faint light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter with each passing day. The Devils haven’t played a game since April 27th but rookies and minor league players report for physicals on Monday and veteran players report on Wednesday. Devils hockey is almost here!!

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All Good Things Must Come to an End

Written by Scott Robb on .

The New Jersey Devils' five-game winning streak came to an abrupt end on Tuesday evening. The Devils were defeated by a fiesty Carolina Hurricanes team in a game that could have easily gone the Devils' way. After falling behind 2-1 going into the third, the Devils tied the game at two, but allowed two more unanswered goals before time ran out.

While the game did not turn out the way New Jersey had hoped, they remain at the top of the Eastern Conference at 8-2-3.

The Devils hit a road bump last week in Pittsburgh and responded well. Hopefully, they can do the same after yesterday's loss. The focus in the locker room must now be on the fact that the Philadelphia Flyers are rolling into town on Friday night.

Ilya Kovalchuk collected his fifth goal of the season last night on a first period Devils powerplay. The play was ruled "no goal" on the ice, but upon further review, the call was overturned. The powerplay was decent at best last night; good puck movement, as usual, just not enough shots.

Jussi Jokinen tied the game for Carolina early on in the second period. The Canes added another goal 18:29 into the middle frame to take the lead. Patrick Dwyer tallied his fourth of the season to put Carolina in front 2-1.

New Jersey made some clear adjustments in the locker room between the second and third periods. They came out with a faster pace of play and had several quality chances. Ryan Carter took a loose puck away from a Carolina defender and sneaked one by goaltender Cam Ward to tie the game at two. Carter's second goal of the season came 1:34 into the third and shifted the momentum back to the Jersey side.


Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

Mark Fayne, who missed the morning skate yesterday due to a death within his family, took a useless (a very useless, that is) penalty 6:31 into the third which sent the Hurricanes to the powerplay attack. Jiri Tlusty wasted no time and scored less than a minute later what would be the game-winning goal.

The Devils had a chance to tie the game late in the third but were shorthanded, yet again, after Andy Greene was called for tripping with under three minutes to play. Jiri Tlusty iced the game with his second goal of the night (an empty-netter) and propelled the Hurricanes to a 4-2 victory.

Final Thoughts

  • The Devils did not play their best game of the year last night. You win some, you lose some. New Jersey has a big divisional match-up coming up this Friday night and can make a quick response to last night's game by beating the Flyers on home ice.
  • The stupid penalties have to stop. Nothing more to say here.
  • Despite not playing so great, the Devils had a chance to win this game. Clarkson could not connect on a golden opportunity early on in the third in which he and Henrique had a 2-on-1. Butler also fanned on a shot as the puck was trickling across the crease with under a minute to play. It was a difficult shot, but one that he could have made.
  • Dainius Zubrus has been placed on Injured Reserve. Andrei Loktionov has been recalled from Albany. I am excited to see what this kid's got. Hopefully, he gets a solid opportunity to play and produces.

As mentioned, the Devils are back in action on Friday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. I will be at the game, so stop by and say hello. Section 107, row 7, first seat! We have to ROCK the ROCK on Friday and say NO to orange! Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM EST.

For all of your latest Devils news and reaction, follow Running With The Devils (and me) on twitter. Let's go Devils!

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David Clarkson - Just Killing It

Written by D. Wesley on .

So I used to be all over this guy because every training camp I would pick that year to be the year Clarkson broke out. And every year he would disappoint me. That is until Pete DeBoer got here. Clarkson is thriving under DeBoer and this season seems to be no expection. 12 games, 9 goals, 6 assists, 15 points. Show of hands, who predicted this kind of season for Clarkson? I'm keeping my hand down because I certainly did not. 

I always thought David Clarkson could be this generation's Randy McKay. You know, the type of player that gets in front of the net, pesters the goalie, is there to jump on rebounds and not afraid to mix it up when push comes to shove.The thing is, Randy McKay never turned heads like David Clarkson is doing...

Keep it up Clarky!!

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Get the Brooms Out: Devils Win Again

Written by Scott Robb on .

The New Jersey Devils extended their winning-streak to five games on Sunday evening after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 3-1. The Devils dominated the Penguins this weekend, outscoring their division rival 6-2 in two games and playing solid hockey for the full 120 minutes.

Ryan Carter energized the Devils as soon as the puck dropped. He scrapped with Robert Bortuzzo and got a few good hits in. The Devils committed only three minor penalties tonight and kept the Penguins off the board on the penalty kill.

David Clarkson collected his eighth and ninth goals of the season tonight, propelling the Devils to victory. Ilya Kovalchuk added his fourth tally of the year in between.

And what else can be said about Devils' goaltender Johan Hedberg? Moose played in his third game this season, stopping 23 of 24 shots, and collected his second win. Throughout those three games, Hedberg has only allowed 2 goals and is 2-0-1. It is nice to know that there is a solid goaltender ready to go behind Martin Brodeur--Hedberg definitely provides that comfort.


Photo: Keith Srakocic

The Devils power play has really come to life over the five-game win streak. After going 1-for-1 tonight, New Jersey has connected on seven of its last 22 opportunities (32%). Excellent puck movement has led to goals, and goals lead to wins.

The Devils defense really stepped it up tonight. Evgeni Malkin was limited to just one point (an assist) tonight, while Sidney Crosby put up a goose egg in the points column. The "superstar" forwards were held to a combined one point in the home-and-home series.

I am happy to report that there are no negatives, as far as I can see, with the way the Devils are playing as of late. If they keep this up, they are serious Cup contenders. And don't tell me that our fast start "doesn't matter." Of course it does. In a shortened season, getting off to a good start is key.

New Jersey is now 8-1-3 to start the year. They have collected 19 out of 24 possible points, good enough for second in the NHL. The Devils are on pace for 76/96 points this year. That will win the Eastern Conference. Guaranteed.

Jersey's Team looks to continue its red-hot play on Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM at The Rock. For all of your latest Devils news and reaction, follow us on twitter. Staff writer Scott Robb can also be found on twitter.

Go Devils!

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Just A Reminder

Written by D. Wesley on .

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Marty, Just Stay in the Crease

Written by Scott Robb on .

The New Jersey Devils showed a lot of fight tonight, but fell just short to the New York Islanders. The Devils lost their first home game of the season and third consecutive contest. A sloppy performance all around tonight led to a 5-4 defeat at the hands of the division rival Isles.

Through the first ten minutes of the first period, Jersey looked strong. They were dominating in the shots-on-goal category and had several chances to put one on the board. The Islanders, on the other hand, had just one of the first ten shots-on-goal of the game and had trouble putting anything together. As luck would have it, New York tallied the first goal of the game despite being outplayed. John Tavares ripped his third goal of the season 14:31 in and put the Isles out in front.

The Devils out-shot the Islanders 10-7 in the opening frame, but trailed by one heading into intermission.

Things went from bad to worse just 2:41 into the second period. Keith Aucoin notched his fourth score of the year on the power play and put the Islanders ahead by two. The Devils responded quickly, however, as Steve Bernier scored just 32 seconds later to cut the lead in half. Ryan Carter followed it up with a goal of his own (6:21 in) to tie things up.

And then, a minute and ten seconds later, the Devils were trailing again. John Tavares scored his second of the game and put New York up, 3-2. Henrik Tallinder answered for New Jersey 17:12 into the middle frame; both teams skated into the locker room tied up at three heading into the final period.


AP Photo

With the sloppy play the Devils displayed through the first two periods, it was a miracle that they were still in this game. Mark Sanchez had a better pass completion percentage against the Patriots than the Devils did tonight. Brodeur was solid, for the most part, but the defense gave up way too many chances.

Mark Streit sneaked one by Brodeur 11:32 into the period to send New York in front. Upon closer review, Adam Larsson appeared to have tipped the puck by Marty as he was cutting in front of the net. This was the theme of the night for the Devils--they just couldn't catch a break.

In his season debut, Adam Henrique tied things up for New Jersey 13:50 into the third. Both teams would gain a point and head into overtime.

Brad Boyes notched the game-winning goal for the Isles 2:01 into the overtime period. Henrik Tallinder was in the penalty box for the Devils after he received a penalty for cross-checking. The goal came on a net-mouth scramble that the Devils nearly escaped. Marty tried to do just a little bit too much and was caught out of position. The goal also marked the Devils third straight extra-time loss; this one was perhaps the most bitter.

The positives of tonight include the return of Adam Henrique and remaining in first place. It is extremely important that the Devils clean up their sloppiness and beat the Penguins on home ice on Saturday. Puck drop is set for 1:00 EST. Make sure to get your JERSEY on and follow us on twitter for your latest Devils news. Also be sure to follow our staff members on twitter: Scott Robb, Devin Mattera, and Raj Vaidya!

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Hedberg Not Enough: Devils Fall 2-1

Written by Scott Robb on .

Johan Hedberg kept the Devils in the game as long as he could, but New Jersey fell to the Boston Bruins by a score of 2-1 after an extended shootout. The Devils looked better than they did on Sunday in Montreal, but the offense just was not enough to slip by Boston tonight.

New Jersey and Boston played in a scoreless first period that saw nine shots on goal for both teams. Despite this statistic, the period seemed heavily dominated by the Bruins. Johan Hedberg was strong, as he was all night, in the opening twenty minutes and denied several scoring opportunities at his door step. The Devils were not as physical as we would like them to be, but looked better than they did on Sunday--that's for certain.

David Clarkson scored the lone goal for Jersey's team 8:30 into the middle period. The goal, Clarkson's fourth of the year, came on the power play and seemed to shift the momentum towards the visitor's side. Through strong defense and outstanding goaltending through the rest of the period, the Devils headed into the locker-room up one-to-nothing.

One thing is for certain: the Boston Bruins are unstoppable in the third period. Tonight was no different.

The Bruins entered the game without a goal given up in the final twenty minutes of any contest and kept their streak alive against the Devils. Nearly sixteen minutes into the third, Nathan Horton tied the game for Boston on a wrister that squeaked through Hedberg's five-hole. The goal was Horton's third on the year and sent the game into overtime.

Both teams refused to budge in OT, despite some pretty good scoring opportunities. Again, Hedberg came through in the clutch and kept New Jersey in the game.

Tyler Seguin went first for the Bruins in the shootout and converted his opportunity. The Devils caught a break, however, when the officials ordered a re-do after an object was tossed on the ice. Despite the displeasure of the crowd, Seguin converted on his second chance and put the Bruins up 1-0 in the shootout. Ilya Kovalchuk converted on the Devils' first chance and evened things up.

Both squads failed to score in the next four rounds. The Devils closest opportunity came on a Patrik Elias shot that rang off the crossbar. Brad Marchand scored for the Bruins in round six. Here's where things got confusing: Marek Zidlicky was sent to center ice to take the Devils' sixth-round chance. My question is: why?

With Gionta, Carter, and Zubrus on the bench, I am dumbfounded as to why Zidlicky was out there taking a shootout opportunity. Coach DeBoer made a smart decision by resting Martin Brodeur tonight, but this was just a bonehead move.

Final Thoughts:

  • Zidlicky should not have taken the final shootout attempt. Period. End of story.
  • The Devils power play (1-for-5 on the night) looked decent but needs some improvement. The puck movement was excellent, but New Jersey could not find a way to score on the man advantage. I have confidence that when Adam Henrique is back, the offense will be more potent and able to score.
  • Henrik Tallinder looked flat out there tonight. He lazily skated the puck out of the zone in overtime with plenty of time left on the clock. Without Henrique and Parise, New Jersey cannot afford lazy play. Someone needs to provide an energy boost for these guys out there. Where are you, Salvador?
  • Things NEED to turn around on Thursday at the rock. The Devils are still in first place, but the Rangers and Islanders are starting to turn things up. If the Devils want to stay where they're at, they will have to do the same.

Jersey is back in action on Thursday evening against the Islanders at the Rock. Puck drop is set for 7:00 EST. For all of your latest Devils news, analysis, and thoughts, follow us on twitter. Make sure to follow our staff as well: Scott Robb, Devin Mattera, and Raj Vaidya!

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What Purpose Does Cam Janssen Have On Our Team?

Written by D. Wesley on .

 

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??

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Devils Start Season in Glorious Fashion

Written by Scott Robb on .

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.

For all of your latest Devils news, follow us on twitter. Make sure to follow our content writers, as well: Scott Robb, Devin Mattera, and Raj Vaidya!

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