Three More Weeks Until Hockey is Back…

A lot has happened since the last time I wrote, so I will try to cover a variety of topics here:

Congrats to the Boston Bruins who won the Stanley Cup in a Game 7 @ Vancouver. Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron were off the charts in that series, and Tim Thomas’ performance was legendary. That Claude Julien guy that coaches the B’s is pretty good, it’d be nice if the Devils had a coach like that…

The Atlanta Thrashers (and their fugly uniforms) are gone and the Winnipeg Jets are back! It’s a shame they won’t be wearing the old uniforms, but a new beginning does deserve a new look and I think I like what I saw from the logo and the uniform scheme.

My sincere and deepest condolences to the families of all of the hockey players that passed away this summer. I am still trying to wrap my head around what happened in Russia with the plane crash and I still cannot erase the images of Pavol Demitra, Josef Vasicek and Alexander Vasyunov’s faces from my mind; hopefully they didn’t suffer. They will all be missed and never, ever forgotten.

So the Philadelphia Flyers brought in Ilya Bryzgalov to play goal this season, making him the 500th goalie they have employed since Martin Brodeur became a New Jersey Devil and the 1,000th netminder since they last won the Cup in 1975. They also traded their two best players — Jeff Carter and Mike Richards — in separate deals that did not bring back equal value and signed 39-year-old Jaromir Jagr. Good luck with that.

It seems certain that Sidney Crosby won’t be ready for the start of the season, but could suit up at some point in 2011-12. Concussions are a delicate issue and Crosby’s career could be derailed like Eric Lindros and Paul Kariya before him. Intentional head shots must be eliminated from the game, but certain players (ahem Criesby…) are also responsible for protecting themselves and need to stop admiring their passes.

Don’t be surprised if the New York Islanders (that’s right, I said it) make the playoffs this season. IF they can stay healthy! John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner and Matt Moulson seem primed to have big seasons and hopefully Evgeni Nabokov can add some stability to what has been a blue cross and blue shield crease the last few seasons.

The Rangers added the biggest fish in the free-agent pool in Brad Richards, but have we not learned anything over the past six seasons — the team that signs the top free agent never wins the Cup. They did make one right move this summer — naming Ryan Callahan their new captain.

The Devils had a semi-quiet offseason after selecting Adam Larsson with the 4th pick in the NHL Entry Draft. They were able to rid themselves of Colin White and Brian Rolston’s ridiculous contracts, and they were able to re-sign Andy Greene and Johan ‘Moose’ Hedberg. Both Bryce Salvador and Zach Parise have been cleared to start the season, but Travis Zajac may not be back until December after tearing his achilles tendon during an off-ice workout; Zajac’s team record consecutive games streak will end at 401. Cam Janssen is back with NJ and Petr Sykora could be too — he will be in training camp on a tryout basis. The new coach is Peter DeBoer who was fired from the Florida Panthers, the same DeBoer who helped the Cats reach 94 points a few years back — a remarkable feat in itself with the roster he was given. I predict Mattias Tedenby will net at least 20 goals this season and Jacob Josefson will have 30 assists as they help lead the Devs back to the playoffs after last season’s hiccup.

Boston begins defense of it’s Championship on opening night (October 6); the Rangers open in Sweden against the LA Kings the following day (October 7); the Islanders (vs. Florida) and Devils (vs. Philly) both begin their seasons on Saturday October 8; and the new Winnipeg/old Atlanta team makes it’s debut on Sunday October 9 vs. Montreal.

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Devils-Bruins Postgame Quotes (10.16.10)

Dainius Zubrus:

Talking about a disappointing game…

“It was frustrating; I thought we had a decent start, we were playing okay and then it seemed every mistake that we made, they just…If you look at the goals that they got, it was something where we turned it over or lose a battle or some other thing; a lot of the goals that we get scored on, we have the puck on our stick and then we lose it or whatever happens. We’re just not being good enough really.”

Coach switched you and Ilya tonight on the lines, how did that work out for you?

“It was fun, I obviously enjoy playing with those two guys (Zach Parise and Travis Zajac), they work really hard and I try to match their intensity and the pace of their game. I just try to work hard and I think at times we got the puck back on the forecheck just because we work hard and support each other; it’s fun playing with those two guys. It seemed like we got some chances and we could’ve gotten more than just one goal — Travis hit the post and maybe a few rebounds didn’t go our way, but that’s how it is. We have to still play better and earn those things.”

Any type of adjustment for you, you were playing left wing and tonight shifted to right wing?

“Not so much really; you play with these guys, I want to be in motion as much as I can, especially coming through the neutral zone from our end. I try to come across and support Zach all the time to maybe back off the D or if they step up on him we kind of keep going forward all the time. We don’t want to do too many drop passes or criss-crosses through the neutral zone, we just try to simplify it and get the puck down in their end. Once we’re there we talk a lot, we support each other and try to cycle it. That’s how I think we got our chances and that’s when we had our good shifts; it just wasn’t good enough tonight though.”

Can you talk about your goal tonight and if it felt good to finally get on the board?

“Well yeah it felt good, yesterday I had some good chances that I didn’t put in; now it’s five or six games in and I was feeling a little pressure (to finally get a goal). I don’t know, I felt like I was getting some chances, I don’t want to say it was a matter of time, but I just have to stay with it and bear down. Today’s goal was a good shot on net, a battle in front of the net — I think Zach got a piece of it — and it popped out right to my backhand. I saw (Tim) Thomas was down and I tried to get it over the top of him and I was able to do that. It felt good obviously, because it gave our team some energy and we haven’t been scoring that much; I thought the spirit of the team came up a bit. Then they scored right away to even it out and we weren’t too good after that.”

Tim Thomas:

Talking about being injured last year and healthy this year…

“Like last year when you don’t do something and you don’t even realize why you didn’t do it, your body’s not letting you; and you’re like ‘c’mon, what’s going on here? I know I’m better than this.’ Not to have that restriction, to be able to play in a loosey-goosey manner — it’s great.”

You feel like a young guy again?

“Yeah, yeah exactly, it’s refreshing. Hopefully it lasts all year (laughs).”

Can you just talk about you team’s effort tonight?

“It was a great effort up and down (the lineup). Every person in the lineup, you can think of a lot of good things that they did.”


Claude Julien:

How did you like your team’s effort tonight?

“I thought everybody was able to contribute and we had some nice goals. This is probably one of the games where I’ve seen our team generate the most offense in this building in a long time; we scored four goals and we had a lot of other quality chances. I thought we got better as the game went on, maybe a little bit of rust early in the first — which was a normal thing when you haven’t played in a week and we came back from Europe, but what we wanted to do was get better as the game went on and we did that.”

It seemed like in the third period you kept the pedal to the metal there…

“Well I think it was important for us because this was their third game in four nights and we had to make sure that we didn’t hold back because we were a fresh team. We wanted to make sure we played a full 60 minutes, we didn’t want to give them too many opportunities and let them back in the game.”

Can you talk about the solid coaching strategy playing Tim Thomas two games in a row?

“He played well, he had the shutout (in Prague) and I thought he really deserved it. We talked about that this morning that it would be fair and making our decisions tougher as we go along. We have to consider two things — the goalie who is playing really well and a good goalie who can’t sit forever either. So we have lots of games, three games in five nights next week, so I’m sure we’ll see both of them. Timmy did good tonight; he challenged everything, when he’s on top of his game, that’s what he does. He challenges (the shooters); he doesn’t over think, he just does the job. I thought he did a great job in close, they had some shots, some rebounds and he battled through those.”

How big was killing off the 5-on-3 against you at the end of the first period?

“Yeah that could have been a turning point right there; the second call was a tough one on (Brad) Marchand, but you have to kill those off. I thought our guys did a good job – they have a couple of guys that can shoot from the back end: (Jason) Arnott and obviously Kovalchuk. We wanted to make sure that we took away those opportunities and make the big save when we needed it – our guys did a pretty good job of killing that. It seemed to give us some momentum heading into the second period.”

John MacLean:

What did you tell the team after the game?

“What did I tell them? I’m not going to share that with you. It’s pretty simple, we had a couple of lines that battled the whole game and we had some passengers.”

Why did you change two of the lines?

“To get some energy and it worked for one of the lines. I had been thinking about it for a while and I thought that lined played really well; I thought Zubie and Travis and Zach worked really hard. They had a lot of chances and they battled the whole game. I thought that line was good.”

When things are going bad like this is it kind of a snowball effect?

“Well it can happen, but you also have to battle through that.”

Is chemistry or a lack of it your biggest problem right now?

“Chemistry, yeah, I guess to a certain extent. That’s the easy way out. Hard work and battle, you could still do that and win one-on-one battles.”

You have a few days off before Thursday in Montreal

“We’ll take a break and then we’ll start working on things from the defensive zone out, work on some starts and stops, some battles, start winning some battles, and getting our mind focused.”

You mentioned passengers, are you worried about the leadership of this team?

“I’m worried about guys not focused enough for 60 minutes; sometimes I think we read how we are on paper and the other teams don’t really care. For this team to win it’s not going to take one or two guys, it’s going to take all 20 guys, night in and night out. That’s no different than any other team in the NHL. The leadership that comes with the 20 guys being ready to play; we have some guys in there that are veterans and everybody knows what’s expected of them. They need to come and be ready to compete.”

Did you consider pulling Martin Brodeur after the second period?

“No, I thought Marty played fine. Some of the breakdowns are not his fault; it’s not his fault if the breakdown happens in their zone.”

Are you shocked at your record through six games?

“I wouldn’t say shocked but maybe a little bit surprised.”