Road Warrior Canucks Escape New Jersey with 2-1 Win

Vancouver 2               Devils 1

The Vancouver Canucks came into Prudential Center on Friday night with the NHL’s best road record (21-10-2) and then left the arena with another road win, beating the New Jersey Devils 2-1, by holding off a torrid attack over the game’s final 40 minutes. The Devils were unable to tie the game thanks in large part to Canucks goalie Cory Schneider, who made 30 saves and was easily the star of the game.

“We’ve played five games in seven nights, in seven different cities,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said of his team, who managed only 16 shots on goal after playing and winning the previous night in Detroit. “It’s very challenging to say the least, obviously there was nothing left in the tank tonight. Our guys did everything they could on the ice and we were very fortunate tonight to get some unreal goaltending.”

Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome started the scoring 8:44 into the game when he alertly followed up on a shot from his partner Christopher Tanev that Martin Brodeur couldn’t control. The puck deflected off of the paddle of Brodeur’s goal stick and careened directly to Rome who scored his fourth goal of the season.

The Canucks doubled their lead to 2-0 when Mason Raymond fired a wrist shot past Brodeur 2:07 into the second period; Raymond’s shot from just outside the right face-off circle hit Devils’ defenseman Andy Greene’s skate before eluding Brodeur. After that goal New Jersey really picked up their game and began firing quality shot after shot at Schneider, who was gobbling them all up while allowing very few rebounds.

David Clarkson finally solved Schneider (scoring for the third consecutive game) when he converted his 24th goal of the season on a nifty pass from Patrik Elias into a wide open net side at 11:30. Elias faked as if he were about to shoot the puck and then sent a perfect slap-pass to Clarkson for an easy tip-in goal.

The Devils continued to increase the pressure on Vancouver over the final two periods, but Schneider was there at every turn, stopping 22 of the 23 shots he faced. “He’s a good goalie, I played against him in college,” said New Jersey defenseman Matt Taormina after the team’s first loss in five games. “Every year he has backed up (Roberto) Luongo really well, he can be a starter almost anywhere. He’s a really good goalie who’s hard to get a lot of rebounds off of. We just couldn’t bury our chances that we needed to.”

During the game it was announced that New Jersey had traded defenseman Kurtis Foster, forwards Nick Pamieri and Stephane Veilleux and two draft picks to Minnesota for defenseman Marek Zidlicky. He should provide help on the Devils power play, as 40 of his 60 career goals have come during man advantages. Devils coach Peter DeBoer is happy to have another piece added to his roster heading towards the playoffs. “He’s experienced, he can move the puck, we’ve got a pretty good handle on this guy. Patrik (Elias) knows him, assistant Dave Barr worked with him in Minnesota, Jacques Lemaire coached him in Minnesota; I think all of the reports I’ve heard are very positive.”

Prior to the game there was a brief ceremony to honor longtime television play-by-play voice of the Devils — Mike “Doc” Emrick. He stepped away from the position during the summer to spend more time at home after 21 seasons of work with the team and the franchise brought him back so the fans and some of the players could say thank you. He can still be heard on NHL games that air on NBC and NBCSN, as well as the hockey portion of the Olympics.

Game Notes: With the assist on Clarkson’s goal, Elias now has 13 points in 15 career games against Vancouver. Brodeur fell to 6-12 in 18 career games against the Canucks, by far his worst record against any NHL team. Ilya Kovalchuk led all skaters in ice-time with 26:34 and defenseman Kevin Bieksa led the Canucks with 23:57. Rome led all players with four blocked shots, while Devils’ winger Steve Bernier led all players with six hits. Zach Parise led all players with seven shots on goal, four players on Vancouver had two each. New Jersey (35-21-4) is off until Sunday afternoon when they host Tampa Bay (27-26-6) and Vancouver (39-16-6) will finish their road trip that same afternoon in Dallas (31-26-4).

Dan’s 3  Stars of the Game:
#1 — Cory Schneider (Van) — 30 saves, win (14-5-0)
#2 — Mason Raymond (Van) — gw goal (7)
#3 — David Clarkson (NJ) — goal (24)

Dan Rice can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com

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Devils Win Season Finale/Lemaire’s Last Game

Devils 3 Boston 2

The New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins played a game on Sunday afternoon at the Prudential Center, but all of the talk following the game wasn’t so much about how much of an epic failure this season was for Jersey’s Team, it centered on their coach who was retiring again and stepping away from the Devils bench for the third time.

Jacques Lemaire ended his second stint as the team’s coach last season after the Devils were eliminated in the first round against the Philadelphia Flyers; he cited his age and family as reasons to step away from the game. New Jersey started this season poorly under first-time bench boss John MacLean (9-22-2) and when GM Lou Lamoriello called Lemaire the week before Christmas looking for a coach to save the season, the 65-year-old couldn’t turn his back on the franchise. “I’m going back to where I was before this year,” said the coach at his farewell press conference.

“(The job) demands a lot. I want to enjoy life; I want to enjoy the family. I thought that I did make the right decision last year. I’m happy I took it, I took the job for the rest of the season; I had fun. It was a huge challenge for me; I thought the guys responded well. Like I mentioned this morning, the only regret I have is not making the playoffs.”

Lemaire came in and, although it took a few weeks, he was able to get the team back on track to their usual winning ways. Many of the players, including Ilya Kovalchuk, responded almost immediately and started to live up to the backs of their hockey cards. “Kovy really likes him, there’s no doubt about that” said Martin Brodeur. “They got along real well right from the get-go last year. So I’m sure he’d like to see him back; I think a lot of guys would like to see him back also. “Although they didn’t reach their ultimate goal of reaching the postseason, Lemaire’s Devils (27-17-3) gave a valiant effort that included a two-month stretch of the season where they reeled off eight consecutive wins and an incredible 20-2-2 record in 24 games to pull them back into contention for a playoff spot.

Ultimately the season was a failure, but the team never gave up and had some fun over the final 41 games — including the last game where they sent Lemaire out a winner with a 3-2 win over the Bruins. Vladimir Zharkov scored his second career goal, breaking a 1-1 tie four minutes into the third period, beating goalie Tuukka Rask on a breakaway. Rookie defenseman Alexander Urbom’s first career goal came 5:10 after Zharkov’s tally and proved to be the game-winner when Boston’s Chris Kelly scored with 3.1 seconds left.

Urbom (who appeared in seven games earlier this season) was recalled from Albany earlier in the day along with Adam Henrique — who was making his NHL debut. Henrique, the Devils’ 3rd round draft pick in 2008, became the tenth Devil (team record) to play his first NHL game this season: Mark Fayne, Stephen Gionta, Jacob Josefson, Oliver Magnan, Brad Mills, Matt Taormina, Mattias Tedenby, Urbom and Alexander Vasyunov. Lemaire really liked what he saw from the 21-year-old Henrique, “He didn’t look like he played in his first game in the NHL. He’s going to move the puck, can skate, sees the ice well and I’m sure he’s got a touch for scoring. So, all these kids that are either with us or came up, this is the future — and the future up front is bright, there’s no doubt about this.”

Johan Hedberg made 24 saves in front of the sellout crowd at the Rock and finished the season with a solid record of 15-12-2 (three shutouts) in 34 games; Brodeur’s season ended under .500 for the first time in his 16-year career, 23-26-3 (six shutouts).

Patrik Elias scored his 21st goal of the season 1:47 into the game and with his 62 points he led the Devils in scoring for the seventh time in his career. Kovalchuk led the team in goals with 31. Four players played in all 82 of the team’s games: Travis Zajac, Andy Greene, Henrik Tallinder and David Clarkson; Kovalchuk appeared in 81 games — only missing a game when MacLean suspended him for missing a team meeting.

Lemaire admitted he was unsure up until two days ago, but was confident he made the right choice. “This is exciting, this is fun; especially when the team wins, and it’s a great atmosphere. You love a lot of things, you get really upset, you get mad about what the players do, not at the individual but at what they’re doing. But as soon as they do something good, right away you feel good. I said this today when I talked to my wife; I said if I was younger, I would be coach because I love it.”

Game Notes: Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg led all skaters in ice-time with 22:54 while Greene led the Devils with 22:18. New Jersey forwards Rod Pelley and Clarkson led all players with five shots on goal each; Milan Lucic led Boston with four. Clarkson’s assist on Urbom’s goal was the 100th point of his career. The Devils will be in the NHL Draft lottery for the first time since 1996 and will find out where they pick in the first round on Tuesday night.

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Vladimir Zharkov (NJ) – goal (2)

#2 – Johan Hedberg (NJ) – 24 saves, win (15)

#3 – Tuukka Rask (Bos) – 29 saves, loss (14)

Dan Rice can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com

Kovalchuk Hits 30 as Devils Top Toronto

Devils 4 Toronto 2

One hundred million dollars can buy you a lot of things; the New Jersey Devils chose to invest their $100 million into Ilya Kovalchuk, one of the NHL’s most lethal goal scorers. In his first full season with the Devils Kovalchuk has disappointed, amazed, awed and disappeared (in that order), but he reached a number of milestones in his team’s 4-2 win over the also-eliminated Toronto Maple Leafs at the Prudential Center on Wednesday night.

Playing in his 700th NHL game, Kovalchuk scored his 30th goal of the season, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead 13:47 into the game, assuring that he wouldn’t match his career-low in goals for a season; he scored 29 in his rookie season with Atlanta in 2001-02. In the second period he had the primary assist on Mattias Tedenby’s goal at 14:29 (making it 2-0) for the 700th point of his nine-year career.

At 15:34 of the second period, 65 seconds after Tedenby’s tally, New Jersey defenseman Henrik Tallinder made it 3-0 with a blast past Leafs’ goalie James Reimer from the slot. Reimer, who has been splendid for Toronto in his rookie season, had no help really from his teammates through the first two periods was mercifully pulled by coach Ron Wilson to start the third period and the move seemed to spark his sluggish club.

Phil Kessel got the Leafs on the board with his 31st of the season at 6:18 on a power play, whipping a one-timer past Martin Brodeur after collecting a nice centering pass from Joffrey Lupul. Jean-Sebastien Giguere made eleven saves in total during the period for Toronto and Tyler Bozak cut the lead to 3-2 when he scored a 3-on-5 shorthanded goal at 12:42. Devils’ center Travis Zajac kind of won the face-off on the play, but both Kovalchuk and Brian Rolston were unable to corral the puck as Bozak raced past Rolston and roared in on Brodeur. Bozak scored on his backhand, slipping the puck between Brodeur’s stick and right leg pad. “I kind of gave that guy the puck,” admitted Zajac. “It was a bad play by me there; other than that we played pretty good.”

New Jersey coach Jacques Lemaire called a timeout and eventually his team settled down for the final 7:18, limiting the Leafs to only seven shots on goal for the whole period and 24 for the game. “I thought we played well (after the shorthanded goal,” said Lemaire. “The guys came back to their game; tried to put pressure on them. We skated, we moved the puck, I thought we did very well.” Patrik Elias scored into an empty net with 9.7 seconds left, giving him 20 goals for the ninth time in his 13 seasons with the Devils.

“It’s been a rough season this year,” said Brodeur after the win, “hopefully we’ll have a great season next year.” Lemaire knows he couldn’t have asked for more down the stretch from his star netminder. “He’s been really good lately; really good. He’s had at least two great months.”

Game Notes: Kessel’s goal extended his point streak to nine games (3g-7a); Elias has a five-game point streak (4g-4a). Devils forward Dainius Zubrus left after a collision along the boards in the first period and did not return. “My head’s okay, I really think I’ll be fine,” said Zubrus in the locker room after the game. “We’ll check it out a little more tomorrow, but everything’s coming back right now so I’ll be okay.” Zach Parise sat out his second straight game after returning from knee surgery on Saturday; the Devils offered no update on his condition or why he was out of the lineup. Kovalchuk led all skaters in ice-time with 28:42; Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf led his squad with 26:27. Kovalchuk led all players with six shots on goal, while Kessel led the Leafs with five; Tallinder was the only player that was +2.

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ) – goal (30), assist (28)

#2 – Patrik Elias (NJ) – goal (20), assist (41)

#3 – Mattias Tedenby (NJ) – goal (8)

Dan Rice can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com.

Devils-Canadiens PostGame Quotes [04.02.11]

Here are the postgame quotes following the Devils-Canadiens game on Saturday night:

Scott Gomez:

Talking about his team’s fans…

“It seems like everywhere we go on the road, there’s a huge Canadien-following; they’re passionate. It’s nothing new to us, everywhere we go there are a bunch of Canadiens fans and it’s unbelievable.”

Talk about the intensity of the game tonight…

“They (the Devils) are as good of a patient team that you are going to get in the league. I thought we stuck with it the whole way. We stuck with our game plan, we had some chances off their mistakes and that’s the way the Devils play. They wait for teams to make mistakes, I thought we kind of did that tonight (to them), and let’s face it — we needed the points, it was a big road game; especially after what happened last game and we’ll take it.”

Do you think Carey Price stopping the penalty shot changed the momentum?

“No, he’s at that level now where that’s expected. He actually got roasted on that penalty shot (laughs), no, that’s one area we don’t worry about. Pricer’s been, like I said he’s set the standard so high, you know he’s up there now with the Brodeur’s and the other guys. It shouldn’t be too shocking because he’s the best goalie in the world right now and that’s what he does. He’s a guy that, we know he’s going to come up with the big save and he’s done it all year for us.”

Your line was really flying out there tonight…

“It was good; (Mathieu) Darche, you know what you’re going to get out of him — he’s going to go to the net and put them in. I think Brian closed his eyes and I think he wanted to shoot and it just happened to slip off his stick and he passed it. He’ll probably tell you that he meant to do that, but what can I say; Brian played great, Darche was going hard and scored two big goals, that’s what we’re going to need. We’ll see what happens, hopefully we stay together. It was a great effort by the team: Pricer did his thing and we’re not in (the playoffs) yet, but we’re taking the right steps. Now we get to go back and play at home and we’re pretty excited about that.”

Brian Gionta:

Talking about the intensity of the game…

“We knew that their season was on the line, we knew they were going to come hard and I thought we did a good job of matching their intensity in the first period and we took advantage of some opportunities; fortunately we came out on top.”

It seemed like you were playing in Montreal tonight…

“Our fans have been great; they follow us all over the place and it means a lot to us to have them there.”

How big was that first goal for you guys tonight?

“It’s always big, anytime you can come out and score that first goal; it’s a momentum-shifter, so it was big for us.”

Talking about the play the first goal was scored on…

“They’re a team that’s known to lock down the middle and there are not many plays there, so you have to drive them wide. Matt Darche did a good job of getting his stick on it as I found him going to the net.”

Similar play on the second goal that he scored?

“Same play, I take it wide. Like I said, they take away the middle, there’s not much there. So you have to use that wide lane and hope for the best.”

Patrik Elias:

Some of the plays that they scored on it looked like vintage Gionta and Gomez…

“I don’t know, I didn’t even see the first one I was in the locker room; the second one was a power play right? Gio is a great player with a lot of speed. He keeps his head up all the time so he can make a play and he makes things happen.”

Martin Brodeur:

Were you surprised the coach didn’t pull you for an extra attacker at the end of the game?

“Yeah, I was looking (at the bench) the whole way, there was still a lot of time to maybe try to figure something out, but he chose not to.”

Getting eliminated tonight has to feel weird for you right?

“Well I think we knew it was going to come, it doesn’t come as a shocker really. But we had a good run, we played really hard to get ourselves in position to compete for the last ten or fifteen games or so, to try and get into the playoffs; but it was just too much (to overcome). We have four more games and we just have to keep doing what we are doing — playing hard and trying to get some wins.”

What did you think of Zach (Parise) out there tonight?

“He hadn’t played in a while but I think the effort was there, the energy; he looked pretty good to me. I think it’s like anything when you miss a lot of time, I think timing sometimes is not quite right; but he’ll work and I think it’s a good thing for him to be able to go through a full game and I’m sure we’ll really see how he feels tomorrow. It’s fun to see him back in the lineup, that’s for sure.”

Was the overall effort there tonight, you guys seemed to be a step behind?

“They played pretty hard, they were skating really well. I think we made them; we turned the puck over too much early in the game and they got a lot of momentum and it kept us on our heels most of the game. They dictated the play most of the game and it was still a ballgame until the third period — after that they scored a quick one on the power play.”

Was the first goal just a deflection that caught you off guard?

“He made a good play, I think he had one hand on his stick and I didn’t expect him to poke at it. It just went over my shoulder there.”

Kind of strange with the crowd tonight huh?

“It was impressive; that’s the only thing I can say. Better than the Rangers when they come in here (grins). It was impressive, I mean I know the Montreal Canadiens’ fans are die-hard, but to show up in the numbers that they did and how much noise they made, it was weird. It was definitely not something that I expected; I knew there were a lot of people coming, but not half the crowd (laughs).”

Did you have to check every now and then to make sure you were still in New Jersey?

“Well I don’t know about that, but it was definitely weird.”

They also behaved better than the Rangers’ fans…

“Well…I won’t comment on that one (smiles).”

What does it say about the team that you were able to extend this run for as long as you did?

“I think it’s pretty impressive for where we came from and I think we have to be happy to have done so. I think there could have been a lot more miserable way of playing the last 40 games of the season, and I think we all worked hard, listened to what our coach had to say and then we went out there and did it. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t continue as much as people believed that we could have, but it took a lot of energy from everyone to do it. The future will be bright, there’s no doubt about that.”

What do you take from the good run that you guys did have these last 37 games?

“Well I think just the experience that some of the young players took and some of the veterans, the way we stepped back into our own game and did what we do. I think we have to put it together right from the get-go next year, there’s a long way to go. There’s a whole summer to have everybody get prepared; and there’s still four games to go. We just have to try to make it fun for ourselves, and hopefully we’ll have a great game next Saturday (at MSG) that counts for our team.”

Would you like to be out there for the final four games?

“I like to play but I also understand that if they feel Heddy should play; he’s been playing so well, he deserves to get in there. There’s no sense playing all the games but if that’s what they want I’m okay with it; I’m here to play hockey, not here to sit on the bench, but hey if that’s what it is, that’s what it is.”

Everyone around this team says if you don’t win it all then the season wasn’t a success, but is there a reason to be proud of this group?

“Well you can’t be proud; our goal is to make it to the playoffs. Regardless of how you get in, this is the first goal that you need to achieve in the regular season and we’ve not done that. Right there it’s a failure because you always want a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup and that first step is the playoffs and we didn’t make it. So it’s a failure of a season, regardless of how we came back and made it interesting, we’re not going to play when the playoffs come; and that’s what we want. That’s what, at the end of the day, we need a chance to compete for.”

After making it so many years in a row, what’s the feeling amongst the players?

“Disappointing, everybody’s real disappointed. I think it’s weird to have a feeling like that and it’s been weird for three or four games now. Even though we weren’t out of it, we were out of it. We believed that we could try to do our own thing and after that things had to fall into place, but it didn’t. We just have to move on from it.”

Jacques Lemaire:

Talking about being eliminated…

“It didn’t even cross my mind….you didn’t ask me why.”

Why?

“Because I was bothered by this game so much.”

Why?

“How we played. I was bothered so much by how we played that it never crossed my mind. How bad we were with the….you know the little round thing there called the puck? My lord!”

Was the effort or the energy not there tonight?

“No energy. I think it was more the mind, we couldn’t make a pass. Montreal played well, I don’t want to take anything away from them, they played a tight game. A lot of times we had the receiver open…and couldn’t complete it.”

Why didn’t you pull Marty for the last minute or minute and a half?

“Because of the way we were playing. We played so bad, I didn’t want another goal; I had enough. As a matter of fact they had a chance (at the end) and another chance after that. One game I did pull the goalie when we had a bad game and gave up a goal. I promised myself next bad game I won’t do that.”

How about Marty giving the guys a chance through two periods?

“Can you ask Marty to be better than how he was tonight? He had nobody in front of him; I’m sorry that’s what it was. Mistakes after mistakes, just a bad game.”

What did you think of Parise?

“He looked like a guy that didn’t play for a year. He’s got to go through this; it’s going to take a little time. And he didn’t get help either, I’m sure if his wingers would have been better, if his center would’ve looked better, I’m sure that it’s not because he didn’t try.”

You came in during a tough situation; do you feel that the team gave you everything they had most nights?

“Oh yeah, it’s just sad that it was not every game. It was not every game; I’m talking to you and I’m trying to find a guy besides Marty that played well (tonight). I can’t, I can’t…it’s got to be (Adam) Mair. Mair, (David) Steckel, you know, they played their game. After that… Teddy, Jo, Kovy, Rollie, Travis. I know they can be better than this.”

Habs Feel Right at Home as They Eliminate Devils

Montreal 3             Devils 1

From the time the game started, check that — walking to and into the arena I could sense this wasn’t going to be a good night for the New Jersey Devils. I had to navigate my way through multiple busloads of partying Montreal Canadiens fans to get to the arena entrance; and the party didn’t stop there. “It’s impressive; that’s all I can say,” said Devils goalie and Montreal-native Martin Brodeur. “It’s better than the Rangers when they come in here. I know the Canadiens’ fans are die-hard, but to show up in the numbers that they did and how much noise they made, it was weird. I knew there were a lot of people coming, but not half the crowd.”

Figuring about seven buses, forty people to a bus, about 280 fans maybe, but in the arena it looked — and sounded like — 12,080 of the sellout crowd were rooting for the Canadiens, something that has become the norm on the road for current Canadien and former Devil Scott Gomez. “It seems like everywhere we go on the road there is a huge Canadien-following, and yeah they’re passionate; but it’s nothing new to us. They’re everywhere we go, it’s unbelievable.”

The result was a 3-1 Canadiens victory, officially eliminating the Devils from the playoffs for the first time since 1996. Ex-Devil and current captain of Montreal Brian Gionta had a strong game with two primary assists on Mathieu Darche’s two goals which were sandwiched around PK Subban’s power play marker early in the third period. “They’re a team that’s known to lock down the middle of the ice,” said Gionta talking about both of Darche’s goals. “There are not many plays there, so you have to drive them wide; Matt did a good job of getting his stick on the puck as I drove them wide.”

Despite being out-shot 23-12 heading into the third period, New Jersey only trailed 1-0 thanks to their best player, Brodeur, who made several big saves that gave his squad a faint pulse. “Can you ask Marty to be better than how he was tonight?” asked Devils coach Jacques Lemaire afterwards. “He had nobody in front of him. Sorry, but that’s what it was. Mistakes after mistakes; just a bad game.”

Perhaps the best news of the night for Devils fans was that Zach Parise played for the first time since October 30, missing 65 games with surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. But even the always-energetic Parise couldn’t save New Jersey from elimination on this night. “He looked like a guy that didn’t play for a year,” said Lemaire. “It’s going to take a little time, and he didn’t get any help either. It’s not because he didn’t try. For his first time, he was fine.” Parise played 21 shifts for a total of 16:05 and had two shots on goal.

Montreal’s Carey Price was lined up for his ninth shutout of the season until Ilya Kovalchuk scored his 29th goal of the season with Brodeur on the bench during a delayed penalty. “He’s at that level now where it’s just expected,” said Gomez of the 23-year-old Price. “That’s one area we don’t have to worry about. He’s up there now with the Brodeurs and the other guys; it shouldn’t be too shocking because he’s the best goalie in the world right now. We know he’s going to come up with the big saves, he’s done it all year (for us).”

Game Notes: Devils rookie Mattias Tedenby had an unsuccessful penalty shot attempt 4:48 into the game but after beating Price his shot hit the goal post and stayed out of the net. “He actually got roasted on that penalty shot,” said a smiling and laughing Gomez loud enough for his buddy Price to hear it. Gionta’s first assist was the 400th point of his career. Devils defenseman Andy Greene led all skaters in ice-time with 29:02, and was a game-worst minus-2; James Wisniewski led the Habs with 24:24. Mike Cammalleri led all players with seven shots on goal; no one from New Jersey had more than two shots on goal, Brian Rolston and Dainius Zubrus were the only two players on the team to not record a shot on goal.

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Mathieu Darche (Mtl) – 2 goals (12)

#2 – Brian Gionta (Mtl) – 2 assists (17)

#3 – Martin Brodeur (NJ) – 26 saves, loss (25)

Dan Rice can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com.

Devils-Islanders PostGame Quotes [03.30.11]

Here are the postgame quotes after the Devils 3-2 win over the Islanders last night:

Jacob Josefson:

Talking about his goal…

“It was a good play by Kovy and Nick there; the rebound came right out to me and all I had to do was put it in the net.”

Was it one of those, ‘Oh, look what I found?’

“Yeah, it was a lucky bounce for me and found myself looking at an empty net. It was kind of lucky.”

Your team was shutout the last two games, how much did it help for the team to get an early goal tonight?

“Obviously we wanted to come out and play a better game; we’re not happy when we’re not scoring. It was a big goal by Kovy, and it was a good feeling to have it come so early.”

Martin Brodeur:

Was it important to get back on the winning side of games?

“It’s definitely a different territory for all of us to go into the final seven games; we know it’s going to be over on April 10 at 6 o’clock. So you have to find that motivation to go out, I think the coaches have been really hard on us the last few days to make us understand that we need to work hard and take this seriously. I think the guys have responded to it, the way we have been working in practice and the way we had this effort tonight. I think it’s important to leave this season with a good taste (in our mouths). We’ve come a long way, played really well in the second half, so let’s not try to destroy that; I think that is the message they are trying to push us towards. It’s definitely tough, we just have to go and say ‘let’s play a hockey game, and we might as well try to win it.’ I think if we keep having good starts like we did today, I think it’ll be easier. If it goes the other way, that’s where we’ll be challenged as far as the effort is concerned.”

Despite the situation is the way that you played, for a long time now, satisfying?

“Yeah, personally he’s been playing me a lot, maybe a lot more than I expected (laughs) to play down the stretch here. But I think for me to feel the way I’m feeling, I feel that I make a difference every game; I just want to keep it up for my own sanity I guess, for the summer, to know that I was able to contribute and still be able to play and make a difference. It was hard on me early on in the season, so for me hopefully I have a few more games to go and I just want to play them well.”

Is it strange when you look at your stats this season and they don’t look like most of your other seasons?

“Well it’s just the wins really; the losses are about the same (chuckles). The goals-against average is the same as last year; so besides the wins, Heddy got the rest for me. But it is not satisfying at all; I’m used to better stats than that. I guess it was bound to happen one year and hopefully we turn it around next year. I’m reflecting the team because I play a lot of games.”

Do you think the shorthanded goal threw you guys back a little bit?

“Yeah I think so. We’ve been working a lot on breakouts, getting the right wing to come out and attack. I think we’ve done it before, but got a little confused and we just gave up a first-half of the season kind of giveaway.”

When you see a breakaway like that, do you immediately recognize who it is coming down on you?

“Yeah I knew exactly who it was. He scored on me on a shootout with that backhand, I knew he was going to go there and I couldn’t get enough momentum. It’s different when you do a shootout then a breakaway; I just didn’t get out far enough to get speed to really attack his backhand. I just kind of stayed flat and he was able to just raise it by me.”

It got a little hairy at the end there where you were sprawling on the ice to make some saves there…

“It got a little dicey there at the end, but we pulled it off. We were cruising, I thought we were playing real well, they had some shots, but the quality chances were really limited. After the breakaway goal they were feeling good about themselves and really came at us the last ten minutes, but we showed some nice character there scoring a goal after losing our lead like that.”

Nick Palmieri:

How much of a lift was it to get the first goal?

“After not scoring in two games, it was considerable. That was obviously a big focus coming into tonightto score some goals. I think it definitely gave us a confidence boost for the rest of the game.”

Jacques Lemaire:

Were you pleased with your team’s start tonight?

“I thought we played really well until the four-minute power play we had in the third period. The Islanders had some chances and they have some players that move the puck and can beat people one-on-one, they see the ice well; so they will get some chances. But I was pretty happy the way our guys played.”

Were you happy with the way they responded after allowing the tying goal?

“Yeah, definitely; after the power play they had their top line on and I put Patrik’s line out there to play against them and they did a good job. That was an important time in the game, because they just tied it and I thought Patrik and his line did really good against them.”

How important was it to get that early goal to kind of lift some of the pressure off of your team?

“Well we drove at the net, we made plays towards the net that gave us a chance to get these goals; and it’s always good when the game starts, you’re playing well and you get rewarded for it.”

How about Pamieri’s performance tonight?

“I thought he played good, the whole line played really well. They had some chances, the thing with a team like this, their defensemen are good skaters, and their forwards move the puck well. Every time we lose the puck it’s so important to get back (defensively) and this is one thing that we’ve been trying to work with Nick. Sometimes he forgets it, or feels it’s not as important, but he’s getting better and if he keeps doing it he’ll be a pretty good player.”

Greene Powers Devils Past Islanders

Devils 3           NY Islanders 2

For the first time since the spring of 1996 it appears that the New Jersey Devils will not be a participant in the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have something to play for over their disappointing season’s final seven games. “It’s definitely a different territory for all of us to go into seven games left and you know the season is going to be over come April 10 at 6 o’clock,” admitted Martin Brodeur afterwards. “I think it’s important that you leave the season with a good taste. We’ve come a long way, really (played) well in the second half and so let’s no try to destroy that.” After blowing a two-goal lead in the third period, defenseman Andy Greene scored with 4:56 left in the game and gave New Jersey a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night at Prudential Center.

The Devils had been shutout in each of their previous two games and their scoring drought eventually lasted a total of 178 minutes and 12 seconds when Ilya Kovalchuk gave his squad a 1-0 lead 4:17 into the game. Kovalchuk’s 28th goal of the year was set up by a nice pass from rookie Nick Palmieri to the Russian sniper in the slot. “Coming off of two shutout losses, it’s nice to bounce back and get a win,” said the 21-year-old Palmieri. New Jersey maintained the one-goal lead into the second period and extended that lead when Jacob Josefson found a rebound from Palmieri’s in-close shot and stuffed it past Islanders’ netminder Rick DiPietro.

The Islanders were unable to get a shot through Brodeur until they took a four-minute high-sticking penalty 7:57 into the third period. Isles center Frans Nielsen scored his league-leading seventh shorthanded goal on a clean breakaway after a turnover in the neutral zone. “We had a ‘first half of the season’ type of breakaway,” said Brodeur when asked what went wrong on the play.

“I knew exactly who it was, he scored on me in the shootout on his backhand; I knew he was going to go there. I couldn’t get enough momentum to make the save, different situation then on a shootout breakaway.” Nielsen’s 7 SH goals in one season tied a franchise record held by Bob Bourne 30 years ago. Four minutes and six seconds later it was Nielsen who scored again, getting credit for the tying goal after a goalmouth scramble in Brodeur’s crease.

The tie didn’t last long as Greene flipped a long shot past DiPietro from the top of the left circle, allowing the Devils to recapture the lead. Brodeur was the more active of the two goalies on this night and was able to make the crucial saves at crucial times, ensuring the victory with 27 saves. “He plays with a lot of confidence, a lot quicker in the net,” said coach Jacques Lemaire of his goalie. “I’m sure he feels good about his game.”

Besides pride and doing their jobs, another motivation for New Jersey is to finish the season at .500, meaning they must win the final six games; the last Devils team to finish below .500 was pre-Brodeur days, back in 1990-91.

Game Notes: New Jersey finished the six-game season series with New York 4-2-0. Nielsen has eight shorthanded points this season, also first among all NHL players, perhaps he should get some serious consideration for the Selke Trophy. Palmieri’s two-point game (2a) was the first multi-point game of his career. Devils forward Rod Pelley played in his 200th NHL game. Greene led all skaters in ice-time with 28:55 and defenseman Jack Hillen led New York with 23:40. Kovalchuk led all players with eight shots on goal; Nielsen led the Islanders with six. Devils rookie defenseman Mark Fayne led all players with five blocked shots and Hillen led the Isles with four. Josefson now has four points (2g-2a) in three games against the Islanders.

 

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Frans Nielsen (NYI) – 2 goals, sh (13)

#2 – Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ) – goal (28), assist (26)

#3 – Nick Palmieri (NJ) – 2 assists (7)

Dan Rice can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com.