Merry X-Mas Devils Fans

The hockey world was stunned last night when the Atlanta Thrashers traded superstar sniper Ilya Kovalchuk to the New Jersey Devils for rookie Niclas Bergfors, defenseman Johnny Oduya, prospect Patrice Cormier & NJ’s first round pick in the 2010 NHL draft.

The deal immediately reminded me of one that GM Lou Lamoriello pulled off almost ten years to the day when he swapped Denis Pederson & a young Brendan Morrison to Vancouver for another Russian sniper — Alexander Mogilny — on March 14, 2000.

The Mogilny deal was very successful as the Devils made two consecutive trips to the Stanley Cup Finals, beating Dallas in 2000 and losing to Colorado in 2001. Can this deal work the same magic? Given the fact that the Lamoriello didn’t have to gut the team to acquire Kovalchuk and the fact that he can still make another move or two before the trading deadline, I would say this puts New Jersey as strong contender to represent the East in the Finals (along with Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Washington).

Besides the question of is Lamoriello done dealing, another big question will be is Kovalchuk a rental? The 26-year-old turned down an offer of over $100 million over 10 years  from Atlanta, but would he take less to stay with an established Cup-contending team? Time will tell, but I’m glad that Kovalchuk is on our side now.

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Devils-Kings Postgame Quotes [01.31.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes following the Devils 3-2 loss to the Kings on Sunday night:

Martin Brodeur:

Did you feel tired at all, with all of the games that you have played so far?

“Ask my trainer, he’ll tell you; that’s a stupid question you just asked me there. I play the game, as hard as I can all the time. Getting twenty shots a game; I don’t think you get tired from that, that’s for sure.”

Did you see the tying goal?

“I saw him shoot it, but when it came close to me I was expecting it to hit (Ryan) Smyth in front of me and it just kind of hit the side of my leg and snuck in.”

On the winning goal there was a crowd of players in front of you…

“I saw him (Drew Doughty) shoot and I just went down; Smyth did a great job screening me there.”

Johnny Oduya:

Talk about your goal that opened the scoring tonight…

“I got a pass from Zach (Parise) there across (the ice) and I just tried to shoot it on the far side there, I saw some guys going to the net and it went in off of a skate.”

Obviously a disappointing end to the game, can you put a finger on any one thing that went wrong?

“No I think it’s just a general feel at this time, obviously for the second game (in a row) it’s not something we usually do; we have a lead, usually we feel pretty good and play confident — somehow that slipped out. It’s something we have to talk about and not worry about too much, but keep playing in games and not sit back.”

Wayne Simmonds:

Were you shooting to score there?

“Oh no, definitely not, I was just shooting for a rebound or for Smyth to tip it; I got lucky and it went in.”

Did you see that Smyth was there in front when you shot it?

“Definitely, that’s the first thing I looked for. I looked to see if someone was in front of the net and I just fired it at the net.”

You guys are on a nice winning streak, now that you get to bring home and play in front of your fans…

“I think it’s great, we were in a little slump at home before we left for the road — I think we won five straight on the road trip and now we just have to build that up and carry it over. Our fans deserve better than out last home stand, that’s for sure.”

What has been the secret to success for you guys on the road, now that you’ve won six in a row away from LA?

“I think it’s just resiliency, like tonight we were down and we never gave up. That’s pretty much the way we’ve play all year — we get down a goal or two and we just never say die; it’s worked out really well for us.”

Anze Kopitar:

Talking about the successful road trip…

“If somebody would say (before the road trip) that we were going to be 4-1, I think everybody would pretty much take that; being 5-0 it’s obviously great. I think now it’s time to bring that attitude and that energy at home because we have to start winning some home games too.”

How big was the goal scored late in the second period, instead of being down two goals, it’s only one?

“It was huge. It’s something that, always when you get a goal in the last minute of a period it’s great; they have something to think about in the locker room during intermission and that gave us a little boost. I thought we came out a little stronger in the third period and we definitely shot the puck a little more; and it paid off for us.”

Did you know that this is the first time the Kings have gone 5-0 on a road trip in history?

“That was the first time? That’s great then (smiles), we’re making history. We’ve been playing some decent hockey, right from the first game of this road trip I thought we were playing good hockey and now it’s paying off for us. Maybe we weren’t the better team out there tonight, but we’ll take it every time; two points is two points.”

When you’re winning, this is the kind of stuff that happens right?

“Exactly; and with the opposite, when you’re struggling you can shoot 50 shots and still lose the game — its funny how the game goes. But like I said we’ll definitely take these two points and go home.”

Can you talk about the winning power play goal?

“We were moving the puck around and just trying to get shots. They play a pretty tight box and obviously with Marty in the net they have a world-class goaltender. There’s not a whole lot you can do but shoot the puck, so Drew found a lane there, ripped it and luckily for us it went in.”

Was it a point of emphasis to get bodies in front of Brodeur tonight?

“Yeah, absolutely; we have one of the best in the league I think with Ryan Smyth — he’s really stingy around the net. (Dustin) Brown is in there too, he’s a decent screener too. At that point, especially at that time of the game, you just want to get bodies in front and shots at the net.”

Jacques Lemaire:

Two key things that went wrong tonight?

“The last two goals, the penalty. Not just to let Doughty shoot on the PK and the penalty.”

You had two PP’s when you were still leading by one, did you think the guys worked it with enough intensity?

“We still had good chances; we had good chances to put the game away, but the goalie was good and made some good saves. We could’ve been a little better on certain plays there, but as I said we had our chances.”

You had a 2-0 lead late in the second period, was it a bad play by (Mike) Mottau that led to their first goal?

“Yeah, that will happen though. You can recover and we did; things like that will happen, this doesn’t bother me at all.”

Do you think Marty could have stopped the tying goal?

“He could have stopped that, definitely; a shot from the side that I know there’s a guy in front of him — but I always say when you’re due to lose, there’s something like that that will get in the net, some shots like that. When everyone is confident, those goals just don’t happen.”

What do you tell the guys to get them to recover (from this)?

“Well I have to talk to myself first; that’s a loss that I still didn’t digest so we’ll see tomorrow.”

Devils-Hurricanes Postgame Quotes [12.09.09]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Wednesday’s 4-2  win by the Devils over the Hurricanes:

Zach Parise:

Describing Andy Greene’s power play goal that he assisted on…

“Andy pretty much did it all; he made a nice break in and their guy kind of backed off of me and let me take it to the net. I tried to shoot low blocker and it went right over to Andy.”

Are these Hurricanes any different than the team that you lost to in the playoffs last spring, despite their record?

“I think it’s the same team. For whatever reason they’ve struggled, but they’ve still got good players. I think they’re a lot better than their record says — that’s a good team over there.”

Johnny Oduya:

You blocked a lot of shots tonight (4) can you talk about that a little?

“Did I?”

You had at least four through two periods, including one where Marty was out of position and you went down to one knee…

“Well, that one I was a little bit out of position and it was my guy that was wide I think; I had to make a choice and got caught a little bit in between. I don’t know, I think I got lucky and his shot caught me because it was pretty much an open net.”

Carolina has a pretty bad record right now (7-18-5), do you notice anything different about them from last year’s playoffs?

“Well they have a couple of guys out; I always think they’ve been a good team. I know last year at times they were struggling a little bit too before they got it going at the end of the year. They’re one of those teams that, maybe, they get up a little bit more for the playoffs. They’re a pretty experienced team, playoff-wise too, once we get further along in the season, I think they’re going to start playing better. Obviously they’ve had a tough start, but I think they’ll come around.”

When Bryce Salvador went down at the end of the first period and misses part of the second, the d-pairings get changed up a little bit, how much does that affect you?

“I think (on this team) anyone can play with anyone; everybody can play both sides too. I don’t think that’s a problem, I think it’s more of just knowing who you are out (on the ice) with and their type of game, but we still play the same system and play a team-game, a defensive-game.”

Martin Brodeur:

Talking about Andy Greene…

“I don’t think there’s a doubt in anybody’s mind that he belongs in the NHL.”

Can you believe that at one point this season you had to answer questions about not winning at home and now you’ve won eight of ten here at the Rock?

“It’s always tough, because as reporters, and even coaches and players, you take an 82-game season and you shrink it down to little streaks. But when you look at the grand scheme of things, it’s a lot different; you don’t see these bumps as much. But when you’re going through them, we had a hard time in the first three games (here). We got over it and now we’re doing well and we have to try to keep that up. It’s like a goalie that has a couple of tough games, next thing you know, its tough but when you really look at it; when you get older you realize that the big picture is what’s important. I know its important the day you have to play, but right now we’re happy about the way everybody is contributing for us to be successful at home. It is important, you play to be the top team — that gives you the home-ice advantage — so if you’re not comfortable playing there, it doesn’t make sense, so it’s important to play well at home.”

Did their first goal hit (Mark) Fraser’s stick?

“Yeah, I think it hit his stick, his pants and went down on me; it was kind of weird. I lost it for a good second, and I was looking like ‘Where is it?’ and the next thing I saw was it going by me, so it was an unfortunate break.”

Were you thinking shutout before that?

Smiling “No, no, it was too early, with four minutes left maybe.”

Cam Ward:

Did you feel any rust going in or was it the first shot and then you’re in the game?

“I felt a little bit uncomfortable at times in the first period, but as the game went along I thought I settled down and played better in the second and third; by the end of the game I felt like my old self again.”

Did this game start to take on the feel that it had when you guys faced each other in the playoffs last spring?

“Yeah, you know it’s just another game against the Devils — it’s always a hard-fought game; I thought our guys really competed well. We were pressing quite a bit in the second and third periods there and we just couldn’t find a way to get that third goal. They do such a good job at clogging up the slot — the middle of the ice in front of Marty. We worked hard, but once again we fell a little bit short.”

Jacques Lemaire:

How worried were you about blowing the lead when it was 3-2?

“Well at that time I wasn’t thinking about the game itself, the win or the loss, I was thinking about the way we were playing. If you notice we started to turn the puck over at their blue line, three, four times in a row and at different times.”

Who would you say saved the win for you?

“Saved the win? I know Marty made big saves at certain times, I think it’s again, the guys that played against their top line; I felt we did a pretty decent job against them.”

Devils-Red Wings Postgame Quotes [12.05.09]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Saturday’s 4-3 shootout win by the Devils over the Red Wings:

Jay Pandolfo:

How did you feel in your first game back?

“Not bad. It’s been a while, but I felt good. It was nice to get a win.”
You notched an assist in the second period, breakdown what happened…

“It was a quick (developing) 3-on-2, Rob Niedermayer gave me a nice pass and I just kind of drove wide and Zharky opened up nicely so I threw it over to him and he got a quick shot off, and Nieds drove to the net (and scored).”

You almost scored your own goal later on…

“Yeah, that was close, but their guy got back in time. It would’ve been nice.”

Niclas Bergfors:

Thoughts on tonight’s game…

“We came out pretty strong, I think it was back and forth the whole game. We had too many turnovers though, but I think we put in a pretty good effort.”

Is Detroit a tough team to play against?

“Yeah they’re a pretty good team, even though they have some injuries. But at the same time we have injuries too, so yeah, it was a good game.”

Vladimir Zharkov:

How did it feel playing against Detroit tonight?

“I was a little nervous because Detroit’s a very good team, good passers, good forwards. But in the NHL, all teams are pretty good, it doesn’t matter. Coach put me on a good line in the game, I played with good guys – first two periods I played with Rollie (Brian Rolston) and Patrik (Elias) and third period I played with Jay and Rob; they’re good guys. We had a good chance on a 3-on-2 and I had a good shot; and we got a goal.”

It felt good to score a point again, right?

“Yeah (big smile).”

Johnny Oduya:

How’d you feel throughout the game?

“I felt pretty good; I actually felt better than I thought I would. We’ll see tomorrow (how I feel) at practice; I’ll probably be more tired. Come Monday (in Buffalo), I’ll be fine.”
How did your goal develop?

“I gloved down a shot, or a half-a-shot or something from the point and just took off; I think it was a 3-on-2 coming down the ice. Their D-men kind of took away both of my passing options, so it just gave me a half-breakaway, I went to the net and shot it.”

On their first goal, you kind of fell down…

“Yeah, I came back and their guy kind of stopped on the (blue) line, I should have just kept going back instead and kind of back off. I tried to go towards him and I don’t know, the puck stayed there and I fell down; it was a 3-on-1 coming back, obviously I’m not too happy about that play. But I’d rather, the first game coming back, I’d rather go and keep my legs going and try to get in the game and get in situations and after that you can adjust to situations.”

What made you fall?

“I think I ran into him, I think that’s what happened.”

Your goal, you seemed to enjoy that a lot, did it bother you that you hadn’t put any points up before you got hurt?

“No, it didn’t bother me, I think obviously it helps out, but as a d-man, especially here, I think you want to play good defensively and have a solid game and create chances, and maybe at times the puck will go in; but I think I see it as a bonus.”

Martin Brodeur:

Talking about Tomas Holmstrom’s goal…

“He’s the type of player, that’s what he does; he’s really effective with it. He did that because we gave him (power play) opportunities to be there. Early in the game, we played so well that he couldn’t get to the front of the crease.”

Were you completely screened on the tying goal by Patrick Eaves?

“Yeah, well I didn’t see that he touched it. I thought (Justin) Abdelkader was going to pass it across more than take a shot towards the net – when I got set he just touched it enough for it to miss my stick and go through my legs.”

You guys are pretty confident in the shootout, right Marty?

“Yeah we have some guys that are making some great plays scoring goals; that always help out a lot when you give up a goal and come back with a big goal. Again, it’s a skill competition, and so far it has been pretty good (for us).”

Chris Osgood:
Talking about Oduya’s goal…

“I probably should have had it, the guy came down the wing; there wasn’t a whole lot to it. I’d probably like to have it back, but that doesn’t happen. In New Jersey, you don’t want to fall down 2-0, on most nights you’re going to lose.”

Did you try to poke check Elias in the shootout?

“Yeah, I’m not much of a poker; I can tell you that; I had to wait like half a second. I always tell the guys I’m going to, when they come in slow like that, but I couldn’t because he’s got such quick hands — I just missed it. I’ll probably try it again, you have to do different things; you can’t do the same things (in a shootout) over and over.”

Devils Post-Game Quotes [10.17.09]

Here are the transcripts of postgame after Saturday’s 2-0 Devils win over the Hurricanes:

Zach Parise:

It looked like a playoff-style game, do you agree?

“Yeah, it seems like anytime we play these guys, it’s going to go down to the wire. Both teams didn’t really give a lot of room; it was tough (out there). It wasn’t an easy game.”

Talk about the line changes…

“We knew beforehand, so it wasn’t a surprise for us. We need to get some more scoring and more of a consistent attack. We’ll see what happens. There are some good players in here and we should be capable of playing with anyone so – its tough when you lose Elias who’s one of your best forwards – you have to mix and match and find something that works.”

The PP struggled again tonight…

“Yeah we’re working on it. We were fortunate to get away with it tonight, but we’ll figure it out.”

Martin Brodeur:

Talk about getting shutout no. 102…

“You never know when there’s going to be the next one, (so) it’s hard to really look forward to it. Hopefully we get shutouts, because that means we’re getting wins, and then everybody’s happy.”

You seemed like you were in a zone tonight, fair assesment?

“When we play these guys it’s always a tough game. We knew that we couldn’t give them much; we had to stay disciplined and stay out of the box. They did the same too. It was really a little bit of a chess match. I think it was a pretty good game to watch – to play it was a lot of fun, because every little mistake could have been the difference, we got a lucky bounce on our goal and that was enough to win the game.”

What’s it like playing against Ward?

“He’s a good goalie. Every time I play against him or watch him play, I’m really impressed. Tommy Barassso has done a great job with him, he’s playing a lot like him – how aggressive he is. He made some big saves to keep his team in the game. Again, anytime you play against one of the top goalies you always want to play well because you know your team isn’t going to get much, so you can’t give up a lot.”

Did you notice Ward has been more aggressive with his stick?

“Well, Tommy B was like that; it’s a credit to Cam that he’s playing that way – I think it’s a way of playing the game, to be active with your stick. It’s something that I do a lot but really impressive in the way that he’s playing.”

When did you know you needed a shutout tonight?

“When we scored that goal, I said, ‘I think this is going to be it for me – this is all the production I’m going to get.’ In my head it wasn’t about a shutout it was I cant give up anything and we’ve got to get it done.”

Did you sense in the first period it would be a goaltending duel?

“I felt good. I’m not sure about Cam, but I felt strong in there. At least I got some shots early on – last night I didn’t get many shots until late in the second period. It’s hard to get going when that happens. I should be used to it playing for Jacques so many years (smirk) but it was nice because I was able to get some work tonight and I felt good.”

Paul Martin:

New defense partner for you tonight…

“It worked well tonight and we’ll see what the coaches want to do. It’s not up to us.”

Was it difficult after playing alongside Oduya for so long?

“Sal is more of a stay at home d-man. He has different tendencies (than Oduya). I guess they (the coaches) weren’t getting from us what they wanted so far, so they tried something different.”

You played with Salvador last year a bit, does that make it easier?

“We’re supposed to play the same way (individually) every game, so it really shouldn’t matter who you’re playing with, you just get used to it.”

Rob Niedermayer:

Talk about the scoring play and the goal…

“Zach made a good play and I knew a couple of guys were going to the net so I just tried to throw it there and we got the bounce. Sometimes you need to get the lucky bounce, like we did.”

Did you feel you were owed one of those lucky bounces?

“Well, you have to work for your chances, your goals. I thought tonight we did and we came out and worked hard all three periods – that’s what we have to do.”

Jacques Lemaire:

What did you think of tonight’s performance?

“Much better — everyone worked hard, everyone played disciplined, we were good with the puck, and we had good scoring chances. I can’t find a player that didn’t do his job.”

How about Marty?

“Marty was just great. That’s how we know the type of game he could play. You could tell right at the start there that first cross-ice pass that turned out to be a one-timer he made a good save, and after that it was downhill for him.”

Any line combos you haven’t tried yet – is it because you haven’t thought of them yet?

“(Smiling) Yes, I did change the lines, I feel much better with the ones that we have right now. I think our team is more solid. It’s too bad that I had to break up a line that had so much success last year, but I talked to the guys and they want to go on with this and they feel it’s going to help the team. You could tell the job that Travis did tonight with the kids – that was really good…really good. He makes the kids even better, this is what we need. Nieder, started on the checking line and then I moved him up with Zach and Jamie and I thought he fit really well there. He moves the puck well, he’s getting his share of chances and I’m really happy with the way they all played.”

Why did you make that move?

“I wanted to give a little more responsibility to Zubie (on the checking line with Pandolfo and Rolston) playing against the other team’s top line and I knew before the game that Nieder would fit well with those two. It turned out really good.”

You used Bergfors a lot… (He played 17:47 and led the team with 8 shots on goal)

“Yes. He played a good number of minutes. You know I just feel he’s solid. You look at him when he gets the puck and he controls it…makes good plays. I liked, if you talk to Lou or any of the coaching staff, I liked the kid right from day one. I said ‘This kid can play’, you can see he missed a few chances, but he’s there. We’ll work on his shot. But him and Matt they never stop; they just keep working. Matt had the stick in the face on his nose and he wanted to come back as quick as possible — he wants to play. It’s great to have kids like that.”

You still have an issue with too many men on the ice…

“Whew. I think we’re practicing our PK. That’s the only thing I can see. The guys want to kill penalties so our average gets better. Again – the player though the player he was replacing was already on the bench.”