The Waiting is Over…

After 65 days of being held hostage….yes 65…. the Ilya Kovalchuk saga is over. The NHL finally approved Kovalchuk’s 15 year, $100 million dollar deal with the New Jersey Devils and the rest of the hockey world can now move on with their lives. Personally, I was finally able to wear my ‘Kovalchuk 17’ t-shirt that I purchased after he signed the first contract that was rejected by the league and then rejected again by an independent arbitrator.

So what’s next for the Devils? Kovy’s deal puts them about $3 million over the salary cap limit with only 21 of 23 players on their roster, meaning they will have to shed at least two contracts (perhaps Bryce Salvador and Dainius Zubrus) and sign some other players to small money contracts to fill out the roster. By the way, has anyone else noticed that on the Devils official website that Jay Pandolfo is no longer listed on the team’s roster? Other candidates to be moved include Colin White and Brian Rolston, but both have no-trade clauses in their contracts and both are undesirable to other teams as of this moment. If Salvador is moved, I would expect them to bring defenseman Mike Mottau back on a one-year, cheapie deal. If Zubrus is shipped out, expect the team to add some depth by signing a solid veteran such as Richard Park, Brendan Morrison or Jeff Halpern.

With the players they have under contract now, assuming Salvador & or Zubrus are moved, here is what the opening night lineup could look like:

Zach Parise-Travis Zajac-Jamie Langenbrunner
Ilya Kovalchuk-Jason Arnott-David Clarkson
Patrik Elias-Brian Rolston-Vladimir Zharkov
Pierre-Luc Leblond-Richard Park-Mattias Tedenby

Anton Volchenkov-Andy Greene
Henrik Tallinder-Anssi Salmela
Colin White-Mark Fraser

Martin Brodeur-Johan Hedberg

spares: Mike Mottau?, Rod Pelley, Tim Sestito

Who are the teams left that can afford to add a contract like Salvador ($2.9 million) or Zubrus ($3.4 million) this late in the summer?
The Islanders, Thrashers, Blues, Hurricanes, Coyotes, Panthers, Lightning, Stars, Ducks, Predators & Kings all have $9 million or more in cap space.
Time will tell how GM Lou Lamoriello is going to shape and mold his 2010-11 roster and all we can do is sit back and wait; this time it won’t be 65 days because training camp starts for New Jersey on September 17, but they don’t have to be under the salary cap until October 8.

How do you feel now that the second best goal-scorer in the NHL will be a Devil for the next 15 seasons?

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Should He Stay or Should He Go…

It’s been almost two weeks since the New Jersey Devils 2009-10 season came to a crashing halt at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers. Three days after their elimination, coach Jacques Lemaire announced his retirement forcing the team to search for it’s sixth head coach in six seasons since the lockout ended. Three consecutive first round exits, haven’t made it past the second round since winning the 2003 Stanley Cup.

After having time to digest all of this I’ve come up with some suggestions on how to improve the team and hopefully help them (at least) make it out of the opening round of the playoffs. All salaries I used are courtesy of nhlnumbers.com.

Coach: Hire Mike Keenan. The ex-Ranger coach, (more recently ex-Calgary) would seem like an odd choice at first glance, but he knows how to win and he could work well together with another crafty mind like GM Lou Lamoriello. His first task will be convincing Brodeur to play less games, oh and his career total of 672 wins is good for 4th all-time.

Trade: Jamie Langenbrunner, Mark Fraser (and/or) Andy Greene to Toronto for Tomas Kaberle. Perhaps Lamoriello can convince Leafs GM Brian Burke that he can use a Langenbrunner to lead his young team in 2010-11 as he led Burke’s Team USA to a silver medal. Kaberle has one year left on his current deal at $4.25 mil, so to make it fair salary-wise Lamoriello may have to surrender both Greene and Fraser; Langenbrunner is due $2.8 mil and will also be going into the last year of his contract. Perhaps Kaberle will waive his no-trade clause to skate with fellow Czech Patrik Elias.

Trade: Before the draft call your old trading partner Don Waddell from Atlanta and offer him RFA David Clarkson ($875,000) for soon-to-be UFA Colby Armstrong ($2.4 mil). Maybe he still wasn’t 100% from the leg injury, but Clarkson was invisible versus the Flyers; Armstrong will be a player that plays hard every shift and in front of the opposing goalie he will be a pain in the @$$, something Clarkson has failed to do in each of the last two postseasons. See if Waddell has any interest or room for Jay Pandolfo also, who could help stabilize a young squad.

Free Agency: Let Paul Martin, Mike Mottau, Rob Niedermayer, Rod Pelley and Martin Skoula walk away. Changes have to be made and most of these players were very serviceable, the ultimate results just weren’t there.

Do whatever you have to do to re-sign Ilya Kovalchuk. Quick name another first overall pick that has played for the Devils. Stumped, well as far as I know there is only one other– Bobby Carpenter — and he wasn’t nearly as dynamic as Kovalchuk is. Hopefully Ilya sticks around, but who am I kidding, there’s no way he’ll stay in New Jersey right?

Sign Free Agents : Tomas Plekanec, Marek Svatos and either Andy Sutton or Anton Volchenkov. Plekanec is the center that the Devils have been lacking since Scott Gomez took the money and ran to Manhattan, leaving Travis Zajac as the team’s only legitimate scoring center. Svatos is a talented, scrappy, underachieving winger from Colorado who could fit in on a solid third/fourth line. Either Sutton or Volchenkov won’t come cheap, but they are both worth the money that will be spent on them. They both block shots well, get in shooting lanes and aren’t afraid to get into scrums to protect the front of their crease — a huge lacking element in NJ the last three playoff failures. Both players also have the same downside too — they are both injury prone, so teams may end up being hesitant to throw major cash around.

There’s a saying ‘scared money makes no money’ so I say the Devils need to revamp the current edition to make it look something like this:

Line A: Ilya Kovalchuk-Tomas Plekanec-Patrik Elias
Line B: Zach Parise-Travis Zajac-Dainius Zubrus
Line C: Brian Rolston-Colby Armstrong-Marek Svatos
Line D: Pierre-Luc Leblond-Tim Sestito/Dean McAmmond-Vladimir Zharkov

D-pair 1: Tomas Kaberle-Anton Volchenkov/Andy Sutton
D-pair 2: Matthew Corrente-Bryce Salvador
D-pair 3: Colin White-Anssi Salmela/Tyler Eckford

Goalies: Martin Brodeur, Yann Danis

I know I’ve made some crazy suggestions here, and I have no doubt that I’ll probably be 0.00% right, but hopefully some changes are made so I’m not sitting home watching less-superior teams battle for a chance to get steamrolled next season. Let me know how insane this all sounded, Thanx.

Dan

Game 3/Game 4 …

Here’s how I saw Game 3 of the New Jersey Devils-Philadelphia Flyers series and what I expect for Game 4 on Tuesday night:

Game 3:
-Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk had two assists, but no shots on goal (!) & led the team in ice-time with 27:30.
-New Jersey sat defenseman Martin Skoula (who had a shaky 1st 2 games) in favor of rookie Mark Fraser and the move didn’t work; Fraser was responsible for Philly’s second goal when he allowed Simon Gagne to muscle him off the puck behind the net. Coach Jacques Lemaire said after the game that Skoula will return to the lineup in Game 4.
-With the loss, the Devils are now 0-4 in the Wachovia Center this season and Martin Brodeur hasn’t won a game there since January 22, 2008.
-With the loss coming in overtime, Brodeur’s career record is 12-21 in playoff overtime; the most OT losses in NHL history.
-Flyers captain Mike Richards has six points (2g,4a) in three games; Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner has only one assist in the first three games. Just saying maybe Jamie should have played that night in Carolina, because he hasn’t been the same since.
-Philly’s duo of Daniel Briere and Jeff Carter have fired a combined 19 shots on Brodeur over the first three games and have a total of 0 points in the series.
-Game 3 Hero: Dan Carcillo, right place +right time = OT winner
-Game 3 Goat: David Clarkson, no matter how lame the penalty was, it never should have happened; ESPECIALLY IN OVERTIME!
-Devils wasted a solid performance by Brodeur (31 saves), but they can tie the series with a win Tuesday night.

Game 4
-Expect better games from Patrik Elias and Zach Parise, who weren’t really a factor in Game 3 where New Jersey only mustered 19 shots on goal; they both responded with great Game 2’s after sub-par Game 1’s.
-Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger will lead his team in ice-time and will probably get at least one point.
-Look for Devils defenseman Paul Martin and Philly winger Scott Hartnell to have an impact in Game 4, Martin will assist on the game-winning goal.

Devils-Maple Leafs Postgame Quotes [01.29.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Friday’s  5-4  Devils win in overtime over the Maple Leafs:

Zach Parise:

Does it feel good to put something in the net?

“Yeah, it feels good for us to put some goals in. We let them back in there, getting two late ones, but it does feel good to get some offense going and to get some pucks in.”

It looked like you wanted that third one really bad?

“I did, and I had plenty of opportunities; I just, I don’t know, it just wasn’t meant to be a night for the hat trick.”

Will you settle for the game-winning assist?

“Yeah, that’s good enough for me.”

What did you see on the game-winning play?

“Well the first time when Travis passed down to me and I tried to give it back to Rollie on the far side, at the last second I saw Travis come down, wide open for a one-timer — so next time I wanted to find him stepping into one. He got good wood on it, I’m not sure if (Vesa) Toskala saw it.”

You had a couple of chances to get that third one?

“Yeah, more than a couple, plenty of them; like I said, that third one just didn’t want to go in tonight.”

What happened in that third period?

“I think they started to play a little better, and then they started to put a lot more pressure on us, created some turnovers and once they got the third goal they had a lot of momentum; it’s something we don’t want to make a habit of.”

Nice that the team finally scored a couple goals?

“It’s great for us to put some pucks in the net, it’s been pretty tough for us to score lately, but it feels pretty good to do it tonight.”

I know it was a lot of goals-ago, but do you remember the first two goals you scored?

“Yeah, the first one I don’t know if Zubie was trying to shoot it or if he saw me on the back side — I had a wide open net. The second one Zubie made a really good pass to me — he said he didn’t see me; it was because I was coming down the slot yelling for the puck. He put it right on my tape and I think it went under (Jonas) Gustavsson’s arm.”

What does Zubrus’ presence bring to your line?

“He did a really good job tonight in the corners, making smart plays. He’s so big and he’s able to hold onto the puck and cycle with us and a lot of times we created turnovers in the offensive zone and were able to maintain pressure.”

Travis Zajac:

What did the coach say during the timeout in overtime?

“He didn’t say much, just to set up the PP how we wanted and go from there; we were able to get one.”

Strange game tonight…

“I think for the first two periods we had the gas pedal down, we were on them and pressuring them, making them turn the puck over; in the third period we kind of let off and they got a couple of chances and breaks. They came back, which isn’t like us but we were able to battle back in the end.”

Talk about the winning goal…

“We just wanted to set up the box and I sent it down to Zach; he made a nice pass in my wheelhouse and I was able to get a good shot on net with Zubie in front.”

Martin Brodeur:

Were you screened on their first goal?

“I don’t remember, what was the first goal, first period?

Shot from the point?

“In the first period? Yeah it tipped; hit my player, maybe ten feet in. It hit (Rod) Pelley’s stick and went up in the air; (Mark) Fraser went to cover the guy at the same time and it hit the crossbar and in. Sorry I drew a blank, too many goals against. It’s usually one and I’m able to explain pretty good.”

What did you see on the breakaway by Colton Orr?

“I just got big; I didn’t think he was going to be able to shoot it anywhere. I went down early and figured he was just going to try to go through me because he was holding up and he just flipped it. It just kind of went through me; I was a little off-balance because he didn’t shoot it hard at all.”

You’ve had some crazy games with Toronto over the last few years, any reason for that?

“I don’t know; I wish I had an answer for you. There’s teams that you react different ways and I would like to be solid against every single team, but for some reason, especially in this building, we always have weird games against these guys — it’s been (that way) for years.”

What did you see during the last five minutes?

“I think we just thought the game was over almost. You could tell with the intensity, we didn’t have anymore forecheck — they were forechecking — we turned the puck over a bunch and it was kind of a tough break on Sal (Bryce Salvador) where he coughed it up and it went right on the guy’s stick in front of the net. From there it’s only a one-goal game and, again, we turned the puck over and they put it in. It’s just something that we haven’t done this year a lot, especially with leads, definitely it’s nice to be able to come out on top even though we let go of a two-goal lead late in the game like that.”

Dainius Zubrus:

Was it nice playing with those two guys tonight?

“Yeah!”

Were you excited?

“I was excited, I didn’t know until the beginning of the game and we started the game together. I knew I had to keep skating, keep my feet moving and be ready to play a good, puck-control game with making plays. That’s what happened in the first two periods.”

How and when did you find out?

“In the warm-ups I asked who am I going to go with and that’s when Mario (Tremblay) told me that I’m going on the right side. Even during warm-ups it doesn’t mean much, but we started the game and had a couple of good shifts early and then stayed that way for the first couple of periods.”

How much closer do you feel to 100%?

“I feel pretty good; I don’t feel like I’m doing any harm.”

Playing with these guys will make you feel better right?

“Yeah, I think so. You guys asked me if I’m excited, yeah, it was fun; you get to know before the game that you’re playing with those two guys — like I said they make things happen, they hold onto the puck. They’re going to make something happen, they don’t just get rid of it; they try to make plays and you have to be ready.”

Talk about the winning goal where you were standing in front…

“Well that was my job, trying to be in front of the net — Travis has a great shot and so does Rollie, we tried to set Travis for a shot and me in front of it. It seemed like Zach put it right where Trav wanted it and he put it right on net; I haven’t seen the replay of it, but it went through.”

Jacques Lemaire:

What did you learn tonight?

“Well I learned that maybe because I didn’t see Toronto play that much, I learned that they can score goals; they don’t quit, they keep coming, they played exactly the same way from the start to the end. At the end I felt that they looked better because we slowed down, just tried to stand in the neutral zone instead of getting on the puck.”

Did the giveaway that led to the third goal give them life?

“That gave them some life, definitely; but still we should have been more intense on the puck, skated a little more. You look at our game, we had about six or seven guys up front playing as well as they could.”

When did you decide that Zubrus was going to play on the top line?

“About five minutes before the game.”

What was so good about him on that line?

“When he first started, the first couple of shifts he was just average — and after that, I don’t know what happened — he just started to control the puck and play like I’ve seen him play in the past. Especially the way he played with Zach and Travis, it helps to get better, but you could see that he was as good as could be.”

On the winning goal is that a plan as far as the way it went in?

“I have a lot of plans, but they’re not all done, they’re not executed every time. But it’s a play that we work on, definitely.”

Why did you put Zubrus on that line?

“Well I wanted to have at least two lines that would be able to score, because I look at Toronto and they have two lines that are scoring. So I felt that I’ll put Jamie (Langenbrunner) with Rollie and maybe give us some offense; and then Zubrus, he was on the fourth line and I was looking at their first line and I felt they have a pretty good first line; (Nick) Palmieri, he doesn’t have enough experience to play against them. I was looking for a guy that had experience.”

Patrick Davis’ first goal, what did you think about it?

“I thought he played really well, he works really hard and was rewarded for the effort that he puts in.”

Why did you remove Zubrus from the top line after the second period?

“I tried to make another line better.”

Devils-Penguins Postgame Quotes [12.30.09]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Wednesday’s 2-0  win by the Devils over the Penguins:

Jay Pandolfo:

Was this game played a lot tighter than the previous three matchups?

“It was a big win; I thought we played pretty well as a team. A couple of times they had some pretty good pressure, but they have some pretty good skill over there. Marty played great, again, I thought their goalie played well too. It was a good game, it could’ve went either way, but we found a way to come out on top.”

Did it feel like a playoff game at all?

“A little early for that, but it felt a tight game for sure; playoff game is a stretch.”

They didn’t get any power plays until there was 1:26 left, was that a big key?

“Yeah, that was good; we kept our feet moving and didn’t get in trouble. It was a tough call at the end, to give only one power play to that team is a pretty good (job).”

Martin Brodeur:
Can you tell when you get inside someone’s head, like shutting out Pittsburgh in back-to-back games?

“It’s a fine line; you could be there and one bounce in a game could flip-flop the confidence that they have. I think we respect them, so that’s the reason why we’ve been successful; I think we don’t take anything for granted. We know that if we put our guard down against these guys they’ll take care of us. So we are intense for the full 60 minutes, it was a good game tonight.”

Can you talk about the save on Sidney Crosby’s backhand shot while he was shorthanded?

“He came in and he got pretty good wood on it, I kind of, with the way he was going he had to go towards my glove, so I read it pretty good. After that I was able to bat it out (of the zone) to try and get a break(away) there, and we got a 5-on-3 out of it; but it didn’t pay off.”

Is it mentally draining to play all of these top teams (Pittsburgh, Washington, Pittsburgh and Chicago) in a row?

“It’s not, I think its fun. I think it’s a grind in between sometimes, that’s what is tougher mentally. When you do play top teams I think in your head it is easier to get ready for them, because every athlete, every player in here has a lot of pride; so when we do play against top teams, we want to show what we can do. Again, we have to get focused on playing like that against everybody, and so far this season we’ve been pretty good.”

Are you playing tomorrow?

“If they don’t tell me anything, that means I’m playing (laughs).”

Is 600 wins a possibility by the end of this season?

“Well, there are enough games left (chuckles), so we’ll see.”

Niclas Bergfors:

What did you see on that play that you scored the goal on?

“I don’t know. There was a lot of traffic in front of the net and I just tried to put it on net, to get a rebound.”

Brian Rolston:

Your thoughts on the game tonight?

“It was a good hockey game, a playoff-atmosphere, and our fans were great tonight; it was an exciting game to be in the building.”

It seemed a lot tighter than the previous three games against them…

“It was real tight and we did a great job at the end. They had their opportunities and we had our opportunities and we got that goal early — their goalie played well tonight too, but obviously Marty was the difference in the game tonight.”

Are you surprised anymore with anything Marty does?

“Not really; and you know what it’s almost taken for granted that he’s as good as he is, and as calm as he is in there.”

Will it be special for you going back to Minnesota on Saturday night?

“Yeah, it’s going to be fun. I really enjoyed my time there, it was fabulous. I have nothing bad to say about the organization and the fans were great to me. It’ll be fun to go back and play in that building; it’s always fun playing in there.”

Jacques Lemaire:

Best game of the season?

“I would say close to it. I think we skated well, were aggressive, good with the puck and great in our end. Even though we feel that they had around 11 (scoring) chances, but you know they will get some chances. It’s a good team; they have good shooters, good passers. We felt that we did a tremendous job against them.”

Was this Marty’s best game?

“Definitely; he was controlled, managed to see the shots. Sometimes you get people in front of you and some nights you don’t see them. Other nights you manage to see it and that’s what makes the difference between a great goalie and a good goalie.”

How is (David) Clarkson?

“We’ll get more information tomorrow.”

When you beat a team like Pittsburgh four times in a row, do you have a psychological advantage over them?

“I don’t think that way. I think when you look afterwards, maybe you could say that. I think our players knew they would come out and play a good game; I think it was their best game tonight — they played good, played hard. They could have gotten goals at anytime when they were in our end, the chances they had. Maybe because we feel good about our past outcomes with them, we played like we did. But you still have to work, and I thought our work ethic was more important than anything else.”

Will Clarkson or Bryce Salvador go to Chicago?

“We’ll know tomorrow; well tonight after this.”

What can you say about Bergfors?

“Bergy, well Bergy he’s the same kid playing hard and he’s doing good things with the puck; I think he’s getting better as a player. I think he’s more in control when he has the puck; I still want him to try and find Zach (Parise) or Travis (Zajac) at different times in the offensive zone so he can make that play, so they can get some scoring chances. But he’s learning and getting better — I’m pleased with his progress.”

How do you compare Parise with Crosby?

“Well two hard workers, two good players; myself, I find them very similar.”

Did you see Crosby whack him from behind?

“No, I didn’t see that. I heard it after the game. One of the comments in the coach’s room that they say he could’ve gotten a penalty for that because he whacked him with a two-hander. I didn’t see it.”

Your top four d-men played a lot tonight and the team as a whole only took one penalty, is this something your pleased with?

“This is a good question, I’m glad that you talked about our defenseman because the four guys they played a lot and they played great; very good. Not that (Mark) Fraser and (Matthew) Corrente didn’t play well, but they had less ice-time.”

What do you think about Chicago or is that too soon?

“I’m going to think about this just when I wake up.”

Are you the best team in the league?

“I think we’re among the good teams and there’s a lot of them; about 25 of them.”

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-Lightning Postgame Quotes [12.04.09]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Friday’s 3-2 Devils win over the Lightning:

Vladimir Zharkov:

You had your first career point – an assist on the second goal – talk about the play…

“There were two guys behind the net, I wasn’t sure if he was going to pass. He missed the puck and tried to pass it again, and I got my stick on it; Bergy made a nice shot.”
It was nice to get an easy point like that right?

“Yeah, I like to get points. It was a very hard game, after we lost last game. It was good for our team, for me.”

A couple of times you collided with Tampa’s Victor Hedman, he’s a pretty big guy right?

“Yeah, he’s a big guy; the NHL is filled with big guys. It’s no problem for me, I can play against them big or small – it doesn’t matter, this is the NHL, you know.”

Martin Brodeur:

Was it a slow start tonight?

“A little slow, I thought the game was slow; they weren’t faster than us. It was just that we wanted to make sure we started well; I thought we played well, but we didn’t create much, for whatever reason. They didn’t give us a lot of room out there, so it was kind of a chess match.”

Talk about Matthew Corrente stepping up with two fights tonight…

“It’s nice; I don’t know much about that part of his game because I don’t see him play in the minors when he was there, but he’s been holding his own really well here. I think he’s done that, especially against the guys he’s fighting, he’s in a pretty good weight class there. It’s definitely nice when the young guys show that they belong as far as the physical aspect of the NHL game is.”

Did you see Steve Downie set up there on the tying goal?

“No. I was looking at (Ryan) Malone going across and I just saw (Steven) Stamkos wide open, so I got in position as fast as I could; he’s a shooter not a passer, you know? He kind of fooled me there too, like everybody. I can’t worry about a guy back over there (behind me). He had a prime shot there, it was a good play.”

The first goal did it go between the post and your leg pad?

“My skate, yeah I think it went off of my skate and just trickled in a couple of inches.”

You’ve seen some good defenseman come through here, how impressed with Andy Greene are you?

“Well, it’s definitely nice for him to get the opportunity to get the type of ice-time he’s getting. He’s been working really hard throughout the last few years, he’s been in-and-out of the lineup and been questioned a lot. So definitely, for us players, you feel for guys like that do everything and are a good teammate. For him to get this opportunity and do so well, it couldn’t happen to a better guy.”

Victor Hedman:

Frustrating the way you lost tonight?

“Oh yeah, big time. We came back strong to tie it, with three minutes left. But we have to play a full 60 minutes. We had them beat at home (too) when they scored with one second left when they tied the game, in our home opener. We have to play the full 60 minutes.”

They’ve beaten your team ten straight times, it has to be frustrating in that regard?

“Yeah, very frustrating, absolutely; I know we play them once more this year, so we’ll try to get that game.”

It looked like you had momentum after you tied the game, were you shocked at the outcome?

“Not really, we made a nice goal there and we didn’t play the puck the way we were supposed to after that. They made a good goal on the tip-in there at the end.”

Jamie Langenbrunner:

Did you get a piece of the winning goal with your stick?

“That’s what they’re telling me, I’m not a 100% certain so, I’m sure they’ll look at it again.”

After two slow starts in a row, are you satisfied with the way the team started tonight?

“We were still a little bit flat. Both teams, for whatever reason, there was a lot of neutral zone play, and we didn’t have a whole lot of shots in the opening period. We need to get a little bit stronger starts, but we’re battling. It wasn’t a perfect game, but we were able to get the two points.”

A lot of fights tonight, what do you think when you see the kids like Corrente and Mark Fraser dropping the gloves out there?

“It’s great to see; both of those guys got some nastiness in their game. Matt’s shown a few times he’s not afraid to do that and it’s great to see. He’s playing like he wants to be here, he’s playing to do whatever he can to be here; it’s great to see.”

Jacques Lemaire:

Was Greene your best player tonight?

“Yes he was – no doubt. Why? All the good passes, all the retrieves that he made, the nice pass to his partner, skating with the puck away from people, holding onto the puck and making the right pass, hitting the right guy in the neutral zone.”

He played over 30 minutes, did you know that?

“Yeah.”
How’d he become so good?

“I don’t know, he’s got confidence, he’s playing with a lot of confidence. He’s on top of his game — he started a little slow, he had good moments and then all of a sudden he started to be our top defenseman.”

Rob Niedermayer won the face-off that led to the first goal how was his game?

“I liked what he did, I thought on the fourth line he did a great job, at times I used that line a little more frequently because they started to forecheck hard and they were going even better than (Dean) McAmmond’s line. So I played them a little more.”

Did they get sloppy with three penalties in the third or did your team draw them?

“Oh, I think we drew at least one that I was sure of, but the other ones, I didn’t see.”

What do you do with Jay Pandolfo coming back?

“I put him on the wing (smiles). And take another guy out.”

Who goes bye-bye?

“We’ll see. I have to see all the brains that work with me.”

Zharkov is a very excited kid; does he play with that excitement?

“Yeah I like what he does, he’s really strong and a good skater; good with the puck. He’ll be a player; he’ll be a player, in a matter of time.”

Is Colin White okay?

“We’ll see tomorrow.”

Did you see the play that he got hurt on?

“No.”

How about Brian Rolston, tying the game with your first goal?

“Rollie, well that’s Rollie. He’s got a good shot; he gets the puck at the right time. He just stepped into it; I’ve seen him score quite a few goals that way.”