Three More Weeks Until Hockey is Back…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Devils-Islanders postgame quotes (10.01.10)

Here are some of the postgame quotes after last night’s 4-3 win by the Devils over the Islanders:

Travis Zajac:

Talking about the game…

“It was an all right game; we played pretty well for most of the game — except for a couple of spurts there at the end. But overall we played hard, we did some things and we’ll try to be better tomorrow.”

There’s a bunch of new faces on the team, how has everyone blended together so far?

“Pretty good; I feel like it’s a good group of guys, a lot of veteran leaders who the kids can learn from.”

Are you considered one of those ‘veteran’ guys now, entering your 5th NHL season?

“Yeah I guess so, I’ve been here long enough and I know how everything’s done, what’s expected; so I think I can be a leader on and off the ice.”

How do you like your line so far with Zach (Parise) and Ilya (Kovalchuk)?

“It’s been good. I think we can still get better in some areas; we still have one more (preseason) game here to keep building chemistry. I think we’ve done pretty well so far, and it’s been a lot of fun.”

What’s the best thing that happened to you this summer?

“I don’t know; nothing really special happened. I relaxed and played a lot of golf.”

I thought for sure you would say bringing no. 17 back to the Devils…

“Yeah, that was great. Anytime you get a linemate like that, especially on my line, it helps. I’m glad he’s back here (with us).”


Jason Arnott:

The Kovalchuk line gets a lot of talk, but how important is it to get secondary scoring from your line?

“Well it’s going to be important. They’re going to be checked pretty hard during the year; if we can support them and put up points, give us some more offense – it will ease some pressure off of them no question. When you have two lines that can score goals and help each other out, it makes it a lot easier.”

Can you describe what happened on the give-and-go that resulted in Patrik’s goal?

“It was a turnover along the wall and Patty got it, I knew we had a 2-on-1. I knew he was going to pass it to me and I figured he’d be open back door, so we just kind of played tic-tac-toe with each other and he put it in (the net).”

When you guys score a goal like that does it remind you of the old days?

“Yeah (laughs) we were joking about it on the bench and some other guys were joking too; bringing us back to the 2000, 2001 stuff. It was good; it felt good to make those plays in that type of situation. It helps our confidence — no question.”


Martin Brodeur:

Talking about the team’s situation with the salary cap…

“For the chemistry of the team, the health of the team; we haven’t seen it, but now we’re down to it. I don’t think we’ve seen in this locker room, how tough it is for certain guys…yet. But we will. Now it’s coming down. You’re dealing with people’s lives, you can delay it (by placing someone on IR), but at the end of the day we have a problem and we have to get rid of some salary. I trust that Lou (Lamoriello) will make the decision that he needs to do for the better of the team — like he always does. I don’t think he does anything that wouldn’t be healthy for our hockey club; so I trust that he’ll do the right thing. The right thing, he knows what it is, I can’t tell him and I can’t tell you guys either because I don’t know what it is; I’m not involved (laughs) hopefully. He would have to ask (me).”

Did the first goal go off of somebody?

“No, whenever the guy got out of the pile he just chipped it past me; he didn’t even know it was in. He fell in the corner after the shot, turned around and his eyes were huge.”

The second (Matt) Moulson goal was right off of a draw…

“Yeah that was a good shot there. He turned around falling down and just whacked it. That was a goal scorer’s goal right there — there’s not too many guys that can do that.”

Devils 4 Islanders 3 … preseason (10.01.10)

Last night at Prudential Center the New Jersey Devils raced out to a 4-1 lead over the New York Islanders and held on for a 4-3 win in front of an announced crowd of 13,596. Jason Arnott and Zach Parise had a goal and an assist each for the Devils, while Travis Zajac had two assists. For New York, Matt Moulson had a strong game with two goals and captain Doug Weight looked like his old self (after off-season shoulder surgery) with two assists.

Both goalies played the entire game: Martin Brodeur made 23 saves and Dwayne Roloson made 24; Jesse Joensuu also scored for the Isles and Patrik Elias and Brian Rolston chipped in goals for New Jersey. The same two teams play again tonight at the Nassau Coliseum, finishing out the preseason schedule. The Devils open the season on October 8, hosting the Dallas Stars and the Islanders open their season on October 9, also hosting Dallas. I will post some postgame quotes from Arnott, Brodeur & Zajac later today or tomorrow.

Here are the line combos/d-pairings that started the game for both squads:

New Jersey:
Parise-Zajac-Kovalchuk
Elias-Arnott-Tedenby
Rolston-Josefson-Langenbrunner
Mair-Pelley-Palmieri

Greene-Corrente
Tallinder-Urbom
White-Taormina

New York:
Joensuu-Weight-Kolanos
Moulson-Nielsen-Niederreiter
Bailey-Schremp-Rakhshani
Gillies-McAmmond-Ortmeyer

MacDonald-Hamonic
Hillen-Gervais
Jurcina-de Haan

IRON MEN

In honor of the kick-ass IronMan 2 movie, here are the 88 NHL players that played in all 82 of their teams games this past season.
Quick Hits: Calgary had 7 players appear in every game, including defenseman Ian White (traded midseason from Toronto) who played in a league-high 83 games. Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin led all Iron Men in points with 112 and Toronto’s Colton Orr had the fewest points (six) among those who played in every game. Colorado was the only team that didn’t have at least one player suit up for all 82 games. Only three rookies survived to play in every game — NY Isles’ center John Tavares, Dallas winger Jamie Benn and Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers.

Anaheim: Jason Blake, Corey Perry
Atlanta: Maxim Afinogenov, Tobias Enstrom, Rich Peverley
Boston: Michael Ryder, Blake Wheeler
Buffalo: Tyler Myers, Jason Pominville, Henrik Tallinder
Calgary: Jay Bouwmeester, Mark Giordano, Niklas Hagman, Jarome Iginla, Eric Nystrom, Matt Stajan, Ian White
Carolina: Tom Kostopoulos
Chicago: Dustin Byfuglien, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Andrew Ladd, Patrick Sharp
Colorado: none
Columbus: RJ Umberger, Antoine Vermette
Dallas: Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, Stephane Robidas
Detroit: Todd Bertuzzi, Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart
Edmonton: Andrew Cogliano, Tom Gilbert, Dustin Penner
Florida: Keith Ballard, Michael Frolik, Bryan McCabe, Steven Reinprecht
Los Angeles: Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar
Minnesota: Kyle Brodziak, Andrew Brunette
Montreal: Josh Gorges, Tomas Plekanec
Nashville: David Legwand, Steve Sullivan, Ryan Suter
New Jersey: Travis Zajac
NY Islanders: Matt Moulson, Mark Streit, John Tavares
NY Rangers: Artem Anisimov, Dan Girardi, Olli Jokinen, Michal Rozsival, Marc Staal
Ottawa: Chris Phillips, Jarko Ruutu
Philadelphia: Claude Giroux, Ian Laperierre, Chris Pronger, Mike Richards, Kimmo Timonen
Phoenix: Adrian Aucoin, Shane Doan, Radim Vrbata, Keith Yandle
Pittsburgh: Craig Adams, Jordan Staal
San Jose: Ryane Clowe, Dany Heatley, Kent Huskins, Patrick Marleau
St. Louis: Brad Boyes, Jay McClement, David Perron
Tampa: Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos
Toronto: Francois Beauchemin, Tomas Kaberle, Colton Orr
Vancouver: Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond, Henrik Sedin
Washington: Nicklas Backstrom