Devils Burn Flames with Shootout Win

Devils 2 Calgary 1       —          shootout

It took 22 games, but the New Jersey Devils finally won consecutive games on Wednesday night and they may be on the right path to correcting their wretched start. It took a shootout, but a win is a win is a win — as the Devils topped the Calgary Flames 2-1 at Prudential Center behind the stellar goaltending of Johan Hedberg, who finished with 26 saves. Ilya Kovalchuk, whose last appearance in a shootout was forgettable (the puck slid off his stick before he could get a shot off on November 10) scored the only goal of the tiebreaker as New Jersey’s first shooter and Hedberg denied all three Calgary shooters. “Moose deserved to be the first star tonight; he’s the guy who’s really helping us win right now, he’s playing unbelievable,” said Kovalchuk afterwards. “The way he played gives us so much confidence.”

David Clarkson opened the scoring 13:06 into the opening period when Mattias Tedenby’s wrist shot from the slot deflected off of his skate and past Flames’ rookie goalie Henrik Karlsson. “I was just standing in front of the net and Teddy (Tedenby) shot it; I was just standing there and it went off my shin pad,” Clarkson explained. “I think the refs thought I kicked it, that’s why they reviewed it, but it just nicked off my shin pad and went in.” On the scoring play New Jersey had kept the puck in the offensive zone after a power play expired, and Matt Corrente’s blue line shot found its way to the back of the net after it was blocked; Tedenby found the loose disc and immediately shot it — hitting Clarkson at the right time. “I guess I was just in the right place at the right time,” he said.

The Devils carried the 1-0 lead into the third period and Hedberg had stopped all 18 of Calgary’s shots to that point. But the Flames scored as their power play ended when Rene Bourque deflected Matt Giordano’s point shot into the back of the net 1:18 into the frame for his tenth goal of the season. “Even when you look at the one goal he gave up, I’m pretty sure it was a tip-in right? So, when somebody tips it, probably six feet in front of you, he can’t do anything about it,” said Devils’ winger Dainius Zubrus. “To me he was real good — again nothing really went by him; it’s huge.”

Hedberg and Karlsson continued to stop everything they saw as the game moved to a five-minute overtime, and the Flames rookie goalie saved his biggest stops for a Devils’ 4-on-3 two-minute advantage. New Jersey mustered five shots on their power play, two more than they managed in the twenty minute third period, but Karlsson stopped them all until he met Kovalchuk in the shootout. “It’s all about the two points. Both teams were desperate; those games are usually down to the end. I wish it wasn’t going to be shootout,” said Kovalchuk, “we should’ve won in overtime, but listen what are you going to do? One team has to win.”

Hedberg meanwhile, denied Niklas Hagman, Alex Tanguay and Brendan Morrison in succession during the shootout — sending his teammates’ home happy and ready to enjoy their Thanksgiving dinners. “I don’t know how much turkey we’re going to have,” said Zubrus, “but yeah it will taste better because we won for sure.”

Game Notes: New Jersey has now won three in a row at home after dropping their first seven home contests. Tedenby now has points in three straight games and six (3g-3a) in seven games since he made his NHL debut. Calgary defenseman Jay Bouwmeester played in his 445th consecutive game, which leads all active players. Devils defenseman Henrik Tallinder led all skaters in ice-time, logging 27:12 and Giordano led the Flames with 23:33. Bourque led all players with five shots on goal, while Patrik Elias led the Devils with four. New Jersey (7-13-2) is off until Friday afternoon when they play at the New York Islanders (4-12-5) and Calgary (8-11-2) also plays Friday afternoon when they visit Philadelphia (16-6-2)

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Johan Hedberg (NJ) – 26 saves, win (3)

#2 – Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ) – g/w shootout goal

#3 – Henrik Karlsson (Cgy) – 20 saves, shootout loss (1)

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

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Avalanche & Anderson Keep Devils Winless at Home

Colorado 3             Devils 2

Playing with a full lineup for the first time in three games the New Jersey Devils fired a season-high 43 shots on goal and still lost 3-2 to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night at the Prudential Center. Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson was the star of the night, turning aside 41 shots as the Devils home record fell to 0-2-1. “It’s a little tough when we’ve been starting games the way we have, especially the last two games — out-shooting our opponents 10-0 or 15-3 — and we don’t get anything, it’s hard to get momentum,” said Anderson’s opposition Martin Brodeur. “The frustration builds up as the game goes on if you don’t put the puck in the net early. It’s definitely a little tough for the guys, but I think we worked through it and got a lot of chances. Not everybody is going to play like Jacques Plante against us every night.”

The loss spoiled a night of first for some of New Jersey’s young talent — rookie blueliner Matt Taormina scored his first NHL goal and had his first multi-point effort, while fellow rookie and defenseman Matt Corrente earned his first NHL point, an assist.

The Devils started the game strong, badly out-shooting the Avs (10-0 at one point) and still couldn’t solve Anderson before his team finally woke up and scored the game’s first goal. New Jersey killed off 3:56 of Colin White’s four-minute double-minor penalty but Cody McLeod scored his first goal of the season when he beat Brodeur with a snap shot that the goalie said tricked him when it bounced off the ice and by him.

22 seconds after McLeod scored, he was kicked out of the game for boarding Taormina in the corner, giving the Devils a five-minute major power play. “We should have settled it down a little bit more and a little better support,” said Devils winger Patrik Elias. “We have to learn how to relax a little bit with that power play; I thought in the second period when we scored on the PP, we kind of settled down, made some real good passes and had them running around.” They continued to pepper Anderson with shots from all angles, and almost scored twice, but they ended the period trailing 1-0 despite holding a 17-3 edge in shots on goal. “We all had our opportunities on that power play, their goalie played well,” said Taormina afterwards, “that happens.”

TJ Galiardi extended the lead to 2-0 when he pounced on a loose rebound 11:48 into the second period, but it felt like 12-0 the way Anderson was playing. Three minutes later at 14:48 Taormina got New Jersey on the board with a booming slap shot that found its way through a maze of players and past Anderson. “We tell each other to shoot it on net and I did that; it’s nice to finally get one, especially on the power play,” said the 23-year-old rookie. “We played a good game, (but) we have some things that we have to fix.”

The Devils entered the third period down by one, but quickly found themselves down by two again. “I think that we had maybe ten minutes in the second and the first ten minutes in the third we were kind of flat,” said an unfazed Elias. “Not every game is going to go perfect, but we have to push each other. One line has to get good chances and we have to follow that up; I think we can push each other a little more.” Chris Stewart (who now has four points in three career games vs. NJ) blasted a slap shot past Brodeur’s glove hand at 4:31 for his second goal of the season.

Taormina then assisted on an Ilya Kovalchuk goal (for the second game in a row) to bring New Jersey back within one goal. The rookie fired a long pass to Kovalchuk who raced into the zone and snapped a wrist shot through Anderson, leaving the Devils with 11:15 left in the game to try to find the equalizer — which they never found. “I think we’re playing well. It’s just a matter of getting breaks offensively on our side,” said Brodeur. “I think these breaks, eventually we’re going to get, and we’ll solve some of the flaws that we have in our zone.”

The loss means that for the second consecutive year New Jersey (1-2-2) has dropped its first three home games; they will try again Saturday night when they host Boston (1-1-0). Colorado (3-1-0) continues their road trip and will play at the New York Islanders (1-1-2) the same night.

Game Notes: This is the second year in a row the New Jersey has lost their only meeting with Colorado. Taormina led all skaters in ice-time with 24:42 and Kyle Quincey led the Avalanche with 22:52.  Kovalchuk led all players with seven shots on goal, while Daniel Winnik and Paul Stastny led the Avs with three apiece. Despite trailing in face-offs 2-9 after the first period the Devils finished the game 33-22. Rookie center Jacob Josefson (20th overall, 2009) made his NHL debut and saw 15:13 of ice-time, had one shot on goal and was 5-5 on face-offs. Stastny now has five points (1g-4a) in four career games against New Jersey.

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Craig Anderson (Col) – 41 saves, win (2-1-0)

#2 – TJ Galiardi (Col) – goal (1), assist (1)

#3 – Matt Taormina (NJ) – pp goal (1), assist (2)

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

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

Devils-Flyers Postgame Quotes [04.16.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after the Devils 5-3 Game 2 win over the Flyers:

Dainius Zubrus:
What about playing with Zach and Patrik, something you haven’t done too much of?

“Well it’s not exactly a new line because in the past couple of weeks, we’ve played quite a few games together. We had some success, me and Zach, and our centers were switched every now and then — sometimes it’s Travis (Zajac), sometimes it’s Patrik; we try to get on the pucks, try to play in their end as much as we can and not give them too many easy shifts against us. He (Zach) is obviously a great player, he’s on the puck all the time; it’s kind of easy to read him because he goes so hard every single time. So I try to not be too far from him so I can help him out to recover some pucks and try to get some shots.”

Zach Parise:

After you get the shorthanded goal early, is your confidence soaring?

“Yeah, when you get that early, first one, you’re more comfortable with the puck; you’re more comfortable to make plays, the game kind of slows down a bit for you. I think that was the case tonight.”

Did you guys learn you can’t take penalties against them tonight?

“Well I think that’s how it is this time of year no matter what; they have a good power play. It just seemed like every time we turned around for some reason, we were in the box. It really can take a toll on individual players, and it can really kill momentum too. We did a good job on our PK and we got the shorthanded goal too, so we did fine.”

Can you talk about the pass that Patrik made to you on your goal?

“Great pass. He saw me with a step on (Chris) Pronger and he was able to get it through (Matt) Carle; it was a great play. He sent me in alone on a breakaway.”

Talking about the play at the end of the game where the winning goal was scored…

“Zubie made a really good power move to the net and that’s what he brings to our line, what he brings to this team; he was able to chip it over the goalie’s shoulder there.”

Matthew Corrente:

How do you feel after your first playoff game?

“I was waiting for someone to come over to talk to me. It was awesome, it’s great to get a win and it was really intense out there; fortunately we came out on top.”

So that means you were the secret ingredient? Game 1 you don’t play, they lose, Game 2 you play they win…

“I’d like to think I contributed to the win, but everyone played well. It was a good team effort and we played solid for 60 minutes and got the win.”

The PK was sharp tonight and Marty was there to clean up anything else right?

“Guys stepped up when they needed to and that’s what it’s going to win playoff games. You find that out pretty quick, it feels good, but there’s a lot of work ahead of us.”

How long before you settled down during the game, if at all?

“There were a couple of butterflies I guess, at the start, but I played in a couple of games with these guys (12 games). After the first couple of shifts were out of the way, I felt good, I felt like I was in the game.”

When did you find out you were going to be in the lineup?

“I found out this morning at the pre-game skate; I was pretty pumped to hear that.”

Ilya Kovalchuk:

Talking about his penalties…

“Today I took a couple, especially the third penalty, maybe I should stay away from it; but we won the game, so who cares.”

It was the end of your shift right?

“Yeah we were leading by a goal, so I should’ve…but should’ve, would’ve; you know. But we got the win and who cares.”

Will you be a little more relaxed because you got the empty net goal?

“You know I would be relaxed if we won 4-3; I just got a chance, crossed the red line and shoot for the empty net. I saw (Jeff) Carter broke his stick so, it was nice to get a two-goal lead.”

What happened with Mike Richards on your second penalty?

“He was slashing and stuff, but its okay, its part of the game. He’s a tough player to play against and we have to watch him.”

Were you trying to get him to fight?

“Well, you never know (smiles).”

Patrik Elias:

Talking about playing on the PK with Parise…

“It was the first time, maybe all season, that me and Zach were out there on the PK together. So we kind of stayed on top of them, forced them to make mistakes. I had a great opportunity in the second period, we read off of each other real well tonight.”

Was the second period you team’s best period this series?

“I don’t know; I thought we played well in the first and third periods last game, we just didn’t score. Same thing today, we had a couple of goals, but at the same time we had a lot more opportunities. We just have to stay with it; it’s up and down throughout the games, throughout the playoffs, we just have to stay the course.”

What do you expect for Game 3 when you go to Philly?

“A lot of excitement, a lot of energy from their side and we just have to match it. We have to go in there and just play; focus on the job. They’ll be feeding off of their crowd, it will be loud — we just have to stay in control and play our game.”

Martin Brodeur:

Your thoughts on your team’s PK tonight…

“Gutsy, I think that’s the bottom line. We showed a lot of character, a lot of poise; we blocked shots, surviving — that’s playoff hockey. I think we really showed that we’re able to do that and I think we showed each other a little more than maybe anybody else. When you play intense, good things will happen.”

Down 2-0 would not be a good position to be in…

“For sure, especially going to Philly, it would’ve made our lives a little more difficult, but we’re really happy that it’s 1-1. We have to put our work boots on have a great performance in Philly over the next four days.”

Did you guys as a group recognize that Kovalchuk hadn’t won a (playoff) game and that it might’ve been in the back of his mind?

“Well we knew because he had only four games experience and if you have only four games experience (laughs) you didn’t win too many games, usually. It means a lot for him to be here; it’s funny, you almost want to talk to him like a little kid, but he’s not. He’s a guy that has a lot of experience; he’s scored a lot of goals, played a lot of minutes and was responsible for a whole organization for eight years or so. Now he comes in (here) and it’s a different step in his career. Definitely for him to get that monkey off his back, people talk about it all the time when you don’t perform in the playoffs or you’re not on the winning side. So I’m sure he’s really excited to get it out of the way and he showed what type of player he is — he was all over the ice, he was aggressive, such a big guy. It looks good for us when you see a top player getting himself involved like that.”

Were you surprised by his aggressiveness today?

“Well we’ve played him in the past and he was really aggressive. When things are not going your way, you have to find a way to make it happen, I think by playing physical, with his size, he’s going to create some havoc around and people will try to go after him and that’s how he’s going to excel; he gets himself in the game.”

Jacques Lemaire:

You got your big goal-scorer going tonight, Colin White

“(smiles) It’s funny that you talk about this, but in the playoffs you need that type of goals from different people, different players that you don’t expect. He’s one of them.”

What was the difference from tonight and Game 1?

“Well definitely the PK that we had; six out of seven penalties. I think we did a pretty good job considering that they scored on too many men, and PP. We scored one on the PP and one shorthanded; I think the guys battled well. We got too many penalties at different times, the whole game, but these type of games will happen.”

Did Zubrus score his goal because of his reach?

“I know he reached, but I thought Zach had that goal. But I thought he made a good move in bringing the puck to the front of the net.”

What did you think about Marty in the third period?

“He gave us a chance to win by making that huge save in the slot; the one-timer that I think was from (Ian) Laperierre that shot it. That was a huge save; otherwise they would’ve taken the lead.”

How would you describe Kovalchuk’s game tonight?

“I like Kovy, he might do some weird things according you guys; to me, he just lacks some experience in the playoffs, that’s all that he’s missing. There’s certain things he needs to watch — you can’t get tangled with a guy that plays ten minutes and have to sit out for two. Not when you’re one of the top players, so you have to stay away from that.”

Did you like what you saw from Elias tonight with his 3-assist performance?

“Patrik is playing really well, especially tonight there — moves the puck, controls the puck. When you’re looking at the players he’s playing against, he did a tremendous job.”

Your thoughts on how Corrente played tonight?

“I think he played fine; I just wanted to see, I had really a good memory what he did when he was with us during the season; I always talk to Lou (Lamoriello) about him, when he’s going to come up and so on. I said I’d like to try him and see what he can do on the wing, and that was why he played. His game, he played fine — he got even a scoring chance, which is nice from a guy like this.”

Were you okay with the all of the penalties called tonight?

“Uhhhhhh. Uhhhhhh. I can’t talk about it; I would love to, but I can not talk about this.”

Devils Even Series With 5-3 Win Over Flyers

Here is my recap of the Devils 5-3 Game 2 win against Philadelphia on Friday night:

Devils Even Series With 5-3 Win Over Flyers

Devils 5 Philadelphia 3

If a team expects to make a long postseason run with dreams of winning a Stanley Cup, they need to get goals from their stars — and the unexpected hero needs to score every now and then. Sure it was huge for New Jersey that Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk scored their first goals of the series against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night at Prudential Center, but the first question Devils coach Jacques Lemaire was asked after his squad’s 5-3 Game 2 win wasn’t about either one of them.

Q: You got your big goal-scorer going tonight, Colin White. “It’s funny that you talk about this,” said Lemaire with a grin, “but in the playoffs you need that type of goals from different people, different players that you don’t expect. He’s one of them.”

New Jersey had five different goal-scorers in the win as they evened the series at one game apiece and now they head to Philadelphia for the next two games. “We have to go in there and just play; focus on the job,” said Patrik Elias, who had a great game with three assists. “They’ll be feeding off of their crowd, it will be loud — we just have to stay in control and play our game.”

Parise started the scoring 2:45 into the game when he converted a perfect pass from Elias on a shorthanded breakaway, beating Flyers goalie Brian Boucher with a rising backhand shot. “It was a great pass,” said Parise. “He saw me with a step on (Chris) Pronger and he was able to get it through (Matt) Carle; great play. He sent me in alone on a breakaway.” The 1-0 Devils lead lasted until 9:33 when ex-Devil Arron Asham beat Martin Brodeur after a cross-ice pass from Claude Giroux.

It was Giroux almost six minutes later that gave Philly its first lead of the night when he deflected Carle’s shot from the circle through Brodeur’s legs on the power play. The Flyers carried the 2-1 lead into the second period despite being out-shot (11-7) for the third time in four periods of the series. White evened the game again 3:44 into the middle period when his long shot found its way through a maze of players and past Boucher for his first goal in 101 playoff games.

Another defenseman, this time Andy Greene, scored at 13:25 to restore the one-goal lead for the Devils, when he redirected Elias’ centering pass into the net on a power play. “Patrik is playing really well, especially tonight there — moves the puck, controls the puck,” said Lemaire. “When you’re looking at the players he’s playing against, he did a tremendous job.” Philadelphia battled back and tied it at 3-3 with a power play goal when Pronger deflected Kimmo Timonen’s past Brodeur with 1:12 left in the period.

The Flyers controlled the play for most of the third period and could’ve taken a lead if not for Brodeur’s save on Ian Laperierre’s one-timer from the slot with 8:40 remaining. “He gave us a chance to win by making that huge save in the slot,” said Lemaire. “Otherwise they would’ve taken the lead.”

The game seemed destined for overtime until Dainius Zubrus used his big body (6’5”, 225 lbs.) to force his way to the front of the net with the puck. “Zubie made a really good power move to the net and that’s what he brings to our line, what he brings to this team,” said Parise. “He was able to chip it over the goalie’s shoulder there.” The replays show Parise and Zubrus simultaneously hitting the puck with their sticks, but both players admitted afterwards they didn’t care who scored the goal — just that the goal was scored.

Kovalchuk finished off a three-point performance (and a night that saw him take three minor penalties) when he deposited a shot from center-ice into the empty Flyers net with 32.9 seconds left, sealing the Game 2 win for his team; his first playoff win in six career games. “I’m sure he’s really excited to get it out of the way and he showed what type of player he is — he was all over the ice, he was aggressive, such a big guy,” said Brodeur.

Lemaire shared the same sentiments about Kovalchuk, saying, “I like Kovy, he might do some weird things according you guys; to me, he just lacks some experience in the playoffs, that’s all that he’s missing.” But coach Lemaire didn’t like the fact that one of his stars was getting tangled with a part-time player (Darroll Powe) on the opposition. “There’s certain things he needs to watch — you can’t get tangled with a guy that plays ten minutes and have to sit out for two. Not when you’re one of the top players, so you have to stay away from that.”

Game Notes: Rookie defenseman Matthew Corrente made his postseason debut for New Jersey and played forward on the fourth line; he had one shot on goal in 5:14. Pronger led all skaters in ice-time with 27:26 and Travis Zajac led the Devils with 22:41. Parise led all players with six shots on goal and Jeff Carter led the Flyers with five, but was a -3; Only six skaters in the game did not record a shot on goal (Blair Betts and Oskars Bartulis for Philly/ Pierre-Luc Leblond, Bryce Salvador, Mike Mottau and Martin Skoula for New Jersey). Boucher finished with 28 saves and Brodeur made 26 saves in his 99th career playoff win. Game 3 is Sunday night at 6pm in Philadelphia at the Wachovia Center.

Game 2 Hero: Patrik Elias

Game 2 Goat: Jeff Carter

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Patrik Elias (NJ) – 3 assists (3)

#2 – Dainius Zubrus (NJ) – gw goal (1)

#3 – Zach Parise (NJ) – sh goal (1), assist (2)

Dan Rice covers the New Jersey Devils & NHL for NYCSportsnetwork.com, & contributes to IslesNation.com. He can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com.

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-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.”