Parise Shines against Stars on Niedermayer Night

Devils 6           Dallas 3

Over the course of his career with the New Jersey Devils (1991-2004), Scott Niedermayer had many memorable moments — most notably his end-to-end rush and subsequent goal in Game 2 of the Finals against Detroit in 1995 and his goal in Game 6 of the 2000 Finals against Dallas — but Friday night at Prudential Center was filled with a collection of memories that Devils fans will never forget. His number 27 was immortalized as the team retired his number to the rafters alongside Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko, his speech was humble, low-key and classy (typical Niedermayer) and his former employers exploded for six goals in a 6-3 win over the Dallas Stars.

Zach Parise continued to show why he is the team captain, leading by example with hard-work and relentlessness that resulted in a four-point night (1g-3a); he was one of six different goal scorers on the night — a show of just how balanced the Devils’ attack can be when all cylinders are clicking. “When your captain is the hardest working guy out there, night in, night out, everybody has to follow,” said Johan Hedberg afterwards.

The game also marked the return of Travis Zajac to the lineup, after he missed the first 30 games recovering from achilles surgery over the summer. “Physically I felt great,” said a pleased Zajac in the locker room. “I was a little tentative in the first period and that’s just due to coming back from an injury. As the game went on I felt better, getting hit, knocked down and engaged in some battles I felt more and more confident. It’s nice to come back and get a win like this.”

Dallas scored first on Niedermayer night, silencing the sellout crowd briefly, but New Jersey had answers all night, responding with their own goal every time the Stars scored. David Clarkson, Adam Henrique, Petr Sykora, Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias all potted goals for the Devils who won their third game in a row, and fifth in their last six games. Even enforcer Cam Janssen got on the score sheet with the primary assist on Sykora’s late second period, game-winning goal; it was Janssen’s first point of the season in 24 games played. “When you have a full house, you want to put on a good show,” said Parise. “Tonight I thought we did that. We had a little bit of a slow start, giving them the first goal, but overall we played pretty well.”

With Elias’ goal — the sixth of the night for New Jersey– he now has 346 career goals (all in 992 games as a Devil), one short of tying John MacLean’s franchise record. Rookie blueliner Adam Larsson (hopefully about to embark on a similar career to Niedermayer’s) had two assists in the romp and his fellow defenseman Bryce Salvador was a plus-4 on the night, while leading the team in ice-time with 26:20.

In goal it wasn’t Martin Brodeur (the next Devils number to be retired) for New Jersey, it was Hedberg and despite the unusually later start time for the game the Moose was still sharp with 33 saves in his team-leading tenth win of the season; Brodeur will start Saturday night against his hometown Canadiens. “We wanted to send the fans home with an even happier feeling than during the ceremonies,” said Hedberg, “and we did.”

Niedermayer wasn’t just a great hockey player, but he was also a great person and in sports that gets overlooked far too often. He made it a point to thank the people behind the scenes — trainers, equipment men, public relations staff and family — all who played a big part in allowing him to be as successful as he was. Despite the fact he left New Jersey for Anaheimin 2006 to play alongside his brother, and despite the fact that the Devils gave out the number 27 to other players (Mike Mottau? Really?) after he left, he will ALWAYS be # 27 to Devils fans and every fan who ever comes to a game at the Prudential Center will see that when they look up to the rafters and see his # 27 next to # 4 and # 3.

Game Notes: Zajac had 24 shifts in his first game of the season, logging 15:22 of ice-time, one hit, three shots on goal and he won eight of the 17 face-offs he took. Parise led all players with six shots on goal, while Brenden Morrow and Sheldon Souray led Dallas with five apiece; Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski led all skaters in ice-time with 26:45. Rookie goaltender Richard Bachman started forDallas and made 25 saves, losing for the first time in five appearances (3-1-0). The four-point effort by Parise was the seventh time he achieved that mark in his career and he now has a goal in each of the last three games. New Jersey (17-13-1) next plays at Montreal (13-11-7) on Saturday night and Dallas (18-12-1) is back on the ice on Monday when they return home to host Anaheim (9-16-5).

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Scott Niedermayer (NJ) —  4 Stanley Cups, 740 points (172 goals, 568 assists) 98 playoff points (25 goals, 73 assists), 2004 Norris Trophy, 2007 Conn Smythe Trophy

#2 – Zach Parise (NJ) – goal (11), 3 assists (16)

#3 – Petr Sykora (NJ) – gw goal (7), assist (9)

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

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?

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 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-Blackhawks Postgame Quotes [04.02.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes from the Devils 2-1 shootout loss to the Blackhawks:

Martin Brodeur:

Talking about the game…

“I thought it was a pretty good game; it’s just that the outcome was not what we liked.”

What did you see on the lone shootout goal?

“(Laughs) He skated, shot it and beat me. That’s exactly what I saw. He didn’t do anything, he just came in and fired it; below my glove.”

Are you worried about the late-game woes?

“Well, it’s three in a row now. Bad luck once, twice maybe, now its three games in our building with seconds left on the clock that we’re letting go of points. We need to play better in these situations; that’s the bottom line. We did it real well in Montreal, that was the last time. After that every time after that when it comes down to crunch (time), we got scored on.”

Can you talk about the goal at the end and what happened there?

“We just couldn’t clear it; we had the puck on the boards there for a while, and after that in the middle of the ice. It just squirted loose right to (Kris) Versteeg; he turned around and just shot it. Somebody was in front of me with my defenseman and it just went through.”

What kind of a letdown is that with 26 seconds left, missing out on the shutout?

“It’s hockey; things happen, that’s why you have to play the full 60 minutes. Sometimes things happen quickly.”

Usually you go first in the shootout, how come it was different tonight?

“Don’t ask me, I was surprised as you guys. It was the first time I think, when we’ve had the decision to pick that they don’t go first; so I was kind of taking my time and I heard Lipper (Jamie Langenbrunner) just go and was shocked. I turned around and I was surprised that it was Jamie out there.”

Ilya Kovalchuk:

Are there any positives that you can take out of a disappointing loss tonight?

“I think we played well defensively, Marty played a great game. In the last minute we have to get the puck out, any way we can.”

Talking about his goal…

(Vladimir) Zharkov battled along the boards hard and chipped the puck to Patty (Elias), and he made a great play; I was in the right time and the right place and put it in.”

Your 40th goal tonight, a nice milestone?

“It really doesn’t matter, you just want to play and help your team win every night.”

Did you get the shot you wanted during the shootout?

“Yeah, I wanted to go on my backhand, but I missed the net, so what are you going to do?”

Jonathan Toews:

Did this game have a playoff-feel to it?

“I wouldn’t say it had a playoff-feel yet, but the style with these games is getting tighter and tighter; and there’s less room to make little pretty plays. Like you saw we had to find a way to score an ugly one at the end there.”

Did you ever play in a game where there were no penalties?

“No, it hasn’t happened for a while; it was both ways. You could say there was a few calls that they let go but it went both ways. It was an even game I think; it was fun that there was a lot of flow and the game seemed to go by faster.”


Brent Seabrook:
Talking about a low-scoring game…

“They play that style of game; we both knew it was going to be a low-scoring game. Just not try to do anything too crazy or press anything, we did a good job of sticking to our game plan.”

Jacques Lemaire:
You were smiling before, how do you react to a game like this?

“Well it’s a tough loss, but on the other hand there are a lot of good things that we did during the game. Let’s face it, Chicago is a great team, a great offensive team and their defenseman are very offensive — they can score goals. Even though that Marty made some good saves there at different times, that goal, they just sent it at the net and it hit our skate and just found its way in. I thought we skated well with them; we played aggressive right from the start of the game. I felt all the guys played pretty good.”

What could’ve been different right before they scored?

“You have to know how to play when there’s only a few seconds left. When you see that nobody can control the puck, if you get the puck — it has to go down (the ice), it has to go down. Even if it’s an icing; the thing is its going to calm things around, but you can’t try to make plays after they have the puck for 20 seconds or 30 seconds.”

Was (Mike) Mottau in good position on the tying goal?

“He was fine. I looked at the replay to make sure — the puck was not flat on the ice, it hit the heel of his stick, hit his skate and went through Marty’s legs.”

What could have been done different during the shootout?

“The shootout is an individual thing. Jamie made a good move and had the goalie beat, but just lost the puck. Zach (Parise) made a good move, the goalie came back with his leg at the last second, which gave him a great save there. Kovy, he tried to go backhand and if he doesn’t miss the net he’s got a great chance to score. It’s the individual that believes in a certain move when they are going to go; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Why did you choose to go first instead of shooting second in the shootout?

“Because we haven’t had any luck going second, so let’s try to change it. Next time I’ll drink milk instead of water (smiles).”

Devils-Blue Jackets Postgame Quotes [03.23.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after the Devils 6-3 win over the Blue Jackets Tuesday night:

Paul Martin:

Thoughts on the win…

“It was a good win, it was needed. We did a good job early, taking them out of the game; not giving them too much. We were able to get some goals on the power play early and that helped.”
The team got three PP goals tonight; will that shut up some questions for a few days?

“We hope so, but probably not (smiles), you never know. It helps definitely, to get a good day out of the PP. Now the thing will be for us to keep it going.”

Describing his goal…

“It was a great play by Patty (Elias); he shot and Jamie (Langenbrunner) was in front screening and did a good job, the puck came right to me. I just had to make sure I hit the net.”

Is it fun playing with Kovalchuk, especially on the PP?

“Definitely; it makes everything difficult for the defenders to line up on him. It also gives the rest of us more time and space, which is good.”

Are you glad you don’t have to play against him anymore?

“Yeah, I always used to be on his side too; he’s got a shot that’s not too much fun to get in front of. It’s good to have him on our side instead.”


Martin Brodeur:

Was it nice to have six-goal support tonight?

“Yeah, you just take it the way it goes; every game presents different challenges. Today we played well.”

You won your 40th game of the season tonight, despite giving up three goals…

“I don’t care (how many I give up). It’s been nice at home lately; we had a little hiccup against St. Louis, but we’ve been scoring a lot of goals and we have to feel happy about that.”

Is it nice to get back to the 40-win plateau after missing it last year (because of injury)?

“Last year if I would’ve played more I would’ve got it hopefully, but it’s always nice to hit it and get it over with. A lot of people are talking about it because it’s my own record that I’m breaking (adding to), it’s not somebody else’s (laughs). It’s still an accomplishment, trying to raise the bar for the next one coming, that’s for sure.”

You’re getting closer to 600 wins…

“What is it two more? Three more? Well, I thought about; there’s lots of games left to be able to do it, hopefully and eventually it will happen.”

What did you see on the first goal, Antoine Vermette’s one-timer from the blueline?

“It was a one-timer that was really hard. He skated from his own zone with his stick cocked in the air for a long time and just overpowered me on that one.”

Nice to see your team put in three PP goals tonight?

“Yeah, they weren’t all pretty but I think we got ourselves in a situation to be able to be successful; and that’s the bottom line. When you play well you draw penalties, you get your chances on the PP and that’s what we did. It’s a good sign because you need the PP to do well, but you need to get them also. We did enough today to be able to do something with it.”

Ilya Kovalchuk:

Do you feel like you played better (tonight) because of less anxiety in your personal life?

“You can find any excuses when things don’t go your way. It’s normal, you’re not a robot; like I said a lot of times, if you work hard you can turn it around and you never have to give up. The guys in the room support me, nobody is pointing fingers or anything; we lost two games (in a row) and it was a tough stretch for us. Tonight was a game we can build off of.”

Did you get the puck for your new son?

“No, I don’t think he’ll be upset yet (smiles).”

Talking about his goal…

“I think (Mike) Mottau made a great play at the blueline, very patient; he made a great pass to Zach. We were kind of two-on-one, he gave me the puck and I decided to shoot; so it went in.”


Zach Parise:

Was it nice to see the PP come alive tonight?

“It was great, especially to get one on that first PP; I think we ended up getting three but even the ones we didn’t score on we had great movement and I think the big difference we weren’t standing still — everyone was making good plays. We were a little bit more relaxed on it.”

You made your second goal look really, really easy…

“(chuckles) It was a good play by Jamie and I was just trying to get the goalie to lean the other way; I tried to get him to think I was going to go to my backhand. I ended up getting it over his shoulder — a lot of things kind of went right on that one.”

Is that just an instinct play or have you tried something like that before?

“I guess it’s just more reaction than anything, we don’t really practice those types of things.”

Do you think your first goal let the team relax a bit on the PP?

“Maybe; anytime you can get one right away on the PP it’s a good sign. When you get that second PP, you’re excited about it; as opposed to not getting anything generated and being a little more nervous, a little more tentative on the PP. When you get one early, it’s a good feeling.”

Jacques Lemaire:

How do you explain the six goals after not scoring on Saturday?

“We got some breaks. I mentioned last game that we have to work harder and get more support on the ice. I think they did that tonight. We had guys going to the net. You look at Travis (Zajac) as an example, he had two goals but didn’t get a shot at the net; he scored two goals. That means you are going to the net, the puck hits you, and goes in. We had a lot of guys play like this and it paid off.”

You separated Travis and Zach and they each had two goals tonight…

“If you look at Patrik as an example, I switched the two centers. Patrik played hard; I think his best game since he’s been back (from his concussion). He moved the puck well, skated, went at the net, played in traffic. He did a lot of good things.”

How good was Kovalchuk?

“Kovy was good, I’m happy, probably one of his best games. He’s a guy that has to score to feel better and I think it’s just the beginning with him.”

Devils-Bruins Postgame Quotes [03.15.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after the Devils 3-2 win over the Bruins on Monday night:

Martin Brodeur:

How’d you feel out there tonight?

“I felt good; I faced a lot of shots so it kept me busy for most of the night. The boys played pretty well even though we allowed a lot of shots, I was able to see the puck a lot; it was good.”

They had a power play at the end of the game, you had a lot of saves, but you were able to see most of them?

“Yeah, exactly; they had a little traffic there but nothing crazy and I was able to cover a few pucks and kick a few away. But it was a big kill — when you leave a team hanging around you never know what’s going to happen and it took us the full 60 (minutes) to win that game.”

Is the team starting to show a little more consistency right now?

“I think so, we definitely are playing (especially here) we had a tough time on the Island the other night; we’ve been playing well — I think more of knowing what the other guy is going to do instead of being surprised all the time by some plays. I think we are supporting each other real well, a lot better anyway than we were maybe a couple of weeks ago. We just have to keep going, I think we have to get up for every team; tonight was a big game especially with the standings — them being in the eighth spot — it kind of gave us a little leeway here. We have a big game coming up next game (too).”

Nice to get the assist?

“Yeah, it’s always nice to contribute a little bit offensively — usually they’re not nice like that (grins). We’ll take that one.”

Fourth straight win on home-ice, how nice is it to get goal support like you have been?

“The thing is you need to score goals to be successful, because teams will score goals; this game is quick, a lot of bounces everywhere. If you’re not sharp offensively, it’s going to get tough; you have to get the goals when you can. Right now at home we’ve been doing well scoring goals — we have to keep it up.”

Did you look up and look for Clarkson on that breakaway?

“Since the trapezoid, I don’t really look anymore. It’s so hard for me to turn my body, this time I was able to get the puck before the goal line and for me, that was a big opening when I saw him. I knew I just needed to get it there up in the air in case somebody tried to bat it down and that was it.”

Do you think without the trapezoid you would have more assists?

“Oh definitely; especially with no red line, no trapezoid — definitely my game would be a lot different as far as my offensive (laughs) game.”

It’s kept your offensive stats down…

“Yeah I know, they’re trying to shut me down (laughs).”

You’re getting closer to Tom Barasso’s record, you’re only 14 assists away…

“Is that what it is? Eh. If Kovy (Ilya Kovalchuk) stays with us for a few more years I’ll be able to tee it up for him a few times and I’ll get more (laughs).”

Zach Parise:

What happened on the play you scored on?

“Motts (Mike Mottau) made a good play on the point, I think he pump-faked and went around the guy and then just the puck was bouncing around and I found the rebound in front of the net.”

The team has been pretty consistent the last few games at home, any secret to the success?

“Not at all; we’re playing well at home and that’s important. The road hasn’t been as great as we need it to be, but we’re playing better and we have to make sure we’re even better for Pittsburgh (Wednesday), that’ll be a tough game.”

How do you continue your dominance against the Penguins?

“Just for whatever reason we match-up well against them and just keep doing the same things we’ve done. We’ve done a good job at containing (Sidney) Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin, we haven’t given them too much when we’ve played them so we have to do that again Wednesday.”

David Clarkson:

Your shot when you were coming across the slot on the first goal, did that hit somebody?

“I’m not sure, I have no idea. He (Rob Niedermayer) said it didn’t, but I don’t know. I just turned and shot, you’d have to look at that yourself; I’m not sure. The bottom line is we played well and got the two points.”

What did you see on the pass that Marty made to you?

“To be honest, I couldn’t believe he made it and I knew if I didn’t score he’d make fun of me, so (laughs) when I got the puck and saw the opening, I took off and thankfully I was all alone. I thought someone was close to me, but it was just an unbelievable play by him and I think he’d probably be the only guy that could make that play — I was impressed with how nice of a pass it was.”

You scored on your backhand there…

“I saw him backing up and I figured I had room to go to my backhand and that’s kind of why I did; but like I said I was more in awe that the puck was on my stick and by the time I got to the net I knew I had to get rid of it.”

Was this one of your best games since returning from injury?

“I think it’s up there; I think San Jose I felt pretty well and against the Rangers. It’s starting to come around; when you miss three months of playing hockey, it’s not fun. It’s the most mental toughness you’ll ever have to go through as a competitor and someone that’s never been hurt before. That was the hardest thing I went through; I think I’m starting to put it behind me a bit.”
Any more significance since it was a Bruins game that you got hurt in originally?

“I wasn’t trying to think that (Zdeno) Chara was the guy that hurt me but if I had a chance to finish him I was going to try and finish him. It wasn’t his fault that he broke my leg, it was just a fluke thing, but I wasn’t really thinking about him being out there or shooting another one because that would really suck.”

Was there any point where he had the puck and you were out there with him looking like he was ready to shoot?

“No, I tried to stay closer to him. I think last game the biggest mistake I made was I was 10-15 feet away from him. You let a guy like that, that big and has the hardest shot in the league, shoot from 15 feet away something’s going to either crack or break. That was the biggest thing I did wrong last time, I gave him too much space and ended up paying the price for it.”

Did you have any flashbacks?

“No, if I did I would have been lifting my leg or playing a soft game and I can’t do that, or else I won’t be playing. I knew I had to play the same way, and not flamingo.”

I saw that you made sure to thank Marty after the pass…

“I did, I told him that I knew he’d make fun of me if I didn’t score (laughs). Like I said it was an amazing pass — I don’t know how he does that stuff, but I don’t even think he saw me in the beginning so it was just impressive that he ended up putting it on my stick.”

Big showdown coming up on Wednesday…

“Yeah Wednesday is huge; we’ve got to come out and play the same way we did tonight — with that intensity, with that physical play. It’ll be exciting to wear the red and green jerseys, to have those on. I’m excited and it’s just another game for us, but we have to start playing playoff-hockey every night; hard-nosed because this is pretty much playoffs. We’re trying to figure out where we’re going to fit in and where we’re going to sit (in the standings).”

Claude Julien:

Were you pleased with how your team responded after you made the goalie change to start the second period?

“Yeah, but the damage was done unfortunately; we dug ourselves a hole that we just couldn’t get out of.”

Jacques Lemaire:

Clarkson had a good game, do you agree?

“Yeah, he played much better, especially with the puck — he made two good moves on the first two goals. When he does skate, he has good hands, so he can do a lot of good things offensively.”

Is this the best effort you’ve seen from your team in a while?

“We played good; in the second (period) we stopped doing certain things, we slowed down just a little bit. But the first and third, I thought we played really well. Even though they came close at the end there, they had a power play and after they started to get some chances. But that team was desperate tonight, they have to win games too; I felt that we came out in the third to play to win.”

Martin Skoula picked up an assist tonight, his first with the team; how do you think he played?

“That was for his kid, his newborn baby. He played good; Skoula’s been steady since he’s been here. He makes the first pass, he’s safe — good around the net, strong along the boards. I like the way he played; as long as he keeps playing like this, if he doesn’t turn the puck over, I know he’s going to play well.”

Devils-Maple Leafs Postgame Quotes [02.05.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after the Devils 4-3 win over Toronto on Friday night:

Travis Zajac:
The game didn’t exactly go the way you planned, are you happy with the result?

“Yeah, we found a way to get the two points; we know we didn’t play good until, maybe the last five minutes of that game. When we got it to 3-2, we started to pressure them a little more, getting in on the forecheck; we got a penalty called in our favor and we were able to capitalize. Then we got one with 20 seconds left so it was a weird game. We didn’t get much going until the end of the game.”

This game was similar to last Friday’s game against Toronto, wasn’t it?

“Yeah exactly, I think the first two periods we didn’t play with a lot of confidence, excitement; I don’t know what it was. We weren’t controlling the puck; we were making terrible plays and turning the puck over. In the third we came out with a little better performance and were able to sneak one away.”

Was part of that lack of energy the overexcitement of having a new player on the team?

“Yeah, maybe; I think this morning we were all pretty excited and we had a lot of energy at pre-game skate it felt like. Maybe we were a little too excited and weren’t ready for the game; but it looked like we didn’t have as much energy or we weren’t working hard or something, but it helps when you get a couple of goals. It was definitely exciting and hopefully we can build off this win.”

Talk about your goal…

“Just on the power play there, Kovalchuk had it at the point and he made a nice play to Dean-o; Dean sent it cross-ice to me and I was just able to get a pretty good shot away.”

You’ve been getting goals like that lately, on slap shots and one-timers, is that something you work on constantly?

“Yeah we work on it in practice; one-timers all the time. I just got all of that one for some reason.”

Kovalchuk jumped on you after that goal; how exciting of a moment was that…

“Yeah (smiles), you could see, just by the first game you can tell he wants to win, he’s a good teammate and he gets excited to score and win games; that’s what we need on this team.”

Martin Brodeur:

Talking about the power play…

“Having Kovy in the lineup, we need to draw penalties because having him is a huge weapon.”

What’s your take on Kovalchuk?

“Well he’s an exciting player; he’s a guy where the opposing team cares about where he is at all times. Eventually it will open up some ice for other people — you saw it on the power play with him faking the one-timer and passing it back to Dean-o. It opened that whole lane because the defender didn’t want to give that shot away from Kovy right in the middle of the ice like that. That’s what hopefully he’ll bring every night to us.”

Last week we talked about recent wild games against Toronto, does this one go right up with that?

“Definitely (chuckles), that was an interesting game; I think we played well for two periods and we were as bad as it gets for the second period, myself included. Turnovers were made and it wasn’t pretty out there, but I was able to make two big saves — one on (Phil) Kessel early in the third period and the toe save I made on (John) Mitchell — that kept the game still within reach and the guys took over in the last five minutes.”

Did the second Toronto goal hit one of your players on its way towards you?

“No it kind of screened me, a scissor-effect with the skate; I think (Colin) White was following the player and it went right through his legs — and I missed it a bit, I thought I was in good position. It just hit my stick and found a little hole in my five-hole.”

Jay Pandolfo:

Talking about his goal…

“I just went to the net, Jamie (Langenbrunner) made a great play in the zone to kind of keep in it, he made a nice pass back to (Mike) Mottau and I just went to the net and got the rebound.”

Similar to last week’s game except this week your team scored the late goals?

“Yeah it was a nice comeback for us, we didn’t have our best game obviously, sometimes that happens when you get a new player and everybody’s trying to get him the puck.”

Jacques Lemaire:

Can you describe what led to the turnaround?

“I cannot (smiles). The whole game I was asking the players to win battles, to make plays, to be better with the puck; we have to be better, we couldn’t do that. We did it only the last two minutes and fifty seconds — then everything was working — we were skating, passing the puck, making plays. How it happened, I just don’t know.”

Did (Vladimir) Zharkov’s pass to (Dean) McAmmond change the whole game there?

“I think it did. The guys on the bench were really excited about that goal and I heard some of them saying ‘hey we can come back, we can come back’ and for the first time in the game I saw that they were excited.”

Talking about the third period…

“We played (only) three lines at the end, most of the time. I was trying to find the combination that could work together; I probably tried everyone with everybody.”

Is Kovalchuk more than just a goal scorer?

“He can pass the puck, you can tell by the plays he’s making; he’ll be fine. He’s a guy that can’t do it on his own all the time; he will sometimes, but he needs help. I thought we played exactly like we’ve been playing lately — not enough energy on the ice, which we paid the price for. Now I’m trying to find the right answer, the right things to do, to make them play as hard as they can.”

Did you know he is getting better in the defensive aspect of the game?

“On the flight from Washington maybe he thought about that (smiles).”

You used (Anssi) Salmela almost twenty minutes, what did you think of him?

“He was fine; he played well. He was not a liability, he moved the puck fine; he just has to get used to the type of game that we’re playing.”

Did Zharkov have one of his better games?

“Zharkov played really well; I have to say that he was one of the best players (for us). He was skating, had puck control, and played hard defensively and offensively.”

Ilya Kovalchuk:

How exciting was this win?

“Very exciting; I took a penalty in the second period and they scored. I was saying to myself that I had to do something because it wasn’t going to be a good debut.”

How many comebacks like this do you remember, this was pretty unusual?

“This year, with the Thrashers, we had quite a few. But it was great to play in front of this kind of crowd, they supported us all game long and nobody left the building.”

You mentioned Brodeur being meaningful, what do you mean by that?

“Yeah, the saves he made in the third period, on their power play, I think that was the key to the game.”

Were you nervous?

“No, not really. First shift, maybe, but the guys were supporting me real well.”

Were you trying to come back and play defense more often tonight?

“I will try always to do that; this year I was plus-1 when I left the Thrashers and that was a big change for me. I think in my career I am minus-95 or something, so hopefully that will change.”

How do you feel you played?

“It wasn’t my best game, but I think it was all right for my first game — especially that we got the two points.”

Can you sum up what the last 24-hours have been like for you?

“It’s not easy, but when you come to this kind of organization, where they’ve won three Stanley Cups, they definitely know how to win and they want to win. To make this move shows that they are serious and hopefully we can do some damage in the playoffs.”

Trade Talk [02.03.10]

There’s one month ’til the NHL’s trading deadline and the action should be heating up as we inch closer to the league-wide roster freeze for the Winter Olympics. Already Toronto made separate deals with Anaheim & Calgary, and the Flames completed a four-player deal with the NY Rangers. Not that anyone is keeping score, but — I called Jean-Sebastien Giguere going from the Ducks to the Maple Leafs over the summer; anyways here is a few things that I think we could see transpire between today and March 3:

Last week Atlanta GM Don Waddell took in the Kings-Devils game in New Jersey and was spotted conversing with LA’s GM Dean Lombardi; would a package of Alexander Frolov, Jack Johnson & and a no. 1 pick be enough to lure All-Star sniper Ilya Kovalchuk away from Waddell’s Thrashers?

The NY Islanders placed Brendan Witt on waivers and sent Martin Biron down to the AHL for some conditioning; we could see Witt resurface with one of his old squads — the Washington Capitals — if the Isles try to bring him back through re-entry waivers. As for Biron, none of the teams in serious contention for a playoff berth is in desperate need of net help (at the moment), so i believe GM Garth Snow will wait until the deadline to see what type of value the hard-luck goaltender could bring back.

Rumors have suggested the NJ Devils are looking to add a center and/or defenseman before the deadline, with Anaheim’s Saku Koivu and Toronto’s Tomas Kaberle as possible targets. Perhaps a deal for Koivu would include a package of Jay Pandolfo & Niclas Bergfors or Bergfors and defenseman Mike Mottau. I thought Matt Stajan could have been the center that GM Lou Lamoriello was looking at, but that ended when the Leafs traded him to the Flames in a massive seven-player trade. With Kaberle, I don’t see a deal on the horizon, mainly because he has a no-trade clause in his contract and I can’t see him waiving it to come to New Jersey.

In Boston, enigmatic winger Michael Ryder is supposedly on the trading block and I think Long Island would be a perfect destination — the Isles need another goal-scoring winger and maybe they can acquire him for a minor leaguer or two.

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.”