Stanley Cup Finals Preview

After 45 days of playoff hockey, tonight at 8 pm on NBC the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals begin as the Boston Bruins face-off against the Vancouver Canucks. Normally I’m not one to pat myself on the back, but it was right here in this very blog on April 13 that I predicted the Bruins would reach the Finals; I also had Anaheim going to the Finals, but hey, we can’t get ’em all right, right? On May 4 though, I told my buddy Nelson that the Bruins-Lightning series would be an entertaining watch (which it was) and that Boston would prevail in seven games (which they did).

I’ve felt since the last day of the season that the Bruins were primed for a deep run at Lord Stanley’s Cup and although Vancouver will be a worthy and challenging opponent, when it’s over Boston will be celebrating its first Cup win since 1972. The B’s are just a deeper team I feel, even if Manny Malhotra were to miraculously play in this series.

Players to watch: Boston — Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic, Dennis Seidenberg
Horton has been stellar in his first postseason run, including two Game 7, game-winning goals…the first time that has EVER been done in NHL playoff history. Lucic will be a force to be reckoned with and I’m not sure anyone on Vancouver will be able to match-up effectively against him. Seidenberg is one of the most underrated defensemen in the league and is a shot-blocking goblin; his defensive awareness is a big reason why Boston survived against a spunky Tampa team.

Players to watch: Vancouver — Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, Roberto Luongo
Kesler in the last two years has become one of my favorite players to watch and in this postseason he hasn’t disappointed. Whether it’s a clutch goal or a clutch defensive play, this guy can do it all; as they say in baseball, this guy is a five-tool player. Burrows is the perfect fit on the line with the Sedin twins, as he provides some grit and muscle in front of the net while Henrik and Daniel do their thing. He will probably have at least three goals in this series. Luongo is four wins away from reaching the mountain top that so many expected he would reach a lot earlier in his career, but perhaps all of his trials and tribulations were necessary for the Jean Girard-lookalike to finally get here. He was great last series, but the Sharks are well, the Sharks and the Bruins won’t make it easy on him this series.

Prediction: Bruins in 6 as Zdeno Chara becomes the first Slovakian captain to lead his team to a Stanley Cup

Who Will Be the Beast of the East?

Who Will Be the Beast of the East?

Eastern Conference predictions

Round 1:

(1) Washington over (8) NY Rangers

(7) Buffalo over (2) Philadelphia

(3) Boston over (6) Montreal

(4) Pittsburgh over (5) Tampa Bay

Round 2:

(1) Washington over (7) Buffalo

(3) Boston over (4) Pittsburgh

Round 3:

(3) Boston over (1) Washington

Washington (1)      vs.    NY Rangers (8)

Last Cup Win: Washington (never), NY Rangers (1994)

Why the Capitals will win: They aren’t intimidated by the Rangers or their goaltender whom has been known to get in some of his opponents’ heads (see: New Jersey Devils). Washington is also one of the deepest teams in the league and they will wear their undermanned first round opponent down.

Why the Rangers will win: They spanked Washington twice this season (6-0, 7-0) and when they are on their game, the Blueshirts have all of the necessary components to go toe-to-toe with any team in the league; solid goaltending, timely scoring and team defense will lead New York to the upset win over the Caps.

Washington’s most important player: Tempted to say Alex Ovechkin, but it’s Mike Green; if he is healthy and has fresh legs he could bury the Rangers (a team that has taken a penalty or two) with his power play prowess.

New York’s most important player: The soul of the Rangers is Henrik Lundqvist, if he falters, they are cooked. He’s only won two playoff series in his career, but his league-leading 11 shutouts this season tell you that he is capable of shutting down any team in the NHL.

Washington’s biggest question mark: It has to be the goaltending, despite the fact that they won the East with three goaltenders — two of them rookies. Michal Neuvirth will get the nod to begin the series, and that’s probably the right call. He won back-to-back Calder Cups for the Hershey Bears and was victorious in 27 of his 48 starts with the Caps this season.

New York’s biggest question mark: Which version of Marian Gaborik will show up in this series? Will it be the same Gaborik that had only 48 points (22 goals) in 62 games this season or will he become the two-time 40-goal scorer that the Rangers are paying for?

Players with Stanley Cup Rings: Washington (Jason Arnott, Mike Knuble), New York (Chris Drury, Ruslan Fedotenko)

PREDICTION: CAPITALS IN 6 — Gaborik and Lundqvist will show up and the Rangers will put up a fight, but Ovechkin will eliminate them with a hat trick in Game 6.

Philadelphia (2)     vs. Buffalo (7)

Last Cup Win: Philadelphia (1975), Buffalo (never)

Why the Flyers will win: Since the start of last season’s playoffs Philadelphia has probably been the best team in the NHL. With the talent on this roster they should walk all over the Sabres, but only if their power play finds itself. This season they ranked 19th in the NHL out of 30 teams, with a putrid 16.6%. Offensive juggernauts that were ranked ahead of them: Buffalo, Colorado, Atlanta, Minnesota and Ottawa.

Why the Sabres will win: They have Ryan Miller and the Flyers don’t; it’s as simple as that. He has won playoff series as the favorite and the underdog in his career, and Buffalo is the hottest team in the league heading into the playoffs. If Miller is at less than 100%, then the Sabres will be in trouble.

Philadelphia’s most important player: Chris Pronger’s presence alone will make a difference in the series, but only if he’s healthy enough to be there. His absence over the final weeks of the season is the reason the Flyers crashed and stumbled out of the East’s top spot.

Buffalo’s most important player: Aside from Miller, it’s Thomas Vanek who very quietly had a solid season — 73 points (32g-41a) in 80 games. If Drew Stafford can get into one of his hot streaks it will make a big difference in the series.

Philadelphia’s biggest question mark: As always since Ron Hextall left, it’s goaltending. Sergei Bobrovsky will start Game 1, but lurking behind him are somewhat proven veterans in Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher.

Buffalo’s biggest question mark: Can Tyler Myers and the Sabres’ defensive corps stop the flock of talented Flyers forwards is a good place to start; also how will smallish rookie Tyler Ennis (who had a real nice season) hold up in a seven-game series against the rugged Philadelphians?

Players with Stanley Cup Rings: Philadelphia (Nick Boynton, Sean O’Donnell, Pronger, Kris Versteeg), Buffalo (Rob Niedermayer)

PREDICTION: SABRES IN 7 — Miller shines as Buffalo wins a l-e-n-g-t-h-y Game 7 in Philadelphia.

Boston (3)       vs. Montreal (6)

Last Cup Win: Boston (1972), Montreal (1993)

Why the Bruins will win: Boston’s depth is only matched by Washington in the East as far as I’m concerned, especially when your top three centers are Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Rich Peverley. The addition of Tomas Kaberle really balanced out the defense in Beantown too.

Why the Canadiens will win: If I had to pick one team in the East that would give Boston the biggest challenge, I’d say Montreal. These two teams know each other inside and out with all of their legendary battles throughout time. Also how will Boston react after blowing a three games-to-none lead in last year’s East semi-finals.

Boston’s most important player: Tim Thomas is the easy choice here, if he continues playing the way he did during the season (35-11-9, 2.00 GAA, .938 save %, 9 shutouts), the Bruins should be able to choke-out the sometimes offensively challenged Habs.

Montreal’s most important player: Where were you this season Scott Gomez? Horrible season (7g-31a, minus-15 in 80 games) from one of the veterans on the Canadiens, but during last spring’s run to the East Finals he put up 14 points in 19 games. If he can get on that type of run it would be much appreciated in Montreal.

Boston’s biggest question mark: The Bruins had a great year, but after choking away last season’s opportunity to beat the Flyers in the semis, anything less than a trip to the East Finals would be a failure. It will be interesting to see how they react if they get Montreal into an elimination game.

Montreal’s biggest question mark: Last season’s dramatic run was led by goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who is now with the St. Louis Blues. Now it’s Carey Price’s turn and judging from the season he just had (38-28-6, 8 shutouts) he could be a difference maker, not only this season but for many, many more to come.

Players with Stanley Cup Rings: Boston (Mark Recchi (2), Shawn Thornton), Montreal (Gomez (2), Brian Gionta, Travis Moen, Hal Gill, Brent Sopel)

PREDICTION: BRUINS IN 7 – Boston will bend, but won’t break as they hold off the Habs; Nathan Horton, playing in his first playoffs, will have a monster series.

Pittsburgh (4)                vs. Tampa Bay (5)

Last Cup Win: Pittsburgh (2009), Tampa Bay (2004)

Why the Penguins will win: They have an elite goaltender in Marc-Andre Fleury and Jordan Staal will not only shut down Steven Stamkos, but he’ll also chip in a few big goals.

Why the Lightning will win: Without Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, the Lightning can focus their attention on solid team defense and timely goals. Whether or not Stamkos and Simon Gagne can score multiple times will be determining factors in the series.

Pittsburgh’s most important player: It will be all of their penalty killers; they led the league killing off penalties at an 86.2% clip and if they can shut down Tampa’s powerful power play the series could be a quick one.

Tampa Bay’s most important player: If he becomes a playoff-beast once again, it will be the league’s second leading point getter Martin St. Louis (99 points). He’s a proven playoff performer (48 pts in 45 games) and if he gets hot the Pens will become postseason spectators.

Pittsburgh’s biggest question mark: If there is a small chance he can play, does Pittsburgh risk everything and put Crosby out there? If Crosby doesn’t play, who else besides Staal is going to contribute offensively?

Tampa Bay’s biggest question mark: In the 2006 playoffs, Dwayne Roloson led the eighth-seeded Edmonton Oilers all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals and then blew out his knee in Game 1. That was the last time he played in a playoff game, so five years later it’s hard to tell what you are going to get from the veteran netminder.

Players with Stanley Cup Rings: Pittsburgh (Chris Kunitz (2), Craig Adams (2), Fleury, Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Alex Kovalev, Pascal Dupuis, Matt Cooke, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, Tyler Kennedy, Michael Rupp, Max Talbot, Eric Godard), Tampa Bay (Vincent Lecavalier, St. Louis, Pavel Kubina)

PREDICTION: PENGUINS IN 7 — The Lightning prove to be a valiant opponent but Fleury will top Roloson in a wild Game 7

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

No Doubting Thomas as Bruins Bash Devils

Boston 4         Devils 1

Through the first four home games this season the New Jersey Devils have perfected only one thing — the art of losing. Saturday night at Prudential Center they dropped a bomb against the Boston Bruins, falling by a 4-1 score with all goals coming in the second period. Tim Thomas played a strong game in net for the Bruins, turning aside 31 of 32 Devils’ shots as he picked up his second win of the season. New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur also made 31 saves, but the four he surrendered in 16 second period Bruins’ shots were the difference in the game as his team fell to a disappointing 0-3-1 at home. “Timmy did good tonight; he challenged everything,” said Boston coach Claude Julien. “When he’s on top of his game, that’s what he does. He challenges (the shooters); he doesn’t over think, he just does the job. I thought he did a great job in close, they had some shots, some rebounds and he battled through those.”

In the final two minutes of the scoreless opening period the Devils had a 5-on-3 advantage, but were unable to capitalize as the road-weary Bruins began to find their game legs. “Yeah that could have been a turning point right there; the second call was a tough one on (Brad) Marchand, but you have to kill those off,” the ex-Devils coach said afterwards. “They have a couple of guys that can shoot from the back end: (Jason) Arnott and obviously (Ilya) Kovalchuk. We wanted to make sure that we took away those opportunities and make the big save when we needed it – our guys did a pretty good job of killing that. It seemed to give us some momentum heading into the second period.” Boston played their first two games this season in Prague, Czech Republic against the Phoenix Coyotes and won’t play their home opener until Thursday when they host Washington.

At the start of the second period New Jersey coach John MacLean altered his line combinations, switching Dainius Zubrus with Kovalchuk. Zubrus’ addition to the duo of Travis Zajac and Zach Parise paid almost immediate dividends as the trio accounted for the team’s only goal. On the scoring play Zubrus collected the rebound of Andy Greene’s point shot and flipped a backhanded shot past a lunging Thomas at 3:45. “The goal was a good shot on net, a battle in front of the net — I think Zach got a piece of it — and it popped out right to my backhand,” said Zubrus. “I saw Thomas was down and I tried to get it over the top of him and I was able to do that. It felt good obviously, because it gave our team some energy and we haven’t been scoring that much.”

Unfortunately Kovalchuk was relegated to the third line and managed only one shot on goal each period skating with David Clarkson and rookie center Jacob Josefson. “I thought Zubie and Travis and Zach worked really hard. They had a lot of chances and they battled the whole game. I thought that line was good,” said MacLean. “We had a couple of lines that battled the whole game and we had some passengers.”

The Devils lead lasted only 1:53 as the Bruins evened the score when rookie Jordan Caron netted his first career NHL goal by sliding a rebound past Brodeur, sparking his team’s goal explosion. Michael Ryder gave Boston the lead permanently when his slapper from the slot beat Brodeur’s glove hand at 10:44, followed by Shawn Thornton’s tally at 16:43 and Milan Lucic’s at 18:09. “It was frustrating,” admitted Zubrus. “I thought we had a decent start, we were playing okay and then it seemed every mistake that we made, they just…if you look at the goals that they got, it was something where we turned it over or lose a battle; a lot of the goals that we get scored on (lately), we have the puck on our stick and then we lose it.”

The Devils will have four days off before their next game and clearly have some things to work on if they are to get back to their winning ways. “We’ll take a break and then we’ll start working on things from the defensive zone out, work on some starts and stops, some battles,” said a surprised, but not shocked MacLean, “start winning some battles, and getting our mind focused (on playing 60 minutes).”

Game Notes: Nathan Horton’s assist on the fourth Boston goal was his 300th NHL point (145g-155a). Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara led all skaters in ice-time with 23:55 and Greene led New Jersey with 23:36; Arnott was a game-worst -3. Parise and Horton led all players with five shots on goal apiece; only two Bruins (Gregory Campbell and Blake Wheeler) failed to register a shot on goal. Both teams won 21 face-offs and both power plays were empty: NJ 0-4, BOS 0-3. New Jersey (1-4-1) is off until Thursday when they play at Montreal (3-1-1); Boston (2-1-0) will continue their early-season trek in Washington (4-1-0) on Tuesday night.

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Tim Thomas (Bos) – 31 saves, win (2-0-0)

#2 – Michael Ryder (Bos) – gw goal (1)

#3 – Milan Lucic (Bos) – goal (2)

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

Devils-Panthers Postgame Quotes [01.20.10]

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

Martin Brodeur:

Talking about stopping the losing streak…

“You want to play well, we didn’t really look at the losing streak; we looked at we haven’t played well. We are comfortable playing here, and we wanted to get out of the first period — that’s been a killer for us in the last few games — we get out of the gates really bad. So when we did that today the guys were a lot more comfortable playing the game.”

Was there one particular stop that sticks out for you tonight?

“I don’t know, they had a couple of chances in the 3rd; I think the (Steven) Reinprecht one that (Mike) Mottau took his hooking penalty on, that was a pretty prime shot. But I think one of the biggest plays was when (Nathan) Horton had the puck there in the slot and Sal (Bryce Salvador) made a great block with his stick and threw the puck out of the paint, he had a great opportunity there.”

Do feel lucky there when (Rostislav) Olesz missed the net?

“Never ask that to a goalie (laughs). I’m just kidding, I couldn’t believe it; I’m the one who poked the puck to (Cory) Stillman and he makes a fake pass — I have to respect his shot from there, especially him with having such a great shot — he makes a good play and I just dove across and I just couldn’t believe. It wasn’t even close, it’s not like he hit the post, and it just went wide — so definitely I felt lucky on that one. There was one in the second too that they shot through me and it hit Whitey (Colin White) and came right back. That’s what I was saying that shutouts are tough to get, especially with the luck factor.”

Things were a lot better than they were defensively?

“Yeah I thought so, from my view I thought our defenseman were solid, we blocked a lot of shots, and we had a lot of good sticks in passing lanes, on the power plays and their rushes. It made a big difference, we played really well and we had to play well because we didn’t score many goals in this game. We felt we were in control the whole game.”

Dean McAmmond:

I saw you looking at the clock as you were chasing the puck, did you think you had enough time?

“I wasn’t sure but I took a look to see if there was half a dozen seconds left as comparable to, two. When I saw the clock change from five to four I figured I had a pretty good chance, the puck was right in the middle of the ice. I gave it a pretty good try.”

Was this a good bounce back game after starting slow the last three games?

“We did what we had to do to get a win. We worked hard, I think it took us a little while to get going in the first couple of periods, but I think we are still feeling the effects of the long road trip, long travel and playing every other day. We had yesterday off, but that day off is going to help us.”

Talk about the fact that the team used only three centers tonight, including you…

“You welcome (more ice-time) because you’re staying in it and you know you can go hard, get off (the ice) and you know you are going to get right back in there in a couple of shifts. It keeps you, mentally, on top of your game.”

Nick Palmieri:

First game, first point, how’d you feel out there?

“I felt good, a little bit of nerves in the beginning but I think I kind of settled in after the first shift or two. I found a little bit of a groove out there with the guys that I was playing with, which wasn’t too hard.”

You started off on the fourth line and then you’re playing with Zach Parise and Travis Zajac, how nice was that?

“To play with two of the better players in the league is always exciting, obviously those guys are really good offensively so I was just looking to try and get them some opportunities and knew that if I did it would be more likely that we can get some offense going.”

You had five shots on goal tonight; did you feel like you were in a good groove?

“Yeah I was trying to shoot the puck as much as I could when I was open and make the goalie make a save. Guys were finding me and the puck was bouncing my way a little bit; it was fun.”

Travis Zajac:

Talking about his goal…

“You always want to shoot a rolling puck, I find that they’re harder to pick up (for the goalie); I just kind of got lucky and it went through him.”

When it’s rolling do you have any idea (where your shot will go)?

“I don’t have any clue where it’s going when it’s rolling, I’m sure the goalies don’t.”

Did Panthers defenseman Bryan McCabe get a piece of it as you let it go?

“He might’ve gotten his stick on it at the last second; it looked like it on the replay that I just saw.”

Is it a relief that you scored after you guys were shutout for four, almost five consecutive periods?

“Yeah, we thought we were playing good up until then, we knew we were going to get one eventually because we had a lot of shots on net; we were throwing shots from all over the place, so it was just a matter of time.”

Does it feel good when Marty is in a groove like he has been with the shutouts?

“It seems like its every second game now that he’s getting a shutout, which is pretty amazing. Again tonight he was outstanding making the first save and our D did a good job of not allowing too many shots after that. He’s been like that all year for us and it makes us play with a lot more confidence when he plays like that.”

Jacques Lemaire:

What did the kids add tonight?

“I think they added energy and they were good with the puck, good in our end, good offensively, they protected the puck well, they made good passes; I was really pleased with the way they both played.”

How relieved are you?

“Winning?”

Yes. The way you won.

“Well we still have a long ways to go. I think it was a much better team effort, I think the guys were about 80% of what we can do. I think we can play a lot better than we did tonight.”

Who’d you like best?

“I liked Travis; I liked the two kids, they definitely brought good energy as we spoke of. McAmmond really played well and (Rob) Niedermayer — all three centers.”

How abut your defense?

“I think the four defensemen; definitely they made great plays in our end to get out. They were good in the offensive zone trying to keep the puck in at certain times without taking any risks.”

So what do you want to improve on?

“The overall picture; team, intensity, puck control, scoring chances.”

Power play?

“And power play.”

Marty’s game tonight?

“He was good. I wish he would do this every night; he would make my job a lot easier. When he plays the way he can, he’s going to give you a great chance to win.”

What made you move Palmieri from the fourth line to the top line?

“How he played; he was playing better than the other guy, that’s why I did it. When you get a chance to play, you’ve got to take the chance and play — the kids, they have to know this. They’re called up and they have to show that they are capable of doing it.”

What did Palmieri show you?

“Well it’s his poise with the puck. Before the game I asked him if he knows how we play, when they have full control (of the puck). He said yeah, I asked him to explain and he knew the whole thing — how we play; that’s good. I told him about the defensive zone, and said make sure you stop; if you stop you’ll be in control and I thought he did it. Stopping in his position and then seeing the situation and reading the plays the other team is trying to make. Getting in good position to stop cross-ice passes will help you to get that puck and bring it out.”

What happened with Rod Pelley?

“I thought he was going to play tonight and they told me before the game that he’s not. Then I said he’s not in, we’ll have to play with three centers.”

Devils-Panthers Postgame Quotes

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Friday’s 4-2  loss by the Devils to the Panthers:

Martin Brodeur:

Are you upset giving away points to a team below you?

“Well, you’d like to win every game; they’re trying to get out of the funk that they’re in and it just shows that you have to play 60 minutes and respect every opponent. I thought we were prepared, but they just beat us tonight.”

Unhappy for you but were you happy for Clemmensen?

“I just lost a game, I don’t think I’m happy for somebody else but, I’m sure he was looking forward to this game.”

What happened on the first goal?

“That’s a long time ago.”

Did Jordan Leopold just beat you high with that shot?

“Oh yeah, (laughs) sorry; I don’t know he just came and walked right in and shot it as hard as he could top shelf.”

On the fourth goal did you guess wrong?

“Eh, he made a pretty good move. I thought he was going to go on his backhand and he came quickly back on his forehand, he still had to get it up over my pad; and he did.”

Surprised to see him that wide open?

“Yeah, I was looking down ice; I didn’t see him coming at all.”

Colin White:

Is it good that you have another game tomorrow night to try and get rid of the bad taste from this one?

“We don’t feel we played very good tonight obviously and we have to come with a better effort tomorrow.”

Was there one thing they did tonight that kept the team off balance?

“They outworked us, and we had a lot of turnovers. They played their game for 60 minutes, and we sat back and instead of dictating the game we didn’t do what our game plan is. We didn’t execute tonight.”

Michael Frolik:
Do you like to play in this building?

“Yeah, for sure, I scored my first NHL goal here, so it’s nice if you come back; I have good memories here, it always stays in your head — I’ll never forget it. I think I really like to play here.”

Can you describe that breakaway?

“I think the d-man on my side; he kind of lost his balance and fell there. I just skated in the middle and Horty (Nathan Horton) saw me up there and passed to me. I got a breakaway and I just did what I did there.”

You guys really wanted to get this win for Clemmensen, right?

“For sure, he was playing here for a while. He did pretty well; he played a really good game and made a couple of good saves.”

Were you surprised you were so wide-open on your second goal?

“Yeah, he fell and I was all alone there (in the middle).”

Did you know what move you were going to use?

“I kind of decided between circles what I was going to do. It’s not my move, but I try to do it sometimes.”


Scott Clemmensen:

How did you feel out there tonight?

“It was good, you know, just all the sights and the sounds of this building really put me at ease. It was good to be back here — I have a lot of good memories in this building; and I put tonight’s win up there with them.”

Was it fun to get the win over Marty?

“Yeah; I respect him and the organization so much, so it does mean a lot for me to come in here and beat them. And I don’t mean that in a negative sense at all, I have so much respect for them that it’s a big win for not only me, but the team as well.”

Was it nice to see an early goal go up there for your team?

“Absolutely, anytime you can jump out to a lead like that, it takes a lot of pressure off, you as a goalie. We had a three-goal lead there at the beginning of the second (period), our guys did a good job getting deflections past Marty. If you let a goal in you know its not the end of the world. I was very impressed with everyone’s effort, particularly our defense tonight. Especially at the end of the game when we were trying to weather their big push there at the end.”

Gets a little hairy in the third when its 3-2?

“Yeah, (laughs), we had some bad losses in the past, but the way we responded – we didn’t change anything, I don’t think anyone was panicking. Then Frolik gets that big breakaway goal and gets it right back; that was a huge goal for us.”

You face the Devils so many times in practice, was it weird when it really counted?

“Yes, definitely; I wish I could explain it better, the only thing I can say is it’s weird. You play against your friends, maybe one or two on a team. Obviously tonight, it was the whole team, it was very strange, very weird, but nonetheless you still have to do your job out there. I’m happy we won.”

Jacques Lemaire:

When it’s a one-goal game, what went wrong on Florida’s fourth goal?

“I think it was Greenie, I didn’t see how it happened. I said ‘how come we got caught there’ and I was told that (Andy) Greene fell. It happened and they scored, but at that time we were coming back and I thought the game was tilting in our favor.”

Do you feel your best players played their best tonight?

“Some of them I know that hey can play better, you’re right. But overall I’m pleased with how the guys played.”

Talk about Dean McAmmond, who’s had some chances and got a goal…

“Well that is a result of hard work, its hard work that he got that goal. You look at that line, that line was solid again tonight, they were on top and played in the other zone quite a bit and spent minutes there.”

Clemmensen’s Cats Devour Devils

Here is the link to my recap of the Devils’ 4-2 loss against the Panthers on Friday night:

Clemmensen’s Cats Devour Devils

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Michael Frolik (Fla) – 2 goals (9)

#2 – Nathan Horton (Fla) – 2 assists (19)

#3 – Scott Clemmensen (Fla) – 26 saves, win (5-3-0)

line combos/d-pairings:

New Jersey:
Parise-Zajac-Langenbrunner
Rolston-Elias-Zharkov
Pandolfo-Niedermayer-Bergfors
Pelley-McAmmond-Pikkarainen

Greene-Salvador
Oduya-Fraser
White-Mottau

Florida:
Frolik-Weiss-Horton
Matthias-Reinprecht-Olesz
Kreps-D.Moore-Dvorak
Taffe-Duco-Oreskovich

Ballard-Leopold
McCabe-Seidenberg
Kulikov-Allen