Interesting grading system…

I found an interesting grading system that someone came up with on the comments sections of one of TSN.ca’s stories after his beloved Vancouver Canucks were dismantled by the Chicago Blackhawks in Round 2:

F = Failed to make the playoffs (14/30 teams = 47%)

C- = Seeya in the first round (8/30 = 27%)

B = Bounced in the second round (4/30 = 13%)

A- = Almost made the Finals (2/30 = 7%)

A = Ah! So close! (1/30 = 3%)

A+ = All the way baby! (1/30 = 3%)

A ‘B’ isn’t bad (only 13% of the teams did better) even though we certainly would have liked an ‘A+’

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Game 3/Game 4 …

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

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

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

Devils 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-Islanders Postgame Quotes [04.10.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes from the Devils 7-1 win over the Islanders:

Travis Zajac:
A big win to secure the division title…

“It was a really big win for us; we’re trying to get ready for the playoffs here. To get scoring from all the lines, and the power play, it’s good for us going into the playoffs on a high note.”

You had four assists tonight; did you feel particularly well out there?

“I don’t think I should’ve had four, I think Zach (Parise) should’ve had the first one, so I don’t know if I had that. But, like I said, I just want to be playing my best hockey going into the playoffs. I think that’s the focus for all of us right now, make sure our game is sound both offensively and defensively; and if we do that, we’re going to make a run here in the playoffs.”


Dainius Zubrus:

You scored the first goal which got the scoring barrage started tonight…

“You think so? I don’t know; the guys were ready, we knew what’s at stake. We want to finish on top and more than anything you want to play well going into the playoffs. The guys were fired up (tonight) and played well.”

Do you feel like the team is where it needs to be heading into the playoffs?

“Well yeah, we’ve been playing much better; I don’t think you can judge by one game. If you look at the last week or so, even the last game in Florida we had over 40 shots on net, but their goalie played pretty well. I think we’re getting better and today was a good step towards the playoffs.”

You clinched the division, how important is tomorrow’s game with Buffalo?

“Well like I said, it’s important to go in (to the playoffs) playing well. We’re playing one of the top teams in the conference; it’s one of those games where you can measure yourself a little bit again. I think the second or third seed in the East will be at stake, so we want to finish as high as possible and play as well as we can.”

Dean McAmmond:

Talking about his goal…

“It was a good play by Rollie and (Rod) Pelley coming out of our end; I kind of got the loose puck, Rollie got up on their d-man. I just grabbed the puck and their d-man was flat-footed, I just got on an angle, tried to go five-hole and it went to the outside of the net, handcuffed the goalie and the shot went off the net and the back of his knee. Sometimes they go in that way.”

Do you feel the team is playing the way they need to play heading into the playoffs?

“Yeah, we’ve had some better games. You look at the game in Florida, where they worked hard, they skated hard and we just kind of relaxed there; and this could’ve been one of those game tonight if we just relaxed, we would’ve kept them in it. We focused on playing hard — once we got two or three (goals) on them, they knew it was over; I think they let off a bit too.”

What does winning the division mean to you?

“I think it’s a great deal for us, a good accomplishment. We’ve had a stop-and-go type of year where we’ve been going hard and slowly losing it, then getting back on it again. It’s nice to win some games going into the playoffs.”


Martin Brodeur:

Talking about losing the shutout…

“Games like that its going to happen, especially when you give them a power play. Five-on-five I don’t think they would’ve got anything on us; we made a little mistake and the guy hit the puck out of mid-air on the goal line there, so it is what it is.”

Do you guys not realize how hard it is to win the division?

“Well we do, we do (smiles). I think we’ve grown to expect success here and we understand how hard it is. Trust me, we go through ups and downs, you guys see it – but we live it every day; with our organization, our coaches, our GM — they want us to play well every single day. For us the accomplishment means a lot, but they expect us to do it; and we expect ourselves to do it. But we understand how hard it is, it’s not like we dominated our division, only one team – Pittsburgh. The other ones, the Rangers wasn’t that good, Philly we were awful and these guys we were 4-2 I think.”

What do you like about this team?

“I think how good we were earlier in the season helped to set ourselves up for what would happen to us today. It’s been a little more rocky, but I think making the big trade to get Kovy in our lineup, I think in the playoffs we’ll be a different team than maybe past years because of a guy like that. His presence will give Zach a little more room and other players to do different things just because we have a weapon like Kovy there that they do have to respect because he’s a pretty talented player that’s going to change games around sometimes.”

Significant game tomorrow vs. Buffalo?

“Yeah it is; it gives us the opportunity to be at home for at least two rounds if we win. It would’ve been better if they had lost tonight (laughs) to Ottawa, but hey that’s why we play 82 games. If we lose it’s not the end of the world, but it could be something nice to have.”

You’re about to win the Jennings trophy, any significance to you at all?

“I haven’t looked at the numbers, where we’re at, but for us we care about the way we play defensively even though we have a different — that’s what I like we’re more geared towards offense, compared to other years — and we’re still able to dominate in our own zone; in a league that’s more geared towards scoring goals. It’s nice to finish on top, that’s for sure.”

All you have to do is not give up eight or nine goals tomorrow…

“(knocks on the wood column in his locker) You never know my friend, it’s nice. It’s fun for some players who’ve never won one. You go into a building and look up at the banners and you’re like ‘I was a part of this, this, this’ it’s fun. I’ve been here a long time, other guys for them it’s their first one and more to come.”

Ilya Kovalchuk:

Is it a different feeling now then when you made the playoffs with Atlanta?

“Yeah a little bit, I only went once and we lose all four games, but that was a great season and great atmosphere for the playoff games. I remember that and I’m still looking for my first win, hopefully it will be really soon.”

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.”