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.

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Devils-Sabres Postgame Quotes [10.23.10]

Thomas Vanek:

Your team’s first goal changed the game around…

“Yeah, early on they came with some good pressure, but once we scored I think we kind of relaxed and played our game; just played really a patient game. We finally capitalized on our chances.”

You were going against a guy in (Johan) Hedberg that hadn’t been in nets for a while and it can’t hurt to get any type of shot on him right?

“Well especially because usually against Jersey we can’t generate much, so our main focus was just drive the net, get pucks there and see what happens.”

You have three goals now in the last three games now, that has to feel good for you?

“It’s nice; I don’t think I played as well as I did some of the other nights where I didn’t score, but I got two tonight. Obviously I’ll take it and hopefully I can keep it going.”

Last night I thought your line was flying the last two periods and didn’t get anything out of it…

“I thought last night we were better. We generated more (scoring chances) than I thought we did tonight, got quality chances and just didn’t bury them. Tonight we got a few and hopefully we can continue it.”

 

Your team is so good on the road and not so good at home, can you figure this out?

“It’s hard. Like I said, I thought we played well yesterday. Every time we tied it up, we had good chances to get the lead. One breakdown or two breakdowns and we were playing from behind again.”

The second goal in the first period helped your team’s confidence tonight, right?

“Yeah sure; once you get that 1-0 lead, you have to stay patient but obviously when you have that chance you have to go get that second, third one, fourth one just like we did tonight. We have to start putting teams away.”

Talk about your first goal tonight…

“It was just a perfect cross-ice pass (by Derek Roy), it finally didn’t hit a skate or a stick or anything and just a real, clean pass. It was a pass from the side and I just jammed it in, a great pass by Derek.”

You almost got the hat trick with 2:27 left in the game with your shot from the slot…

“Yeah, great save; great goaltender (Martin Brodeur). I thought that was one of my better shots, of the game — he just made an unbelievable save on it.”

You scored your second goal 26 seconds after they scored, how big was that?

“It was nice, obviously up 5-1, we have a pretty good lead, but we have the mentality: if we get scored on, let’s just come right back and score on them. On the play, I came in and tried going low glove, he made a great save; just a lucky bounce that it came right back to my stick and I put it in.”

Ryan Miller:

Do you think the way you are playing on the road means that the home problems will be able to be fixed?

“Yeah, it’s just patience with our game; the other night (against New Jersey) it was a chess match out there. A lot of times it’s dictated by who scores first — we scored first (tonight) and its who can hold on and be willing not to make that mistake or turnover. You have to get the puck in and work the other team, establish some speed in the neutral zone and things were better tonight than the night before.”

Nice to see some offense from guys like (Mike) Grier and (Rob) Niedermayer tonight?

“Eventually they were going to chip in. Tonight was a great example of getting around the net, creating more and guys scored from in tight.”

Do your early season struggles get pushed away when you have a game like this?

“We hope its something we can build off of; it’s how you react now. I think last night, losing a tough one at home, against a division rival — you want to see how you react. I thought tonight we came out and I thought we did a good job of getting established. Early on the Devils were the team that was rested and they came hard, but we settled into an organized game and got the pucks where we needed them.”

David Clarkson:

When did you find out Ilya Kovalchuk wasn’t playing tonight and how did that factor into the game?

“I had no idea until I got here this afternoon, so I’m not sure what happened or what’s going on. But we’re all professionals no matter who’s in or who’s out, we just have to go out there and still play our game. Kovy’s obviously an unbelievable player and adds so much to this team, but we have to still go out there and play better than we did tonight.”

Upcoming is the longest road trip of the season, is it coming at a good time?

“It couldn’t get any better. I think it’s an opportunity for us to get to know each other better; a chance to get on the road and do some team bonding, go out together. I think just a thing where you get to know everybody; that’s something that will help us out a lot.”

Is it good that it’s the Rangers tomorrow where the antenna is always usually up when you cross the (Hudson) River?

“No matter what the score was in the third period tonight, we had to get ready for tomorrow. We have to come out and play that first period tomorrow as hard as we can and the way the Devils play or else we’ll be in trouble. We have to go out there and get back to our game.”

John MacLean:

Why was Kovalchuk scratched?

“That’s between him and I; it was my decision.”

It was your decision, not management’s decision?

“It was my decision.”

Any regrets?

“No, I take responsibility for all of my decisions that I make — including responsibilities for games.”

Will he play tomorrow?

“I’ll make that decision in the morning.”

He could have played? Is he healthy enough to play?

“I’m not getting into it one way or another. I told you it was the coach’s decision, it was my decision.”

So was it a non-hockey matter or hockey related?

“As I said I’m not discussing it. It’s my decision, I made it. He knows, I spoke with him and that’s where it’s going to stay.”

Was it a distraction for the other players?

“I hope not.”

Then how do you explain 6-1?

“I’m still having trouble finding the answers for that myself. Ultimately it falls on my responsibility to get these guys prepared to play.”

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-Rangers Postgame Quotes [03.25.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after the Devils 4-3 shootout loss to the Rangers Thursday night:

Jamie Langenbrunner:

Talking about the game…

“We caught up to Pittsburgh a little bit; would we have played a better game had we won the shootout? I don’t know, we played a good hockey game and they won the game at the end.”

Are there positives to take out of this game?

“Absolutely, we played pretty well. They scored a lucky power play goal — that bounced off a couple of things and went in the net, and they did a good job of scoring one late. I think we played a good game; we battled hard, we missed some opportunities. It was a must-win for them and they delivered; we had opportunities to bury them and we didn’t deliver.”

Talking about his goal…

“It was a good play by (Andy) Greene hitting Patty and Patty saw me and obviously deflected it over there (to me). We connected with each other a few times for semi-breakaways, breakaways, and finally one went in. I thought we did a lot of good things tonight and if you do that and get those chances, we’re going to score goals.”

Martin Brodeur:
Talking about the tying goal…

“I think they sent the puck behind the net and we went chasing after it. The guy made a pretty nice pass — he faked on his forehand and went to his backhand — and (Chris) Drury was all by himself there. He was so close, it’s kind of hard (to stop it), if he hits a hole, it’s going to go in.”

Could you tell on the shootout goal by Erik Christensen that it was a goal?

“I didn’t see it. I heard it hit the post, then the other post and I felt it go on my back; I just tried to make sure I wasn’t going to knock it in. The linesman knew right away it went in.”

Does it sting a little more because it was the Rangers?

“No; it was an emotional game. I thought we played real hard, real well. We did a lot of good things out there, we just didn’t get the job done at the end of the game and that’s the bottom line.”

It seems like when you play these guys; it’s hard to get more than a one-goal lead…

“When there’s a rivalry, emotional-wise, it’s always a roller coaster when you play them. They’re competing to save their lives these guys, so we knew they weren’t going to roll over.”


Zach Parise:

Talking about missing out on jumping ahead of Pittsburgh in points…

“We still have a game in hand, but it would’ve been nice to get that extra point. We played pretty well; I thought we just have to be a little bit better.”

You out-chanced them tonight; does that make it more frustrating?

“I thought Lundqvist made a big difference (for them); we outplayed them, out-chanced them, like you said, a lot of good things came out of it. It was just unfortunate we didn’t win.”

Did you get the shot that you wanted during the shootout?

“Yeah, I got my shot off, he made a nice save. I got the shot I wanted, that’s where I wanted to go.”

Patrik Elias:

What went wrong on that last play where they scored?

“You can analyze it as much as you want; maybe you have to win the face-off right from the get-go. They put it behind the net. Either be aggressive or maybe be a little more patient, because we left a guy right there on the goal line. It just happened; it’s too bad because we had control of that game.”

Talking about his goal early in the third…

“Those guys, Clarkie and Zubie, did a good job getting the puck deep and holding onto it there. We had good changes going on today, Nieds came off and I jumped on as the fresh guy and just went into the slot; it was a nice pass by Clarkie.”

You had a SH breakaway early in the game, were you unable to settle the puck down there?

“Is that what you saw? Well you saw more than me then. No, I just made the right play, the right move that I wanted; he stayed deep and didn’t give me much room there. He played well tonight.”

Henrik Lundqvist:

Talking about his team’s record in overtime/shootout…

“We haven’t had a good record at all in overtime; it’s funny how sometimes we give up a lot of scoring chances in overtime, but we managed to take it to a shootout and it was great to see us score right away. That gives me confidence to be more patient against my shooters.”

What’s going through your mind when Drury scores that goal?

“I didn’t even look; I was talking to Alex (Auld) on the bench (laughs), complaining about not winning and then from nowhere we tied the game — it was a great feeling. To stay alive, we needed this.”

Did you know anything about the shooters in the shootout?

“No, not at all; I just try to approach it the same way no matter who I’m facing. They’re good shooters; I’ve faced them a lot over the years and you have to respect them a lot, but today was my day.”

Devils-Penguins Postgame Quotes [03.17.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after the Devils 5-2 win over the Penguins on Wednesday night:

Travis Zajac:

What happened on your shorthanded breakaway?

“I just wanted to get a quick shot away, I thought he was going to poke-check (me); I just didn’t get it up and he made the save.”

Did you feel not as bad or better 21 seconds later?

“Yeah, Patty comes down and buries one; that was good it gave us a 3-1 lead.”

You’re 6-0 against Pittsburgh this year, any explanation?

“No, not really; we just seem to save our best hockey for them. Any time you can beat the defending Stanley Cup champions, sweep them in a year, is definitely a good feeling; you can get some confidence off that.”

If you see them in the playoffs would this mean anything or absolutely nothing?

“I think it means a little, just knowing that we can beat them and have beat them. I definitely think it means something.”

How can you carry this success into Toronto tomorrow night?

“We’ve been playing really well at home and on the road is where we have to start being a little better, hopefully we can carry this momentum into tomorrow’s game. If we do the things we did tonight — getting pucks in deep and getting pucks to the net with traffic — then we should have some success.”

Zach Parise:

Talking about his goal…

“It was a good play by Travis to find me in front of the net; I took a couple of swipes at it and I ended up pushing it in. He made the play, he got (Marc-Andre) Fleury down-and-out for me and I just tapped it in.”

You also had another chance shortly after from almost the same spot…

“Yeah, I just couldn’t get it (the puck) settled down to get a good shot on goal.”

Dean McAmmond:

Can you explain the success this year against the Penguins?

“It’s just one of those things I guess. I know a few times this year we’ve caught them on back-to-back games, so I think we had an advantage there. I don’t know, maybe we get up for them because they have very potent forwards there. Tonight they didn’t have (Evgeni) Malkin there, so that hurt them a lot.”

Big penalty kill by you guys at the end of the game…

“We were poised, stayed on our toes, jumped on errant passes. You know what, they seemed to still find some seams and still got some shots, but Marty stood his ground and made some good saves; we’ve had some good fortune against them.”

What did you think of wearing the retro-uniforms tonight?

“I thought it was kind of cool, pretty neat. It’s fun to bring back (memories) from the older days, remembering them.”

Paul Martin:

Describing his goal…

“I just stepped up into a broken play and found the puck on my stick; (Rob) Niedermayer said ‘get going, there wasn’t anyone there,’ so I just took off. I went in (to the zone) and had some room, I tried to put everything I could on it and find a spot, and it went in. I’ll take it; it was definitely a good feeling after such a long absence.”

How do you feel?

“I feel good; better than I thought I would. They (the coaches) didn’t throw me into the fire, they kind of paced me a little bit, gave me some shifts here and there. I felt good, we’ll see tomorrow if I’m sore; it feels good to just be in there. You forget how much fun you have and why you’re working out for four months to get back, it was a lot of fun tonight and a big win for our team.”

Is this the way you envisioned it when you thought about playing this game tonight?

“Yeah that would be nice; I definitely didn’t envision any goal, any points or anything like that. It was mostly just get through the game, try to knock some rust off and eat some minutes — scoring a goal, that was a bonus.”

Your legs felt good out there?

“Yeah, they felt good, I’ve been skating for a while, but it felt good to be out there in game situations. It was fun, I’m glad the way it went tonight and hopefully I can be better tomorrow.”

Dainius Zubrus:

Talking about his goal…

“I came off the bench and there was a turnover in the neutral zone and Patty made a great play, heads up. I don’t know if they were trying to change or what but he made a nice play behind his back to me, I had some speed on it. I initially thought I could take a shot, but with the speed I thought I could get around the goalie too. I gave him a bit of a fake, tried to get around him.”

Fleury started stumbling backwards when you made that fake…

“I’d have to see the replay, but it’s good if the fake works (grins); as I’m faking, I’m kind of looking at him and then thought maybe I could freeze him a little bit — I guess it worked.”

You let out a pretty big yell after you scored too…

“I was pretty pumped; you know, we started slow the first ten minutes or whatever, it was kind of slow for us. We’re playing a good team, in front of a sold-out crowd, so guys were up for this game; we just started a bit slow. It was that first goal that got us going a little bit — I was pretty happy to get that one.”

Jacques Lemaire:

What was so good about the way tour team played tonight?

“Especially after the first three to five minutes where they were all over us; we couldn’t win a battle and then we settled down and started to take over. We got a few goals and after that I thought we played a great game.”

Could you believe Martin scored a goal in his first game back?

“Well, I was happy for him; you could tell he wanted to do well, he was looking for the opportunity to move up the ice and do something. At that point there he decided to go, it was a defenseman there, he went around him and got off a good shot; it was a smart shot.”

Killing a penalty, you get two breakaways and score on one, not too bad right?

“Yeah, usually we don’t get too many opportunities on our PK, but it’s nice to have them. It gives the guys confidence that they could get a goal a different times. But what we’re looking for is not having the opponent to score a goal, more than getting one. But when they go in you take them very easily.”

Will Martin play tomorrow?

“We haven’t decided that yet. We talked briefly about it and we’ll make a decision on the way there or tomorrow.”

Are you surprised you beat Pittsburgh all six times?

“Oh yeah, definitely; it tells us it’s nice to have confidence and beat a team during the year, but playoffs is a different season and you start from scratch.”

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-Penguins Postgame Quotes [03.12.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after the Devils 3-1 win over the Penguins on Friday night:

Patrik Elias:

Talking about the first goal of the game…

“We had a good forecheck going and Kovy got the puck, he tried to feed me in the slot and it went all the way to our D. We talked about before the game if there’s no shot straight on net, try to bang it off the boards and it just worked out there. We had a little bit of luck on our side.”

Any explanation why you guys are 5-0 against Pittsburgh this season?

“Just that we are ready to play (them); they’re a good hockey club. They get chances, I thought Marty played great tonight, it’s just the way we play against them — you cant just sit back otherwise they’re going to burn you because they have so much talent over there.”

So they bring out the best in you guys?

“Yeah and we don’t just hesitate or wait for what they’re going to do, if we do that there’s not too many nights we’re going to beat them. We have to be ready to go (when we play them); we have to bring the game to them.”

How do you continue this good play tomorrow night against the Islanders?

“We had two good games in a row, we know what it took and we just have to play the same way.”


Martin Brodeur:

Was it hard to stay focused after so many missed opportunities in the second period (5-minute PP, penalty shot)?

“It is hard and you have to respect the guys, what they did, they stayed with it. A lot of things happen in a hockey game, sometimes you react emotionally and differently; today even though it didn’t go well for us on the power play and the penalty shot, we had a lot of chances to take over the game and we just let it hang. Usually when you do that against good teams – you pay the price. But our guys were confident and we knew they played last night, and we needed to play a solid third period; and we got two goals.”

You only gave up one goal tonight; did Sidney Crosby trick you on that shot?

“He wasn’t really looking at me, I know he likes that quick shot — it’s hard to kind of read him when he’s not looking at you at all. He hit it perfectly, I wanted to stand my ground there and he put it right over my stick; it doesn’t look that good, but it’s a pretty good shot.”

Your team has played well against Pittsburgh in all five games this year, why is that?

“I think we have a lot of respect for them, we know if we don’t play well we’re going to have a big problem. I think they bring the best out of us and you’re playing scared a bit with that respect that you have for them. We really took it to them, we had a great second period where we gained a lot of momentum — I think we tired them pretty good in the second even though we didn’t do anything great with some of the stuff we missed.”

Evgeni Malkin had a breakaway early in the third period; did he hit the outside of the net there?

“Yeah, he fanned on it. He got me going further and I think the puck just rolled off his stick and hit the side of the net.”

Ilya Kovalchuk:

What has stood out to you about Jamie Langenbrunner as a leader after 11 games here?

“That’s the reason why he’s captain, he’s a very experienced guy, and he’s won two Cups and knows what it takes to win. Not just him, he’s a great leader, but the leadership group here is unbelievable — Marty, Jamie, Zach (Parise), (Rob) Niedermayer, you can go on and on with names; the most important thing is those guys know how to win and it’s very exciting to play with them.”

What did you see on the penalty shot? Obviously you didn’t get the result you wanted, but did you get the shot you wanted?

“Yeah I got a penalty shot before, a couple of years ago when I was a young pup. So I scored on that move and I tried to go low glove, but he outplayed me. It’s still frustrating but the good thing is that we found a way to win.”

Did you feel better after you scored in the third period?

“You know you just try to work hard, don’t stop, don’t give up; you’re going to finally get some breaks, so this one felt good.”

Andy Greene:

On the first goal your shot went wide, was that planned?

“Yeah, they were blocking the lane pretty well and obviously being the home team we know how the boards are; I actually got a better hop off the boards then I expected, it came straight out and Patty did the rest there.”

You also scored the game-winner, talk me through that one…

“It was almost the exact same opportunity I had in the first period where I hit the crossbar, the elbow basically; I was just trying to put it in the same spot — I knew I had a good lane there. I just put everything I could into the shot and luckily it went in.”

Pittsburgh only had one goal tonight and you’re 5-0 against them this year, what has been the secret to success?

“I think we match-up well against them and we obviously know they’re a great team and we always come ready to play against them. I think we really try to focus on our defensive play because we know how good they are offensively, so that’s one of the things we really did well tonight.”

Jacques Lemaire:

There are big games and bigger games, how big was this to you?

“Well, especially in the standings and the team we played; it’s good, it’s a confidence builder. We have been working on having a little more intensity and the last two games it showed that our intensity level is higher than it has been the last few weeks.”

How about Andy Greene’s game?

“Very good, he played a lot…again. Well, we had guys that were in the penalty box so we had to maybe overplay him a little bit. His game is as it’s been all year — very solid and moves the puck well in the D-zone; and he scored a goal (smiles).”