Zubrus Zaps Sens

Predictably, last night Devils game vs. Ottawa started slow, with a very uneventful 1st period. Nick Palmieri got the scoring started 35 seconds into the 2nd period for New Jersey, a lead that lasted until the sneaky Alex Kovalev scored during a 5-on-3 at 5:09, leaving the score tied 1-1.

After 2 periods the Devils were outshooting the Senators 25-6…heck, the Jersey blueliners were outshooting Ottawa’s entire team 10-6 after 2 periods; but the score was still tied. Sens’ rookie goalie Robin Lehner (2nd career start) was outstanding during the game and was the main reason why his team wasn’t blown out of the building. Ilya Kovalchuk almost gave the Devs the lead with 7 minutes left in the game with a nifty wraparound,but was unable to complete the move thanks to the post.

Martin Brodeur wasn’t tested often early in the game, but when he was tested he was sharp and turned aside all 9 shots he faced in the 3rd. Finally with 5:43 left Dainius Zubrus ‘attempted pass deflected off of Ottawa d-man Chris Phillips stick and over Lehner’s left shoulder — one of the whackiest goals you will ever see and definitely some puck luck that the Devils were lacking over the first 40 games of the year.

Next up, Thursday at the New York Rangers. The win was NJ’s fourth in a row at home and their defensive game appears to be back to the way we remember the last 14 seasons.

Impressive games tonight by Patrik Elias, Rod Pelley and Tim Sestito for the Devs. If Kovalev is available via trade, a playoff contender should jump on him immediately, he could make a big impact in the right situation.

Dan’s 3 Stars of the Game:

#1 — Robin Lehner (Ott) — 31 saves, loss (1)
#2 — Dainius Zubrus (NJ) — gw goal (8)
#3 — Martin Brodeur (NJ) — 15 saves, win (11)

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The Waiting is Over…

After 65 days of being held hostage….yes 65…. the Ilya Kovalchuk saga is over. The NHL finally approved Kovalchuk’s 15 year, $100 million dollar deal with the New Jersey Devils and the rest of the hockey world can now move on with their lives. Personally, I was finally able to wear my ‘Kovalchuk 17’ t-shirt that I purchased after he signed the first contract that was rejected by the league and then rejected again by an independent arbitrator.

So what’s next for the Devils? Kovy’s deal puts them about $3 million over the salary cap limit with only 21 of 23 players on their roster, meaning they will have to shed at least two contracts (perhaps Bryce Salvador and Dainius Zubrus) and sign some other players to small money contracts to fill out the roster. By the way, has anyone else noticed that on the Devils official website that Jay Pandolfo is no longer listed on the team’s roster? Other candidates to be moved include Colin White and Brian Rolston, but both have no-trade clauses in their contracts and both are undesirable to other teams as of this moment. If Salvador is moved, I would expect them to bring defenseman Mike Mottau back on a one-year, cheapie deal. If Zubrus is shipped out, expect the team to add some depth by signing a solid veteran such as Richard Park, Brendan Morrison or Jeff Halpern.

With the players they have under contract now, assuming Salvador & or Zubrus are moved, here is what the opening night lineup could look like:

Zach Parise-Travis Zajac-Jamie Langenbrunner
Ilya Kovalchuk-Jason Arnott-David Clarkson
Patrik Elias-Brian Rolston-Vladimir Zharkov
Pierre-Luc Leblond-Richard Park-Mattias Tedenby

Anton Volchenkov-Andy Greene
Henrik Tallinder-Anssi Salmela
Colin White-Mark Fraser

Martin Brodeur-Johan Hedberg

spares: Mike Mottau?, Rod Pelley, Tim Sestito

Who are the teams left that can afford to add a contract like Salvador ($2.9 million) or Zubrus ($3.4 million) this late in the summer?
The Islanders, Thrashers, Blues, Hurricanes, Coyotes, Panthers, Lightning, Stars, Ducks, Predators & Kings all have $9 million or more in cap space.
Time will tell how GM Lou Lamoriello is going to shape and mold his 2010-11 roster and all we can do is sit back and wait; this time it won’t be 65 days because training camp starts for New Jersey on September 17, but they don’t have to be under the salary cap until October 8.

How do you feel now that the second best goal-scorer in the NHL will be a Devil for the next 15 seasons?

Should He Stay or Should He Go…

It’s been almost two weeks since the New Jersey Devils 2009-10 season came to a crashing halt at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers. Three days after their elimination, coach Jacques Lemaire announced his retirement forcing the team to search for it’s sixth head coach in six seasons since the lockout ended. Three consecutive first round exits, haven’t made it past the second round since winning the 2003 Stanley Cup.

After having time to digest all of this I’ve come up with some suggestions on how to improve the team and hopefully help them (at least) make it out of the opening round of the playoffs. All salaries I used are courtesy of nhlnumbers.com.

Coach: Hire Mike Keenan. The ex-Ranger coach, (more recently ex-Calgary) would seem like an odd choice at first glance, but he knows how to win and he could work well together with another crafty mind like GM Lou Lamoriello. His first task will be convincing Brodeur to play less games, oh and his career total of 672 wins is good for 4th all-time.

Trade: Jamie Langenbrunner, Mark Fraser (and/or) Andy Greene to Toronto for Tomas Kaberle. Perhaps Lamoriello can convince Leafs GM Brian Burke that he can use a Langenbrunner to lead his young team in 2010-11 as he led Burke’s Team USA to a silver medal. Kaberle has one year left on his current deal at $4.25 mil, so to make it fair salary-wise Lamoriello may have to surrender both Greene and Fraser; Langenbrunner is due $2.8 mil and will also be going into the last year of his contract. Perhaps Kaberle will waive his no-trade clause to skate with fellow Czech Patrik Elias.

Trade: Before the draft call your old trading partner Don Waddell from Atlanta and offer him RFA David Clarkson ($875,000) for soon-to-be UFA Colby Armstrong ($2.4 mil). Maybe he still wasn’t 100% from the leg injury, but Clarkson was invisible versus the Flyers; Armstrong will be a player that plays hard every shift and in front of the opposing goalie he will be a pain in the @$$, something Clarkson has failed to do in each of the last two postseasons. See if Waddell has any interest or room for Jay Pandolfo also, who could help stabilize a young squad.

Free Agency: Let Paul Martin, Mike Mottau, Rob Niedermayer, Rod Pelley and Martin Skoula walk away. Changes have to be made and most of these players were very serviceable, the ultimate results just weren’t there.

Do whatever you have to do to re-sign Ilya Kovalchuk. Quick name another first overall pick that has played for the Devils. Stumped, well as far as I know there is only one other– Bobby Carpenter — and he wasn’t nearly as dynamic as Kovalchuk is. Hopefully Ilya sticks around, but who am I kidding, there’s no way he’ll stay in New Jersey right?

Sign Free Agents : Tomas Plekanec, Marek Svatos and either Andy Sutton or Anton Volchenkov. Plekanec is the center that the Devils have been lacking since Scott Gomez took the money and ran to Manhattan, leaving Travis Zajac as the team’s only legitimate scoring center. Svatos is a talented, scrappy, underachieving winger from Colorado who could fit in on a solid third/fourth line. Either Sutton or Volchenkov won’t come cheap, but they are both worth the money that will be spent on them. They both block shots well, get in shooting lanes and aren’t afraid to get into scrums to protect the front of their crease — a huge lacking element in NJ the last three playoff failures. Both players also have the same downside too — they are both injury prone, so teams may end up being hesitant to throw major cash around.

There’s a saying ‘scared money makes no money’ so I say the Devils need to revamp the current edition to make it look something like this:

Line A: Ilya Kovalchuk-Tomas Plekanec-Patrik Elias
Line B: Zach Parise-Travis Zajac-Dainius Zubrus
Line C: Brian Rolston-Colby Armstrong-Marek Svatos
Line D: Pierre-Luc Leblond-Tim Sestito/Dean McAmmond-Vladimir Zharkov

D-pair 1: Tomas Kaberle-Anton Volchenkov/Andy Sutton
D-pair 2: Matthew Corrente-Bryce Salvador
D-pair 3: Colin White-Anssi Salmela/Tyler Eckford

Goalies: Martin Brodeur, Yann Danis

I know I’ve made some crazy suggestions here, and I have no doubt that I’ll probably be 0.00% right, but hopefully some changes are made so I’m not sitting home watching less-superior teams battle for a chance to get steamrolled next season. Let me know how insane this all sounded, Thanx.

Dan

Devils-Senators Postgame Quotes [11.25.09]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Wednesday’s 3-1 Devils win over the Senators:

Niclas Bergfors:

There was an odd bounce on your goal, was that an easy one to score?

“Yeah, I was a little bit surprised to get it there. I just took the shot and it went in.”

Are you happy with how the team bounced back after going winless in the last three?

“I think it was good; it was a tight game. We never really had them (put away), but with hard work, I think we kept them from getting really good (scoring) chances. It was a good team effort.”

Ottawa didn’t have any power plays tonight, was discipline a big part of the game tonight?

“Yeah, they have good players, top players, so they are really dangerous when they get the man-advantage. We were good.”

You grew up in Sweden, what was it like to play against Daniel Alfredsson and was/is he some one you looked up to?

“Yeah, a little bit. He was winning a lot with the Swedish national team, so of course I definitely have respect for him. I’ve never met him though, only played against him.”

Martin Brodeur:

Talk about some saves you made tonight…

“They had a couple of good chances; we had a couple of breakdowns and they got some high tips, but I was able to be in good position. The puck was hitting me (tonight).”

Do you guys have to have a good stretch with all of these home games coming up?

“We have to, I think. It’s a huge advantage to play at home, and we have to take it somehow. It’s not an easy thing to do, but an easy thing to say — I think we have to play a certain way in our own building. We’re playing to get all these points and that’s going to translate into home-ice advantage hopefully, in the playoffs, if we do get there. It’s important to play at home, and the way Jacques likes to coach at home and stuff.”

Did you get a souvenir from tonight’s game for the newest member of your family?

“Yeah I got the puck. Hopefully he’ll be happy later on.”

Brian Elliott:

Bad luck on the first goal that caromed off of the boards on a dump-in?

It’s just a case of bad luck, I guess. I don’t know if they planned that or what, but it was a good play (for them) I guess.”

Do you think they have a home-ice advantage there, a home-glass advantage?

“Well if they know it has a tendency to do that, if you’re going to dump it in, why not try it and see what happens. Something that we’ll learn from and when we come back here (on Dec. 18) we’ll know about for sure.”

Chris Campoli:
Your thoughts on the game tonight…

“I thought it was a hard-fought game; they played typical, Devils-style hockey where they like to sit back and have you come at them. We kind of played into their hands a bit that way. We didn’t create a whole lot (offensively) and anytime you do that, and make a couple of mistakes that they capitalize on, they are a tough team to beat.”

Jacques Lemaire:

Why are you laughing?

“I’m laughing because I’m late, I was in a meeting.”

What did you like about the win tonight?

“The third period – I think we were better with the puck. We started to move the puck, better passes which was a lot better than what we were doing in the first and second periods. I think in the 1st and 2nd (periods) we turned the puck over a lot and every pass the guys received on the backhand, they couldn’t handle the puck. Most of them on the forehand couldn’t handle the puck. But we got a win (smiles).”

You said when the injured players get back you will move Patrik (Elias) back to wing, might you change your mind after tonight’s game?

“I’ll see at that time. He’s playing much better now (than when he first came back), he’s getting better as a player, as a center, making better plays. He’s in control right now, which is good. Now, when the other guys, the centers, come back, I’ll see. Because I know a guy like Patrik that can play center and wing, and has a lot of talent – I know that when that talent is put on the wing with a decent center (alongside him) he could be really effective. He doesn’t have to do all that work that a center-man will do: work with the defense down low, you know, prepare all the plays offensively.”

Based on the way Marty played tonight, will he start Friday afternoon in Boston?

“We haven’t talked about this yet. We mentioned it last week, but tomorrow we’ll solve that problem.”

Would you agree that he saved the game in the third period tonight?

“Definitely a couple of times; he played really well.”

Which one of the kids from Lowell impressed you the most?

(Matthew) Corrente played really well for his first game on defense, he was poised. He did certain plays that a five-year veteran defenseman does. I was impressed, he played good minutes too (8:54). Besides him, defenseman (Tyler) Eckford, different position for him playing forward tonight, but he was fine, nothing special, but we wanted him for the power play (2:44 of 7:57 played on PP). Timmy Sestito, he’s very steady, he works hard, and I can use him on the wing. To me it’s a lot easier for a center to go on the wing — left or right doesn’t matter — he’s been a pleasant surprise in a way. He’s doing the job, solid defensively. We don’t have a lot of offense but one thing at a time.”

How was Dean McAmmond tonight?

“He’s getting better – I liked him tonight. He made one play that I didn’t like around our net there, a turnover, but you can see he raised his game right after, and that he was upset. He’s a guy that I have confidence (in) when I put him out on the ice. Matt Halischuk is pretty much the same thing: he’s young, he’s learning and a lot of it is a matter of confidence when you put the kids on (the ice).”

How do you think Niclas Bergfors played tonight?

“I think he played good. He still had long shifts and I’ve been telling him about this and I’ve told him; it’s the 20th game and I think twice a game so that’s like 40 times, but he’s going to get it. He needs to take shorter shifts.”

Devils-Caps Postgame Quotes [11.14.09]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Saturday’s 5-2 Devils win over the Washington Capitals:

Dainius Zubrus:
Your thoughts on the game…
“Well the start wasn’t obviously very good, with the penalty that they (the refs) gave them and the quick goal they scored. We don’t want to give that up, but sometimes that happens. But more than anything, its how we reacted afterwards; we started skating, we were much better with the puck, winning battles — definitely for the last 40 minutes and parts of the first period as well.”

I thought you had a strong game (10-4, 71% on face-offs) and you were active when you had the puck; did you feel good out there?
“Yeah I felt good. You play against good players; our line and Travis Zajac’s line, sort of matched up against their two top lines. They’re a good team and their top guys play a lot, that’s where they get most of their goals from, so you want to be skating and play well against them. At the same time, by playing alot, you get in the game and you have to be moving and get your legs going, so I felt pretty good.”

Next game is in Philadelphia, how do you continue the winning streak?
“Well, the same way we played tonight for the last 40 minutes, when we are skating, when we are strong on the puck, winning battles, we can be successful. We’ve done that for the last nine games on the road, and some here at home too. I don’t think we’ll change much; honestly I don’t think about how many games we’ve won on the road. It’s just a big game because it’s a division rivalry and they’re doing well too, winning a lot of games. I don’t know stats-wise, but I know they aren’t too far from us in the standings.”

Jamie Langenbrunner:
What did you change after they scored the first two goals?
“Get our feet moving, we stood around and watched them for the first 10 minutes of the period and they took it to us. You watch that much skill and you don’t move your feet and you don’t battle; Jacques (Lemaire) talked about intensity and we didn’t have intensity for the first part of the game, and we got it back”

How different of a team are they without Alex Ovechkin?
“They’re still a talented team…everybody’s missing players. Obviously, he’s a big part of their team, but they’re missing four other players too; and we’re missing five. That’s part of playing in the NHL.”

Do you remember your first NHL goal?
“Yup (smirking), it was a while ago.”

How special is it to see Matt score his first NHL goal?
“He tried to play it cool and stuff, but you could tell he was excited. I think he has some people in town too, so that makes it that much more special. You couldn’t ask for a better goal, it was a good shot. Usually it’s a sloppy one, but that was a great shot.”

Nicklas Bergfors:
Coach changed the lines after the first period again, is it a big deal to you, or do you just play your game no matter what line you are on?
“We didn’t really do too much in the beginning (of the game), so I didn’t mind it; whatever is best for the team — he knows that. It (changing the lines) has worked before, it’s not the first time, so you just have to go out and play harder.”

Do you have to change your game at all, when you play with different linemates?

“I just try to play my game, try to be more simple because things didn’t work out in the beginning of the game.”

Describe the play that Matt scored on, you had a big part in it with the primary assist…

“We had a 3-on-2 and that’s something that we have practiced, the middle guy drives to the net. He got open, I gave him the puck and he made a good shot. It was a nice goal.”

Zach Parise:
How did you shut the Caps down after they scored the first two goals?

“We started to be a little better as a team and we didn’t give (Nicklas) Backstrom and (Alexander) Semin a lot of room out there, so it was a good job by our defense.”

You can set a record in Philly for longest road winning streak to start a season. Do you guys even look at that, or is it just a game in Philly?
“We don’t look at that, that’s something that you guys (the media) looks at. We don’t pay attention to that, we’re having fun, we’re playing smart, we’re playing well. We know it’s going to be a tough game, it’s never easy going into Philadelphia; they have a good team and they are playing well right now. We want to do the same things we did tonight — play good smart hockey.”

Matt Halischuk:
Walk me through your goal and how did you feel afterwards?
“It was a great play by my linemates there Timmy (Sestito) did a great job driving to the net and I got a nice pass from Nicklas, so I just tried to get it on net as quick as I could and fortunately it went in, so it was a pretty special feeling for sure.”

I know you’ve scored some big goals playing in Junior Tournaments, how big is this one?
“Oh, well this is right up there, it’s pretty special, and it feels great to contribute. It was a great team effort for the win.”

Do you have to change your game at all when Coach Lemaire changes your linemates?

“I don’t think so, I think you just have to go out there and take responsibility and play your best. We have a bunch of great players here, so it’s always nice to get to play with these guys.”

When you got sent down to Lowell earlier in the season and then got called back up, did you play any different so as to not get sent back down?
“Yeah, it’s never fun getting sent down, but you always want to play as hard as you can to get called back up. Fortunately, it was a quick turnaround (3 days) and I was able to get back up. I just try to take it game-to-game and keep going.”

Devils Slap Caps Scoring 5 Unanswered Goals

Sorry, no Recap from Devils 5-2 win over Washington on Saturday due to computer issues, but here are my three stars of the game, the line combos/d-pairings and game notes:

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 — Jamie Langenbrunner (NJ) – pp goal (4), assist (11)
#2 — Nicklas Bergfors (NJ) – 2 assists (9)
#3 — Dainius Zubrus (NJ) – assist (5), 71% face-offs (10-4)

Game Notes: The win was number 1,000 for the Devils since moving to New Jersey. Devils defenseman Colin White scored his first goal in 80 games. Washington’s Tomas Fleischmann scored the first goal of the game and has points in eight straight games (7g-3a). Capitals captain Chris Clark played in his 500th NHL game. Andy Greene led all skaters in ice-time with 25:36 and was a game-high +3, Mike Green led the Caps with 23:51 and had two assists. Zach Parise led all players with five shots on goal and scored a goal for the fourth straight game. Rookie Tim Sestito, playing in his fourth career game, got his first career point/assist on fellow rookie Matt Halischuk’s first NHL goal.

Line combos/d-parings:

New Jersey:
Parise-Zajac-Elias
Rolston-Zubrus-Langenbrunner
Halischuk-Sestito-Bergfors
Peters-Pelley-Clarkson

White-Mottau
Greene-Fraser
Salvador-Murphy

Washington:
Semin-Backstrom-Fleischmann
Laing-Morrison-Fehr
Bradley-Perreault-Clark
Steckel-Laich-Gordon

Green-Morrisonn
Poti-Sloan
Pothier-Schultz

Devils-Ducks Postgame Quotes [11.11.09]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Wednesday’s 3-1 Devils win over the Ducks:

Martin Brodeur:

Talk about the next three games (at Pitt, vs. Wash., at Philly)…

“It’s going to be a big week, a big weekend; these three games are going to be hard. This one is a back-to-back, so it was good to get a win in the front end.”

Did the ceremony make you think that you’d like to have a (Cup) celebration here at the Prudential Center?

“It doesn’t matter where (laughing), just another one would be awesome. I think it’s always nice to see things like that — because we worked really hard for the guys that were there — and for the young guys, it makes you realize what you can achieve. These things are great; it’s a special year with us playing all three teams that we beat in the Stanley Cup Finals in one season. And it’s definitely nice to see the faces on the scoreboard and the faces of the few guys that were here.”

The PK was real strong tonight going 6-for-6…

“Yeah well…we got ourselves in penalty troubles – again too many men on the ice – twice in the game. Sometimes you pay the price when give these kind of freebies to the opposition, but our guys stepped in; we didn’t quit. Guys worked really hard on the PK and that’s why we were able to be dominant tonight.”

Zach Parise:

Talk about your shorthanded goal…

“It was a good play by Whitey to step up and hold the blueline there and Jamie was able to thread the needle there (to me). I think I caught (Ryan) Whitney a little flat-footed there and was able to jump past him and get a breakaway.”
You’ve seen time on the PK this year, how do you like it?

“I like it a lot; it’s better than sitting on the bench for two minutes. You want that responsibility, you want to be one of those guys that they (the coaches) feel comfortable having on the ice. Yeah, I like penalty killing.”

They say the worst thing you can do is give up a goal in the first or last minute of a period, was your goal a backbreaker for them?

“Yeah, they were on the power play, it’s a 2-1 game, they were looking to tie it up and we know it doesn’t feel good (to give up a goal there). We’ve been on the other side of that.”

For you it had to be a great feeling to score there…

“Yeah, it’s a good feeling (to score), regardless of when it comes. It’s definitely a good feeling being able to contribute.”

Jamie Langenbrunner:

Tough schedule coming up…

“Obviously we have some tough games coming up and it’s nice to start off this segment with a win. The thing about this league is we have a game tomorrow so we have another tough game and we have to focus on that.”
Talk about your goal in the opening minute…

“It was definitely a focus of ours to have better starts. A great job by Zubie to win the face-off, good job by Zach jumping in to get it, good shot by Greenie; I just went to the net and was able to get my stick on it.”

What part of your stick did you get on it?

“I got the blade on it I think; I’m not 100% sure, but I think it was the blade.”

David Clarkson:

You had a nice goal tonight, describe it…

“I think Greenie made the pass, it was just one of those plays that I saw the D coming across so I just pulled the puck across (my body). I knew that if I did that the goalie would be coming the other way, so I put it (my shot) back the other way and it went in the net.”

It seemed (Jonas) Hiller gave up a lot of rebounds tonight; is that something the team talked about?

“Yeah, I think you pick up on stuff like that – rebounds around the net. We knew we had to get there. You see Zach’s goal, it was hard work – he just kept banging at it and banging at it and it went in. Those are things we did talk about; the rebounds around the net, get to them and get pucks at him, because there’s a chance it could go in.”

Talk about the penalty kill tonight…

“The penalty kill was great. I took a couple of penalties myself – I’d have to see the replay to see if they were real penalties – but they (the PK) were huge. I came out of the box and thanked them, because I was the guy in the box most of the night.”

Marty said he keeps telling you that the toe drag doesn’t work anymore…

“(laughing) Yeah we were joking it’s a men’s league move but I guess it worked there tonight. The guys were bugging me a little bit, but you know what I was just going to the net and its something you try right? Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t; tonight it worked and I’m happy the puck went in.”

The shootout goal (in Tampa) and now this one – two nice goals you have now this season…

“I’m learning stuff (all the time), from players in this room and trying to pick up some moves that guys make to try and make myself better; and I find it’s helping me.”

Jacques Lemaire:

Is your team getting better?

“I think in some aspects of the game we’re getting better; not all of it, not yet.”

Where are the exceptions?

“(Smiles, then laughs) we have to get better at too many men on the ice…that’s one thing.”
But you’re good at it.

“Yeah exactly, we’re getting good at it.”

When you have this (winning) streak, there’s some sort of formula that’s enabling this streak. What’s enabled it? It’s six in a row now…

“It’s hard to say, it’s hard to say. I think right now we’re getting some breaks, which is a big part of it. I think the guys believe that they can be successful, that is a big part. They believe we can do it, they believe we can come back. So I think it’s all of this. We’re playing as a team more and more, but there are still little things.”

What do you call a break, what break did you get tonight?

“Tonight we worked well; we worked well enough to win the game. When they scored the goal, we picked it up, again, which was good. I thought tonight was our best start since the beginning of the season.”

What will stick with you about Clarkson: the move/shot on his goal or the penalties?

“The three penalties; I want the guys to play for the team – which he does – all the time. He’s going to get some penalties, it could be accidental, but the one that I really didn’t like (the too many men on the ice call) was when he jumped on the ice, he got the puck…when Zach just came in front of him. That’s the one I didn’t like. But on the other hand, when you look at it after the game…his goal was a huge goal. His goal was a huge goal.”

How about this kid from Rome, NY, Tim Sestito, he seems to fit in really well?

“He’s playing with energy which I love. He’s on the puck, and he’s in good position, he takes the man and plays as aggressive as he can and skates well. So, that’s why he’s playing.”

Will Brian Rolston go to Pittsburgh?

“Yes, he will be playing tomorrow.”

How good was your D tonight?

“They were as good as they’ve been all year. Maybe at the start we couldn’t find the high man, our long passes were not good. We were going D-to-D, or back to D; we don’t want that. We have to find the open players, and that we didn’t do too well at the start. But we talked about it and during the first period they started to get better.”

How impressed are you with Mark Fraser?

“Very impressed, very impressed…he’s solid. You know who would say, at the start of the year that this kid would be with us? Secondly, playing, now he’s among the top four (defenseman). He’s getting a lot of minutes and I love the way he plays. He’s very safe and aggressive and he’s playing a man’s game out there.”

Andy Greene led you club in ice-time and added two assists, your thoughts?

“He’s been very steady all year; probably the best defenseman up till now. He’s so calm and knows the game well. He’s sneaky – what I mean is he is getting away from guys and putting pucks where his teammates can get them. These little passes that he makes…its all smarts, stuff that he does.”

How much does he remind you of Scott Niedermayer?

“Greene? He doesn’t have Nieder’s speed. He has his finesse, the speed does it all for Nieder.”

The PK tonight?

“Tonight had to be our best, our best PK of the year so far.”

How was Patrik Elias tonight?

“Very good, you know he’s getting better and that’s what I like. I know he’s not at his best, but he’s got good skills and its coming. When he’s in top shape he’s going to help us a lot.”

Is he going to Pittsburgh?

“Yeah, I think he’s ready (for back-to-back games).”