Devils Win Season Finale/Lemaire’s Last Game

Devils 3 Boston 2

The New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins played a game on Sunday afternoon at the Prudential Center, but all of the talk following the game wasn’t so much about how much of an epic failure this season was for Jersey’s Team, it centered on their coach who was retiring again and stepping away from the Devils bench for the third time.

Jacques Lemaire ended his second stint as the team’s coach last season after the Devils were eliminated in the first round against the Philadelphia Flyers; he cited his age and family as reasons to step away from the game. New Jersey started this season poorly under first-time bench boss John MacLean (9-22-2) and when GM Lou Lamoriello called Lemaire the week before Christmas looking for a coach to save the season, the 65-year-old couldn’t turn his back on the franchise. “I’m going back to where I was before this year,” said the coach at his farewell press conference.

“(The job) demands a lot. I want to enjoy life; I want to enjoy the family. I thought that I did make the right decision last year. I’m happy I took it, I took the job for the rest of the season; I had fun. It was a huge challenge for me; I thought the guys responded well. Like I mentioned this morning, the only regret I have is not making the playoffs.”

Lemaire came in and, although it took a few weeks, he was able to get the team back on track to their usual winning ways. Many of the players, including Ilya Kovalchuk, responded almost immediately and started to live up to the backs of their hockey cards. “Kovy really likes him, there’s no doubt about that” said Martin Brodeur. “They got along real well right from the get-go last year. So I’m sure he’d like to see him back; I think a lot of guys would like to see him back also. “Although they didn’t reach their ultimate goal of reaching the postseason, Lemaire’s Devils (27-17-3) gave a valiant effort that included a two-month stretch of the season where they reeled off eight consecutive wins and an incredible 20-2-2 record in 24 games to pull them back into contention for a playoff spot.

Ultimately the season was a failure, but the team never gave up and had some fun over the final 41 games — including the last game where they sent Lemaire out a winner with a 3-2 win over the Bruins. Vladimir Zharkov scored his second career goal, breaking a 1-1 tie four minutes into the third period, beating goalie Tuukka Rask on a breakaway. Rookie defenseman Alexander Urbom’s first career goal came 5:10 after Zharkov’s tally and proved to be the game-winner when Boston’s Chris Kelly scored with 3.1 seconds left.

Urbom (who appeared in seven games earlier this season) was recalled from Albany earlier in the day along with Adam Henrique — who was making his NHL debut. Henrique, the Devils’ 3rd round draft pick in 2008, became the tenth Devil (team record) to play his first NHL game this season: Mark Fayne, Stephen Gionta, Jacob Josefson, Oliver Magnan, Brad Mills, Matt Taormina, Mattias Tedenby, Urbom and Alexander Vasyunov. Lemaire really liked what he saw from the 21-year-old Henrique, “He didn’t look like he played in his first game in the NHL. He’s going to move the puck, can skate, sees the ice well and I’m sure he’s got a touch for scoring. So, all these kids that are either with us or came up, this is the future — and the future up front is bright, there’s no doubt about this.”

Johan Hedberg made 24 saves in front of the sellout crowd at the Rock and finished the season with a solid record of 15-12-2 (three shutouts) in 34 games; Brodeur’s season ended under .500 for the first time in his 16-year career, 23-26-3 (six shutouts).

Patrik Elias scored his 21st goal of the season 1:47 into the game and with his 62 points he led the Devils in scoring for the seventh time in his career. Kovalchuk led the team in goals with 31. Four players played in all 82 of the team’s games: Travis Zajac, Andy Greene, Henrik Tallinder and David Clarkson; Kovalchuk appeared in 81 games — only missing a game when MacLean suspended him for missing a team meeting.

Lemaire admitted he was unsure up until two days ago, but was confident he made the right choice. “This is exciting, this is fun; especially when the team wins, and it’s a great atmosphere. You love a lot of things, you get really upset, you get mad about what the players do, not at the individual but at what they’re doing. But as soon as they do something good, right away you feel good. I said this today when I talked to my wife; I said if I was younger, I would be coach because I love it.”

Game Notes: Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg led all skaters in ice-time with 22:54 while Greene led the Devils with 22:18. New Jersey forwards Rod Pelley and Clarkson led all players with five shots on goal each; Milan Lucic led Boston with four. Clarkson’s assist on Urbom’s goal was the 100th point of his career. The Devils will be in the NHL Draft lottery for the first time since 1996 and will find out where they pick in the first round on Tuesday night.

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Vladimir Zharkov (NJ) – goal (2)

#2 – Johan Hedberg (NJ) – 24 saves, win (15)

#3 – Tuukka Rask (Bos) – 29 saves, loss (14)

Dan Rice can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com

Advertisements

Devils-Oilers Postgame Quotes [11.12.10]

Here are the postgame quotes from the Devils-Oilers game:

Brian Rolston:

Talking about his return to the lineup…

“I’ve been out of the lineup 14 games so tonight was a bit of a battle (physically), but we got through it.”

It seems like the team is finally starting to play well together, do you agree?

“Well we looked a little better obviously; it always feels good to win for sure. There is still a long road ahead of us and we have to get (even) better.”

Can you talk about the goal you scored tonight?

“It was just a good play, a hard-working shift by our whole line. Clarkie (David Clarkson) came around the net, wrapped the puck and I just got the rebound; I was basically on top of the goalie so I didn’t have to shovel it too far.”

It came at a crucial point in the game though…

“Yeah absolutely; especially after they go up 3-1 and especially with the way things have gone around here, it was a character win for us to come back.”

Patrik Elias:

How big was it for Ilya to get that goal in overtime?

“Well obviously it was big, I’m pretty sure he’s relieved and it was a big goal for all of us.”

What were your impressions of Tedenby’s game tonight?

“I think I’m going to have to answer that about 50 times tonight (laughs), it’s okay. He’s played well, and he’s played well in both games he’s been here. He makes good plays, holds onto the puck, he’s poised with it and we had a couple of great cycles going. We had a lot of good (scoring) opportunities; hopefully the puck will start going in for us a little bit more. We had a lot of good chances in the first and second periods, we have to stay with it, play that way, have fun and it’ll go in.”

It seems like despite his size (listed modestly at 5’10”) he’s not afraid to go into the corners and bang bodies with some of the bigger players, do you agree?

“Yeah it’s tough to play against those small guys though…just look at Gionta — both of them (smiles). It’s tough to defend those guys, they’re usually very quick. Sometimes he may draw a penalty (on the opponent) because they’re so small. He’ll get better as we go along.”

Is there anything that you have to tell him during the game?

“We talk, we talk a lot. We talk power play, what do we want to do, we talk five-on-five; you know sometimes when he needs to be aggressive and when he needs to be poised. It’s a learning process and he’s asking questions.”

Ilya Kovalchuk:

How do you feel about how the game went?

“I thought we played real well, our start was there — we had a couple of great chances but they scored those two goals. But we never gave up, it was a great team effort and a great comeback; we’re definitely going to build on this.”

Did you want that puck at the end, did you want to get that goal?

“Yeah that what Oatesy (assistant coach Adam Oates) drew up on the board there during the timeout and we went started in a box and then went into the umbrella.”

Does it make you feel good to finally get that win at home?

“Yeah, it took us a while but sometimes you have to go all the way to the bottom. We have that win now and maybe we’ll start playing better and feeling better. We have a lot of guys back (in the lineup) now and that helps. Especially those veteran defenseman and Marty (Brodeur); we have some great young kids who play really hard but they were struggling because they don’t have much experience.”

Is that where you felt you were, rock bottom?

“Yeah; it couldn’t get worse.”

Personally?

“I think for everybody. Especially after that last game, you just have to smile at those things and move on.”

How did it feel to score that goal?

“It feels good. But we’re still, I don’t know, 14th or 15th in our conference, which is not where we want to be.”

Where did your shot beat the goalie?

“Low glove hand, I think right over his leg pad.”

When the game went to overtime how badly think you think ‘I want to be the guy tonight’?

“I think everybody was looking for it because when you step on the ice you want to score and help the team win. That’s our job.”

Can this be a win that sparks the team and leads you guys to reel a few (wins) off?

“That’s what we need. We have a big road trip coming up against three teams that play really well and it’ll be a good challenge for us.”

What did you think of (Alexander) Vasuynov’s goal?

“It was nice; he’s a guy that works really hard. My countryman (smiles), he got the first of many I hope; last year Zharky (Vladimir Zharkov) was here and he couldn’t get a goal. I really wanted him to score so he has confidence when he has the puck.”

Mattias Tedenby:

You could have had two goals tonight…

“Yeah, I know, I missed that one opportunity I had there on the power play when Clarkie shot and I got the rebound.”

When you did score it felt pretty good right?

“Yeah, exactly. It felt very good when I scored out there on the second PP.”

The deflection hit off the shaft of your stick or the blade?

“I think it was my blade.”

Did someone get the puck for you?

“Yeah I think so. I saw the puck before, but I don’t know where it is now.”

This is pretty easy right, you got a goal and an assist your first two games?

“I’m playing with good players and I’m just trying to work hard. Arnie (Jason Arnott) and Elias give me a lot of space (to work with) with smart passes.”

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-Blackhawks Postgame Quotes [04.02.10]

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

Martin Brodeur:

Talking about the game…

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

What did you see on the lone shootout goal?

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

Are you worried about the late-game woes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ilya Kovalchuk:

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

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

Talking about his goal…

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

Your 40th goal tonight, a nice milestone?

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

Did you get the shot you wanted during the shootout?

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

Jonathan Toews:

Did this game have a playoff-feel to it?

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

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

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


Brent Seabrook:
Talking about a low-scoring game…

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

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

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

What could’ve been different right before they scored?

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

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

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

What could have been done different during the shootout?

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

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

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

Devils-Maple Leafs Postgame Quotes [02.05.10]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talk about your goal…

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

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

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

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

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

Martin Brodeur:

Talking about the power play…

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

What’s your take on Kovalchuk?

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

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

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

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

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

Jay Pandolfo:

Talking about his goal…

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

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

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

Jacques Lemaire:

Can you describe what led to the turnaround?

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

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

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

Talking about the third period…

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

Is Kovalchuk more than just a goal scorer?

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

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

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

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

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

Did Zharkov have one of his better games?

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

Ilya Kovalchuk:

How exciting was this win?

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

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

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

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

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

Were you nervous?

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

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

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

How do you feel you played?

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

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

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

Devils-Canadiens Postgame Quotes [12.16.09]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Wednesday’s 2-1  win by the Devils over the Canadiens:

Patrik Elias:

Why is it that you and Brian (Rolston) are really clicking right now?

“It’s not just me and Brian; I think that Zharkov is doing a lot to make it fun, to make it successful as a line. We’re playing as a unit, all three guys; you saw that he (Zharkov) made another good play on that goal. He’s working hard and makes smart decisions, and with Brian, we’re just having fun, a lot of communication and just playing.”

Was this a patient game (tonight)?

“I don’t know, I don’t think that’s the way we want to play. Like I said, the power plays, we did a lot of good things in the first period because we drew four power plays in a row, and it didn’t work for us tonight. Not every night is going to be perfect, or its going to work; it kind of affected us, maybe a little bit, for the second period. I think both teams didn’t play as good as we can, but we’ll take the win.”

Vladimir Zharkov:

Can you talk about the play on the game-winning goal?

“I see one guy came to me and the second guy went to Rollie, then it was a 2-on-2. It was a beautiful, very nice; Rollie stopped, wait, wait, wait, he gave the puck to Elias; Elias finished nice goal.”

Are you having fun playing with those two guys, it seems like you have good chemistry?

“Maybe, because I love playing with those two guys; very good passers, you know, Rollie and Elias, but I am young. I played just nine games, you know — these guys help me all the time. We skate very hard every game, but I’ve only played nine games, I’m just a young boy.”

Jamie Langenbrunner:

Talking about the play where he lost the puck and gave up shorthanded breakaway…

“We had a set play on that and it just bounced up on me; I went to pass it and the puck wasn’t there. It’s one of those things, unfortunately that one ended up in our net.”

What are you thinking when that happened?

“Oh spit (laughs). I tried to come back as hard as I can, I tried to force him and it was a good job by Andy (Greene) to force him to his backhand; it just snuck its way through.”

Would it have been worse for you mentally if you lost 1-0?

“Probably; the win kind of hides those kind of mistakes I guess.”|

Ilkka Pikkarainen:

Is that the way you envisioned your first goal happening?

“No, that was a lucky one, but I don’t care how they go in; I’m very happy.”

How does that first one feel, especially in a tight game?

“It feels good, we were struggling in the first period, but in second and third we did better.”

Did you think the shot was going in when you took it?

“No, (laughs) I was really happy it went in though. The goalie helped me a little bit there.”

How good does it feel that the team came out flat and still got the two points?

“Yeah, I’m happy that we got the two points.”

Martin Brodeur:

Scripting this I’d call it strange but true victories…

“Well definitely this one was kind of a weird one a bit, we didn’t play our best game. But we stuck with it and scored a big goal at the end; Patty again comes through for us.”

(Scott) Gomez almost got one (on you)…

“A couple of good shots, he kicked one in (on me). I thought we handled their offense pretty good, we had one breakdown — on one of our power plays — and they got a goal out of that. After that, a couple of screen shots, one hit me in the head in the second period there, but I thought defensively we did a great job against especially Gomer and (Mike) Cammalleri, who’s one of the hottest players.”

How surprised were you that the fans kept booing him?

“Well, it’s like anything, everybody’s demanding on being perfect every night and its all in their rights. We’re there trying our best and some nights it works and some nights it doesn’t and it’s just part of the game.”

No, I meant booing Gomez…

“Oh, I thought you meant our power play in the first period (laughs).”

They booed Gomez every time he was on the ice…

“They’ve got to get over it sometime (laughs), but I think he’s not playing for the Rangers anymore, so it’s not as bad. Even for us (players) I think the sentiment of him being somewhere else is a lot different, but fans are weird that way. I think they care about their team and when a guy goes out and does something like that — unless you’re like Bobby Holik and come back and play for us, they’ll start cheering him again.”

1,029 games — how many of them were like that one?

“Oh, I don’t know; that was kind of boring (out there). It’s a big win.”

Is it a gratifying win knowing that maybe the team wasn’t at its best tonight?

“I think we played a team that’s not doing really well right now, and you know that they’re going to try to keep it simple; they did, they didn’t really do much out there and they didn’t give us much opportunities either. They gave us a lot of power plays, but we didn’t do anything with them and we got a lucky goal on a shot over the net that (Carey) Price mishandled and after that we got kind of a cold shower on them — scoring that late goal, definitely nice.”

Another milestone (for you), what does this one mean?

“Well, durability as I’ve talked about for a few days. That’s what playing a lot of games is, it’s being durable, and it’s being successful; because if you’re not, the coach doesn’t put you in there. I’m definitely happy that it’s passed, we get to the next game and it’s over with and move on to just play hockey.”

Travis Moen’s shot went through your legs?

“I think so, he came in on his backhand and he waited (me) out. I was on my post and thought I had everything covered and he just snuck it right through my legs.”

Jacques Lemaire:

How would you describe this game?

“Well, I have to say at the start we got the penalties (against them). I thought we were playing exactly the way we wanted to play. Then, power plays, as I mentioned to the guys in there, power plays are great when you can take advantage; it will destroy the whole team when you don’t score; especially when you go 5-on-3. Then guys make the wrong pass, take the wrong shot or they don’t score. They get frustrated and if they can’t get that off their mind, it’s tough to play hockey like that. I think the power play just turned things around.”

Yet somehow the team hung in, Montreal never got that second goal…

“I don’t think they were better than we were (laughs), we were not good but they weren’t (any) better. They probably had five chances the whole game and we had eight or nine with all the power plays, so you look at the game — only the third period I thought it was decent. The best part of it was the last three minutes.”

How do you describe the rookie’s goal?

“Oh Pikk, I guess he wanted to keep the puck deep and the goalie tried to catch it in his glove and it went in; it’s just a lucky goal. But you know what, that’s what we needed.”