Throughout the offseason, The Devils’ Den will preview the Devils 2010-2011 schedule, giving you an in-depth preview of the 29 other teams the Devils will face next season. Last season, the Devils took first place in the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference. This season, the team will look to improve on their abysmal playoff performance. In today’s first preview, we take a look at this season’s matchup with the San Jose Sharks.
Sharks vs. Devils – Historical Data
In 26 all-time regular season meetings, the Devils are 16-7-2-1 against the Sharks. The Devils average 3.42 goals against the Sharks, while the Sharks only score 2.31 goals against the New Jersey.
The Devils defeated the Sharks, 4-3, in their only meeting on March 2 in San Jose. Dainius Zubrus scored the game’s first goal, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead at 11:13 of the second period. Mark Fraser scored 35 seconds later to increase the lead to two. The Devils continued to pound the Sharks, with Ilya Kovalchuk extending the Devils lead to three with a powerplay tally at 19:42.
The Devils completed an unanswered four-goal streak at 5:44 of the third period, when Travis Zajac scored his then-20th goal of the season. The Sharks, however, wouldn’t go quietly. They broke the shutout at 8:46 of the period on a Devin Setoguchi goal. Less than two minutes later, Setoguchi struck again, tallying a powerplay goal and cutting the Devils lead to 4-2. Joe Pavelski scored the third straight goal for San Jose to bring the score to 4-3. But the Devils were able to hold on for the victory, 4-3.
Devils vs. Sharks – This Season’s Matchup
The Devils and Sharks will face each other twice this season. The Devils will face a new Sharks team this season, with a huge change in net. Gone to the KHL is Evgeni Nabokov, who stood between the pipes for ten years in San Jose. His replacement, Antero Niittymaki, will be a definitive downgrade for the Sharks, and I’m willing to bet that most San Jose fans will miss Nabokov early in the season. The team did hold on to key offensive pieces, locking up Patrick Marleau and Pavelski to four-year contracts and Setoguchi to a one-year deal. The team also has Joe Thorton, one of the best centers in the game. While they may take a step backward offensively, the departure of Nabokov and the retirement of Rob Blake make the Shark’s defense weaker heading into the 2010-2011 season.
Other Important Stats
Last season was the first time Zach Parise faced the Sharks. He recorded two assists and finished +2 against them…After being held scoreless the first time he faced the Sharks, Kovalchuk recorded his two career points against San Jose last season…Thornton has 35 career points (14 goals, 21 assists) against the Devils…In seven career starts against the Devils, Nabokov was 2-5 with a 3.39 goals against average…Martin Brodeur is 10-6-2 with a 2.33 goals against in 18 career starts against the Sharks.
While browsing through my daily hockey reading, I came upon an interesting story on Puck Daddy. The NHL Network, a substandard highlight network for the NHL, will undergo some serious changes in the near future. The changes made should finally bring relevance to the channel and give hockey fans a reason to watch the network.
The league’s COO, John Collins, got the ball rolling on proposed changes to the network. Earlier in the summer, Collins admitted that the league wanted their network to become more than spirited “talk radio” debate. Collins, who was once an NFL executive, turned to Charles Coplin, the former vice president of programming with the NFL, to begin creating new content. Coplin was named the NHL’s vice president of content, which involved developing and maintaining relationships with local media and managing the content on NHL.com, NHL network and other social media platforms.
Coplin made two big announcements, which should begin a drastic change of the network. The first is that the league intends to take over its studio from CTV, a Canadian television network, and build it’s own Hi-Def studio in Toronto. For those who watch the studio segments on NHL Network, this is a welcome relief. CTV’s standard definition looked terrible, and the studio looked bland. This makeover will do wonders for the network, as its analysts can now present themselves in the most modern of studios. If done right, the new studio should give instant respect to the network’s “NHL on the Fly” and “NHL Live” programs.
The second announcement involved a shakeup in the network’s programming. The channel will no longer be home to constant game reruns and highlight-reel films. Coplin intends to make the network into a news-gathering organization. Coplin, who oversaw a similar transition with NFL Films, believes this will bring relevancy to the network.
“When Brett Favre stubbed his toe, every media outlet covered it,” Coplin said. “At NFL Network, we would cover stories and compete with the other guys. Here, on many days, we’ll be the only ones doing the work. We have to make sure our fans trust us.”
Both of these announcements are positive signs going forward for the NHL Network. For too long, it’s been irrelevant to most hockey fans. Don’t get me wrong, some of their ideas were great. This summer’s Stanley Cup winner series was fun to watch, and I appreciated watching the Devils win their three cups. But, too often, this is the only programming the network will run. There is no news show or any platform to break news. When the Ilya Kovalchuk contract was rejected, the network didn’t even run a breaking news story on it.
Continue reading to see what I think should happen with the NHL Network!
Today may be the day the Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk learn the fate of a newly submitted 15 year, $100 million contract.
According to several media sources, the league’s front office made a decision on the contract yesterday. The league will send the Devils a letter today informing them of whether the newest contract has been accepted or rejected.
The league has until five p.m. Wednesday to make a decision on the contract. If the league surpasses this deadline, then the new deal would be automatically approved and registered.
Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos tweeted some details of the new contract last night. Kypreos reported the new offer will pay Kovalchuk $10 million dollars in the final five years of the deal. The average salary over the last three seasons would be $2.6 million, with a base salary of $4 million in the final year of the deal.
That differs sharply from the rejected contract, which only paid Kovalchuk $2.75 million in the final five years of the deal.
Update (5:18 p.m.) – There has still been no word from the league or the Devils on whether or not the contract for Kovalchuk has been approved or denied. Remember, the deadline is tomorrow at five, so there is the possibility of this decision dragging into tomorrow.
Remember to check The Devils’ Den throughout the day for updates!
Throughout the offseason, The Devils’ Den will preview the Devils 2010-2011 schedule, giving you an in-depth preview of the 29 other teams the Devils will face next season. Last season, the Devils took first place in the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference. This season, the team will look to improve on their abysmal playoff performance. Earlier today, I previewed the Devils’ matchup with the Montreal Canadiens. For today’s second preview, we take a look at the Devils’ cross-river rival- the New York Rangers.
Rangers vs. Devils – Historical Data
In 206 all-time regular season meetings, the Devils are 85-87-27-7 against the Rangers. The Devils average 3.10 goals against their rival, but allow the Rangers to score 3.36 goals per game. In six regular season meetings, the Devils went 3-2-1 against the Rangers.
The Rangers won the first meeting of last season, 3-2, on October 5. Rob Niedermayer scored the game’s first goal 1:10 into the first period, giving the Devils the early lead. It wouldn’t last long, as Michael Del Zotto scored a powerplay goal at 6:31 to tie the game. The Devils responded with their own powerplay tally, as Travis Zajac restored the one-goal lead at the 10:52 mark. The seesaw battle continued, with the Rangers tying the score at two with an Ales Kotalik powerplay goal. Matt Gilroy put the Rangers ahead for good with an even-strength goal at 17:50 of the second period.
The Devils exacted revenge 17 days later, when they defeated the Rangers, 4-2, at Madison Square Garden. Zach Parise gave the Devils a 1-0 lead at 6:11 of the first period, and Niclas Bergfors doubled the lead at 15:10 of the period. The Rangers came roaring back in the second period, using goals from Marian Gaborik and Kotalik to tie the game at two. The Devils took control in the third period, with Dainius Zubrus scoring the game-winning goal at 7:51 of the period. Parise added an empty-net goal to seal the victory. Martin Brodeur stopped 29 shots in the win.
The Devils won the third game of the series, 1-0, in a shootout on January 12. The game was a goalie duel, with Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist going save for save. The teams remained scoreless into the shootout, with the Rangers electing to shoot first. Erik Christensen, the Rangers first shooter, lost control of the puck and couldn’t get a shot on net. Parise was up first for the Devils, and had his blocker-side shot denied. Brodeur stopped Kotalik, Gaborik and Brandon Dubinsky to keep the Rangers off the board. Lundqvist stopped Jamie Langenbrunner and Zajac, but couldn’t stop Patrik Elias. The Devils left-winger put the puck over Lundqvist’s catching glove, giving the Devils the win.
With that win, Brodeur recorded his first career regular season shutout at Madison Square Garden. The Devils’ goalie stopped 51 shots for the win. Lundqvist recorded 44 saves in the loss.
The Rangers won the fourth meeting of the season, 3-1, to even the season series. The Rangers scored three unanswered goals in the second period to take the lead. Zubrus scored a third period goal, but it wouldn’t rally the Devils. Lundqvist made 41 saves for the win.
Continue after the jump for the rest of the preview!
The Devils and Ilya Kovalchuk are once again at the mercy of the National Hockey League.
Both sides submitted a new contract to the league this past Friday. The Devils and Kovalchuk worked extensively with the league to create the framework of a new contract, which is a 15-year, $100 million dollar contract. Kovalchuk will account for a $6.66 million dollar cap hit.
The NHL rejected the first contract between Kovalchuk and the Devils. On July 19, Kovalchuk signed a 17-year, $102 million contract. But the league rejected the deal for several reasons, most notably the age at the end of the contract and its front-loaded structure. The NHLPA filed a grievance on behalf of Kovalchuk, but systems arbitrator Richard Bloch upheld the decision.
The league now has five actual days to review the contract. The latest we will hear about this new contract will be Wednesday.
The structure of the contract was not released. When speaking to Tom Gulitti about the contract, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello felt “good” about the new deal.
“We feel good about what we submitted,” Lamoriello said. “I’m not going to get into anything else at all because it could be misleading or misrepresented.”
So, once again, Devils fans must wait to league to decide the fate of the contract.
Throughout the offseason, The Devils’ Den will preview this season’s upcoming matchups. The Devils, who finished second in the Eastern Conference last season, will face every team in the NHL at least once next season. Today we take a look at a familiar foe, the Montreal Canadiens.
Canadiens vs. Devils – Historical Data
In 128 matchups, the Devils hold an all-time record of 56-61-10-1 against Montreal. The Devils only average 2.77 goals against the Canadiens, while Montreal lights the lamp an average of 3.20 times a game. Last season, the Devils went 3-1-0 in four games against the Canadiens.
The Devils defeated the Canadiens, 2-1, in the team’s first meeting on December 16, 2009. Travis Moen gave Montreal an early lead with a shorthanded goal in the first period. Ilka Pikkarainen scored his first career NHL goal in the second period to tie the game. Patrik Elias broke the scoreless tie at 17:24 of the third period, scoring the game winning goal for the Devils.
The Devils defeated the Canadiens in overtime, 2-1, to win the second game of the season series. New Jersey took a lead on a goal by Travis Zajac at 4:06 of the first period. But the Devils couldn’t keep Montreal off the scoreboard, as ex-Devil Scott Gomez tied the game in the second period with a powerplay goal. The score would remain that way until overtime, when Zach Parise scored the Devils first overtime goal of the season to give New Jersey the victory.
The Canadiens defeated the Devils, 3-1, at the Prudential Center on January 22. Parise opened the scoring at 5:16 of the first period, but Montreal answered back with a goal from Benoit Pouliot at 16:10. Mathieu Darche broke the tie in the second period, and Michael Cammalleri increased the lead to 3-1.
The Devils won the final game of the series, 4-2, on March 27. Elias struck first for the Devils, giving the team a 1-0 lead with a powerplay goal at 8:11 of the first period. The teams traded goals in the second period, with the Devils holding a 3-2 advantage at the end of the second period. Brian Rolston added an empty-net goal in the third period to clinch the win.
Devils vs. Canadiens – This Season’s Matchup
The Devils and Canadiens will face each other four times this season, with the first game coming on October 21. The team’s last matchup, on April 2, could be a key late-season matchup, possibly helping to determine playoff position in the conference.
We all witnessed the miraculous run the Canadiens made to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. The team upset conference powers Washington and Pittsburgh, but lost to the Flyers in five games. But this isn’t the same team as last season. Gone is playoff hero Jaroslov Halak, who was traded to the St. Louis Blues for two forwards. The team also traded Sergei Kostitsyn to Nashville, getting Dustin Boyd and Dan Ellis in return. The team would let Ellis go, leaving them with Carey Price as their number one starter. The Canadiens will bring a solid offensive effort to the ice this season, but the biggest question will remain with their netminders. Can Price, a career underachiever, find his groove and become a successful goalie? That will be key to the Canadiens success this season.
The Devils have traditionally played well against the Canadiens. Despite their all-time head-to-head record, New Jersey seems to have Montreal’s number. The Devils should continue to enjoy success against the Canadiens this season.
Other Important Stats
Parise recorded four points (two goals, two assists) during the season series…Elias and Parise tied for the team lead in goals, with each scoring two against the Canadiens…Gomez tallied three points (one goal, two assists) against his former team…Brian Gionta, another former Devil, recorded one assist in four games.
During the offseason, The Devils’ Den will preview the matchup between New Jersey and their opponents. New Jersey, which finished second in the conference and won the Atlantic Division last season, will look to duplicate their success and finally get out of the first round of the playoffs this season. In today’s second schedule preview, we focus on an Eastern Conference opponent – the Boston Bruins.
Bruins vs. Devils – Historical Data
The Devils and Bruins have faced off 129 times, with the Devils compiling a 46-61-19-3 record against them. The Devils average 2.81 goals for against Boston while allowing 3.37 goals against. The teams faced off four times last season, with the Devils winning the season series, 3-0-1.
The Devils won the first game, 2-1, on October 29, 2010 in Boston. David Clarkson gave the Devils a lead, scoring his third goal of the season at 13:25 of the first period. Patrice Bergeron tied the score for Boston in the second, and both teams stayed tied until late in the third period. Dainius Zubrus played hero, scoring the game-winning goal at 18:34 of the final period. Yann Danis made 31 saves in his Devils’ debut.
Almost a month later, the Devils defeated the Bruins in a shootout, 2-1. Zach Parise started the scoring, recording his 14th goal of the season at 9:45 of the first period. It would remain that way until the third period, when Blake Wheeler tied the score only 12 seconds into the period. In the shootout, the teams traded goals in the second round, with Wheeler and Parise both scoring. After David Krejci missed in the third round, Jamie Langenbrunner buried his opportunity for the win.
The game also carried extra significance. Martin Brodeur surpassed Patrick Roy for the most minutes played by a goaltender in the second period, breaking yet another record. The Devils also lost Clarkson to an ankle injury. In the first period, Clarkson blocked a shot from Zdeno Chara at the point, which would impact his health throughout the season.
The Devils extended their winning streak to three games over the Bruins with a win, 3-2, at the
Prudential Center on March 15. Rob Niedermayer began the scoring at 9:58 of the first period, scoring his ninth goal of the season. Clarkson and Parise scored goals 45 seconds apart, and the Devils held a three goal advantage at the first intermission. Wheeler scored a goal in the second period, and Bergeron scored in the third to make the game interesting. But the Devils would hold on to win the game.
The Bruins took the last meeting of the season, shutting out the Devils, 1-0, on March 30. Both teams played to a scoreless draw until overtime, when Bergeron fired home the game-winning goal with 19 seconds left in the extra period. Brodeur stopped 33 shots in the losing effort. Tuukka Rask stopped 21 shots for his fifth shutout of the season.
Devils vs. Bruins – This Season’s Matchup
The Devils and Bruins will once again face off four times this season, the first of those meetings coming on October 16. The Devils also will end the 2010-2011 season against each other. The Bruins made a big splash this offseason, signing second overall pick Tyler Seguin to an entry-level contract. The team also retained several players, re-signing Wheeler, Mark Stuart and Mark Recchi, among other players. The team also now has a clearer goalie picture, with Rask taking the reigns as the number one starter.
The Devils played well against the Bruins last season, but the team hasn’t historically done well against Boston. For the past few seasons, Boston has challenged for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. While they’re not a perennial power in the conference, the Bruins continually play tough games against the Devils. I would expect those four games to be tough and hard fought, and it seems as if a budding rivalry will continue to grow next season.
Other Important Stats
Bergeron became a Devil killer last season, netting three goals in four games against New Jersey. He was the most prolific scorer against the Devils last season. Meanwhile, the Devils depended on Clarkson and Parise, who both recorded three points (two goals, one assist) against Boston.
Throughout the offseason, The Devils’ Den will preview the upcoming 2010-2011 season schedule for the New Jersey Devils. New Jersey finished second in the Eastern Conference and made the playoffs for the thirteenth straight year last season, and the team will look to duplicate that success in the upcoming season. After previewing a few teams so far (you can find those under the “Season Preview” tab), we move to the next team – the Colorado Avalanche.
Avalanche vs. Devils – Historical Data
The Devils are 34-32-8-1 all-time against the Avalanche, which includes the team’s seven game series in the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals. The Devils average 3.43 goals for in their meetings against Colorado, and allow the Avalanche 3.39 goals.
Last season, the team’s only faced each other once, on January 16. The Avalanche struck early, with Chris Stewart giving Colorado a 1-0 lead 3:17 into the first period. T.J. Galiardi scored a late period goal to extend the lead to two. The score remained 2-0 until the third period, when Rob Niedermayer cut the lead in half. But the Avalanche would add a late insurance goal to win the game, 3-1.
The Devils wouldn’t leave the game completely healthy. Early in the second period, Patrik Elias took a vicious hit from Ryan Wilson. Skating down the right side, Wilson met Elias with a shoulder to the chest. The Devils’ left-winger laid on the ice for several minutes, but waved to the crowd as he was taken off the ice.
Devils vs. Avalanche – This Season’s Matchup
The two teams face off one time this season, on October 15. The Avs haven’t made any significant changes during the offseason. The team will still feature some talented young players, such as Paul Statsny and Matt Duchene, but don’t expect them to be competitive in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Colorado has fallen a long way from the perennial power they were in the early 2000s, and I’d expect to see the same roster as last season.
The windfall from systems arbitrator Richard Bloch’s decision to uphold the NHL’s rejection of Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million agreement with the Devils spread past the player and organization.
The NHL, fresh off the empowering decision, have decided to investigate similar deals to decide whether or not those contracts violate the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. This decision by commissioner Gary Bettman could alienate fans and, far worse, impact the credibility of those running the league.
In his ruling, Bloch made sure to mention four other long-term contracts that are structured similar to the rejected Kovalchuk deal. Those deals – given to Robert Luongo, Chris Pronger, Marc Savard and Marian Hossa – all were front-loaded deals that help drive down their cap hit.
Bloch noted that these deals haven’t escaped the eye of the league.
“The apparent purpose of this evidence is to suggest that the League’s concern is late blooming and/or inconsistent. Several responses are in order: First, while the contracts have, in fact, been registered, their structure has not escaped League notice: those SPCs [standard player's contracts] are being investigated currently with at least the possibility of a subsequent withdrawal of the registration.”
There’s one key issue with that last statement – “subsequent withdrawal of the registration.” Two players, Hossa and Pronger, already played under these contracts. Denying both players the ability to play out a contract that was already approved would be ridiculous. If the NHL had an issue with this deal, then they should have rejected the deal or reviewed it closer. The league should not deny the players the ability to play under a guaranteed contracts which were already approved last season. Should the league then review the contract of Henrik Zetterberg? By reviewing this deal, the NHL is setting a bad precedent – one that will tell the players that, even if a deal was approved at one time, it can be rejected at any point.
The other two players – Luongo and Savard – begin their extensions this season. In an e-mail to the Vancouver Sun, Canucks general manager Mike Gillis confirmed that the league is investigating Luongo’s contract. Savard’s contract, according to Bruins’ G.M. Peter Chiarelli, has been under investigation since its filing in December. The key point with these contracts are that both were approved despite investigations. Bloch’s decision shouldn’t mean that the league renews its vigor on finding “cap circumvention” within any of their deals.
Read after the jump to see why I believe the league is setting a bad precedent for future contracts with these new investigations.
The New Jersey Devils will have two new head coaches running their AHL and ECHL affiliates next season.
Rich Kowalsky will take the reigns as coach of the Albany Devils, while Kevin Dean will be behind the bench for the Trenton Devils next season.
Kowalsky, 38, served as head coach of the Trenton Devils for the past four seasons. Under his watch, the team went 138-112-10-18. The team’s best finish was in 2008-09, when they finished second in the North Division and lost in the divisional semifinals. Kowalsky is looking forward to the opportunity to move up and coach the AHL squad.
“I’ve been a head coach now for four years and I think it’s even more comforting knowing there’s a certain familiarity staying in the organization,” Kowalsky said. “There’s probably eight to 10 guys that have played in Lowell that spent significant time with me (in Trenton). I think there will be a half dozen players that will be in Albany next year. For me, it’s just the next step. Yeah, it’s a little different. You’ve got kids that you’re dealing with now all on NHL contracts and with one foot in the door from an NHL standpoint. It was unique situation in Trenton where there was really an emphasis put on development to try to get these kids to the next level for them, which is the American League. So, I think it’s just a natural step.”
Assisting Kowalsky in Albany will be Tommy Albelin, who is a former assistant with the Devils. Kowalsky believes Albelin’s experience will be a big boost to the AHL prospects.
“I thought this would be a good fit not only for me, but for Tommy,” Kowalsky said. “And I just think to be able to have an assistant coach with that much experience in the NHL as a defenseman, I think is great for the young defensemen and all the prospects. But I think it’s good for me as a young coach to be able to bounce things off him.”
General manager Lou Lamoriello realized the importance of getting Albelin experience as a team’s top assistant.
“This gives him an opportunity to make the next step where he’ll be the No. 1 assistant and to see whether this is the route he wants to take,” Lamoriello said. “It will be his first time running the bench, changing the (defense). He’s excited about it. He, in his opinion, wasn’t ready to be a head coach. Not that he was offered (the job), but we’ve had these discussions.”
Kevin Dean served as an assistant coach the past four seasons while the team was in Lowell. The head coaching job in Trenton will be his first professional coaching experience.
Dean, who worked with John MacLean last year in Lowell, where he learned how to hold players accountable. That experience, Dean believes, will help him tremendously with this coaching opportunity.
“I think I’ve always been a pretty good communicator, but one thing I learned last year working with John MacLean was accountability,” Dean said. “These guys need to be held accountable and they need to know when they do well and when they don’t do well. I think accountability is a huge part of it. I think they want to be held accountable, too.”
Vince Williams remains in Trenton to serve as the assistant to Dean.