The New Jersey Devils stockpiled impressive depth up the middle. The team’s brimming with talent, and many players are ready to take the next step to the NHL.
Travis Zajac leads the brigade, firmly entrenched as the team’s top center. Patrik Elias, a converted left-winger, seems destined to finish his career as the team’s number two center. Jacob Josefson‘s solid rookie debut will undoubtedly lead to a roster spot next season. Rod Pelley will look to fend off Adam Henrique, Tim Sestito, and others for a spot on the roster.
That talent flows right down into Albany. Seven of Albany’s top ten scorers were centerman, an astounding number that shows the true talent in the position. Most won’t develop into first line scorers. But the depth is pretty amazing, and should provide the team with solid players for the future.
Albany Devils (AHL)
Matt Anderson – 76 GP, 55 points (23 G, 32 A), minus-3 rating
Anderson was an All-Star this season, netting a goal in the midseason showcase. He led all centers in every significant category despite never playing with a consistent line. In his three AHL seasons, Anderson improved his performance, posting a career high in points last season. Henrique will get the call first, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Anderson get a look in the prospect camp this summer.
Adam Henrique – 73 GP, 50 points (25 G, 25 A), minus-3 rating
Henrique had one hell of a rookie season. While his 50 points aren’t overly impressive, he managed to produce offensively without a consistent line combination. His 25 goals are a rookie record. He shifted to left-wing for the second half of the season, which probably helped his numbers. His 50 points put him sixth among rookie scorers. He won’t need any more time in the AHL and should compete for a spot next season.
Steve Zalewksi – 81 GP, 44 points (15 G, 29 A), minus-8 rating
Zalewski came to the Devils organization in a February trade, where he found his game. He posted 11 goals and 17 assists in 31 games after the trade. He’s had a taste of the NHL, playing three games with the San Jose Sharks last season. He’s had AHL success, but never found a foothold. He seems destined to be AHL fodder who may get a few games here and there.
Stephen Gionta – 54 GP, 30 points (10 G, 20 A), plus-7 rating
Gionta gained fame for playing against his older brother, Brian, this season. Other than that, he didn’t do much with his NHL callup. He found some success in the AHL, collecting 30 points. He’ll never be a scorer and probably wouldn’t move past the fourth line on the NHL level. He provides good depth but isn’t the first choice for a roster spot next season.
Brad Mills – 53 GP, 24 points (15 G, 9 A), minus-2 rating
Mills made his NHL debut this season, scoring a game-winning goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in November. He’s a decent centerman, but nothing to write home about. His 24 points ranked pretty low, which is odd considering he anchored the team’s top line. Like Gionta, he’s a depth player at this point.
Throughout the offseason, The Devils’ Den will break down the 2010-2011 Devils season. We’ll cover the big team stories, but also offer a breakdown of individual player performances. In today’s review, we focus on Rod Pelley.
For the past few years, the New Jersey Devils raved about the abilities of Rod Pelley. Several team officials believed he could become the next John Madden. Last year, after Madden left the team as an unrestricted free agent, he got his first shot at taking the defensive forward role. Jacques Lemaire wouldn’t play him full-time, so we never fully got to see his potential.
With a new coach this season, Pelley got his chance. He didn’t become an elite checking forward, but he made the most of his chance. For most of the season, Pelley anchored the team’s checking line. His numbers weren’t superb, but they weren’t overly terrible. He ended up proving what he was – a defensive forward who could be used on the team’s third line.
Pelley At Even Strength
As a third-liner, Pelley didn’t see much time on the ice. His time on ice per 60 of 10.24 was middle of the road, which is expected. He put up a negative player rating of minus-0.25, which also isn’t terrible considering his line. For someone who isn’t going to generate much offense (just 10 points this season), his rating will take a hit. It also suffered from his quality of teammates, which checked in at minus-0.317. When you’re constantly centering guys like Adam Mair, that’ll help drive down the rating.
As a third-liner, Pelley’s greatest impact should be defensively. A look at his numbers shows he had an almost neutral (and slightly negative) impact this season. When on the ice, teams scored 23 goals against, an average of 1.82 goals against per 60. He only generated 1.11 goals per 60, leading to a plus/minus on the ice of minus-0.71. It’s not a good number, because you never want any player with a negative plus/minus. Off the ice, however, the numbers increased. Teams averaged 2.51 goals against per 60, but also scored more (2.05 goals for per 60). That drove the plus/minus with Pelley off the ice down to minus-0.46, which seems like an improvement. But Pelley and his linemates aren’t goal scorers, which will obviously put him at a disadvantage in his on-ice plus/minus rating.
The shots against numbers paint a slightly negative picture. With Pelley on the ice, he held teams to 25.4 shots against per 60. With him off the ice, that number dipped to 23.5. That’s almost two full shots less. It’s not a huge number, but it shows he wasn’t the best defensive option on the team’s bench.
The Corsi numbers wraps up this section nicely. Pelley’s on-ice Corsi was a minus-7.92, one of the worst among forwards with at least 50 games played. Off the ice, that number improved to plus-7.06, almost a 180 degree turnaround.
Pelley On The Penalty Kill
Pelley’s numbers on the penalty-kill paint a similar picture to his five-on-five numbers. His time on ice of 1.38 put him within the top nine of the Devils penalty killers, putting him in the regular rotation. Like his even strength rating, Pelley turned in a negative rating of minus-1.36. It was one of the worst ratings among regular penalty killers, but a deeper look at the numbers could expose some flaws.
Penalty killing, of course, isn’t a one man show. Teammates sway the numbers heavily, and Pelley’s teammates didn’t help him one bit. His quality of teammates was minus-0.764, which ranked dead last. Teams scored 10 powerplay goals against Pelley last year, an average of 5.86 goals per 60. That gave Pelley an ugly plus/minus average of minus-5.86. The number improved with him off the ice, dipping to 4.93 goals against per 60 and a plus/minus rating of minus-4.50.These numbers make sense, as better combinations produced better results on the ice.
The Penguins lead the Devils, 2-1, in the third period of their game tonight at the CONSOL Energy Center.
Sidney Crosby almost scored his second goal of the night at 12:21 of the third period. Crosby sent a wrist shot over the glove of Johan Hedberg, put the puck hit the pipe and came out into the slot.
David Clarkson and Deryk Engelland dropped the gloves at 14:31 of the period. The scrap started because of a hit Clarkson put on Engelland in the Penguins zone. Engelland landed some solid right hooks, but Clarkson dragged the defenseman down to end the fight.
Hedberg stoned Kris Letang to hold the deficit at one. With Rod Pelley in the box for delay of game, Letang sprung free in New Jersey’s defensive zone. The defenseman drove the net and shot low into the pads. Hedberg made the save, then absorbed the hit from Letang when he crashed the crease.
The Penguins lead in shots, 27-18. Pittsburgh, already 0-for-4 with the man advantage tonight, will have 1:09 remaining on their fifth powerplay opportunity, a tripping minor to Dainius Zubrus, to begin the third period.
Travis Zajac nearly tied the game with 4:55 left in the middle period. Jamie Langenbrunner stripped former teammate Paul Martin in the neutral zone and joined Zajac for a 2-on-1 rush. The captain passed the puck to Zajac, who cut toward the front of the net. He moved across the crease, looking to backhand a shot past the blocker of Marc-Andre Fleury. Penguins defenseman Zybynek Michalek ended the chance, knocking the puck off Zajac’s stick.
Shortly after that, Fleury stoned a Dainius Zubrus attempt from the slot. The Devils’ center skated the puck into the slot and fired a shot glove side. Fleury gloved the attempt and held on for the whistle.
Crosby’s goal at 12:49 of the second period put the Penguins ahead, 2-1.
Alex Goligosky drove the net in the Devils zone, putting a shot on Hedberg. The Devils’ goalie blocked the initial shot, but a rebound caromed off his pads and to the left of goal. Crosby, who was all alone at the side of the net, went to one knee and hammered home the shot for his 24th goal of the season.
Crosby now has two points tonight (one goal, one assist). He’s been averaging two points per game during his 16-game point streak.
Colin White should take the blame for that goal. He left Crosby all alone to come to the front of the net. I don’t know if there was a breakdown in communication, but you don’t ever leave Crosby alone near your net.
I’m not sure what the ice conditions are like at the Penguins new arena, but it looks choppy here in the second period. Several pucks have bounced over sticks, and players from both teams are wiping out on the ice.
Pascal Dupuis had an opportunity for his second goal of the game only 33 seconds into the second period. White tried to shoot the puck off a faceoff in the Penguins zone, but the puck was blocked to the neutral zone. Dupuis raced ahead of the defense and broke in on a short breakaway. Hedberg came out to challenge, and turned away the scoring chance.
The Penguins outshot the Devils, 16-8, in that first period. Pittsburgh also had three powerplay opportunties, generating six shots. The Devils were able to kill off all three opportunities.
An early whistle cost the Devils a chance for a rebound opportunity with 25 seconds left in the period. The refs blew the play dead after it appeared Fleury stopped and held a shot. But the puck trickled behind the Penguins goalie and sat all alone in the crease.
Zubrus had a beautiful scoring opportunity denied with less than a minute left in the first period. The center caused a turnover in the Penguins zone and drove the net. He couldn’t keep the puck on his stick, and missed out on an opportunity to put a shot on net.
Dupuis’ goal at 15:41 of the first period pulled the Penguins even with the Devils, 1-1.
Crosby started the play in the neutral zone, kicking a loose puck from his back skate to the blade of his stick. The Penguins captain skated into the Devils zone along the side boards, and found Dupuis open in the middle of the Devils zone. Dupuis ripped a one-timer past Hedberg for his eighth goal of the year.
The assist stretched Crosby’s point streak to 16 games.
Brian Rolston’s powerplay goal at 14:20 of the first period put the Devils ahead, 1-0.
With Dupuis in the box for hooking, Mattias Tedenby curled behind the Penguins net with possession of the puck. He came up to the side boards and passed the puck to Jason Arnott, who was streaking into the zone. The center blasted a shot toward net that went wide right. The puck hit Rolston, and the left-winger corralled the loose puck and fired it home for his second goal of the season.
The New Jersey Devils traveled to Boston on Monday night, fresh off their first home win of the season. The Devils looked to beat the Bruins and uber-goalie Tim Thomas to start their first win streak of the season. The Bruins, however, wouldn’t allow the Devils the pleasure of winning on their home ice. Boston scored once each period and defeated the Devils, 3-0.
Tim Thomas Stones The Devils
Entering tonight’s game, Thomas carried impressive season statistics. In ten games, the Bruins goalie was 8-1-0 with a 1.45 goals-against average and a .957 save percentage. And while he carried rather pedestrian numbers against the Devils (5-5-0-3, 2.43 GAA, .920 save %), Thomas played stellar hockey tonight. It was two desperation saves that kept the game scoreless in the opening minute and ultimately affected the tone of the game.
The Devils generated two great scoring chances only 40 seconds into the opening period. Patrik Elias broke in on a 2-on-1 with Mattias Tedenby, and held the puck as he cut across the slot. Thomas came out of the net, and Elias looked to have a wide-open chance. But Thomas kicked out the pad to make a save, and stoned Tedenby with the back of his knee on a rebound attempt.
If the Devils score, this game may have ended differently. But a hot goaltender will get lucky, and Thomas made one lucky save to keep his team even early. Thomas stopped 27 shots en route to his league-leading fourth shutout of the season.
“It’s unfortunate,” Devils coach John MacLean said. “We had a chance there early, but we couldn’t bury our chances. They got some chances and put them in. Our stars didn’t bury their chances.”
Checking In To The Sin Bin
The Devils spent 19 minutes in the penalty box tonight, and it seemed like the constant whistles helped stymie whatever momentum the Devils generated. Within those 19 minutes, the Devils faced a 5-on-3 and a double minor. With all those minutes in the box, the Bruins got several advantages, and Michael Ryder took full advantage to score the game-winning goal.
Matt Corrente and Adam Mair took penalties in the first period to give the Bruins a 5-on-3 opportunity. With both players in the box, Ryder received a pass from Patrice Bergeron near the goal line. The right-winger held the puck and fired a shot on Martin Brodeur. The puck snuck through a gap between the Devils goalie and the near post for Ryder’s sixth goal of the year.
The refs didn’t make the best of calls tonight, but the Devils should have found ways to avoid the box tonight. They couldn’t, and it severely hampered any offense they tried to muster.
These Bruins Are Lightning Quick
The Bruins struck quickly against Brodeur, opening the second and third periods with first minute goals to bury the Devils.
Nathan Horton scored 43 seconds into the third period to put the Bruins ahead, 2-0. Milan Lucic carried the puck into the neutral zone, and passed cross-ice to Horton. The right-winger carried the puck across the line and let go a wrist shot near the top of the circle. The puck beat Brodeur stick side for Horton’s eighth goal of the season.
In a bit of deja vu, Blake Wheeler scored 43 seconds into the third period to extend the Bruins lead to 3-0. With Henrik Tallinder pinching down the boards in the offensive zone, Mark Recchi created a turnover near the blue line. The veteran left-winger carried the puck through the neutral zone and fed Wheeler near the Devils’ blue line. Wheeler carried it to the circle and fired a wrist shot toward the net. The puck glanced off of Colin White’s stick and through the legs of Brodeur for Wheeler’s fourth goal of the season.
Continue reading for the rest of the recap!
Blake Wheeler’s goal at 43 seconds of the third period extended the Bruins lead to 3-0 in the third period of their game tonight at the TD Garden.
With Henrik Tallinder pinching down the boards, Mark Recchi created a turnover near the blue line. The veteran left-winger carried the puck through the neutral zone and fed Wheeler near the Devils’ blue line. Wheeler carried it to the circle and fired a wrist shot toward the net. The puck glanced off of Colin White’s stick and through the legs of Martin Brodeur for Wheeler’s fourth goal of the season.
The Bruins and Devils each put seven shots on net in the second period. Through two periods, the Bruins lead in shots, 17-14.
Nathan Horton’s goal at 43 seconds of the second period put the Bruins ahead, 2-0.
Milan Lucic carried the puck into the neutral zone, and passed cross-ice to Horton. The right-winger carried the puck across the line and let go a wrist shot near the top of the circle. The puck beat Brodeur stick side for Horton’s eighth goal of the season.
There was a delay midway through the second period as the crew at TD Bank fixed broken glass.
The Devils penalty killers have been busy tonight. In the first period, they faced a 5-on-3 chance, in which they allowed a goal. But down 2-0, the P.K. players killed off a four-minute double minor to Mattias Tedenby for high sticking.
The Bruins led the period in shots, 10-7.
Michael Ryder’s powerplay tally at 15:26 of the first period put the Bruins ahead, 1-0.
With both Matt Corrente and Adam Mair in the box, Ryder received a pass from Patrice Bergeron near the goal line. The right-winger held the puck and fired a shot on Brodeur. The puck snuck through a gap between the Devils goalie and the near post for Ryder’s sixth goal of the year.
Both teams have had excellent scoring chances throughout the first few minutes of play. Patrik Elias gave the Devils a great opportunity within the first minute of play. Breaking in on a 2-on-1, Elias held the puck and cut across the slot. Tim Thomas came out of the net, and Elias looked to have a wide-open chance. But Thomas kicked out the pad to make a save, and stoned Mattias Tedenby with the back of his knee on a rebound attempt.
Brodeur made his own great save, using a poke check to deny Daniel Paille on a breakaway opportunity.
While Paille broke in alone on Brodeur, Rod Pelley and Adam McQuaid dropped the gloves near center ice. Though Pelley dropped McQuaid immediately, the Bruins rookie got up and made it an even fight. Eventually Pelley dropped McQuaid to the ice for the win.
Here were the starting lineups:
Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – Mattias Tedenby; Colin White – Matt Taormina; Martin Brodeur
Jordan Caron – Blake Wheeler – Mark Recchi; Dennis Seidenberg – Mark Stuart; Tim Thomas
The New Jersey Devils (5-10-2) travel to Boston to face off against the Boston Bruins (8-5-1) at TD Garden in Boston.
The Devils are looking to put together their first win streak of the season. After a win, New Jersey is 0-4-0 and has been outscored, 15-4.
Captain Jamie Langenbrunner and rookie defenseman Matt Taormina will miss tonight’s game with injuries. Both players had a MRI taken Monday, but won’t know the results until tomorrow.
Matt Corrente will step in for the injured Taormia. The rookie defenseman missed seven games with a non-displaced fracture of his right hand.
Martin Brodeur starts in net for the Devils. Tim Thomas will get the start for the Bruins.
Here were the line combinations during pre-game warmups:
FORWARDS: Ilya Kovalchuk – Travis Zajac – Alexander Vasyunov; Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – Mattias Tedenby; Brian Rolston – Dainius Zubrus – David Clarkson; Rod Pelley – Adam Mair – Stephen Gionta
DEFENSEMEN: Colin White – Henrik Tallinder; Andy Greene – Anton Volchenkov; Olivier Magnan – Matt Corrente
GOALIE: Martin Brodeur
Coming into this season, the Devils faced some major question marks with the young players in camp. One of the biggest mysteries was Rod Pelley, who failed to impress both Brent Sutter and Jacques Lemaire.
But under John MacLean, Pelley has flourished into a “John Madden“-esque role, providing the lineup with a solid defensive forward.
The Devils signed Pelley as an undrafted free agent in 2006, after the center finished playing for Ohio State University. Coming out of Ohio State, Pelley was expected to be an offensive center. As one scouting report read:
Pelley is a tough, hard-hitting forward who excels in the faceoff circle. He plays with an edge and is fiercly competitive. Pelley’s skating ability combines power with good speed and quickness. He is strong on skates and is tough to move off of the puck. He has great on-ice vision and hockey sense. He anticipates were plays are going quite well too.
One of Pelley’s best attributes is his cannon-like shot. He’s a player who also loves to shoot and has a superb wrist shot. He has a real nose for the net and is willing to pay a price in high traffic areas to make the plays.
Pelley caught fire with the Lowell Devils, scoring 17 goals and leading all rookie skaters with 29 points. That play earned Pelley a NHL callup, and he dressed for nine games, failing to record a point. He stuck with the Devils in 2007-08, playing 58 games. Pelley recorded six points and 19 penalty minutes, but didn’t impress Brent Sutter enough to stick with the club for the entire season. After those 58 games, Pelley was sent down to the AHL, where he remained from the end of 2007 until the 2009-10 season.
Lemaire gave Pelley another shot last season, and the center stayed with the team the entire season. Pelley dressed for 63 games, recording 10 points and 40 penalty minutes. But Pelley couldn’t break the fourth line role, and he never earned the type of penalty kill time to prove his worth.
Instead of just sticking Pelley on the fourth line, current coach John MacLean used the center in different situations. He put Pelley on the penalty kill, increasing his responsibilities. Not only did Pelley step up to the challenge, he excelled at it. His good play (and injuries) brought him the opportunity, and Pelley took full advantage. He’s moved up to the center the second or third line, and MacLean turned to him in several key situations.
Pelley won’t score goals or create any highlight reel plays. But he’s been a solid producer for the Devils this season, and one of the only constants in the lineup. MacLean finally gave Pelley an opportunity, and we’ve seen him excel. Pelley is finally fulfilling the “John Madden” role on this team. Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello continually praised Pelley, and the patience and faith shown has finally paid off.
Several NHL coaches believe in breaking the season down into 10 game segments and evaluate the team within that window.
What could John MacLean take from the first 10 games this season? Little to nothing. The Devils need to wipe the slate clean and start over in their next 10 games. In order to start from scratch, the team needs to identify the root of their issues.
There’s clearly a myriad of problems, but I believe these are the main culprits behind the Devils 2-7-1 start this season:
While it’s a broad topic, consistency covers a vast amount of the issues with the Devils. The first place inconsistency occurred through the first ten games was on the ice. In the Devils two shutout wins, the team gave complete, 60-minute efforts. But in their eight losses this season, the Devils went through stretches of bad play, where they lacked creativity, execution and hustle. It’s the reason why they’ve allowed five-plus goals in three of their ten games.
No where has this been more evident than the second period of games. Through 10 games, the Devils have been outscored 18-4 in the second period of games. The Devils will bring energy in the first and third periods, but the team’s play significantly decreases during the middle period. There have been some exceptions, but the team can’t afford to be that inconsistent in one period of a game.
The inconsistency also occurs throughout the Devils’ locker room. Players say the right things, citing the need to work harder, create chemistry, etc. It’s all lip service until it’s seen on the ice, and so far, the players struggled to translate their talk to on-ice success. Combined with the on-ice consistency, the erratic play is causing frustration throughout the locker room and coaching staff.
What can the Devils do to fix their consistency issues? It seems like a no-brainer to me – focus on the ice. Don’t take a shift off. Keep up the intensity. These aren’t hard things to accomplish. The players need to play with a purpose. There’s been too many times when the Devils stand around or glide rather than skate hard. When the team plays consistently good hockey, the results are great. For some reason, the Devils’ players take shifts, periods and even games off. Instead of playing like a two win team, they’re acting like an undefeated squad who can afford a few nights off. Giving a consistent effort will lead to better performances and, hopefully, more wins.
2. The System
The Devils don’t have the proper players for whatever “system” MacLean attempted to install during training camp. The defensemen haven’t moved the puck well, and the scorers look lost on the ice. MacLean wanted to install a puck-possession mentality, but the Devils simply can’t play that style of hockey right now. The team looks lost in the system.
MacLean needs to realize this and change it accordingly. Yesterday’s successful powerplay conversion showed the importance of tailoring the system to the players. Instead of fancy passing and holding on to the puck to long, the Devils fired a shot on net and crashed it, looking for rebounds. Surprise, surprise, the play led to a goal. MacLean had ten games to tinker with his offensive system, and it failed. The team needs to return to the “Devils” game – solid defensive hockey, capitalizing on opportunities, slowly squeezing the life out of an opponent. It’s not interesting or exciting, but that’s not what the Devils need right now. They need wins.
Game 10 Live Game Blog: Greene PP Goal Cuts Sharks Lead, 5-2, In The Third Period; Thornton Completes Hat Trick
Andy Greene’s powerplay goal at 14:22 cut the Sharks lead to 5-2 in the third period tonight at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.
With Dany Heatley in the box for holding, the Devils worked the puck down low. After a shot on net, several players took a whack at the puck, but couldn’t put it past Antero Niittymaki. The puck trickled out to Dainius Zubrus in the slot. He passed the puck to Greene, who put the shot to the top of the net for his first goal of the game.
Heatley’s goal at 6:47 of the third period extended the Sharks lead to 5-1.
The Thornton line once again created a great scoring chance. Patrick Marleau controlled the puck behind the net, and passed it to Joe Thornton along the side boards. Thornton then sent a puck to the front of the net and over the stick of Henrik Tallinder. Heatley tapped the puck past Martin Brodeur for his third goal of the season.
The Thornton line has scored all five goals in the game.
Thornton’s hat trick helped stake the Sharks to a 4-1 lead over the Devils after two periods.
Thornton’s third goal of the night, a powerplay tally, came at 16:55 of the second period. After the Devils benefitted from a awkward bounce from the boards, the Sharks received one of their own. After trying to clear it around the boards, Brodeur went behind the net, expecting the puck to come behind. But it bounced off the end boards and went to the front of the net, where Thornton came crashing down. The center fired the puck past a diving Tallinder for his fifth goal of the season.
The Sharks led the period in shots, 13-10. They hold the advantage in total shots, 30-21.
David Clarkson’s goal at 3:06 of the second period cut the Sharks lead to 3-1.
The Devils got an assist from the boards that led to Clarkson’s goal. The puck, dumped in from the red line, hit a crease in the glass and trickled out to the low slot. Niittymaki went behind the net to play the puck, and couldn’t recover as Clarkson fired a shot to the top shelf for his first goal of the season.
The Devils have played a better second period, but they’re still allowing some good scoring chances to the Sharks. They need to cut down on the sloppy play, because the Sharks will capitalize on those mistakes.
Coach John MacLean shook up the lines between periods, and so far it’s been successful. The line of Zubrus – Rod Pelley – Ilya Kovalchuk did a great job of shutting down the Thornton line during the first half of the period.
The Sharks led in shots, 17-11, in the first period. Unfortunately for the Devils, they couldn’t dodge the bullet as they have in other games. I wonder what changes, if any, we’ll see in the second period.
Thornton scored twice, and Marleau lit the lamp to put the Sharks ahead of the Devils, 3-0, after the first period.
Thornton’s second goal of the game, at 18:59 of the first period extended the Sharks lead to 3-0.
Marleau put a shot on net from the side boards that Brodeur should have stopped. But the Devils goalie was tangled with Thornton, who crashed the net, and the big center poked home the puck for his fourth goal of the season.
Marleau’s goal at 11:16 of the first period extended the Sharks ahead of the Devils, 2-0.
Joe Thornton was instrumental in beginning the play. The center over-skated the puck behind the net, but Martin Brodeur thought he still had it. Marleau took the loose puck behind the net and put a wrap-around try on Brodeur. The puck hit the Devils’ goalie in the pads, but trickled through for Marleau’s third goal on the season.
Thornton’s goal at 9:57 of the first period put the Sharks ahead of the Devils, 1-0.
The play began with a turnover in the Devils zone. Dany Heatley scooped up the loose puck at the point, and sent a pass to Thornton in the right circle. The center’s shot deflected off of Devils’ defensman Matt Taormina’s stick, and the puck beat Brodeur stick side for his third goal of the year.
Marleau, who earned an assist on the goal, recorded his 700th career point.
The Devils had the first powerplay opportunity of the night as Scott Nichol went to the box for slashing at 5:40 of the period. But the team was unsuccessful, and the Devils fell to 0-for-16 on the powerplay on the road. That’s good for last in the NHL.
Both teams seem a bit tentative in the early going. The Sharks had some of the better opportunities, but no one has got the offense set up.
Here were tonight’s starters:
Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Dainius Zubrus; Colin White – Matt Taormina; Martin Brodeur
Ryane Clowe – Joe Pavelski – Devin Setoguchi; Niclas Wallin – Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Antero Niittymaki
The Devils two victories have come on the road this season. The team blanked both Buffalo and Montreal. San Jose is still searching for their first home win.
The Devils struggled mightily out of the gate to begin the season. The team hasn’t looked good, and their offense has been anemic, leaving New Jersey dead last in goals for in the entire league.
New Jersey has also struggled in the second period, allowing opponents to outscore them 17-4 in the middle period.
Since 2000, the Devils are 7-1-0 against the Sharks. Let’s hope they can run that record to 8-1-0 tonight.
Martin Brodeur will start for the Devils. Antero Niittymaki will start for the Sharks.
Ilya Kovalchuk’s goal at 14:08 of the period cut the Rangers lead to one, 2-1, over the Devils in the third period of tonight’s game at Madison Square Garden.
The play started at the point, where Matt Corrente collected a loose puck. The rookie defenseman put a shot on net, and Henrik Lundqvist blocked it away with a pad. Dainius Zubrus, who crashed the crease, collected a loose puck. He sent a no-look pass between his legs to Kovalchuk, who whipped the puck into the wide-open net for his third goal of the season.
Michael Rosival and Ryan Callahan scored second period goals to put the Rangers ahead, 2-0.
Callahan’s powerplay goal at 12:22 put the Rangers ahead, 2-0.
With Ilya Kovalchuk in the box for a questionable interference call, Dubinsky controlled the puck along the side boards. The forward drifted to the circle and put a shot on net, where Callahan redirected the shot through Brodeur’s pads for his first goal of the season.
The Devils had killed off the first three Rangers powerplays of the game before that goal.
Michael Rosival’s goal at 1:26 of the period gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead.
The play started off a rebound shot from Ruslan Fedentko down on the goal line. The shot hit Brodeur high and stung Brodeur. Michael Rosival fired a shot from the point, and the puck deflected off of Devils’ defenseman Andy Greene and into the back of the net.
The scorers originally credited Fedetenko with the goal, but changed the goal to Rosival. It is Rosival’s second of the year.
The Rangers led the second period shots, 12-6, and hold the overall lead in shots, 29-16.
Marc Staal almost made this a three-goal lead with 3:49 left in the second period. His shot ricocheted off the post, and it came out of the crease. The Devils, for what seems like the first time all season, catch a break.
The Rangers led in shots, 17-10. The Devils will have 1:10 of powerplay time left on the minor to Sean Avery. New Jersey is 0-for-1 tonight on the powerplay.
Brodeur one again came up huge at 3:45 of the first period. With the Rangers on the powerplay, the Devils coughed up the puck in their own zone, and Callahan took the puck at the doorstep. The Devil-killer tried to deke and beat Brodeur low, and the Devils goalie laid out in his crease. The puck slid under him, but went wide and missed the net.
The Devils broke out on two 2-on-1 opportunities in the period, but both times tried to force a pass instead of shooting the puck. Down in shots, 13-5, the Devils need shots, not cute passing.
Brodeur once again made a great save at 8:37 of the period. Brandon Dubinsky controlled the puck behind the net with the Blueshirts on the man advantage. The forward found Michael Del Zotto, who pinched down into the circle. He snapped a one-timer on net, but Brodeur was there to make the save.
Both teams have had good scoring chances tonight, but Martin Brodeur has been the busier of the two netminders. He’s had to make some good saves, including a denial of a wraparound try by Alex Frolov.
Here are tonight’s starters:
Ilya Kovalchuk – Rod Pelley – Jamie Langenbrunner; Colin White – Matt Taormina; Martin Brodeur
Sean Avery – Derek Stepan – Ruslan Fedentenko; Michael Del Zotto – Dan Girardi; Henrik Lundqvist
The Devils are 0-3-1 at home this season, but is 2-1-0 on the road. Those two victories have been shutouts.
Devils coach John MacLean made some line changes during pre-game warmups. Ilya Kovalchuk has shifted to the left wing on a line with Jacob Josefson and Jamie Langenbrunner. David Clarkson and Patrik Elias will be centered by Jason Arnott.
The Devils are coming off a 6-1 thrashing at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres last night. Johan Hedberg, making his first start of the season, was pulled after allowing four goals on nine shots. The team played terribly in front of him and couldn’t generate anything against Ryan Miller and the Sabres defense.
It was the second time in eight games New Jersey allowed five or more goals this season. Last season, the team only allowed five or more goals seven times.
Martin Brodeur will start for the Devils. Henrik Lundqvist gets the start for the Rangers.
The Devils have already lost one Atlantic Division game this season. The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated New Jersey, 3-1, on October 10.
The Rangers lost their only division game as well, losing to the New York Islanders, 6-1, on October 11.
A 1-4-1 usually leads to changes throughout a team. Coach John MacLean made maybe the most severe changes Monday, reshuffling the lineup and moving players. With the new lines comes the same question – can the Devils finally finish their opportunities and produce?
Through their first six games, the Devils offense has been futile. They’ve only scored ten goals, which has them in a three way tie near the bottom of the league. The team’s goal differential is -11, good for last in the league. That futility made changes necessary. While MacLean doesn’t expect an explosion of offense, he does want to see more energy from the lines.
“I think we get a little a little zip on each line, a little energy on each line and that’s what I’m looking for, get some goals out of that with a little tweak here,” he said.
Team captain Jamie Langenbrunner believes the line change will help get the Devils back to basics.
“We have to simplify it and just get back to work,” the captain said. “I think we’re trying to make something happen when it isn’t there and that goes for a lot of us. We’re trying to find a way to score every shift and that’s not the way you play hockey. You play the game and then the opportunities will come. I don’t think it’s from a lack of effort. It’s a lack of playing in the right areas and doing the little things and that’s what we’ve been missing”
So can the new line changes really “simplify it” and find the back of the net? Here are the revised lines, with our analysis of what each brings to the table.
Line 1: Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Dainius Zubrus
Well, the “ZIP Line” experiment lasted all of six games. With Zach Parise underperforming so far this season, MacLean reunited a line that experienced success last season. While Dainius Zubrus doesn’t command the offensive skill of Ilya Kovalchuk, he brings a big body that can crash the net. That should give someone like Parise more space to work with in the open zone. It’ll also open up opportunities for Travis Zajac. With Kovalchuk, the line seemed too hesitant and tried to make two or three unnecessary passes while in the zone. The addition of Zubrus on the right wing should eliminate those extra passes and refocus both Parise and Zajac.
Line 2: Rod Pelley – Jason Arnott – Jamie Langenbrunner*
So far this season, Rod Pelley has been the most consistent Devil. He’s brought energy and intensity, and by moving him up, MacLean is showing the trust he has in Pelley. Langenbrunner admitted that Pelley will bring energy back to their second line.
“He’s played well,” Langenbrunner said. “I suppose they think that he can bring his energy and the way he has been playing to us because Arnie and I have not played well the last few games and we know that and today’s practice watching the way (Pelley is) just out there working hard is something we all need to do. I think they tried to do that by the way they put somebody on every line. They’re trying get that attitude back.”
Pelley won’t bring much offense to the table, but he will hopefully serve the same role as Zubrus – a body who gets to the net and creates chaos. Even if Pelley plays great, Jason Arnott and Langenbrunner need to step up their play. This line could be very underrated, but the two veterans need to play a bigger role. Both players +/- numbers are negative, and they need to play focused and productive hockey.
For more analysis on the new lines, read after the jump!