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Game 12 Preview: Dethrone The Kings

October 30, 2010 Leave a comment

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (3-7-1) face off against the Los Angeles Kings (7-3-0) tonight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. This is the first and only meeting between the two teams this season.

Martin Brodeur and the Devils face the Kings tonight at the Staples Center. Photo Credit: William Perlman/The Star-Ledger

The Last Devils Game: The Devils defeated the Anaheim Ducks, 2-1, last night in Anaheim. The Devils, unable to capitalize on four first period power plays, fell behind 1-0 in the second period. With Jamie Langenbrunner in the box for hooking, Jason Blake attempted to stuff a puck past Martin Brodeur. The Devils goalie stopped Blake’s first attempt, but the left-winger put the rebound home for his second goal of the season.

The Devils would tie the game at 10:39 of the period. Langenbrunner came from behind the net and put a shot on Jonas Hiller from the goal line. The puck caromed off the goalie’s left pad and through his legs for Langenbrunner’s first goal of the season. Patrik Elias scored the game-winning goal at 1:54 of the period. Alexander Vasyunov and Elias broke into the Ducks’ zone, and Elias one-timed a pass from the rookie over the glove of Hiller for his second goal of the season.

The Last Kings Game: The Kings defeated the Dallas Stars, 5-2, on Thursday night. Tied 1-1 after the second period, the Kings scored three straight goals to put them ahead, 4-1. Wayne SimmondsJack Johnson and Willie Mitchell each recorded two points for L.A.·

The Last Devils – Kings Game: The Kings defeated the Devils, 3-2, January 31 at the Prudential Center. Johnny Oduya scored the first goal of the game, lighting the lamp at 4:45 of the first period to put the Devils ahead, 1-0. Travis Zajac scored at 5:56 of the second period to extend the Devils lead to 2-0, but the Kings wouldn’t go quietly into the night.

Michal Handzus cut the lead in half with his goal at 19:31 of the second period. Simmonds pulled the Kings even at 18:19 of the third period. With under a minute left, and Andy Greene in the box for tripping, Drew Doughty fired home a point shot for the game-winning powerplay goal.

For a complete look at the Devils’ complete numbers against the Kings, check out this season preview post.

For the rest of the preview, read after the jump!

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Game 11 Preview: Time For A Duck Hunt

October 29, 2010 Leave a comment
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (2-7-1) face off against the Anaheim Ducks (4-5-1). This is the first meeting between the two teams this season.

The Last Devils Game: The San Jose Sharks defeated the Devils, 5-2, on Wednesday night at the HP Pavilion. The Sharks top line of Joe ThorntonPatrick Marleau and Dany Heatley combine for 13 points in the win. Thorton recorded a hat trick in the victory.

The Last Ducks Game: The Ducks defeated the Dallas Stars, 5-2, Tuesday night in Dallas. Dallas scored early, ending the first period with a 1-0 lead. Bobby Ryan would bring Anaheim back, scoring two straight goals to put the Ducks ahead, 2-1. In the third period, Teemu Selanne scored his 611th career goal, putting him in sole possession of 15th place on the career scoring list.

The Last Devils – Ducks Game: The Devils defeated the Ducks, 3-1, last season. Jamie Langenbrunner began the scoring 38 seconds into the game, giving the Devils an early 1-0 lead. The score stayed that way until the third period, when Corey Perry scored at 2:25 to tie the game at one. David Clarkson netted the game-winning goal at 12:52 of the period, and Zach Parise added an insurance goal, scoring on shorthanded opportunity with 13 second left in the game.

For full details about the matchup, including historical data, etc., check our post here.

Tonight’s Matchup: I think the Devils need to enter this game with the mindset that it’s a new season and new opportunity to begin fresh. As I discussed in a post yesterday, most coaches break the NHL season down into 10 game increments and judge the team’s performance, etc. on that block. We all know the Devils first ten games were abysmal. The team was inconsistent, lackluster, and terrible defensively.

But it’s a new block of games, and hopefully a fresh start for the Devils. The team needs to play better, plain and simple, and the only way that can happen is with a renewed focus on defense. Anaheim hasn’t been great, but they’ll be playing on home ice after a four game road trip. The Devils need to open the game with their best effort and carry it throughout. The team looked good for the first 10 minutes against San Jose, but the wheels fell off. If they can maintain consistent effort, the Devils will keep themselves in the game.

Something needs to break soon. The players are frustrated, coach John MacLean is frustrated, and the fanbase is echoing their feelings. It would be great to see the team finally break out tonight.

Gametime is 10 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSG Plus or WFAN 660.

Here are the potential line combinations for tonight’s game:

FORWARDS: Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Dainius Zubrus; Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – David Clarkson; Ilya Kovalchuk – Rod Pelley – Jamie Langenbrunner; Anton Vasyunov – Tim Sestito – Adam Mair

DEFENSEMAN: Colin White – Matt Taormina; Andy Greene – Olivier Magnan-Grenier; Henrik Tallinder – Tyler Eckford

GOALIES: Martin Brodeur; Johan Hedberg

Devils Need Immediate Improvement After Abysmal Start

October 29, 2010 2 comments

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:

1. Consistency

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.

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The Devils’ Sports Page – October 29, 2010

October 29, 2010 Leave a comment

The Devils continue their Western Conference road trip tonight against the Anaheim Ducks, looking to turn around an abysmal smart to the season. To get you ready for tonight’s game, here’s today’s edition of The Devils’ Sports Page:

John MacLean has faced plenty of adversity already as Devils coach (Rich Chere/NJ.com)

Lamoriello: “It’s ridiculous” to say MacLean’s job is in jeopardy; “top players” must play better (Tom Gulitti/Fire and Ice blog)

Battered Devils have an easy practice day in Anaheim (Rich Chere/NJ.com)

Matt Corrente suffers broken hand; Eckford, Vasyunov recalled (Tom Gulitti/Fire and Ice blog)

Tyler Eckford, Alexander Vasyunov on way to joining Devils in Anaheim (Rich Chere/NJ.com)

Pandolfo fighting off thoughts of retirement, believes Devils will turn season around (Tom Gulitti/Fire and Ice blog)

Devils Matt Corrente suffers broken left hand; sent back to New Jersey (Rich Chere/NJ.com)

Albany Devils

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Devils vs. Hartford (AlbanyDevils.com)

Four selected for induction to AHL Hall of Fame (Pete Dougherty/TimesUnion.com)

New Jersey plucks Eckford, Vasyunov off Albany roster (Pete Dougherty/TimesUnion.com)

Trenton Devils

Devils Capture Shootout Win vs. Gladiators (TrentonDevils.com)

Game 5: Post-Game Notes (Mike Ashmore/Hunterdon Country Democrat)

Game 5: Photo Gallery (Mike Ashmore/Hunterdon County Democrat)

Corrente Out With Broken Hand; Eckford and Vasyunov Recalled

October 28, 2010 1 comment

The Devils’ paper-thin defense took another hit today as the team announced rookie Matt Corrente suffered a broken hand in the team’s 5-2 loss last night.

It’s unknown how long Corrente will be out. In six games, Corrente recorded three assists and was a minus-1 with 31 penalty minutes. The defenseman fought Ryane Clowe in the second period, but continued to play in the third. He was ejected at 4:28 of the third period after Jamie Langenbrunner was high-sticked by Douglas Murray. There are still no replays showing why he was ejected.

The Devils recalled defenseman Tyler Eckford on an emergency basis from the Albany Devils. In six AHL games, Eckford has no goals, two assists and a plus-2 rating.

In three NHL games last season, Eckford recorded one assist.

The team also recalled Alexander Vasyunov, who made his NHL debut last Saturday in the Devils’ 6-1 loss to the Sabres.

 

Game 10 Recap: Thornton Hat Trick Downs Devils, 5-2

October 28, 2010 Leave a comment

After a loss to the Rangers on Sunday, the New Jersey Devils player’s spoke about the need to get away and build team chemistry. It was all fun and games during practice today, and the Devils felt confident coming into tonight’s matchup. When it came to the game, however, the Devils were unprepared for the onslaught of Joe Thornton. The former Bruin scored three goals in two periods to help the Sharks win their first game at home, 5-2, and extend the Devils early season struggles.

Martin Brodeur watches helplessly as Joe Thornton scores his second goal of the night. The Devils lost, 5-2. Photo Credit: Paul Sakuma/AP Photo

Thornton trick a treat for the Sharks

San Jose struggled at home this season, and entered Wednesday night’s game still searching for the first home victory of the season. Thornton made sure the fans would get their win.

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’ defenseman Matt Taormina‘s stick, and the puck beat Martin Brodeur stick side for his third goal of the year.

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.

Joe Thornton celebrates his hat-trick goal in the second period of tonight's game. Photo Credit: Paul Sakuma/AP Photo

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 Henrik Tallinder for his fifth goal of the season.

The Thorton Line gets it going

It wasn’t only Thornton lighting the lamp in the Sharks victory. Patrick Marleau collected four points (one goal, three assists), including his 700th career NHL point after assisting on Thornton’s first goal of the night. Heatley also collected four points (one goal, three assists) on the night. In total, the Thornton Line had 13 points tonight. That’s almost as many goals the Devils have scored this season.

Brodeur told Rich Chere of the Star Ledger it looked like the Thornton Line was “playing against kids.” He wasn’t wrong.

Brodeur does all he can

There are some nights where Brodeur seems superhuman. Even if he gave one of those efforts tonight, it wouldn’t have been enough for the Devils. Brodeur faced 39 shots tonight – his second consecutive game of 30-plus shots – and made 34 difficult saves. The Sharks got a fluke goal and a soft score, but Brodeur was the usual rock in the net. But when the defense gives Brodeur no support, there’s only so much he can do.

Continue reading after the jump for the rest of the recap.

Read more…

Game 10 Live Game Blog: Greene PP Goal Cuts Sharks Lead, 5-2, In The Third Period; Thornton Completes Hat Trick

October 28, 2010 Leave a comment

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.

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Here were tonight’s starters:

DEVILS
Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Dainius Zubrus; Colin White – Matt Taormina; Martin Brodeur

SHARKS
Ryane Clowe – Joe Pavelski – Devin Setoguchi; Niclas Wallin – Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Antero Niittymaki

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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.