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The Moose Is On The Loose

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment

There were a ton of positives for the Devils last week, the most important winning three of their four games.

Johan Hedberg continued his strong play Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers, stopping 40 shots to backstop the Devils to a 2-1 shoootout win. Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Another important positive emerged during the week – the solid play of Johan Hedberg, who backstopped the Devils to their three wins and should earn the team’s first star of the week.

In his four starts this week, Hedberg allowed four goals on 117 shots, good for a .966 save percentage. He never allowed more than one goal in a game, and stoned four of five shooters in two shootout victories. Against Philadelphia and Washington – the two best offenses in the league – Hedberg allowed only one goal in 71 shots against. Those are great numbers for any goalie, but especially one who struggled just a week earlier.

Before this week, Hedberg struggled in relief of Martin Brodeur. In six appearances, Hedberg allowed 17 goals on 117 shots, recording only a .855 save percentage. The tipping point came on November 20, when minor league call-up Mike McKenna started over Hedberg. It seemed to finally wake up the former starter, and he responded with his best play yet.

Teammates and coaches credit Hedberg with the past week’s success.

“He’s the reason why we’ve been in these games,” Travis Zajac said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record.

“He’s played very well,” Devils coach John MacLean said to Gulitti. “He’s playing very confident. He’s playing big in the net and is square to the puck.”

For all intents and purposes, the Moose is on the loose for the Devils. Hedberg seems to be a streaky goaltender, and right now he’s on a hot streak. With Brodeur injured and suffering through a subpar start to the season, Hedberg’s been a big lift to New Jersey. He’s made some great saves, and while the defense is improving, Hedberg’s helped to keep the Devils in several of their games.

There’s a good chance Brodeur will man the pipes for the Devils game against Montreal on Thursday night. But until then, the Moose will continue to run loose in New Jersey. And fans will great him with the familiar “Moooooooose” call from the stands.

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Game 23 Preview: No Letdowns Against The Lowly Islanders

November 26, 2010 Leave a comment

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (7-13-2) face off against the New York Islanders (4-12-5) at Nassau Coliseum. It’s the first of six meetings between the two teams this season.

The Last Devils Game: The Devils defeated the Calgary Flames, 2-1, in a shootout Wednesday night at the Rock. David Clarkson deflected a puck past Henrik Karlsson to give the Devils’ a 1-0 lead. New Jersey wouldn’t hold it, as Rene Bourque tied the game, 1-1, in the third period. Ilya Kovalchuk tallied the only goal in the shootout to lead the Devils to victory. Johan Hedberg stopped 25 shots for the win.

The Last Islanders Game: The Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Islanders, 4-3, Wednesday night on Long Island. The teams traded leads throughout two periods, and ended the middle frame tied, 3-3. Jakub Voracek played hero in overtime, scoring the game-winner at 2:31 of the period. The loss sent the Isles to their 14th straight loss.

The Last Devils – Islanders Game: The Devils and Isles faced off six times last season, with New Jersey winning the season series, 4-2-0. The Devils pounded the Islanders, 7-1, in their final meeting of the season to win the Atlantic Division.

Dainius ZubrusDean McAmmond and Zach Parise scored within a span of 4:54 to put the Devils ahead, 3-0, in the first period. Zubrus opened the scoring, giving the Devils a lead at 10:54 of the first period. Parise increased the lead to 2-0 at 14:18 of the period with an even-strength tally. McAmmond finished the first period scoring, extending the lead to 3-1 with an even-strength goal.

The Devils stretched the lead to 5-0 in the second period. Patrik Elias scored on the man-advantage at 11:16 of the second, increasing the lead to 4-0. Brian Rolston would answer with a powerplay tally, putting the Devils ahead, 5-0, at 19:11 of the period.

New Jersey continued the scoring in the third period. Kovalchuk continued the rout, netting an even-strength goal at 8:47 to increase the lead to 6-0. Matt Moulson ended the shutout, scoring a powerplay goal at 13:10 of the period to put the Islanders on the board. Elias capped the scoring, netting his second goal at 18:24 of the period.

Tonight’s Matchup: The Devils finally won two games in a row against the Flames, marking the first time this season the team won consecutive games. Now they head to Long Island, where the team will look to continue the good times.

It finally feels like the Devils have something going. The second line looks awesome, the defensive play improved, and Hedberg gives the Devils a solid option in net. The two games showed a marked improvement in all aspects of the Devils play. The Isles provide the opportunity to continue the recent success. Losers of 14 straight, the Islanders are clearly struggling. But it’s not a lack of effort that cost the team wins. Some bad breaks and bad luck have largely driven their skid. Therefore, the Devils can’t sleep on their Atlantic Division rivals.

New Jersey needs to come out with pressure from the drop of the puck. They didn’t effectively pressure Calgary, and while they still won, the Devils didn’t create many scoring chances. The Isles will come into this game hungry and firing on all cylinders. Pressuring in all three zones will slow their game and could discourage the Isles from taking chances. That’ll help the Devils take control of the game.

New Jersey also needs to improve on their offensive play. During Wednesday’s game, the team failed to connect on their passes and looked sloppy through the neutral zone. They continually struggled to set up the offense, which stopped the team from setting up many great scoring chances. That inability forced the shootout and allowed Calgary to hang around the entire game. With a struggling team, the Devils need to take advantage early. Offensive pressure in the Isles zone play could break down, leading to some early scoring chances for the Devils.

Gametime is 1 p.m., and you can check all the action on MSG Plus or WFAN 660 AM. Here are the projected starting lineups:

FORWARDS: Ilya Kovalchuk – Dainius Zubrus – Alexander Vasyunov; Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – Mattias Tedenby; Brian Rolston – Travis Zajac – David Clarkson; Rod Pelley – Adam Mair – Stephen Gionta

DEFENSEMEN: Colin White – Henrik Tallinder; Andy Greene – Anton Volchenkov; Mark Fayne – Matt Corrente

GOALIES: Johan Hedberg; Mike McKenna

Game 22 Preview: Sutter Comes Back to the Rock

November 24, 2010 Leave a comment

The Matchup – The Calgary Flames (8-11-1) face off against the New Jersey Devils (6-13-2) at the Prudential Center. It is the first and only meeting between the two teams this season.

The Last Flames Game – The New York Rangers defeated the Flames, 2-1, Monday night at MSG. In a game filled with hard hits and rough play, goals were tough to come by. The Flames gave the Rangers a golden opportunity to take the lead when Curtis Glencross went of for high-sticking in the second period. Dan Girardi made the Flames pay, scoring the game-winner on that powerplay chance at 12:14 of the period.

The Last Devils Game – The Devils dismantled the Washington Capitals, 5-0, Monday night at the Rock. Patrik EliasJason Arnott and Mattias Tedenby scored first period goals to put the Devils ahead, 3-0. They wouldn’t look back, tallying two more in the first ten minutes of the middle period to take a 5-0 lead. Johan Hedberg finished with 30 saves for his 15th career shutout.

The Last Flames – Devils Game – The Flames defeated the Devils, 5-3, in Calgary. Zach Parise opened the game’s scoring at 13:37 of the first period, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead. It would stay that way until the second period, when the Flames came out red hot. Daymond Langkow evened the score, 1-1, at 1:43 of the second period. Glencross gave the Flames a lead, tallying a shorthanded goal at 5:41 of the period. Eric Nystrom continued the scoring, increasing the lead to two with a goal at 16:04 of the period.

The Flames weren’t done scoring. Matt Stajan continued the goal streak, increasing the lead to 4-1 at 9:29 of the third period. David Moss scored 33 seconds later to push the lead to 5-1. But the Devils wouldn’t go quietly into the night. Parise scored again, tallying a powerplay goal at 16:08 to bring the Devils within three goals, shrinking the Flames lead, 5-2. Ilya Kovalchuk brought the Devils to within two, scoring at 17:26 to shorten the Flames lead, 5-3.

But it would be too little too late, as the Devils couldn’t complete the comeback and defeat their former coach, Brent Sutter. Martin Brodeur stopped 20 shots in the loss. Mikka Kiprusoff made 22 saves for the win.

For a full recap, including historical data of the matchup, check our season preview post.

Hello Old Friend – The Devils welcome back former coach Brent Sutter to the Rock. It’s the first time Sutter has visited the Prudential Center since leaving the organization at the end of the 2008-2009 season. Sutter, who wanted to leave the Devils to be closer to his family and the Red Deer Rebels, took the Flames coaching job shortly after leaving the Devils. The contract dripped of conspiracy, but Sutter maintains that he wasn’t looking for a coaching opportunity.

“Strictly put, I resigned here because of all the right reasons and if I wasn’t going to be coaching in Calgary, which was an opportunity because Lou gave them permission to talk to me, I wouldn’t have coached last year,” Sutter said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “I went home for the right reasons. I went home because it was the right thing to do because there are things bigger than the team. I made that decision based on that.”

Even if he did it for the right reasons, he’ll probably be booed tonight.

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

Read more…

The Devils’ Sports Page: November 24, 2010

November 24, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s gameday, as the New Jersey Devils look to finally put together a winning streak tonight against the Calgary Flames. We’ll have a preview up later this morning, but for now, here’s today’s edition of The Devils’ Sports Page:

Kovalchuk not worried about laugh-gate; Guess Mattias Tedenby’s weight (Tom Gulitti/Fire and Ice blog)

Your Devils comments: Rate the play of Mattias Tedenby (NJ.com Staff/NJ.com)

Sutter not worried about crowd reaction in return to Rock; believes in MacLean as coach (Tom Gulitti/Fire and Ice blog)

Tedenby earning early praise (Eric Martin/Devils.NHL.com)

MacLean experts Volchenkov to play vs. Calgary; Hedberg to start (Tom Gulitti/Fire and Ice blog)

Devils notes: Honoring Pat Burns (Tom Gulitti/The Bergen Record)

Albany Devils

Fayne helps New Jersey set club record (Pete Dougherty/The Times-Union)

Trenton Devils

Devils Cut Past Everblades, 3-2 (TrentonDevils.com)

Devils Sign Goalie Mike Brown (TrentonDevils.com)

The Devils’ Sports Page: November 23, 2010

November 23, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s always a great day after a Devils’ win. Here’s the great news in today’s edition of The Devils’ Sports Page:

Devils rout Capitals, 5-0, after emotional Pat Burns tribute (Tom Gulitti/The Bergen-Record)

Devils, Johan Hedberg shut out Capitals, 5-0 (Rich Chere/The Star-Ledger)

Capitals skid reaches three in 5-0 loss at New Jersey (Dan Rosen/NHL.com)

Hedberg, Devils thump Capitals at the Rock (Eric Martin/Devils.NHL.com)

Devils match up well against Ovechkin and co. (Tom Gulitti/The Bergen Record)

Mattias Tedenby may have helped Devils begin a turnaround (Rich Chere/The Star-Ledger)

Devils enjoy memorable tribute to Pat Burns; Fayne has fun in NHL debut (Tom Gulitti/The Bergen Record)

Johan Hedberg gave himself, Devils confidence with shutout (Rich Chere/The Star-Ledger)

Hedberg, Arnott, Tedenby, Elias star in Devils’ thorough victory over Capitals (Tom Gulitti/The Bergen Record)

Devils to wear patch to honor Burns on home jerseys; jerseys to be auctioned for charity (Tom Gulitti/The Bergen Record)

Albany Devils

Devils Weekly Issue No. 7 (AlbanyDevils.com)

Fayne recalled by Devils under emergency conditions (Pete Dougherty/The Times Union)

Game 21 Recap: Devils Blow Out Capitals, 5-0, To End Skid

November 22, 2010 Leave a comment

The Devils came into this short two-game homestand needing points. New Jersey, losers of their last three games, seemed to battle frustration and unlucky bounces during their terrible start. It wouldn’t get any easier tonight, as the Washington Capitals visited the Prudential Center. It seemed like yet another letdown in a season full of them. But by the end of the first period, the Devils showed they may have finally turned a corner. In a night where they honored Pat Burns, New Jersey destroyed the Capitals, 5-0, earning their second home win of the season.

Mattias Tedenby begins his penalty shot attempt against Braden Holtby. The rookie right-winger beat the Caps goalie for his third goal of the season. Photo Credit: Bruce Bennet/Getty Images

Jason Arnott Powers The Offense

Coming into tonight’s game, Arnott led the team in goals. Not Ilya Kovalchuk , but Arnott. He’s been the best offensive option, and he displayed those skills tonight, helping put the Capitals away.

Arnott extended the Devils lead to 2-0 at 16:15 of the period. The center started the play at the blue line, grabbing a loose puck at the blue line. He skated down the side boards, drawing two defenders to him. Capitals goalie Braden Holtby came out of the net to challenge Arnott, but the center simply went behind the net and deposited the puck into the empty net on a wraparound attempt for his seventh goal of the season.

Arnott scored his second of the night in the second period, extending the Devils lead to 4-0. Andy Greene threw the puck toward the net, and Patrik Elias deflected the puck on net. Holtby made the initial save, but left the rebound in the low slot. Arnott swept the puck between a defender’s legs and into the net for his eighth goal of the season.

Mattias Tedenby – Penalty Shot Magic

Ever since his callup, Tedenby provided excitement and, importantly, offensive firepower. The rookie once again showed his scoring prowess, converting on the first penalty shot at The Rock since 2009.

Tedenby drew the penalty shot after beating Jon Erskine for a short breakaway. The Caps defender pulled Tedenby down, and the referee signaled for the penalty shot immediately. Tedenby moved in slowly on Holtby, who came out to challenge the right-winger. As Holtby retreated toward his net, Tedenby pulled the puck to the backhand and put the shot on net. The puck deflected off of Holtby’s left arm and into the net for his third goal of the season.

Devils coach John MacLean was pleased with the rookie’s performance tonight.

“He’s a young guy,” MacLean told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “He has great confidence with the puck. You’ve got to let his creativity come and he skates so well that he makes something happen each time he’s out there and you just have to hedge that with being responsible and he was tonight.”

Johan Hedberg blanked the Caps for his 15th career NHL shutout. Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Moose Is On The Loose

Johan Hedberg wasn’t happy about being skipped over for Saturday’s start against St. Louis. He made that fact known during the pre-game skate, and came into tonight’s game with a chip on his shoulder. After his performance against the Capitals, we might get used to seeing Mike McKenna glued to the end of the bench.

The Devils needed Hedberg to be strong tonight, and the goalie stood up to the challenge. Hedberg stopped 30 shots tonight, blanking the Capitals for his 15th career shutout. They weren’t all cupcake saves either. Hedberg was in a zone, and it seemed like nothing could stop him.

His most impressive save came during the second period, with the Devils already ahead, 5-0. Alexander Semin carried the puck into the Devils zone, and made a beeline toward the slot. The left-winger fired a quick wrist shot on net, and Hedberg quickly flashed the glove and made the save.

“Heddy’s a veteran,” MacLean said to Gulitti. “He wasn’t happy that he wasn’t playing, but understood and he bounced back tremendously, which we expected him to do. It’s good for him because he works extremely hard.”

For the rest of the recap, continue reading after the jump!

Read more…

Game 21 Preview: Looking To Slay A Giant

November 22, 2010 Leave a comment

The Matchup: The Washington Capitals (14-5-2) face off against the New Jersey Devils (5-13-2). This is the second of four meetings between the two teams this season. Washington currently leads the season series, 1-0-0.

The Last Capitals Game: The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Capitals, 5-4, in a shootout Saturday night in Philadelphia. Down 3-1 in the third period, the Capitals used two straight powerplay tallies to tie the game. The teams then traded goals, ending regulation in a 4-4 tie. Danny Briere scored the lone goal in the shootout to give the Flyers the win.

The Last Devils Game:
The St. Louis Blues edged the Devils, 3-2, Saturday night in St. Louis. Tied 2-2 in the third period, Brad Winchester scored the game-winner, deflecting a point shot past Mike McKenna for the 3-2 lead. The Devils couldn’t solve Jaroslav Halak, who stopped 35 shots for the win.

The Last Capitals – Devils Game: The Capitals blew out the Devils, 7-2, on October 9 at the Verizon Center. New Jersey held a 2-1 advantage at the end of the first period, but the wheels fell off in the second. The Capitals scored four straight goals in the middle period – highlighted by two goals in less than a minute – to take a 5-2 lead. Martin Brodeur was pulled after two periods of play.

Tonight’s Matchup: This has the feeling of a David vs. Goliath matchup. The Capitals are their usual dominate selves, leading the entire league in points and looking like an unstoppable force. The Devils, meanwhile, haven’t caught many breaks during the season. This has the feeling of a blowout in the making.

The Devils need to continue their solid play. Saturday night’s game in St. Louis was disappointing because of the bad breaks against the Devils, not their overall play. They put 37 shots on net and played a relatively sound defensive game. But as its been all season, New Jersey couldn’t catch a break. The puck wouldn’t cooperate with the Devils, as it’s been the entire season, and cost the Devils.

Tonight’s important key will be the Devils’ discipline. The Caps have scored at least one powerplay goal in eight of their last 11 games, going 14-for-38 (36.8%) during that stretch. Giving a talented offensive team powerplay chances won’t bode well for the Devils, especially with their struggling penalty kill. I can’t expect New Jersey to play a game without taking a penalty, but they can’t be undisciplined. The team doesn’t need to give Alex Ovechkin and his talented teammates more ice to work with.

The Devils need this win tonight. Beating the Caps would show the team still has the ability to slay the power teams in the the conference. It would also be a nice start to the next 10 game segment. The Devils can’t continually lose points. They’re in no position to be careless with points. The team needs a win badly, and it would be a nice to get it over the Caps.

Gametime is 7 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSG Plus or WFAN AM. Here’s a shot at the potential lineup for tonight’s game:

FORWARDS: Ilya Kovalchuk – Dainius Zubrus – Alexander Vasyunov; Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – Mattias Tedenby; Brian Rolston – Travis Zajac – David Clarkson; Rod Pelley – Adam Mair – Stephen Gionta

DEFENSEMEN: Colin White – Henrik Tallinder; Andy Greene – Anton Volchenkov; Olivier Magnan – Matt Corrente

GOALIES: Johan Hedberg; Mike McKenna