With the lockout done and the schedule for this shortened season already decided, The Devils’ Den will give you an in-depth look at the team’s opponents this season. We kicked things off with a look at two Northeast division teams, but today we’ll move south for our preview of the Carolina Hurricanes.
There’s a renewed sense of optimism surrounding the Carolina Hurricanes.
Despite missing the postseason for the third straight season, and finishing last in the Southeast Division, the Hurricanes were one of the teams itching for the lockout to end. A draft-day trade for Jordan Staal gives the team a big weapon down the middle, and the addition of sniper Alex Semin could turn into one of the best bargain signings by general manager Jim Rutherford.
Kirk Muller took over after a 4-10-2 November swoon last season, and brought the Hurricanes back from dead. At one point, the team sat just five points out of the playoffs before losing four of their last five games.
Carolina had a ton of momentum carrying them before the lockout. Can they find it again and contend for a spot in the top eight?
Starting today, The Devils Den will give you a detailed look at the New Jersey Devils upcoming opponents this season. We’ll run it down in alphabetical order, giving an in-depth look at each team.
Despite being on opposite coasts, the Anaheim Ducks and New Jersey Devils are pretty familiar with one another. Just nine years ago, the teams squared off in the Stanley Cup Finals. An upstart J.S. Giguere matched Martin Brodeur save for save, yet couldn’t will his team to a win. And while New Jersey skated off with their third Stanley Cup championship, Giguere would take home the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Since then, Devils fans watched Scott Niedermayer win a Stanley Cup with the Ducks and rooted for his brother, Rob, who spent one season in the red and black. But without much postseason success – Anaheim hasn’t made it past the second round since the 2006-07 season – the two teams haven’t played many meaningful games.
Throughout the offseason, The Devils’ Den will preview the 2011-2012 schedule, breaking down matchups and providing in-depth analysis of their opponents. Today, we the preview this season’s matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes.
The mention of the Carolina Hurricanes still paints a painful picture in the minds of every New Jersey Devils’ fan. Just two short years ago, the Carolina scored two goals in 80 seconds to knock New Jersey out of the playoffs. Since then, New Jersey hasn’t found success in the playoffs. Their meetings, however, are definitely more heated.
The ‘Canes came up just short of the playoffs last season, missing out by one point. The Devils helped hold them back, winning three of four against them. Carolina lost one of the faces of their franchise, but has another upcoming. Always a playoff contender, the Devils will once again face a tough test against their southern rivals.
The History Behind The Matchup
In 113 meetings, New Jersey is 58-41-2 with 12 ties against Carolina. They’ve averaged 3.19 goals for during the head-to-head matchup (360 total) and only allow 2.96 goals against per meeting (335 total). They’re the only opponent that’s played over 100 games against the Devils and averaged less than three goals per game.
The Devils and Canes squared off four times last season, all between January and February. Carolina took the first meeting, 6-3, on New Year’s Day in Raleigh. Tuomo Ruutu opened the scoring, finding the back of the net on the powerplay just 1:48 into the first period. Jeff Skinner made it 2-0 at 4:28 of the opening frame, and Sergei Samsonov stretched the lead to three with a powerplay tally at the eight minute mark. The goal chased Martin Brodeur, who recorded just four saves. The two teams traded scores later in the period, and Carolina entered the break ahead 4-1.
The scoring wouldn’t end there. Travis Zajac scored 49 seconds into the second period, closing the gap to 4-2. Samsonov would score another powerplay goal, this one at 8:42 of the middle frame, to put the lead back to three. The teams traded goals again in the third, ending the game in a Hurricanes win. Ruutu added insult to injury, recording four points in just that game.
The Devils evened the season series, winning 3-2 in overtime on February 8 at the Prudential Center. Skinner opened the scoring in the second period, converting on a powerplay at 9:22 for a 1-0 lead. It was a short-lived lead. Mattias Tedenby tied the game, 1-1, at 11:31 of the middle frame. Skinner put his team ahead, 2-1, on yet another powerplay goal, this at 8:37 of the third period. Another Devils rookie, Nick Palmieri, tied the game at two at 17:06 of the final frame. It would be a rookie playing hero in overtime for the win:
Johan Hedberg stopped 20 shots for the win. Cam Ward stopped 31 shots in the loss.
Just eight days later, the two teams squared off again at the Prudential Center. The Devils skated away with another 3-2 win. Ilya Kovalchuk broke a scoreless tie at 5:41 of the second period. They extended their lead quickly in the third period, with Brian Rolston and Patrik Elias scoring in the opening two minutes to push the lead to 3-0. Carolina mounted a comeback, with Samsonov ending Hedberg’s shutout at 8:17 of the final period. Ruutu scored at 19:55 to pull the teams within one. That’s as close as they would get. Hedberg stopped 25 shots in the win, and Ward stopped 19 in the loss.
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. We’ve already completed several previews, all of which can be found under the “Season Preview” tab. In today’s preview, we stay in the Eastern Conference, taking a look at this season’s matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Maple Leafs vs. Devils – Historical Data
In 114 all-time regular season meetings against Toronto, the Devils are 38-51-20-5. New Jersey averages 3.05 goals against the Maple Leafs, but they allow Toronto to score 3.33 goals per meeting. Last season, the teams met four times, with the Devils going 2-1-1 against the Maple Leafs.
The Devils won the first meeting of the season, 5-4, in overtime. Carl Gunnarson scored the game’s first goal, his first in the NHL, at 6:11 of the first period. But the lead wouldn’t last long, as the line of Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Dainius Zubrus would take control. Parise tied the game at one apiece with a goal at 7:10 of the period. Parise would net another goal in the period, putting the Devils ahead 2-1 at 13:40 of the first period.
Zubrus gave the Devils a 3-1 lead at 9:22 of the second period. Colton Orr cut the lead back to one, netting a goal at 14:41 of the period. But Patrick Davis would restore the two goal lead, scoring his first NHL goal at 17:19 of the period. Toronto roared back in the third, with Alexei Ponikarovsky and Matt Stajan scoring goals to tie the game at 4-4 and send it to overtime. Zajac netted the overtime winner at 4:14 of the extra period, giving the Devils the 5-4 win.
The Maple Leafs would exact revenge on February 2, winning the first game of a home-and-home series, 3-0, in Toronto. Nikolai Kulemin scored the game’s first goal, putting Toronto ahead, 1-0, at 4:40 of the first period. Toronto extended the lead in the second period, putting the game out of reach. Phil Kessel put the Maple Leafs ahead 2-0 at 2:23 of the period, and Francois Beauchemin scored a powerplay goal to give Toronto a 3-1 lead. Newly-acquired goalie Jean-Sebastian Giguere stopped 30 shots for the win.
The Devils took the second game of the home-and-home series, 4-3, in Ilya Kovalchuk’s debut. Zubrus gave the Devils an early 1-0 lead at 13:20 of the first period. But the lead wouldn’t last, as Toronto would roar ahead in the second period. Tomas Kaberle tied the game at one with a powerplay goal at 3:39 of the period. Lee Stempniak put the Maple Leafs ahead, 2-1, with a powerplay tally at 10:23 of the period. Rickard Wallin finished off the scoring, extending the lead to 3-1 at 19:41.
The Devils would answer back in the third period. Dean McAmmond brought the Devils to 3-2 with a goal at 16:56 of the period. The Devils would wait until the final minute for the real dramatics. Zajac scored a 6-on-4 powerplay goal to tie the game at 19:16 of the period. Then, with 19 seconds left, Jay Pandolfo scored the game-winning goal, giving the Devils a 5-4 win.
Continue after the jump for the rest of the preview!
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, which saw them bow out in the first round at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers. In today’s second preview, we take a look at this season’s matchup with the Los Angeles Kings.
Kings vs. Devils – Historical Data
In 90 all-time regular season meetings, the Devils are 29-48-11-2 against the Kings. The Devils average 3.20 goals against the Kings, but allow the Kings to score 4.02 goals per game, most to any team New Jersey has faced. Both teams faced off on January 31 last season, with the Kings winning the game, 3-2.
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. Wayne 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.
Devils vs. Kings – This Season’s Matchup
The Kings and Devils will square off once this season, on October 30 in Los Angeles. That game comes in the middle of a four-game road trip for the Devils, which features matchups against the Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canuks and Chicago Blackhawks.
The Kings and Devils have already been linked during the offseason. Los Angeles became a serious player for Ilya Kovalchuk, offering the left-winger a 15-year, $80 million contract before he signed with the Devils. Sadly, that was one of the highlights of the Kings’ off-season. The team made minor upgrades, signing Alexei Ponikarovsky and Willie Mitchell. The team also saw Alexander Frolov leave via free agency. Despite the lack of a big name signing, the Kings still reached the playoffs for the first time since 2002, and recorded 101 points, the third time in team history they cracked the century mark. The Kings are a talented group, and they shouldn’t be taken lightly at any point throughout the season.
Other Important Stats
In 14 career regular season appearances against the Kings, Martin Brodeur 8-5-0-1 with a 2.05 goals against average and .921 save percentage…In eight career games against the Kings, Kovalchuk has tallied 12 points (six goals, six assists). Now we know why the Kings wanted him…In 28 career games against the Devils, Handzus has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) and a +2 rating.