The Matchup: The Buffalo Sabres (4-9-2) face off against the New Jersey Devils (4-10-1) at the Prudential Center. This is the third of four meetings between the two teams this season. The teams have split the season series so far, 1-1-0.
The Last Sabres Game: Buffalo defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-2, in a shootout Saturday. Trailing, 2-0, in the second period, Buffalo began their comeback. Derek Roy scored his seventh goal of the season at 18:56 of the period to cut the deficit in half. Jochen Hecht scored his first goal of the year with 14 seconds left in regulation to tie the game, 2-2. After a scoreless overtime, the teams moved to a shootout. Thomas Vanek scored in the second round, but John Mitchell answered right away in the third. Tyler Ennis would play hero, scoring the game-winning shootout goal in the fifth round. Jhonas Enroth finished with 23 saves for his first win of the season.
The Last Devils Game: The Devils were blanked by the Rangers, 3-0, Friday night at the Prudential Center. Brandon Dubinsky began the scoring, giving the Rangers a lead, 1-0, at 7:35 of the first period. Brian Boyle extended the lead, putting the Rangers ahead by two with a powerplay goal at 19:24 of the second period. Dubinsky would strike again, netting his second goal of the game with a shorthanded tally at 3:41 of the period. That put the Rangers ahead, 3-0, and ended any hope of a Devils win. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 33 shots for the shutout.
The Last Sabres – Devils Game: The Sabres blew out the Devils, 6-1, at the Prudential Center on October 23. Drew Stafford and Tyler Meyers staked the Sabres to a lead, 2-0, after the first period. The Sabres blew it open in the second period, scoring three goals and chasing starter Johan Hedberg from the game at the 8:17 mark of the period. Vanek recorded two goals in the win.
A Battle of Backups: When the Sabres and Devils square off, it’s usually a battle of the great goaltenders. That’s the matchup we watched in the first meeting, when Martin Brodeur out-dueled Ryan Miller. With both goalies ailing, the teams will rely on their backups to bring them a win.
Tonight’s Matchup: The Devils did what we asked from them in their last game. They thoroughly outplayed the Rangers, but a few mistakes and bad bounces cost them the game. They need to replicate that same effort tonight. It should be a welcome sight that Ryan Miller won’t be between the pipes Buffalo, giving the shooters more confidence, something this team desperately needs.
One of the Devils beat writers spoke at length about the power of positive thinking, especially within the Devils locker room. The team needs to keep a positive attitude throughout this entire ordeal. We’ve all been stuck in a rut or, in my case, played on terrible sports teams. It’s difficult to not let frustration creep in and dictate the style of play, etc. If the Devils continue to create opportunities, it should pay off. But, then again, how many times have we said that this season…
I would like to see another strong start by the team today. Put shots on net, generate turnovers, and keep the pressure on Buffalo. This is a team just as fragile as the Devils right now. If the Devils can get to them early, they may cause Buffalo to let frustration set in first. That could lead to more chances, and, God willing, more goals.
Gametime is 7 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSG Plus. Also, join us for a live game blog tonight, beginning at 6:45 p.m.! Here’s tonight’s potential line combinations:
FORWARDS: Ilya Kovalchuk – Travis Zajac – Jamie Langenbrunner; Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – Mattias Tedenby; Dainius Zubrus – Rod Pelley – David Clarkson; Alexander Vasuynov – Adam Mair – Stephen Gionta
DEFENSEMAN: Henrik Tallinder – Andy Greene; Alexander Urbom – Olivier Magnan; Matt Taormina – Anton Volchenkov
GOALIES: Johan Hedberg, Martin Brodeur
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (3-9-1) face off against the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks (7-6-1) at the United Center in Chicago. It’s the only meeting of the season between the two teams.
The Last Devils Game: The Devils were blanked by the Vancouver Canucks, 3-0, on Monday night at Rogers Arena. Raffi Torres put the Canucks ahead, 1-0, in the first period off of a turnover in the Devils’ zone. Vancouver increased their lead to 2-0 at 1:09 of the second period as Ryan Kesler‘s backhanded shot beat Brodeur off yet another sloppy defensive play by the Devils. Henrik Sedin capped the scoring at 6:13 of the third period, converting on a penalty shot. Roberto Luongo made 30 saves for the win.
The Last Blackhawks Game: The New York Rangers defeated the Blackhawks, 3-2, Monday night in Madison Square Garden. Tied, 1-1, in the third period, Brandon Dubinsky converted on a powerplay opportunity to put the Rangers ahead, 2-1. Patrick Kane pulled Chicago even with an even-strength goal at 6:08 of the final frame. Only 28 seconds later, Erik Christensen scored the game-winning goal to put the Rangers ahead, 3-2.
The Last Devils – Blackhawks Game: The Blackhawks defeated the Devils, 2-1, in a shootout at the Prudential Cetner. Ilya Kovalchuk gave the Devils an early first period lead, scoring his then-40th goal of the season at 5:49 of the first period. The score stood at 1-0 until the third period, when Kris Versteeg scored with 26 seconds left in the game. Jonathan Toews scored the only goal in the shootout, giving Chicago a season sweep of the Devils.
For more information about the matchup, check this post.
Tonight’s Matchup: The Devils have 70 shots over the past two games. That number is pretty impressive, considering it’s coming from New Jersey. But how many goals have they scored in that time? Just one. One measly goal on 70 shots. Clearly, this team has a problem with finishing opportunities. That will only get more difficult with the loss of the team’s best scorer, Zach Parise, who underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus and will miss three months. On paper, the Devils have one of the best offenses in the league. But they haven’t cashed in on their potential, and the team desperately needs to start scoring goals in bunches. I’ve suggested everything here, from crashing the net to mixing the lines. Maybe it’s just a bounce that needs to go the Devils way, but the scorers need confidence, and the Devils need to start depositing pucks in the back of the net.
Defensive miscues plagued the Devils Monday night, and that lead to their loss. The team needs to play solid defense tonight, especially because the Blackhawks are a dangerous offensive team. Even without some of their Stanley Cup heroes, the Blackhawks can put Duncan Keith, Kane, Toews and Brent Seabrook on the ice at once. It’s been miscue after miscue for the Devils, but hopefully New Jersey corrects these mistakes tonight. If not, they’ll be in for a long game.
The road trip hasn’t gone according to plan (1-4-0), but the Devils can still salvage a feel good win to end the trip. The team needs something – anything – that’s positive heading into Friday’s matchup against the Rangers. Hopefully, it’ll be a great win to close the trip tonight.
Game-time is 8:30 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSG Plus. Here are the potential line combinations, based off of Monday night’s game:
FORWARDS: Ilya Kovalchuk – Travis Zajac – Jamie Langenbrunner; Patrik Elias – Rod Pelley – Alexander Vasyunov; Dainius Zubrus – Jason Arnott – David Clarkson; Adam Mair – Brad Mills – Tim Sestito
DEFENSEMEN: Colin White – Andy Greene; Henrik Tallinder – Matt Taormina; Olivier Magnan-Grenier – Tyler Eckford
GOALIES: Martin Brodeur; Johan Hedberg
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (2-6-1) face off against the San Jose Sharks (3-3-1) tonight in San Jose. This is the first of two meetings between the teams this season.
The Last Devils Game: The New York Rangers defeated the Devils, 3-1, Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. After a scoreless first period in which the Devils were outshot, 17-10, the Blueshirts capitalized first, with Michael Rozsival tallying his second goal of the season at 1:26 of the second period to put the Rangers ahead, 1-0. Ryan Callahan doubled the lead, connecting on the powerplay to put the Rangers ahead, 2-0, at 12:22 of the second period. Ilya Kovalchuk closed the gap to one goal, cutting the Blueshirts lead to 2-1 with 5:02 left in the third period. But the Rangers held on, and Brandon Dubinsky put home an empty-net shot to clinch the 3-1 victory.
The Last Sharks Game: The Calgary Flames blanked the Sharks, 4-0, Sunday night in Calgary. The Flames chased Sharks goalie Antti Niemi after the Stanley Cup champion allowed three goals to Rene Bourque, Jarome Iginla and Craig Conroy on five shots in the first period. Antero Niittymaki stopped 24 shots in relief. Miikka Kiprusoff made 27 saves for the shutout win.
The Last Devils – Sharks Game: 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 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.
For a look at the full historical matchup, take a look at our season preview post detailing the matchup with the San Jose Sharks.
Tonight’s Matchup: It’s a pretty simple gameplan for the Devils – play a complete, 60-minute game with the effort needed to win a hockey game. Martin Brodeur kept the Devils in the game against the Rangers Sunday night, keeping them afloat throughout the first period. While the Rangers brought relentless pressure, the Devils failed to make Henrik Lundqvist work. They put little to no pressure on the Rangers defense. The second period brought much of the same, but this time Brodeur couldn’t save New Jersey.
The third period – the best since the 3-0 shutout win over Montreal on October 15 – showed what the Devils need to do in tonight’s matchup. In the third, the Devils controlled the puck and pressured the Rangers defense. They worked hard on the forecheck and created opportunities throughout the period. The result? A dirty goal and some great play.
But the play in the third period can’t be a one-time thing. This team needs to bring that hunger and aggressive play to the ice during every shift. We’ve already seen the byproduct of that type of play, with two shutout wins on the road. That hasn’t been a consistent effort, and it’s become one of the many driving forces behind the teams 2-6-1 start. An aggressive start, especially during an away game, will help silence the crowd and give the Devils an early advantage.
As I detailed in an earlier post, this game begins an important five game stretch for the Devils. New Jersey needs to put together a consistent effort and get some wins. Hopefully tonight’s game against the Sharks will be the first step in the right direction.
Remember to check in with The Devils’ Den at 10:15 p.m. for a live game blog of all the action!
The Devils began a six-game road trip with a game against their hated rivals, the New York Rangers, at Madison Square Garden. New Jersey had a chance to get their road trip started right, with the opportunity to beat their rivals on their home ice and give them a good feeling heading out to the West Coast. The Devils, however, couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities, losing to their rivals, 3-1. Now the team goes out west with a two-game losing streak and several questions left to be answered.
Second period struggles continue
The Devils second period woes began last season, and it’s carried over into this season. Through the first nine games of the season, the Devils have allowed 17 goals in the middle period. That’s two more than the Devils’ scored this entire season. Those problems continued tonight, as the Devils once again left the second period in with a two goal deficit. Out of the many problems the Devils have, the biggest is their play in the middle period.
Coach John MacLean said the lack of consistency contributes to the Devils’ second period woes.
“We haven’t been consistent,” the Devils’ coach told the media after the game. “We need to have consistency night in and night out.”
Zach Parise echoed those same concerns.
“We’re a pretty talented team, but we’re missing something right now” the left-winger said. “At times, we’re not playing together out there. The effort was there tonight, but it’s not the result that we needed.”
Ryan Callahan kills the Devils (Again)
Callahan loves playing against the Devils. In 16 games against the Devils, Callahan has ten points (five goals, five assists) and seems to always come up with a big play at key moments in the game. And when that moment came, Callahan was there to bury the Devils.
With the Rangers already ahead, 1-0, Ilya Kovalchuk gave the Devils a powerplay opportunity with a questionable interference call. The Rangers controlled the puck, with Michael Rosival holding the puck at the point. The defenseman passed the puck to Brandon Dubinsky along the side boards, and the forward drifted into the right circle. He put a shot on net as Callahan crashed the crease. The forward tipped the puck through Martin Brodeur‘s pads for his first goal of the season.
Rosival gets a great bounce
There’s a lot of things contributing to the Devils 2-6-1 start to the season, and some of it is bad luck. For the Rangers, a bounce went their way in the second period, and it gave them a 1-0 lead.
The scoring drive began on a shot from Ruslan Fedentko from the right circle. The puck went off of Brodeur’s shoulder and stunned the Devils’ goalie. The rebound rolled up to Rosival at the point, who one-timed the puck to the net. The puck grazed off the leg of Andy Greene and went around Brodeur for his second goal of the season.
Henrik Lundqvist stands tall
Like so many Devils – Rangers game before tonight, a win hinged on the play of the goalies. And as he’s done 18 times before, Lundqvist stood tall and backstopped the Rangers to a victory. The Swedish goalie stopped several opportunities in the third period as the Devils tried desperately to come back and tie the game. The Devils took 12 shots in the third period, and only beat Lundqvist on a beautiful feed from Dainius Zubrus to Kovalchuk, who had a wide open net to shoot into. There’s a reason why the Rangers’ goalie has 19 wins against the Devils. He single-handidly helped the Rangers hold on to their win tonight.
For the rest of the recap, continue reading after the jump.
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (2-5-1) go across the river to face off against their hated rivals, the New York Rangers (3-2-1). This is the first of six meetings this season.
The Last Devils Game: The Devils were thrashed by the Sabres, 6-1, last night at home. I’m still peeved about the loss, but here’s three things to note:
1. The Devils looked terrible in their own zone.
2. Johan Hedberg wasn’t given any support.
3. The team played lackluster and, frankly, worse than an AHL team.
The Last Rangers Game: The Rangers defeated the Boston Bruins, 3-2, last night in Boston. The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period with goals from Artem Anisimov and Alex Frolov. Zdeno Chara cut the lead to 2-1 with a powerplay tally at 19:55 of the period. The Rangers extended their lead in the second period, with Marc Staal giving the Blueshirts a 3-1 lead. Nathan Horton continued his hot start, pulling the Bruins to within a goal at 12:27 of the period. The Rangers would blank the Bruins in the third for their second straight win.
The Last Devils – Rangers Game: The Rangers defeated the Devils, 4-3, in a shootout during a late season meeting last year. The Devils once again scored first, with Ilya Kovalchuk giving New Jersey an early 1-0 lead. Brandon Dubinsky tied the game with a powerplay goal in the second period, tying the game at one. The third period followed the same script as the fourth game, with the Devils wasting leads. Patrik Elias put the Devils ahead, 2-1, early in the third period. Anisimov tied the game at 9:40 of the second period, and the scoring gates were opened. Jamie Langenbrunner gave the Devils a 3-2 lead at 12:37 of the period, but the Rangers answered that tally with one of their own. With their net open, Chris Drury scored at 19:43 to tie the game and send it to overtime. The teams remained scoreless through the extra period, and Erik Christensen was the only player to score in the shootout. (For a full recap, click here.)
For a full recap of the historical rivalry, check our preview here.
Tonight’s Matchup: The Devils looked terrible yesterday. Once again, the team didn’t put in the sixty-minute effort. They played well for seven minutes, then quit on the game. They left Hedberg out to dry, they played terrible defense, and they stopped creating scoring chances. Overall, it was a game to forget, which many of these early season games have been.
Last night’s effort was lifeless and lazy. I turned off the game after the fourth goal, and most people left the arena before the third period began. I think it’s safe to say that, heading into this matchup, the Devils are a train wreck. There’s no leadership on or off the ice, MacLean may as well be talking to a brick wall, and the players look bored and lost. None of that is a recipe for success, and it’s evident from these blowouts that the Devils players either aren’t ready or aren’t willing to give the effort needed to be a consistent force night in and night out.
Tonight’s game against the Rangers gives these Devils a chance to break out of this funk. If the team can’t get motivated or excited for this matchup, then I don’t know what MacLean can do. The Rangers have won two in a row, and they look good right now. The Devils have a chance to go into Madison Square Garden and take it to their rivals. The Devils have showed about 123 minutes of solid play, and those minutes ended up in two shutout wins. This is a deep and talented team that plays well when it wants to. Today needs to be one of those days.
We as fans may have loftier than normal expectations for this team, but we’re not seeing anything out of the Devils right now. Today gives New Jersey a chance to redeem last night’s disaster of a performance. MacLean tried to make a statement by sitting Kovalchuk, one that ultimately backfired. The Devils need to show themselves and the fans that this slow start is merely a fluke, and they can do that today against a rival. But if the team fails to show up, then the players and coaches will confirm what we all suspect – there’s a major divide in the locker room, and no one has stepped up to address it.
Game time is 7 p.m. and can be seen on MSG Plus or heard on WFAN 660 AM. Remember to check in with The Devils’ Den for a live game blog tonight! Here are tonight’s potential line combinations:
Forwards: Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Dainius Zubrus; Rod Pelley – Jason Arnott – Jamie Langenbrunner; Patrik Elias – Jacob Josefson – Ilya Kovalchuk; Adam Mair – Tim Sestito – David Clarkson
Defenseman: Andy Greene – Olivier Magnan-Grenier; Colin White – Matt Taormina; Henrik Tallinder – Matt Corrente
Goalies: Martin Brodeur, Johan Hedberg
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!
Here’s some news from this year’s IIHF World Championship:
USA Avoids Relegation
T.J. Oshie (St. Louis Blues) scored a sudden-death shootout goal to help Team USA defeat Team Italy, 3-2, and avoid relegation yesterday.
Brandon Dubinsky (New York Rangers) opened the scoring at 11:45 of the first period. With Team USA on its second powerplay, Dubinsky ripped a slap shot that beat Italian goaltender Daniel Bellissimo high on the blocker side for his third goal of the tournament.
Team Italy fought back, tying the game at the 14-minute mark of the first. Giulio Scandella skated the past the Team USA defense, moving in alone on a breakaway. Scandella put home the puck, tying the game and ending Team USA’s shutout streak at 154 minutes.
The Italians seemed poised for the upset, taking the lead 6:49 into the third period. Stefano Margoli took a pass at center and made his way through Team USA’s defense. He took a wrist shot that beat Team USA goalie Scott Clemmensen (Florida Panthers).
Ryan Potulny (Edmonton Oilers) scored the equalizer, tying the game at 11:08 of the third period. With Team USA on a powerplay, Potulny crashed the net, putting a rebound past Bellissimo.
David Moss (Calgary Flames) almost gave the Americans a late victory with a breakaway chance. Moss tried a backhanded shot, but Bellissimo kicked out the right pad to block the shot to the corner.
By heading to overtime, Team USA clinched its spot in the IIHF’s upper division. The win helped relegate Italy to the federation’s second tier.
Team USA finished 13th overall in the tournament.
Russia vs. Canada – Part Two
The last time these two teams met, the Russians were on the wrong end of a drubbing.
Team Canada defeated the Russians, 7-3, in this year’s Winter Olympics en-route to winning the gold medal. Team Russia, sporting such NHL stars as Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) and Ilya Kovalchuk (New Jersey Devils) didn’t medal.
The rivalry continues to grow, and the quarterfinals match will be no different. Team Russia is undefeated in this year’s tournament, winning the first six games. They also have a 25 game IIHF World Championship winning streak, which started in the 2007 bronze medal game against – you guessed it – Canada.
Team Canada brought a young team to Germany, and its still trying to gel. They’ve lost their last two coming into the game against the Russians.
When asked about the matchup, Kovalchuk said he wished it would come later in the tournament.
“Russia-Canada, it is too bad we meet in the quarterfinals but it will be a big match for us,” said Kovalchuk, the captain of Team Russia. “It is always nice when we face each other in the final but it seems the last couple of big tournaments we have faced each other in the quarterfinals.”