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?
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.
Tonight’s Matchup: The Montreal Canadiens (15-8-2) face off against the New Jersey Devils (8-14-2) tonight at the Prudential Center. It’s the second of four meetings between the two teams this season. The Devils lead the current season series, 1-0-0.
The Last Canadiens Game: The Habs blew a third period lead and lost to the Edmonton Oilers, 4-3, last night in Montreal. Down, 3-1, in the third period, the Oilers began the comeback with a goal from Ales Hemsky at 10:09 of the period. Sam Gagner tied it in the third, and Dustin Penner scored the overtime winner.
The Last Devils Game: The Devils defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 2-1, in a shootout Saturday afternoon at the Rock. Adam Mair struck first, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead in the first period. New Jersey held the lead until the third period, when Daniel Briere tied the game on a powerplay goal. Travis Zajac scored the shootout winner, beating Brian Boucher high to the glove side for the win.
The Last Canadiens – Devils Game: The Devils blanked the Canadiens, 3-0, on October 21 at the Bell Centre. Zach Parise, Jason Arnott and Matt Taormina provided the offense, and Martin Brodeur stopped 29 shots for the shutout.
Brotherly Love: Stephen Gionta will face off against ex-Devil and brother Brian Gionta tonight, the first time they’ve faced each other in their professional careers. Stephen wears number 14, the same number Brian wore while with the Devils. Brian is the better goal scorer and will probably have a greater impact on the outcome of the game. Regardless, it’ll still be fun to watch. Maybe they’ll get into a few battles along the boards.
Tonight’s Matchup: After winning three of four games last week (and playing four out of the seven days), the Devils earned a well-deserved four day break. But those breaks can take a team off their game, especially one that’s just beginning to develop some momentum. The biggest key of tonight’s matchup will be intensity. If the Devils play fast and smart, they can wear down the Canadiens early. Remember, the Canadiens did play last night and travel to New Jersey. The Devils will hold a decisive edge in rest, and they need to take advantage of that tonight.
Intensity will only get them so far. The Devils need to finish their scoring chances tonight. As we all know, that’s been the biggest challenge this season. The Canadiens, however, usually provide the remedy to cure the Devils’ problems. Carey Price is having a great season (14-7-2, 2.04 goals-against average and .932 save percentage), but hasn’t played well against the Devils. New Jersey should find a way to beat the Habs tonight. It’s almost like clockwork against them.
Jamie Langenbrunner and Matt Corrente both return tonight for the Devils. Alexander Vasyunov and Olivier Magnan are healthy scratches.
Gametime is 7 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSG Plus or WFAN 660AM. Here is the projected lineup for tonight’s game:
FORWARDS: Ilya Kovalchuk – Travis Zajac – Jamie Langenbrunner; 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; Mark Fayne – Matt Corrente
GOALIES: Johan Hedberg; Mike McKenna
The New Jersey Devils offense, woeful through the first 23 games of the season, finally showed some signs of life recently. It wasn’t a re-discovery of Ilya Kovalchuk’s scoring prowess or a goal binge by Brian Rolston. Rather, a rookie call-up keyed the turnaround.
Mattias Tedenby, a short right winger who didn’t play hockey in North America until this season, finally gave the Devils offense life. The rookie helped provide excitement and, more importantly, keyed an awakening of the second line.
Through the first 14 games of the season, New Jersey’s second line massively underperformed. Both Jason Arnott and Patrik Elias couldn’t find their old chemistry, and the addition of Jamie Langenbrunner did little to help their production. Each forward carried a negative plus/minus rating, and goals were difficult to come by. A line that began with such promise during the preseason seemed to crumble into a lackluster, mismatched failure.
With the team battling several injuries, Tedenby earned his call-up for the Devils’ November 10 game against the Buffalo Sabres. During the pre-season, Tedenby seemed to struggle with the smaller ice surface and physical play in the NHL. As a result, the organization sent him to Albany to gain experience. In 10 games, Tedenby collected five points (three goals, two assists), hardly numbers worthy to get excited about. The Devils’ rookie right-winger collected his first career NHL point, an assist, in the 5-4 shootout loss. It was an uneventful start. But the rookie would continue to improve and make the most of his NHL call-up.
Tedenby celebrated his “coming-out” party against the Edmonton Oilers two nights later. The rookie put five shots on net, and scored his first career goal. It took a superhuman effort from Oilers backup Devan Dubnyk to keep Tedenby from scoring through two periods. The right-winger ultimately won the battle, beating Dubnyk with a re-direction for the game-tying goal. The Devils would go on to win that game, 4-3, and Tedenby would continue to grow. Since then, he’s collected six points. He’s used a beautiful backhand move to beat two goalies, including one in a penalty shot opportunity. Tedenby provided energy and spark to the second line, and both coaching staff and players took notice.
“Teddy always makes something happen when he’s out there, so it’s exciting,” Devils coach John MacLean said to Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger. “He’s a young guy with great confidence with the puck. You have to let his creativity come.”
“He uses his speed well and it adds another dimension to our line,” Arnott said to Michael Mazzeo of ESPN.com. “He just wants to go, go, go all the time. He’s improved every game. And that’s a great sign. He’s shown more confidence to drive to the net, and he’s not afraid to get in there.”
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 go to the Atlantic Division, taking a look at this season’s matchup with a hated rival, the Philadelphia Flyers.
Flyers vs. Devils – Historical Data
In 204 all-time meetings against the Flyers, the Devils are 88-95-13-3. In those 204 matchups, the Devils have averaged 2.97 goals against Philadelphia, but have allowed the Flyers to average 3.42 per meeting. Last season, the Devils went 1-4-1 against their rivals during the regular season. The Flyers also defeated the Devils, 4-1, in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, ending the Devils season.
The Devils opened their season against the Flyers, losing the opener, 5-2, at the Prudential Center. Jeff Carter opened the scoring, giving the Flyers a lead, 1-0, at 15:57 of the first period. The Flyers continued the offensive output in the second period. Ian Laperriere netted an even-strength tally at 9:20 of the period to extend the Flyers lead to 2-0. Mike Richards would add a goal at 15:23 to push the Flyers lead to 3-0. But the offense wouldn’t stop there.
Darrell Powe increased the Flyers lead to 4-0 with an even-strength goal at 7:34 of the third period. Brian Rolston ruined Ray Emery’s shutout, scoring a powerplay goal at 9:44 of the period to bring the score to 4-1. Matt Carle would reinstate the four-goal lead, scoring at 11:13 to put the Flyers ahead, 5-1. Jamie Langenbrunner tallied a shorthanded goal at 13:40 to cut the lead to 5-2.
The Flyers would once again defeat the Devils, 3-2, on November 16 in Philadelphia. Powe opened the scoring, giving the Flyers a lead, 1-0, with an even strength goal at 7:11 of the first period. Scott Hartnell increased the lead to 2-0, scoring with the man-advantage only 44 seconds into the second period. David Clarkson cut the deficit in half, tallying a powerplay goal at 15:42 of the period. James van Riemsdyk scored the eventual game-winning goal at 10:38 of the third period, increasing the Flyers lead to 3-1. Zach Parise scored an even-strength goal at 19:59 of the third, bringing the score to 3-2.
The Devils defeated the Flyers, 4-1, for their only win against their rivals on December 12 at the Prudential Center. Niclas Bergfors scored the game’s first goal, putting the Devils ahead, 1-0, with a powerplay tally at 2:33 of the first period. Bergfors would strike again on the man advantage at 12:31, extending the Devils lead to 2-0. Patrik Elias netted his then-300th career goal at 15:47 of the period, increasing the Devils lead to 3-0.
Claude Giroux snapped the shutout at 15:03 of the second period, netting a powerplay goal and bringing the score to 3-1. Elias scored another goal at 19:26 of the period, upping the Devils lead to 4-1. Martin Brodeur finished with 22 saves (and a powerplay assist) in the win. Brian Boucher stopped 24 shots in the loss.
The Flyers defeated the Devils on February 8, winning the first game of a home-and-home series, 3-2, at the Wachovia Center. Parise gave the Devils an early lead, netting a powerplay goal at 7:00 minutes of the first period for a 1-0 advantage. Anssi Salmela doubled the Devils lead, scoring a shorthanded goal at 1:01 of the second period. But the defenseman paid a hefty price, as Carter leveled him as he took the shot. Salmela would lay motionless on the ice, and was eventually taken off on a stretcher. Here’s the video:
After that hit, the ice titled in the Flyers favor. Van Riemsdyk scored at 18:24 to cut the Devils lead to 2-1. Carter tied the game at 19:36, scoring an even-strength goal to knot the game at 2-2. Richards scored the game-winning goal, scoring with the man advantage at 12:02 of the third period to give the Flyers a 3-2 lead.
Continue reading for the rest of the recap!
Another year, another first-round playoff exit for the New Jersey Devils. The team couldn’t find the drive tonight, and the Philadelphia Flyers were able to withstand the Devils pressure in the first period. They even escaped with a lucky break, as Zach Parise sent the puck off the post with the Devils on the powerplay. After that, they put the clamp on, with Claude Giroux scoring two goals to end any thoughts of a Devils comeback. The Devils went down with a whimper, 3-0, and bow out in the first round for the third consecutive year.
1. Jamie Langebrunner Tripping Penalty – 1:29 of the first period
Daniel Carcillo gave the Devils an early opportunity, allowing the Devils to get the first man advantage of the game. It opened the door to potentially give the Devils early momentum in this decisive game five. Less than 45 seconds later, that opportunity would disappear. Langenbrunner took a tripping penalty in the offensive zone, ending the Devils’ powerplay. The Flyers would use that penalty to their advantage only minutes later.
2. Daniel Briere’s Powerplay Goal Gives Flyers 1-0 Lead – 3:16 of the first period
The Flyers took advantage of their first powerplay opportunity, lighting the lamp to take an early 1-0 lead. With Langenbrunner in the box for tripping, Giroux held the puck in the Devils’ zone. He passed the puck to Briere in the left circle, but the puck skipped off Briere’s skate and between Martin Brodeur’s pads for Briere’s second goal of the series.
3. Colin White’s Double Minor – 4:15 of the second period
With the Devils down, 1-0, the Flyers gave them the opportunity to tie the game with a penalty to David Laliberte at 3:46 of the period. But, once again, the Devils took a penalty in the offensive zone to end the chance. Colin White, playing forward on the powerplay, took a whack at Brian Boucher after the goalie held the puck between his pads. A scuffle ensued, with White and Ian Laperriere trading a few late jabs. Both players went to the box, and the Devils continued to shoot themselves in the foot.
4. Parise’s Shot Hits Post – 5:10 of the second period
The Flyers’ continued to hand the Devils’ chances to get back into the game. With the teams playing four-on-four hockey, Briere saved a goal with a nice stick check on Travis Zajac. But the forward then took a holding penalty, giving the Devils 44 seconds of a 4-on-3 powerplay opportunity. Parise worked himself down to the front of the net. He found a loose puck and tried to stuff it by Boucher. The puck passed the goalie, but tipped off the left post.
5. Giroux’s Goal Extends Flyers Lead To Two – 1148 of the second period
Giroux had been playing a terrific series, and it continued in game five. With the Devils pressuring the Flyers, Giroux gave his team some breathing room with his third goal of the playoffs. Blair Betts took the initial shot, which Brodeur stopped. The puck skittered to the corner, where it was sent in front. Mike Richards, crashing the net, tipped the puck back to the slot. Giroux one-timed the puck over Brodeur’s glove and into the top corner for the goal.
6. Giroux’s Powerplay Goal Extends Flyers Lead To Three – 13:51 of the second period
Giroux lit the lamp again, putting the nail in the coffin on the series with his second goal of the game. With Dean McAmmond in the box for high-sticking, Briere let go a shot from the point. Scott Hartnell, who was screening Brodeur, was hit with the shot on the crease. The puck game to Giroux, who fired a low shot into the empty net for his fourth goal of the series. That goal ended what little playoff life the Devils had left.
Oh No, Not Another Powerplay Chance
I can’t remember a time I hated to watch a team get a powerplay. But, during this series, the Devils made me hate the whistle. The Devils couldn’t figure out their powerplay the entire series. The Devils went 0-for-8 tonight, and they were never able to make the Flyers pay for their mistakes. Overall, the Devils went 4-for-32 (12.5%) during the series. That’s plain unacceptable. There were times when the Devils powerplay looked creative and effective. But those times were few and far between. The Devils powerplay was dull, unimaginative and lacked creativity. They couldn’t take advantage of the Flyers’ aggressive penalty kill or the forwards that dove down to block shots. As a result, they allowed the Flyers to escape with undisciplined hockey time and time again.
Get Me A Magnifying Glass, I Need To Find The Devils’ Offense
Over the final six periods of this series, the Devils scored one – that’s right, ONE – goal. Except for game two, the Devils offense was non-existent. The Devils averaged 1.80 goals per game this series. That won’t win a series, and the results reflect that effort. The Devils scorers were shut down, with Zajac and Parise only scoring one goal in the series. Patrik Elias was held without a goal. Give credit to the Flyers, who stymied the Devils offense throughout the series. But the Devils offense, which looked so promising coming into the series, disappeared. Even with the play of Brodeur, the team wouldn’t be able to last without pressuring Boucher.
Continue reading after the jump for the rest of the recap.
The Matchup: The Philadelphia Flyers (3-1) face off against the New Jersey Devils (1-3). This is the fifth game in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals series. The Flyers currently lead the series, 3-1.
Series Scope: Ilya Kovalchuk scored the first goal Tuesday night to take a 1-0 lead after the first period. That would be all the Devils would get. The Flyers scored four unanswered goals – including two from Jeff Carter – and thoroughly whooped the Devils, 4-1. The Devils, admittedly, gave up in the third period. The Devils have only recovered from a 3-1 series deficit once, in 2000 against the Flyers. Devils coach Jacques Lemaire brings experience, as he’s the only coach to come back from a 3-1 series deficit twice in the same playoffs (2003 with the Minnesota Wild). But this won’t be an easy task, because the Devils have already been outscored, 12-9, and rank second in penalties (24) in the playoffs.
Tonight’s Matchup: This could be it for the Devils tonight. Facing a 3-1 deficit, the chances of coming back are somewhat bleak after watching the Devils’ performance this entire series. But the team hasn’t shared this view. In an interview with Kovalchuk, Devils beat reporter Rich Chere asked the left-winger if he’s worried about this game being his last as a Devil.
“No. Because we’re going to win tomorrow,” Kovalchuk said.
That quotes sums up everything the players have said over the past two days. They don’t feel like they’re out of the playoffs yet. While it might be smoke and mirrors, it’s this type of talk that gives me hope. Maybe, just maybe, the Devils can put together an inspired, complete performance and defeat the Flyers. But, in order to do that, the Devils need to play better than they’ve played in the entire series. Bergen Record reporter Tom Gulitti highlighted some of the problems the Devils need to change.
“They certainly won’t be able to do it if they continue having trouble getting out of their zone at even strength,” Gulitti said. “The Flyers have pressured the Devils on the forecheck and the Devils have not been to break out of their zone and through the neutral zone with clean passes. That was a big factor in the last two games during the times when they did skate 5-on-5 (there were 13 power plays in Game 3 and 16 and Game 4). The Devils defensemen have not been able to handle that pressure.”
And that’s just about the defense. Here’s what he had to say about the offense.
“The Devils will have to test (Brian) Boucher more,” he said. “He (Boucher) allowed only one goal in Games 1 and 4 and had to make maybe a handful of difficult saves in both of those games. The Flyers have been doing a good job of blocking shots and have roughed up Zach Parise pretty good, but the Devils have not been doing enough to get to the net annd get to rebounds and have allowed Boucher to become very comfortable.”
I think Gulitti lays out the plan very well. The defenseman need to make better, quicker decisions, and the forwards need to generate traffic and get tough shots on Boucher. If the Devils can do that, they will set themselves up for a big performance and, hopefully, will live to see another game in this series.
The Devils finally caught a break in game four, with injuries to Simon Gagne and Carter. Both will miss the rest of the series, with both undergoing surgeries for foot injuries (Gagne toe, Carter foot). While both haven’t played extremely well, they were two of the top forwards for the Flyers, each averaging over 18 minutes of ice time. Both played significant powerplay time, and Gagne even played on the second penalty-kill unit. While the Devils still have to defend against Mike Richards, Claude Giroux, etc., these two injuries weaken the Flyers. They might not be series-changing injuries, but they should play a role in tonight’s game.
Gametime is 7:00 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSGPlus, Comcast SportsNet and WFAN. Check in with The Devils’ Den tonight for a live game blog of all the game five action!