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
It’s finally gameday, as the New Jersey Devils and Montreal Canadiens face off tonight at the Prudential Center. A game preview will be up soon, but to hold you over, here’s today’s edition of The Devils’ Sports Page:
Ilya Kovalchuk still searching for goals as pressure mounts (Rich Chere/The Star-Ledger)
Devils turned a profit in 2009-10, but lost value (Tom Gulitti/Fire and Ice blog)
Jason Arnott, David Clarkson back for Devils practice (Rich Chere/The Star-Ledger)
Emotional journey for Devils right-winger David Clarkson (Tom Gulitti/Fire and Ice blog)
Devils’ Stephen Gionta hoping for chance to play against brother Brian (Rich Chere/The Star-Ledger)
Langenbrunner, Arnott, Corrente feel ready to play; MacLean to make decision on Gionta in morning (Tom Gulitti/Fire and Ice blog)
Jamie Langenbrunner ready to return to an upbeat Devils squad (Rich Chere/The Star-Ledger)
Bourne Blog: How Kovalchuk can salvage dismal offensive season (Justin Bourne/PuckDaddy.com)
Forbes magazine says Devils are 11th most valuable NHL franchise (Rich Chere/The Star-Ledger)
Penguins Take Down Devils, 5-1 (AlbanyDevils.com)
Devils powerless against league leading Penguins (Pete Dougherty/TimesUnion.com)
Davis breaks franchise record for points (Pete Dougherty/TimesUnion.com)
Devils notes ‘n’ quotes: Frazee doesn’t start, but he plays (Pete Dougherty/TimesUnion.com)
Devils Angle Past Walleye, 4-2 (TrentonDevils.com)
Trenton Adds Chase Watson (TrentonDevils.com)
Devils Acquire Connelly; Lerg To 21-Day IR (Mike Ashmore/Hunterdon County Democrat)
Lerg Out With Fractured Thumb (Mike Ashmore/Hunterdon County Democrat)
It’s always nice to write this up after a Devils’ win. Here’s your Friday edition of The Devils’ Sports Page.
Brodeur blanks Habs, keeps up dominance of Montreal (Arpon Basu/NHL.com)
Brodeur gets 112th shutout as Devils defeat Canadiens (The Canadian Press/TSN.ca)
Martin Brodeur posts shutout to lift Devils to 3-0 victory over Montreal (Rich Chere/NJ.com)
Martin Brodeur, Devils continue to be masters of Montreal, 3-0 (Tom Gulitti/NorthJersey.com)
Magnan has fun in NHL debut; Greene comes up big; Devils practice pays off (Tom Gulitti/Fire and Ice blog)
There were never any doubts in Devils’ room about Brodeur (Tom Gulitti/Fire and Ice blog)
Are Devils out of woods? ‘It’s just one game’ warns John MacLean (Rich Chere/NJ.com)
Devils rookie defensemen came through in victory over Canadiens (Rich Chere/NJ.com)
Andy Greene says Devils’ defense has done fine without injured veterans (Rich Chere/NJ.com)
Former Trenton Devils Defenseman Olivier Magnan makes NHL Debut (TrentonDevils.com)
Devils to host Hockey Fights Cancer night Saturday; Lamoriello on Broadway (Tom Gulitti/Fire and Ice blog)
Habs captain Brian Gionta said he learned from Niedermayer, Stevens (Rich Chere/NJ.com)
Gionta honored to be Canadiens’ captain (Tom Gulitti/Fire and Ice blog)
The New Jersey Devils had four days to sit and think about their 1-4-1 start, the organization’s worst since 1983-84. The team spent three days practicing, attempting to iron out the wrinkles. The Devils then flew up to Montreal, looking to continue their dominance over the rivals in Canada and show the start was a fluke. Despite being outshot and outplayed in the first period, the Devils leaned on Martin Brodeur and won their first game in regulation, blanking the Canadiens, 3-0.
Marty Loves Some Home Cooking
Brodeur loves to play in Montreal. Coming into tonight’s game, Brodeur was 17-14-2 with a 1.80 goals against average, a .935 save percentage and four shutouts. The stellar play continued for Brodeur in his hometown tonight. Brodeur needed to be sharp in the first period, when the Devils were outshot, 10-3, and gave the Habs some good scoring chances. That continued into the second period, where Brodeur once again turned away the Habs. But he would save his best performance for the third period.
After Matt Taormina increased the lead to 3-0 (more on that later), the Habs began to open it up. Brodeur’s best saves came with the Devils on the penalty kill. The first great save came on a scramble play at the front of the net. Brodeur went behind the net to play the puck, and was bumped by his own defenseman. With the net open, Brodeur had to scramble back. Andy Greene blocked Brian Gionta‘s shot, but the puck deflected toward the net. Broduer, on his back, used his mask to keep it out and maintain the shutout.
Brodeur then made three consecutive saves at 7:01 of the period to keep the game scoreless. Gionta had the puck next to the net, and tried to stuff it home. The Devils’ goalie went to the splits to make the save, and kept the pads down on the ice to stop several more stuff tries.
Brodeur now has 112 career shutouts, and nine shutouts against the Habs. Only the Islanders have been blanked more by Brodeur (10) then the Canadiens.
Arnott Hits The Century Mark
Jason Arnott, like many of the Devils, struggled through the first six games of the season. The center sat at two goals and carried a -7 rating. Four days off seemed to do the Devils’ center good. With New Jersey holding on to a tenuous one goal lead in the second period, Arnott put the nail in the coffin. With the Devils controlling the puck in the zone, Jamie Langenbrunner skated the puck from behind the net. He left a drop pass for Dainius Zubrus, who held the puck along the boards. Zubrus sent the puck to Arnott, who set up low in the left circle. The center whipped a wrist shot on net that deflected off of Dustin Boyd and through the legs of Carey Price for the goal.
It was Arnott’s 100th as a Devil. Congratulations to him for hitting that milestone with the club.
For the rest of the recap, read after the jump!
The Devils will finally hit the ice tonight after a four-day layoff. Remember to check back during the day for our game preview of tonight’s matchup against the Montreal Canadiens. To get you through the day, here’s today’s edition of The Devils’ Sports Page.
Devils hope practice time pays off in games (Tom Gulitti/Fire and Ice blog)
Brodeur not happy with his own play; Magnan excited to play in Montreal; Devils “proud” of Gionta (Tom Gulitti/Fire and Ice blog)
Devils practice underway, Volchenkov working out off the ice (Tom Gulitti/Fire and Ice blog)
Devils rookie ready to make NHL debut in Montreal (Rich Chere/NJ.com)
Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov working out off ice (Rich Chere/NJ.com)
Devils keeping the faith (Mark Everson/NY Post)
Devils seek important win in Montreal (Eric Martin/Devils.NHL.com)
Devils Get Third Straight Win (The Albany Devils website)
Swift’s goal gives Devils 2-1 victory over Checkers (Pete Dougherty/Timesunion.com)
Devils notes ‘n quotes: Lot of familiar faces (Pete Dougherty/Timesunion.com)
FitzGerald: ‘They’re great people to keep supporting us’ (Pete Dougherty/Timesunion.com)
Throughout the offseason, The Devils’ Den will preview this season’s upcoming matchups. The Devils, who finished second in the Eastern Conference last season, will face every team in the NHL at least once next season. Today we take a look at a familiar foe, the Montreal Canadiens.
Canadiens vs. Devils – Historical Data
In 128 matchups, the Devils hold an all-time record of 56-61-10-1 against Montreal. The Devils only average 2.77 goals against the Canadiens, while Montreal lights the lamp an average of 3.20 times a game. Last season, the Devils went 3-1-0 in four games against the Canadiens.
The Devils defeated the Canadiens, 2-1, in the team’s first meeting on December 16, 2009. Travis Moen gave Montreal an early lead with a shorthanded goal in the first period. Ilka Pikkarainen scored his first career NHL goal in the second period to tie the game. Patrik Elias broke the scoreless tie at 17:24 of the third period, scoring the game winning goal for the Devils.
The Devils defeated the Canadiens in overtime, 2-1, to win the second game of the season series. New Jersey took a lead on a goal by Travis Zajac at 4:06 of the first period. But the Devils couldn’t keep Montreal off the scoreboard, as ex-Devil Scott Gomez tied the game in the second period with a powerplay goal. The score would remain that way until overtime, when Zach Parise scored the Devils first overtime goal of the season to give New Jersey the victory.
The Canadiens defeated the Devils, 3-1, at the Prudential Center on January 22. Parise opened the scoring at 5:16 of the first period, but Montreal answered back with a goal from Benoit Pouliot at 16:10. Mathieu Darche broke the tie in the second period, and Michael Cammalleri increased the lead to 3-1.
The Devils won the final game of the series, 4-2, on March 27. Elias struck first for the Devils, giving the team a 1-0 lead with a powerplay goal at 8:11 of the first period. The teams traded goals in the second period, with the Devils holding a 3-2 advantage at the end of the second period. Brian Rolston added an empty-net goal in the third period to clinch the win.
Devils vs. Canadiens – This Season’s Matchup
The Devils and Canadiens will face each other four times this season, with the first game coming on October 21. The team’s last matchup, on April 2, could be a key late-season matchup, possibly helping to determine playoff position in the conference.
We all witnessed the miraculous run the Canadiens made to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. The team upset conference powers Washington and Pittsburgh, but lost to the Flyers in five games. But this isn’t the same team as last season. Gone is playoff hero Jaroslov Halak, who was traded to the St. Louis Blues for two forwards. The team also traded Sergei Kostitsyn to Nashville, getting Dustin Boyd and Dan Ellis in return. The team would let Ellis go, leaving them with Carey Price as their number one starter. The Canadiens will bring a solid offensive effort to the ice this season, but the biggest question will remain with their netminders. Can Price, a career underachiever, find his groove and become a successful goalie? That will be key to the Canadiens success this season.
The Devils have traditionally played well against the Canadiens. Despite their all-time head-to-head record, New Jersey seems to have Montreal’s number. The Devils should continue to enjoy success against the Canadiens this season.
Other Important Stats
Parise recorded four points (two goals, two assists) during the season series…Elias and Parise tied for the team lead in goals, with each scoring two against the Canadiens…Gomez tallied three points (one goal, two assists) against his former team…Brian Gionta, another former Devil, recorded one assist in four games.
In the continuing “Eastern Conference Playoff Preview” series, I’ll take a look at the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens, who currently hold the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference, have overcome injuries and unsteady play from goalies Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak to qualify for the playoffs. But can they hold on to the seventh seed and make noise in the playoffs?
The Canadiens made a few big splashes this offseason, trading for center Scott Gomez and signing right-winger Brian Gionta. So far, Gionta has been the best signing. The former Devil has 25 goals and 17 assists in 56 games this season. Gomez has 12 goals and 44 assists this season. Health has been an issue the entire season, with several Montreal forwards missing time due to injury. Now, with the team holding on to the seventh spot, they’ll be without top powerplay scorer Glen Metropolit. Top-liners Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn have only played a combined 98 games this season. That health issue weakens this offensive corps. Not only that, but they’ve struggled to score all year. The team is tied for 23rd in the league in goals, and they rank 25th in assists and points. A fragile offensive corps plus a low-scoring team could spell trouble in the playoffs.
The Canadiens defense has underperformed as well. Andrei Markov has been the only bright spot on the blueline, tallying five goals and 25 assists. But the squad, as a whole, hasn’t stood out. They’re 16th in the league in goals against. After Markov, the team hasn’t received much offense from their defenders. The second line of Hal Gill and Josh Gorges have combined for a -5 rating. Jaroslav Spacek and Roman Hamrlik, the third pairing, have put up decent numbers. I wouldn’t consider the defense a plus or minus. They are, as the ranking shows, average.
This, above all positions, is the biggest sore spot in Montreal. Both Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak have played extensive minutes. It seems the Canadiens are torn between the two goalies. But the best option is clearly Halak. He leads the win total, 24 to 13. He’s allowed 15 less goals (94 to Price’s 109). His goals against average is better (2.43 to 2.77), and he also holds an edge in save percentage (.920 to .910). Price does have a better record against the playoff teams in the East, but he’s only two games above .500. Clearly, Halak should be the option the Canadiens turn to for their playoff run.
So, where do the Canadiens stand in the playoffs? They’re a fragile team. The forwards are injury-prone, and the defense is middle-of-the-road. Hell, the team doesn’t even know who will be their top goalie. As one of the lower seeds, I don’t have high expectations of the Canadiens. They may steal a series, but they seem to be another good candidate for a one-and-done run in this year’s postseason.