As everyone out there recovers from a weekend of parties, food and college football, I’d like to take the time to say thank you to everyone who read this blog. What started as a hobby exploded into something much more, as the site gained 10,000 views this year alone. Whether you’ve read The Devils’ Den once or a hundred times, it’s been a great experience. Thank you all for continuing to support the site.
In the coming year there will be changes to the site’s design, content, etc. I hope to keep this growing and keep improving throughout the year. If you have any suggestions, you can send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the top five posts from the past year:
After the New Jersey Devils signed Ilya Kovalchuk, I explored the real cost – including fines, draft picks and players – that Kovalchuk cost the Devils.
Before Burns passed away last year, there were false reports of his death throughout Canadian television. The ex-Devils coach fired back, giving TSN’s Bob McKenzie a profanity-laced response to the report.
These series of schedule preview posts, done during the off-season, were a favorite for many readers. This one in particular looked to the Devils matchup with the Canadiens this season. So far, Carey Price has exceeded my expectations.
This post discussed the proposed changes to the NHL Network and my belief that it was a positive transition. So far, many of the changes haven’t taken place. But they’ll be things to look forward to in the coming year.
In this post, I took a look at the importance of the Devils’ position in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Ah, the good ol’ days.
Once again, thank you for reading and supporting The Devils’ Den!
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 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!
Matt Taormina increased the Devils lead to 3-0 over the Montreal Canadiens in the third period tonight at the Bell Centre.
Arnott passed the puck back to Taormina on a faceoff in the Canadiens zone. The young defenseman settled a rolling puck and put a slapshot on net. The puck found its way through traffic and beat Price over the glove for Taormina’s second goal of the season.
Brodeur made two great saves on the Habs latest powerplay chance. The first came early, as Brodeur was bumped behind the net. He scrambled to the front, where Andy Greene deflected the puck with his stick and hit it off Brodeur.
The second came at 7:01 of the period. Brodeur went to the splits to stop Gionta, then held the post as the Habs continued to whack away at the loose puck.
Jason Arnott even-strength goal at 14:59 of the second period stretched the Devils lead to 2-0
Jamie Langenbrunner controlled the puck low in the zone after a Devils’ powerplay chance. He passed the puck to Zubrus along the side boards. Zubrus sent a pass to a wide open Arnott in the right circle, who whipped a shot on net. The puck deflected off of Dustin Boyd’s glove and through the legs of Price for Arnott’s third goal of the season.
That goal was also the Arnott’s 100th goal as a Devil.
Zach Parise’s even-strength goal at 4:20 of the first period put the Devils ahead, 1-0.
Dainius Zubrus, Travis Zajac and Parise all went behind the net after an empty puck. Parise came away with it, and put a stuff attempt on Carey Price from the goal line. The puck bounced off the pads and into the back of net for Parise’s second goal of the season.
Zubrus had another chance to score, but Price robbed him again at 8:20 of the second. Zajac picked up a loose puck at center ice, and skated in with Zubrus on a 2-on-1. The Devils center held the puck until he was low, and backhanded the pass to a wide-open Zubrus. He let go a low shot, and Price went to the splits and made a pad save.
The Devils had their best scoring chance of the second period at 10:22. After Sergei Kostitsyn fell in his own zone, Zajac picked up the puck and skated it down the side boards. He found Zubrus in the high slot, and fed him a backhanded pass. Zubrus unleashed a one-timer, but Price located the puck through a screen and made a glove save.
The Canadiens outshot the Devils, 10-3, in the first period.
Parise had eight points (six goals, two assists) in seven career games against Price.
Kovalchuk had a great opportunity at 5:30 of the period. The left-winger caused a turnover at the blue line and split the defenseman. His tried to put a wrist shot on net, but it went wide.
Despite the early lead, the Devils are being outshot 10-3 at the nine minute mark of the first period.
David Clarkson and Travis Moen dropped the gloves only 3:36 into the period. Clarkson held the advantage early, landing several rights. But Moen stood his own and bloodied the Devils right-winger.
The Devils have looked shaky early in this game. Several pucks took Canadiens bounces, and the Devils also made some ill-advised passes. Martin Brodeur had to be sharp early with two very nice saves.
Here were the starting lineups for tonight’s game:
Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Dainius Zubrus; Andy Greene – Olivier Magnan-Grenier; Martin Brodeur
Mike Cammalleri – Tomas Plekanec – Andrei Kostitsyn; Josh Georges – Hal Gill; Carey Price
The Devils are looking to break out of their early season funk. The 1-4-1 start is the worst since the Devils opened the season 1-5-0 in 1983-84. New Jersey is currently on a two game losing streak, dropping two straight home games last weekend.
The Devils have played well in Montreal. The team is 22-23-4 in Montreal, and has been led by goaltender Martin Brodeur. The Montreal native has a 38-16-5 record against the Habs, with a 1.78 goals-against average and eight shutouts. In Montreal, Brodeur is 17-12-1 with a 1.80 goals-against average, a .935 save percentage and four shutouts.
Carey Price will start for the Canadiens.
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (1-4-1) face off against the Montreal Canadiens (3-1-1) at the Bell Centre in Montreal. This is the first meeting between the teams this season.
The Last Devils Game: The Devils lost to the Boston Bruins, 4-1, Saturday at the Prudential Center. After a scoreless first period, Dainius Zubrus opened the scoring, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead at 3:45 of the second period. But that would be all the Devils would get, as Boston came roaring back to put the game away. Jordan Caron scored at 5:38 to tie the game at 1-1. Michael Ryder scored the eventual game-winning goal, connecting off a feed from Tyler Seguin to put the Bruins ahead, 2-1. Shawn Thornton increased the lead to 3-1 at 16:43 of the second. Milan Lucic capped the four-goal outburst, scoring at 18:09 to put the Bruins ahead, 4-1. Tim Thomas finished with 31 saves for the win. Martin Brodeur stopped 31 shots in the loss.
The Last Canadiens Game: The Canadiens defeated the Ottawa Senators, 4-3, Sunday at the Bell Centre. Trailing 3-1 in the second period, the Canadiens scored four straight goals to take the lead. Jeff Halpern began the comeback, netting his second goal at 13:39 of the second period. Andrei Kostitsyn tied the game, 3-3, at 17:29 of the second. Tomas Plekanec played hero, scoring the game-winner at 16:01 of the third period.
The Last Devils – Canadiens Game: The Devils won the final game of the series last season, 4-2, on March 27. Patrik 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.
Last season, the Devils won three of four from the Montreal Canadiens. For a full analysis of the historical matchup between the two teams, click here.
Welcome Home Marty! Brodeur makes his 60th career start against the Canadiens tonight, his most against a non-Atlantic Division opponent. In 30 appearances at Montreal, Broduer is 17-12-1 with a 1.80 goals against average, a .935 save percentage and four shutouts. In his career, Brodeur is 38-16-5 against the Habs, with a 1.78 GAA and eight shutouts. Brodeur admitted yesterday that he hasn’t been sharp to begin the season, but these meetings always seem to bring out the best in the veteran netminder.
Tonight’s Matchup: The Devils took three days to practice, and coach John MacLean put the team to work. They skated hard, practiced game situations and made significant moves throughout the lineup. But captain Jamie Langenbrunner said the positives from practice mean nothing if they don’t translate to a win.
“It depends on how we come out of it,” Langenbrunner said to Tom Gulitti. “We did have a good week of practice where we got the battle and work back in our game, but it’s how we respond on the ice tomorrow night for 60 minutes that counts. No one gives you any points for a practice.”
The Devils couldn’t be walking into a better situation to earn their second win of the season. Despite Montreal’s early success, New Jersey has always played them well, especially in their own building. The Devils are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games at the Bell Centre, and the team holds an overall record of 22-23-4 all time in Montreal. An almost .500 record against a team in their own building is respectable.
One thing New Jersey will have to do is meet the energy and pressure from the Canadiens. The Bell Centre will be loud, and the building will be a sellout. The Devils will need to respond to that energy and attempt to silence the crowd early. With some solid scoring and surprising play from Carey Price, the Canadiens won’t be a cakewalk. But the Devils, with four days to prepare, should be able to handle them in Montreal.
Game time is 7:30 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSG Plus or WFAN 660.Remember to come back to The Devils’ Den for our live game blog, beginning at 7:15 pm!
Here are tonight’s starting lines, based off of the Devils’ pairings from practice yesterday:
Forwards: Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Dainius Zubrus; Patrik Elias – Jacob Josefson – Ilya Kovalchuk; Rod Pelley – Jason Arnott – Jamie Langenbrunner; Adam Mair – Tim Sestito – David Clarkson
Defenseman: Henrik Tallinder – Matt Corrente; Matt Taormina – Colin White; Andy Greene – Olivier Magnan – Grenier
Goalies: Martin Brodeur; Johan Hedberg
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.