Another preseason game, and the exact same result for the New Jersey Devils. The Devils lost to the rival New York Rangers, 4-3, in overtime Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. And while the team remains winless in the preseason, there were some positives to come from tonight’s game. Since it’s still the preseason, here’s some points from tonight’s game:
1. The “Liberal Line” played very well – The line of Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Ilya Kovalchuk looked really good tonight. The line played solid defensive hockey, back-checking and being responsible in their own zone. They also produced on the forecheck, causing several turnovers and disrupting the Rangers breakout. The line also produced offensively, putting up all three goals (and four assists) tonight. Even with the solid play, Kovalchuk saw room for improvement.
“I think we were OK,” Kovalchuk said to Bergen Record reporter Tom Gulitti. “We can be better. We got a couple of good chances. A couple of shifts we played in our end for like a minute. So, I think we want to play the other way, though.”
If this line and the Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – Jamie Langenbrunner line can generate the scoring chances they’ve been able to generate, the Devils can have a nice one-two punch.
2. Jeff Frazee played solid hockey – Frazee’s inability to step up in the AHL has cost him the chance at a shot to back up Martin Brodeur. But tonight, Frazee stepped up in a big way. The Devils goalie made nine saves, including a few tough saves. He did allow the game-winning goal, but it was a perfect shot by Marian Gaborik in the slot. While the Devils shouldn’t need to depend on him this season, Frazee showed that he may be ready to take the next step this season.
3. The MSG Broadcast – There was no annoying Subway ad on the glass behind the nets, and they actually allowed Chico into the booth. I don’t think Chico’s great, but it was nice to hear his voice to remind me just how close we are to meaningful hockey.
And, of course, some negatives:
1. Where art thou, Brian Rolston? Rolston had 16:11 of ice time tonight, but did absolutely nothing with the opportunity. He recorded three shots on net, yet had over 12 minutes of even strength and powerplay time. Tonight’s game did nothing to help his cause, but it also didn’t showcase him to other team’s either.
2. Where’s the defense? The Devils allowed 37 shots tonight, and many of them were great opportunities. The Devils need to play better defense, and not leave it up to Brodeur or Johan Hedberg to win them the game. While it’ll happen some nights, the Devils need to tighten up defensively.
3. A losing streak already! I know it’s the preseason, and as I said in the preview, the wins aren’t important, it’s the players shaking off the rust and fighting for roster spots. But an 0-0-2 record and eight goals allowed? The Devils need to play better, and hopefully they can get out a win before the regular season starts.
The Devils next game will be on Saturday against the Rangers at the Rock. Let’s see if the Devils will put together a veteran squad and show the lineup they might play with during the regular season.
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!
The Matchup: The New York Rangers (32-32-9) face off against the New Jersey Devils (43-25-4). This is the sixth and final meeting between the two teams this season. The Devils lead the season series, 3-2.
The Last Rangers Game: The Rangers shut out the New York Islanders, 5-0, last night in the Garden. Marian Gaborik netted two goals and one assist in the victory. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots for his third shutout of the season.
The Last Devils Game: The Devils powerplay scored three goals en-route to a victory, 6-3, over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Left-winger Ilya Kovalchuk tallied four points (1 G, 3 A), by far his most productive game as a Devil. Travis Zajac finished with two goals. The victory was the 40th for Martin Brodeur, marking the eighth time in his career he’s won 40 or more games in his career.
The Last Rangers – Devils Game: The Devils defeated the Rangers, 6-3, March 10 at The Rock. The Devils scored five goals and chased Lundqvist to the bench in the second period. The Devils received goals from five different players in the win.
Tonight’s Matchup: The Devils played one of their best games Tuesday night against Columbus. They actually played a 60-minute effort, and it showed in the final results. Yes, they had their off-moments, but the team finally put the effort on the table. With the effort came goals, and the offense really looked good. The powerplay finally clicked, and it seemed the Devils were in control for most of the game.
Coming into tonight, they have to bring that same intensity. The Rangers, who sit five points out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, will come into tonight’s game looking for another big victory. The Devils, who sit one point behind Pittsburgh for the Atlantic Division lead, and with a win tonight they inch closer to a playoff berth. If the Devils win and the Atlanta Thrashers loss, the Devils make the playoffs for the 13th consecutive years. The Devils can also clinch with an overtime or shootout loss. But the team should want to win outright to clinch their playoff spot.
I expect another solid, 60-minute game from the Devils. The intensity always rises when these two teams face off, and I expect the Devils to rise to that level. I like the way the powerplay looked, and the Devils should be able to net at least another powerplay goal tonight. Despite the Rangers win last night, they’re still a middle-of-the-pack team. These are two big points tonight. The Devils need to get those points to get back ahead of Pittsburgh.
Gametime is 7 p.m. on MSG Plus. Remember to visit The Devils’ Den for a live game blog!
After the New Jersey Devils loss to Edmonton on Sunday, the Devils’ were on a two-game slide and needed something to change their lethargic play.
Coach Jacques Lemaire cited one thing the Devils needed one thing to get back on track.
After two physically intense days of practice, the Devils responded to the challenge with a win over their rivals, the New York Rangers, 6-3, Wednesday night at the Prudential Center.
“The last two days we’ve been working on the team concept,” Lemaire said. “The guys responded very well to it. I think we played with more intensity. We showed that we really wanted to win tonight, more than I’ve seen lately. We’re headed in the right direction. This is what we want.”
Jamie Langenbrunner broke a 3-3 tie at 13:06 of the second period. After a turnover by the Rangers in their own zone, Patrik Elias passed the puck to Andy Greene at the point. Greene sent the puck cross-ice to defenseman Mike Mottau, who shot the puck toward the net. Langenbrunner tipped the puck past Lundqvist and into the net for his 16th goal of the season.
That score would prove to be the decisive strike, as the Devils went on to score three more goals in the win.
Devils’ center Rob Niedermayer scored the game’s first goal at 4:16 of the first period. Brian Rolston took an awkward angle shot, and the rebound came to Niedermayer in the slot. The center blasted the puck off of Rangers’ goalie Henrik Lundqvist’s right shoulder and into the net for his eighth goal of the season.
The Rangers tied the game 57 seconds later to tie the game at one. Vaclav Prospal set up near the side of the net, and Marian Gaborik found him with a pass. Prospal, who was wide open, put the puck past a diving Martin Brodeur for his 15th goal of the season.
Bryce Salvador’s goal at 18:17 of the first period restored the Devils’ lead. Salvador began the play by keeping the puck in the zone. He took the puck and did a spin-o-rama, passing the puck behind the net to Niedermayer. Niedermayer got knocked down, and Langenbrunner passed the puck to Greene at the right point. Greene passed the puck to Salvador, who one-timed the pass. The puck hit the stick of Ollie Jokinen in front and went in for Salvador’s fourth of the season.
Erik Christensen pulled the Rangers even with the Devils at 5:01 of the second period. Brandon Dubinsky carried the puck into the zone and found Christensen at the point alone. Christensen received the puck and deked around a Devils’ defenseman, putting him alone in the slot. He whipped a shot past Brodeur for his sixth goal of the year.
The seesaw battle continued, with the Devils scoring again to take a lead, 3-2. With Wade Redden in the
box for hooking, Brian Rolston took a shot on Lundqvist. Both Dainius Zubrus and Travis Zajac crashed the net, bringing the defensemen with them. The puck slid to the right side of the net, where Zach Parise came untouched and backhanded it into the empty net for his 31st goal of the year.
Just 37 seconds later, Brandon Prust scored to draw the Rangers even. The Rangers’ used their forecheck to force a turnover from Mark Fraser, who tapped a loose puck into the slot. Jody Shelley took a spin-o-rama shot that Brodeur stopped. But Prust worked his way to the front of the net and put the rebound past the Devil’s goalie for his second goal of the year.
The Devils lost three leads, but they showed resiliency, continuing to pressure the Rangers and put shots on Lundqvist.
“Three days ago we might have (crumbled),” said Langenbruner, who scored the eventual game-winning goal at 13:06 of the third period. “But we had a different mindset tonight. We didn’t let those things affect us. You could see it on the bench. It was a tough break on the third goal that they tied it up on, but it was right back, ‘We’re still going to get it.’ And that wasn’t there the last little while when something goes wrong, we were like, ‘Here we go again.’ It was much-better mindset and it I think it showed in the way we played as solid a 60 (minutes) as we have in a long time.”
The Matchup: The New York Rangers (29-28-9) face off against the New Jersey Devils (38-23-3). This is the fifth meeting of the teams this season. Currently, the season series is tied, 2-2.
The Last Rangers Game: The Rangers lost to Buffalo, 2-1, on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. Patrick Kaleta scored the overtime winner, and Ryan Miller made 35 saves for the win.
The Last Devils Game: This was certainly one to forget, as the Devils were shutout by Edmonton, 2-0, Sunday night. The team barely made goalie Jeff Deslauriers work, and he recorded 22 saves for his second career victory over the Devils.
The Last Rangers – Devils Game: In the last meeting, the Rangers defeated the Devils, 3-1, at Madison Square Garden February 6. The Rangers scored three goals in the second period to take a 3-0 lead. Dainius Zubrus scored a goal in the third, but the Devils couldn’t mount a comeback. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 41 shots for the victory.
Tonight’s Game: The Devils haven’t looked good at all since the break. While we as fans (and even the team) thought the Devils would turn it around, they’ve continued to play terribly in the second period and come out with a lackluster effort. They were shutout by the Edmonton Oilers! Clearly, the Devils need to turn it around. And they seem to step in the right direction yesterday after practice. The players finally admitted they haven’t played well and that they believed everything would go away after the break. Patrik Elias admitted people have sat back and watched Ilya Kovalchuk at times. Zach Parise admitted this slump is unacceptable and that the team needs to pick it up. Finally, the players said what we all wanted them to say for the past few weeks.
But words aren’t going to be enough to turn around this streak. If the Devils want to change their play, they need to do it on the ice. What a better opportunity then going against the hated Rangers. They come into the game sitting outside the playoff picture, and the Rangers have only scored 170 goals this year. But Lundqvist is a Devils killer, compiling a 17-6-5 record in his career over the Devils. The Rangers also bring Marian Gaborik to town, who isn’t 100% but recorded 69 points so far this season (35 goals, 34 assists).
The Rangers aren’t a great team by any means, and the Devils need to impose their will on them. I want to see Lemaire use an aggressive forecheck to try and get some early turnovers. Not only that, but the Devils need to be patient in the offensive zone. The team errantly threw passes to the slot and didn’t possess the puck in Edmonton, allowing the Oilers to gain possession and clear the puck. The team needs to set up and cycle in the zone. The only way to create offense is to skate in the zone and find open areas. The Devils haven’t done that lately, instead letting players try and take on the entire defense. If they can get back to cycling the puck and getting to the dirty areas, this team will have success on the offensive end.
On the defensive side of the puck, Mike Mottau or Colin White need to be benched. I know it won’t happen, but Mark Fraser played very well in the minutes he played. He’s looked better than both Mottau and White, whose weaknesses were exposed with their increased playing time this season. Fraser seems to handle the pressures of the league well, and he’s already scored three goals on the season (including two against Pittsburgh). He doesn’t back down from physical play, either. The rookie deserves to start this game, and either Mottau or White need to sit this one out.
Finally, as tough as it will be, the Devils need to ignore Sean Avery. The Rangers pesky forward seems to always find a way to get under the skin of the Devils. I’m sure everyone on the team wants to hit him, and Kovalchuk actually did in their last matchup:
But Avery succeeds when he takes people off of their game. To be effective, the Devils need to ignore Avery and be physical and aggressive. Let Avery do his thing and, when he needs it, give him a good shove or put him into the boards. But the team shouldn’t go out of its way to beat up Avery. The best way to shut him up is to win the game.
Game time is at 7:00 p.m. Join The Devils’ Den for a live game blog, beginning 15 minutes before the drop of the puck.
Four teams moved on to the semifinals tonight. Here’s a recap of the games:
Zach Parise (New Jersey Devils) tallied two goals in the third period as Team USA defeated Switzerland, 2-0, to move into the semifinal round of the Olympic tournament yesterday in Vancouver.
Parise broke a scoreless tie 2:08 into the third period. With Team USA on a powerplay, defenseman Brian
Rafalski (Detroit Red Wings) took a shot from the point that went into a crowd of players. Parise put a stick on the shot, and the puck went off of Jonas Hiller (Anaheim Ducks) and into the net for the goal.
Switzerland nearly tied the game at 3:40 of the period. Sandy Jeannin skated behind the defense and shot the puck from the goal line. The shot beat Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres), but the puck caromed off the right post and out of the net.
Parise iced the victory at 19:49 of the third period. The winger fired a shot into Switzerland’s empty net for his second goal of the game.
Hiller finished with 43 saves in the lost. Team USA will face Finland in a semifinal matchup Friday at 3 p.m.
It was 50 years since Team Canada beat the Russians in Olympic hockey.
After 24 minutes of hockey, the Canadians sealed their trip to the semifinal round.
Team Canada scored seven goals to bury Russia, 7-3, Wednesday night in Vancouver.
Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) began the Canadian scoring 2:21 into the game. Chris Pronger (Philadelphia Flyers) and Dan Boyle (San Jose Sharks) assisted on the goal.
That goal opened the floodgates.
Canada tallied four goals in the first period and two more in the second. At 4:07 in the second period, Russian coach Slava Bykov pulled goaltender Evgeni Nabakov (San Jose Sharks). The starting goalie allowed all six goals. Ilya Brzygalov (Phoenix Coyotes) took over and allowed only one more Canadian goal.
With the win, Canada will face Slovakia in semifinal action Friday.
Niklas Hagman (Calgary Flames) and Valtteri Filppula (Detroit Red Wings) scored in the third period to lead Finland over the Czech Reupblic, 2-0, Wednesday night in quarterfinal action.
Hagman broke a scoreless tie with a powerplay goal at 13:34 of the third period. Teammate Janne Niskala assisted on the eventual game-winning goal.
Filppula iced the victory with an empty-net goal at 18:25 of the period. Mikko Koivu (Minnesota Wild) sent a pass to Filppula at the blue line. Filppula carried the puck into the Finnish zone and shot the puck into the empty net for the goal.
Slovakia scored three goals in the second period to upset Sweden, 4-3, in quarterfinal action.
Marian Gaborik (New York Rangers) broke a scoreless tie with a powerplay goal at 7:34 of the second period. Teammates Marian Hossa (Chicago Blackhawks) and Pavol Demitra (Vancouver Canucks) assisted on the goal.
Andrej Sekera extended the lead to two 37 second later. Richard Zednik (Florida Panthers) and Zigmund Palffy assisted on the goal.
Sweden’s Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit Red Wings) tied the game at two at 14:26 in the period. Tobias Enstrom (Atlanta Thrashers) assisted on the goal.
Demitra gave Slovakia back the lead at 19:12 with a powerplay goal. Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins) and Hossa assisted on the second powerplay goal of the period for Slovakia.
Tomas Kopecky (Chicago Blackhawks) scored the eventual game-winning goal. Hossa and Demitra were credited with assists on the goal.
With the losses, two Devils should be returning to the team. Ilya Kovalchuk (Russia) and Patrik Elias (Czech Republic) were knocked out of the tournament tonight. I don’t know when they’ll rejoin the team, but I would think they’d be back by the end of the week.
Patrik Elias, the last Devil to make his debut in the Olympics, led the Czech Republic to victory of Slovakia, 3-1, last night in Vancouver.
Elias scored the first goal for the Czechs on a deflection off of his glove. The Czech captain finished with three shots on net. Jaromir Jagr and Tomas Plekanec (Montreal Canadians) tallied the other goals for the Czechs. Slovakia’s lone goal came from Marian Gaborik (New York Rangers).
Today’s Olympic Schedule:
USA vs. Norway – 3 p.m. (USA Network)
Zach Parise will once again play with Paul Statsny and Patrick Kane. They couldn’t find the net, but having more time together can enable this line to really click. Parise did have three shots on net in the team’s first game against Switzerland.
Switzerland vs. Canada – 7:30 p.m. (CNBC)
Martin Brodeur will get the start in net tonight for the Canadians. Everyone is expecting to see Brodeur play the puck much more than in the NHL, and I’m excited to see Brodeur use his full arsenal of skills without the trapezoid.
Slovakia vs. Russia – Midnight (CNBC)
Ilya Kovalchuk tallied a goal and an assist in Russia’s dominant win over Latvia. The Russian team is pretty stacked, but it’ll be interesting to see if Kovalchuk will become a consistent producer for his national team.