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Game 14 Preview: Light At The End Of The Tunnel

November 3, 2010 Leave a comment

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 Parisewho 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

Devils 2010-2011 Schedule Preview – Chicago Blackhawks

September 6, 2010 Leave a comment

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 Western Conference, taking a look at this season’s matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Blackhawks vs. Devils – Historical Data

In 99 all-time regular season meetings against the Blackhawks, the Devils are 35-41-21-2. New Jersey averages 2.91 goals against Chicago, but allows the Blackhawks to score 3.34 goals per meeting. Last season, the teams met twice, with the Blackhawks winning both meetings.

The Blackhawks defeated the Devils, 5-1, on December 31 in Chicago. Troy Brouwer scored the game’s first goal at 14:44 of the first period, converting on a powerplay chance. Ben Eager doubled the lead, scoring at 16:29 to increase the lead.

The Blackhawks extended the lead to three at 2:12 of the second period, with Andrew Ladd picking up the tally.

Chicago’s offense continued to roll in the third period. Johnathan Toews scored at 4:41 to push the lead to 4-0, and ex-Devil John Madden made it a rout, scoring the Blackhawk’s fifth goal at 15:11 of the period. Jamie Langenbrunner spoiled the shutout, scoring at 18:27 to give the put the Devils on the board.

The Blackhawks took the second meeting, 2-1, in a shootout at the Prudential Center. 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. Toews scored the only goal in the shootout, giving Chicago a season sweep of the Devils.

Devils vs. Blackhawks – This Season’s Matchup

The Devils and Blackhawks will face off on November 3 in Chicago. Last season, Chicago went for broke and stacked their team, looking to win the Stanley Cup. And they did just that, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in six games for their fourth Stanley Cup championship, and first since the 1960-61 season.

But Chicago has undergone significant changes since hoisting the Cup. Gone is Cup-winning goalie Anti Niemi, who recently signed with the San Jose Sharks. Chicago’s list of traded players is long, with names such as Versteeg, Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien, to name a few. The Blackhawks remained quiet on the free agent front, bringing in Marty Turco to challenge Cristobal Huet for a chance to start between the pipes.

Chicago will still be a tough team, even with their offseason moves. Their entire lineup features skill players, from Toews and Patrick Kane up front to Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook on the blue line. Expect this matchup to be a hard fought contest, especially since it comes at the end of Western Conference road trip for the Devils.

Other Important Stats

The Devils won’t mind seeing Huet manning the Chicago net. In nine career starts against New Jersey, Huet is 3-6-0-0 with a 2.60 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage…In 34 career regular season games against Chicago, Langenbrunner has 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) but is -8…Both Kane and Zach Parise were Olympic heros last season, but Parise holds the upper hand in head-to-head matchups. Kane has recorded two points (zero goals, two assists) in four career regular season meetings against New Jersey. Parise has three points (one goal, two assists) in six career games against the Blackhawks.

Congratulations To The 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks!

The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-3, in tonight’s game six of the Stanley Cup finals to win their first Cup in 49 years.

Patrick Kane netted the winning goal at 4:10 of the overtime period. Kane skated the puck down the side boards and released a shot from the goal line. The puck snuck through the pads of Flyers’ goalie Michael Leighton and into the side of the net.

There was some confusion on whether or not the goal counted, but eventually replays confirmed the goal.

Jonathan Toews, captain of the Blackhawks, received the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP. Toews finished with 29 points, which ranked second among all skaters this postseason. Ex-Devil John Madden won his third Stanley Cup ring.

Olympic Hockey: Crosby Clinches Gold For Canada

Canada’s assistant captain Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) had been rather quiet in the Olympic tournament, and through three periods, hadn’t recorded a point in the gold medal game.

Crosby finally struck in overtime, scoring the game-winning goal to defeat the U.S., 3-2, and clinch the gold medal.

Crosby scored the game-winner 2:20 into the extra period. Canadian right-winger Jarome Iginla (Calgary Flames) sent a pass to Crosby, who slid a shot under the pads of Team USA goalie Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres) for the goal.

Sidney Crosby celebrates after winning the gold medal in men's hockey Sunday. Crosby's overtime winner clinched Canada's first Olympic hockey medal on home soil. Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It was the second game-winning goal for Crosby in the tournament. He previously scored a shootout goal to defeat Switzerland during round robin play.

Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks) and Corey Perry (Anaheim Ducks) put Canada ahead, 2-0, in the final game of the Olympics.

Toews opened the scoring at 7:10 of the first period with his first goal of the tournament. Mike Richards (Philadelphia Flyers) stole the puck from Team USA defenseman Brian Rafalski (Detroit Red Wings) and put a shot on Miller. The rebound bounced to Toews, who put the puck into the net for the goal.

Perry increased the lead by two at 12:47 of the second. Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) carried the puck into the U.S. zone and attempted a pass to Patrick Marleau (San Jose Sharks). The pass hit Marleau’s skate, and Perry picked up the loose puck and beat Miller for the goal.

Then the U.S. staged their comeback.

Ryan Kessler put the Americans on the board at 7:22 of the third period. Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks) shot the puck, and Kessler tipped the puck on net. Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Canucks) got a piece of it, but the puck slid across the goal line.

With the U.S. down by a goal late in the third period, Miller came to the bench for an extra attacker. With

Zach Parise, right, starts the celebration after slipping the puck by Roberto Luongo to tie the game with 24 seconds remaining in the game.

six men on the ice, Kane shot a puck that Zach Parise (New Jersey Devils) tipped on Luongo. The Canadian goalie made the first save, but Parise put home the puck for the game tying goal with 24.4 seconds left.

That set the stage for Crosby to bring home the gold.

With the win, Canada became the first host country in 30 years to capture a men’s hockey gold. Canada became the first host country other than the U.S. to win gold as the host country.

The U.S. men clinched their first medal on foreign soil since a silver medal finish in the 1972 games in Sapporo, Japan.

Luongo finished with 34 saves in the win. Miller stopped 36 shots in the loss.

After the game, Parise was named to the all-tournament team. Despite the loss, Miller took home the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

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The NHL will resume games tomorrow night. The Red Wings will travel to Colorado to take on the Avalanche. The game will be on Versus at 9 p.m. The Devils play Tuesday night in San Jose.

Olympic Hockey: Canada, USA Battle For Gold

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

The Matchup: Team USA (5-0-0-0) faces off against Team Canada (4-1-1-0). This is the second meeting between the two teams in the Olympic tournament.

The Last Team USA Game: The U.S. scored six goals in the opening 12:46 to defeat Finland, 6-1, in their semifinal matchup Friday afternoon. Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks) scored two goals, and Zach Parise (New Jersey Devils) added a goal in the victory. Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres) finished with 18 saves before being replaced at 8:49 in the third period.

The Last Team Canada Game: Team Canada scored three early goals and held on to defeat TeamSlovakia, 3-2, in their semifinal matchup Friday night. Patrick Marleau (San Jose Sharks), Brenden Morrow (Dallas Stars) and Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) all scored for Canada. Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Canucks) finished with 19 saves.

The Last Team USA – Team Canada Game: Team USA and Team Canada squared off in their final round robin game before the elimination rounds last Sunday. It was a back and forth affair until Chris Drury (New York Rangers) scored a goal at 16:46 of the second period. Jamie Langenbrunner (New Jersey Devils) scored the game winner with a powerplay goal at 7:09 of the third period. Miller finished with 42 saves in the win.

Today’s Matchup: When these teams last met, Team Canada was able to constantly attack Team USA’s defense. It seemed as if the Canadian’s spent most of the game in Team USA’s zone. Miller had to be phenomenal, and it was his effort that kept the Americans in the game. Without Miller’s play, the US wouldn’t have survived that game. The Americans were also aided by Martin Brodeur (New Jersey Devils), who didn’t play his greatest game.

But now the team takes on a different beast. By changing a few lines and putting in Luongo, Canada seems to have found their stride. Both teams are playing the underdog card, but the Americans are still overmatched. In this battle of all-star lineups, Canada seems to have better chemistry with their lines. But you can never bet against a hot goaltender and a confident, brash young team. This will, once again, be a dogfight until the end. But I can see both teams hoisting gold medals after the final buzzer.

The game will be on NBC at 3:15 p.m.

Olympic Hockey: Team USA Scores Six Goals In First Period, Defeats Finland, 6-1

February 26, 2010 1 comment

Team USA’s last Olympic medal on foreign soil since came in 1972, when they won silver in Sapporo, Japan.

In their semifinal game against Finland, it took the team 12:46 to guarantee they end that streak.

Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks) scored two goals in the first period to lead Team USA to victory, 6-1, over Team Finland in their semifinal game in Vancouver.

The United States only needed the opening 12:46 of the first period to put the game out of reach. Ryan Malone (Tampa Bay Lightning) began the scoring merely 2:04 into the first period. Finnish goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff (Calgary Flames) came out to the slot to play a loose puck. Malone intercepted his pass at the blue line and fired the puck into the empty net for the goal, his third of the Olympics.

Zach Parise (New Jersey Devils) fires a shot past Miikka Kiprusoff (Calgary Flames) for Team USA's second goal of the game. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Zach Parise (New Jersey Devils) stretched the lead to two with a powerplay goal at 6:22 of the period. With Janne Niskala in the box for interference, Brian Rafalski (Detroit Red Wings) shot the puck from the point. The puck found Paul Statsny (Colorado Avalanche) on the crease. Statsny passed the puck to a streaking Parise, who one-timed the puck to the top of the net for the goal.

Then the rout was on.

Erik Johnson (St. Louis Blues) extended the lead to three with a powerplay goal at 8:36 of the period. Johnson got a pass from Joe Pavelski (San Jose Sharks) and ripped a shot from the right circle that beat Kiprusoff for the goal.

Then it was Kane’s time to shine.

Kane scored his first goal of the period at 10:08 of the first period. Kane collected the rebound from his backhand shot and put the puck into the net for the goal.

After that goal, Kiprusoff removed himself from the game. He faced seven shots, only making three saves.

Kane welcomed new goaltender Niklas Backstrom (Minnesota Wild) to the game with his second goal at 12:31 of the period. Rafalski passed the puck to Kane, who fired a shot past Backstrom for the goal.

Statsny ended the American scoring run with his goal twenty seconds later. Jamie Langenbrunner (New Jersey Devils) sent a pass to Statsny, who one-timed the pass by Backstrom’s glove for the goal

Team USA goalie Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres) finished with 18 saves before being replaced by Tim Thomas (Boston Bruins) 8:49 into the third period. Thomas finished with six saves.

The USA will face the winner of tonight’s Canada-Slovakia in the gold-medal game Sunday (3:15, NBC).

Olympic Update: Brodeur shines in Canada win, Parise records first Olympic point in victory

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment

With Canada tied with Switzerland and heading into a shootout, Martin Brodeur needed to be stellar to gain a critical two points.

Brodeur stopped all for Swiss shooters, and Sidney Crosby scored the game-winning goal in the fourth round of the shootout as Canada beat Switzerland, 3-2, in Vancouver.

Team Canada got on the scoreboard first on a goal by Dany Heatley (San Jose Sharks). Canada pushed their lead to two in the second period with a powerplay goal from Patrick Marleau (San Jose Sharks).

After that goal, Switzerland staged their comeback.

Ivo Ruthemann scored the first goal for the Swiss. Ruthemann blasted a shot past the glove of Brodeur, and the shot clanged off the post and in for the goal. Patrick von Guten tied the game at two with ten seconds left in the second period.

After a scoreless third period and overtime, both teams went to a shootout, where Brodeur shined. The Devils’ goalie stopped all four shooters; shooters he’s never faced in NHL action. Brodeur stopped 21 of 23 shots for the victory.

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Team USA used a three-goal third period to defeat Norway, 6-0, in Vancouver.

Zach Parise recorded his first Olympic point, assisting on a goal by Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks). Ex-Devil Brian Rafalski (Detroit Red Wings) scored two goals in the third period to ice the victory. Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres) made 10 saves in the victory.

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As I’m writing this, Russia is currently leading Slovakia, 1-0, in Vancouver. Russia received a goal from Alexei Morozov. Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals) has been flying around the ice, and he’s really thrown his weight around. He hit Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins), and the 6’6″ defenseman crumpled to the ice.

Ilya Kovalchuk looks fast on the ice, but he doesn’t have anything of note in the game.

I’ll update with the results at a later time.

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Just a note: USA and Canada square off Sunday in the final game of group play. The US currently leads Canada, 8-7, in total points. It’ll be a very interesting game to watch.