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Game 11 Preview: Time For A Duck Hunt

October 29, 2010 Leave a comment
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (2-7-1) face off against the Anaheim Ducks (4-5-1). This is the first meeting between the two teams this season.

The Last Devils Game: The San Jose Sharks defeated the Devils, 5-2, on Wednesday night at the HP Pavilion. The Sharks top line of Joe ThorntonPatrick Marleau and Dany Heatley combine for 13 points in the win. Thorton recorded a hat trick in the victory.

The Last Ducks Game: The Ducks defeated the Dallas Stars, 5-2, Tuesday night in Dallas. Dallas scored early, ending the first period with a 1-0 lead. Bobby Ryan would bring Anaheim back, scoring two straight goals to put the Ducks ahead, 2-1. In the third period, Teemu Selanne scored his 611th career goal, putting him in sole possession of 15th place on the career scoring list.

The Last Devils – Ducks Game: The Devils defeated the Ducks, 3-1, last season. Jamie Langenbrunner began the scoring 38 seconds into the game, giving the Devils an early 1-0 lead. The score stayed that way until the third period, when Corey Perry scored at 2:25 to tie the game at one. David Clarkson netted the game-winning goal at 12:52 of the period, and Zach Parise added an insurance goal, scoring on shorthanded opportunity with 13 second left in the game.

For full details about the matchup, including historical data, etc., check our post here.

Tonight’s Matchup: I think the Devils need to enter this game with the mindset that it’s a new season and new opportunity to begin fresh. As I discussed in a post yesterday, most coaches break the NHL season down into 10 game increments and judge the team’s performance, etc. on that block. We all know the Devils first ten games were abysmal. The team was inconsistent, lackluster, and terrible defensively.

But it’s a new block of games, and hopefully a fresh start for the Devils. The team needs to play better, plain and simple, and the only way that can happen is with a renewed focus on defense. Anaheim hasn’t been great, but they’ll be playing on home ice after a four game road trip. The Devils need to open the game with their best effort and carry it throughout. The team looked good for the first 10 minutes against San Jose, but the wheels fell off. If they can maintain consistent effort, the Devils will keep themselves in the game.

Something needs to break soon. The players are frustrated, coach John MacLean is frustrated, and the fanbase is echoing their feelings. It would be great to see the team finally break out tonight.

Gametime is 10 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSG Plus or WFAN 660.

Here are the potential line combinations for tonight’s game:

FORWARDS: Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Dainius Zubrus; Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – David Clarkson; Ilya Kovalchuk – Rod Pelley – Jamie Langenbrunner; Anton Vasyunov – Tim Sestito – Adam Mair

DEFENSEMAN: Colin White – Matt Taormina; Andy Greene – Olivier Magnan-Grenier; Henrik Tallinder – Tyler Eckford

GOALIES: Martin Brodeur; Johan Hedberg

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Game 10 Recap: Thornton Hat Trick Downs Devils, 5-2

October 28, 2010 Leave a comment

After a loss to the Rangers on Sunday, the New Jersey Devils player’s spoke about the need to get away and build team chemistry. It was all fun and games during practice today, and the Devils felt confident coming into tonight’s matchup. When it came to the game, however, the Devils were unprepared for the onslaught of Joe Thornton. The former Bruin scored three goals in two periods to help the Sharks win their first game at home, 5-2, and extend the Devils early season struggles.

Martin Brodeur watches helplessly as Joe Thornton scores his second goal of the night. The Devils lost, 5-2. Photo Credit: Paul Sakuma/AP Photo

Thornton trick a treat for the Sharks

San Jose struggled at home this season, and entered Wednesday night’s game still searching for the first home victory of the season. Thornton made sure the fans would get their win.

Thornton’s goal at 9:57 of the first period put the Sharks ahead of the Devils, 1-0.

The play began with a turnover in the Devils zone. Dany Heatley scooped up the loose puck at the point, and sent a pass to Thornton in the right circle. The center’s shot deflected off of Devils’ defenseman Matt Taormina‘s stick, and the puck beat Martin Brodeur stick side for his third goal of the year.

Thornton’s second goal of the game, at 18:59 of the first period extended the Sharks lead to 3-0.

Marleau put a shot on net from the side boards that Brodeur should have stopped. But the Devils goalie was tangled with Thornton, who crashed the net, and the big center poked home the puck for his fourth goal of the season.

Joe Thornton celebrates his hat-trick goal in the second period of tonight's game. Photo Credit: Paul Sakuma/AP Photo

Thornton’s third goal of the night, a powerplay tally, came at 16:55 of the second period.

After the Devils benefitted from a awkward bounce from the boards, the Sharks received one of their own. After trying to clear it around the boards, Brodeur went behind the net, expecting the puck to come behind. But it bounced off the end boards and went to the front of the net, where Thornton came crashing down. The center fired the puck past a diving Henrik Tallinder for his fifth goal of the season.

The Thorton Line gets it going

It wasn’t only Thornton lighting the lamp in the Sharks victory. Patrick Marleau collected four points (one goal, three assists), including his 700th career NHL point after assisting on Thornton’s first goal of the night. Heatley also collected four points (one goal, three assists) on the night. In total, the Thornton Line had 13 points tonight. That’s almost as many goals the Devils have scored this season.

Brodeur told Rich Chere of the Star Ledger it looked like the Thornton Line was “playing against kids.” He wasn’t wrong.

Brodeur does all he can

There are some nights where Brodeur seems superhuman. Even if he gave one of those efforts tonight, it wouldn’t have been enough for the Devils. Brodeur faced 39 shots tonight – his second consecutive game of 30-plus shots – and made 34 difficult saves. The Sharks got a fluke goal and a soft score, but Brodeur was the usual rock in the net. But when the defense gives Brodeur no support, there’s only so much he can do.

Continue reading after the jump for the rest of the recap.

Read more…

Game 10 Live Game Blog: Greene PP Goal Cuts Sharks Lead, 5-2, In The Third Period; Thornton Completes Hat Trick

October 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Andy Greene’s powerplay goal at 14:22 cut the Sharks lead to 5-2 in the third period tonight at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.

With Dany Heatley in the box for holding, the Devils worked the puck down low. After a shot on net, several players took a whack at the puck, but couldn’t put it past Antero Niittymaki. The puck trickled out to Dainius Zubrus in the slot. He passed the puck to Greene, who put the shot to the top of the net for his first goal of the game.

Heatley’s goal at 6:47 of the third period extended the Sharks lead to 5-1.

The Thornton line once again created a great scoring chance. Patrick Marleau controlled the puck behind the net, and passed it to Joe Thornton along the side boards. Thornton then sent a puck to the front of the net and over the stick of Henrik Tallinder. Heatley tapped the puck past Martin Brodeur for his third goal of the season.

The Thornton line has scored all five goals in the game.

Thornton’s hat trick helped stake the Sharks to a 4-1 lead over the Devils after two periods.

Thornton’s third goal of the night, a powerplay tally, came at 16:55 of the second period. After the Devils benefitted from a awkward bounce from the boards, the Sharks received one of their own. After trying to clear it around the boards, Brodeur went behind the net, expecting the puck to come behind. But it bounced off the end boards and went to the front of the net, where Thornton came crashing down. The center fired the puck past a diving Tallinder for his fifth goal of the season.

The Sharks led the period in shots, 13-10. They hold the advantage in total shots, 30-21.

David Clarkson’s goal at 3:06 of the second period cut the Sharks lead to 3-1.

The Devils got an assist from the boards that led to Clarkson’s goal. The puck, dumped in from the red line, hit a crease in the glass and trickled out to the low slot. Niittymaki went behind the net to play the puck, and couldn’t recover as Clarkson fired a shot to the top shelf for his first goal of the season.

The Devils have played a better second period, but they’re still allowing some good scoring chances to the Sharks. They need to cut down on the sloppy play, because the Sharks will capitalize on those mistakes.

Coach John MacLean shook up the lines between periods, and so far it’s been successful. The line of Zubrus – Rod Pelley – Ilya Kovalchuk did a great job of shutting down the Thornton line during the first half of the period.

The Sharks led in shots, 17-11, in the first period. Unfortunately for the Devils, they couldn’t dodge the bullet as they have in other games. I wonder what changes, if any, we’ll see in the second period.

Thornton scored twice, and Marleau lit the lamp to put the Sharks ahead of the Devils, 3-0, after the first period.

Thornton’s second goal of the game, at 18:59 of the first period extended the Sharks lead to 3-0.

Marleau put a shot on net from the side boards that Brodeur should have stopped. But the Devils goalie was tangled with Thornton, who crashed the net, and the big center poked home the puck for his fourth goal of the season.

Marleau’s goal at 11:16 of the first period extended the Sharks ahead of the Devils, 2-0.

Joe Thornton was instrumental in beginning the play. The center over-skated the puck behind the net, but Martin Brodeur thought he still had it. Marleau took the loose puck behind the net and put a wrap-around try on Brodeur. The puck hit the Devils’ goalie in the pads, but trickled through for Marleau’s third goal on the season.

Thornton’s goal at 9:57 of the first period put the Sharks ahead of the Devils, 1-0.

The play began with a turnover in the Devils zone. Dany Heatley scooped up the loose puck at the point, and sent a pass to Thornton in the right circle. The center’s shot deflected off of Devils’ defensman Matt Taormina’s stick, and the puck beat Brodeur stick side for his third goal of the year.

Marleau, who earned an assist on the goal, recorded his 700th career point.

The Devils had the first powerplay opportunity of the night as Scott Nichol went to the box for slashing at 5:40 of the period. But the team was unsuccessful, and the Devils fell to 0-for-16 on the powerplay on the road. That’s good for last in the NHL.

Both teams seem a bit tentative in the early going. The Sharks had some of the better opportunities, but no one has got the offense set up.

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Here were tonight’s starters:

DEVILS
Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Dainius Zubrus; Colin White – Matt Taormina; Martin Brodeur

SHARKS
Ryane Clowe – Joe Pavelski – Devin Setoguchi; Niclas Wallin – Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Antero Niittymaki

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The Devils two victories have come on the road this season. The team blanked both Buffalo and Montreal. San Jose is still searching for their first home win.

The Devils struggled mightily out of the gate to begin the season. The team hasn’t looked good, and their offense has been anemic, leaving New Jersey dead last in goals for in the entire league.

New Jersey has also struggled in the second period, allowing opponents to outscore them 17-4 in the middle period.

Since 2000, the Devils are 7-1-0 against the Sharks. Let’s hope they can run that record to 8-1-0 tonight.

Martin Brodeur will start for the Devils. Antero Niittymaki will start for the Sharks.

Devils 2010-2011 Schedule Preview – San Jose Sharks

August 31, 2010 1 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. 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. In today’s first preview, we take a look at this season’s matchup with the San Jose Sharks.

Dainius Zubrus checks Patrick Marleau into the boards at the Prudential Center. Last season, Zubrus scored the Devils first goal in a 4-3 victory in San Jose. Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

Sharks vs. Devils – Historical Data

In 26 all-time regular season meetings, the Devils are 16-7-2-1 against the Sharks. The Devils average 3.42 goals against the Sharks, while the Sharks only score 2.31 goals against the New Jersey.

The Devils defeated the Sharks, 4-3, in their only meeting on March 2 in San Jose. Dainius Zubrus scored the game’s first goal, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead at 11:13 of the second period. Mark Fraser scored 35 seconds later to increase the lead to two. The Devils continued to pound the Sharks, with Ilya Kovalchuk extending the Devils lead to three with a powerplay tally at 19:42.

The Devils completed an unanswered four-goal streak at 5:44 of the third period, when Travis Zajac scored his then-20th goal of the season. The Sharks, however, wouldn’t go quietly. They broke the shutout at 8:46 of the period on a Devin Setoguchi goal. Less than two minutes later, Setoguchi struck again, tallying a powerplay goal and cutting the Devils lead to 4-2. Joe Pavelski scored the third straight goal for San Jose to bring the score to 4-3. But the Devils were able to hold on for the victory, 4-3.

Devils vs. Sharks – This Season’s Matchup

The Devils and Sharks will face each other twice this season. The Devils will face a new Sharks team this season, with a huge change in net. Gone to the KHL is Evgeni Nabokov, who stood between the pipes for ten years in San Jose. His replacement, Antero Niittymaki, will be a definitive downgrade for the Sharks, and I’m willing to bet that most San Jose fans will miss Nabokov early in the season. The team did hold on to key offensive pieces, locking up Patrick Marleau and Pavelski to four-year contracts and Setoguchi to a one-year deal. The team also has Joe Thorton, one of the best centers in the game. While they may take a step backward offensively, the departure of Nabokov and the retirement of Rob Blake make the Shark’s defense weaker heading into the 2010-2011 season.

Other Important Stats

Last season was the first time Zach Parise faced the Sharks. He recorded two assists and finished +2 against them…After being held scoreless the first time he faced the Sharks, Kovalchuk recorded his two career points against San Jose last season…Thornton has 35 career points (14 goals, 21 assists) against the Devils…In seven career starts against the Devils, Nabokov was 2-5 with a 3.39 goals against average…Martin Brodeur is 10-6-2 with a 2.33 goals against in 18 career starts against the Sharks.

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 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.