With the lockout all but done*, and the framework of the schedule for this shortened season already decided, The Devils’ Den will give you an in-depth look at the team’s opponents this season. We kick it off today with a look at the Boston Bruins.
The Stanley Cup hangover was alive and well in Beantown last year. After winning the organization’s first championship since the 1971-72 team, the Bruins stumbled out of the gate, finishing with the worst opening month for a defending champion since the playoff format changed in 1994.
That all changed, though, as Boston found its footing. The Bruins finished with a 49-29-4 record, winning the Northeast Division and completing a second straight 40-win, 100-point season. They lost in the quarterfinals, falling in seven games to the Washington Capitals.
The Bruins had the most overseas players during the lockout, and welcome back the likes of Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand and a healthy Nathan Horton. But the big question will be in between the pipes, where Tuukka Rask takes over as the team’s number one goalie.
Throughout the offseason and training camp, 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. For the final schedule preview, we go to the Western Conference, taking a look at this season’s matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Devils vs. Blue Jackets – Historical Data
In 10 all-time regular season meetings against the Blue Jackets, the Devils are 6-2-1-1. New Jersey averages 2.90 goals against Columbus, and allows the Blue Jackets to average 2.40 goals against them. Last season, the teams faced each other one, with the Devils winning, 6-3, at the Prudential Center.
The Devils rode the hot hand of their powerplay to blow the game open. Zach Parise scored the first powerplay goal, putting the Devils ahead, 1-0, at 13:01 of the first period. Paul Martin extended the lead to 2-0 with a second consecutive powerplay goal just 1:14 into the second period. Antoine Vermette put the Blue Jackets on the board, scoring an even-strength goal at 12:32 of the period to cut the Devils lead to 2-1. The Devils powerplay would strike again, with Ilya Kovalchuk netting the team’s third straight man-advantage goal at 12:32 of the second to put the Devils ahead, 3-1.
A three goal lead wasn’t enough, as the Devils continued to pile on the offense. Travis Zajac upped the Devils lead to 4-1 with an even strength goal at 15:40 of the second period. The Devils’ center struck again at 19:07 of the period, giving the Devils a comfortable 5-1 lead. Jakub Voracek scored an even strength goal at 19:40 of the second for the Blue Jackets, sending the teams into the dressing room with the Devils ahead, 5-2.
The burst of scoring didn’t carry over into the third period. Kristian Huselius brought the score to 5-3 with a goal 6:00 into the third period. If Columbus had hopes of a comeback, Parise snuffed them out with his second goal of the game at 12:52 of the period. His score put the Devils ahead, 6-3, and ended any comeback hope for the Blue Jackets.
Devils vs. Blue Jackets – This Season’s Matchup
The Devils and Blue Jackets once this season, on March 20 in Columbus.
The Blue Jackets made little changes to a team that finished next to last in the Western Conference last season. The team re-signed most of its own talent, including Mason, who signed a two year extension. The team claimed Ethan Moreau off of waiver from the Edmonton Oilers, and will welcome back Nikita Filatov, one of the organization’s prospects, from Russia.
The Blue Jackets are better than last year’s standings would show. The team has one of the most talented wingers in the game in Rick Nash, and forwards who are possible of lighting the lamp often. However, the defense and goaltending remain a question, and it will be the answer that defines where this team will finish. Other than that, it’s a one game series, so it shouldn’t have much bearing on where the Devils finish in the Eastern Conference. This could be a trap game, since it’s sandwiched around potential playoff teams.
In nine career starts against Columbus, Brodeur is 5-2-1-1 with a 2.41 goals against average and a .902 save percentage…In 39 games against the Blue Jackets, Jason Arnott has 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) and is plus-19.
Coming into tonight’s matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Devils were 0-for-17 on the powerplay in their last six games.
The streak troubled the team so much they dedicated significant practice time throughout the week to perfect the attack.
The practice paid off, and the Devils scored three powerplay goals en-route to a win, 6-3, over the Blue Jackets Tuesday at the Prudential Center.
Zach Parise’s powerplay goal at 13:01 of the first period gave the Devils a 1-0 lead. With Rick Nash in the box for roughing, the Devils caused a turnover in the Blue Jackets zone. Patrik Elias checked defenseman Kris Russell along the side boards, and the puck slid away from both players. Jamie Langenbrunner took the puck in the right circle and fired a shot to the middle of goalie Steve Mason’s pads, creating a rebound. Parise crashed the net and put the rebound home for his 34th goal of the season.
Paul Martin made it two powerplay goals at 1:14 of the second period. With Kristian Huselius in the box for hooking, Ilya Kovalchuk passed the puck to Elias at the side boards. Elias skated to the top of the left circle and fired a wrist shot through Langenbrunner’s screen. The rebound caromed out to Martin, who pinched down to the right circle. The Devils’ defenseman fired the puck into the open net for his second goal of the season.
Down 2-0, Columbus responded to cut the lead in half. After carrying the puck into the Devil’s zone, Huselius left a drop pass for Antoine Vermette. The center fired a shot from the blue line that beat Martin Brodeur over the glove for his 23rd goal of the season.
The Devils responded, scoring three straight goals in 6:35 in the second period to blow open the game.
Kovalchuk tallied the third Devils’ powerplay goal at 12:32 of the second period. Mike Mottau started the play at the blue line by keeping the puck in the zone. He sent the puck to Parise in the left circle, who sent a cross-ice pass to Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk fired a shot to the short-side for his 37th goal of the season.
Travis Zajac’s goal three minutes later put the Devils ahead, 4-1. Martin passed the puck to Kovalchuk, who let go a shot from the slot. The puck hit Zajac in the back and bounced into the open net for his 22nd goal of the season.
Zajac wasn’t done, tallying his second goal of the period at 19:07 to extend the Devils lead, 5-1. Once again, it was Zajac deflecting a puck past Mason for a goal. Mottau fired a shot from the point that deflected off the back of Zajac’s knee and into the net for his 23rd goal of the season.
The Devils finished the game 3-for-6 with the man advantage. They last scored three powerplay goals
November 11, 2009 against Ottawa.
With the win, the Devils snapped a two-game winless streak. New Jersey overtook Pittsburgh for the Atlantic Division lead, and they now hold the second spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Devils will finish their three-game homestand Wednesday night against the New York Rangers.
Brodeur won for the 40th time this season, marking the eighth time the Devils goalie reached that mark…Kovalchuk finished with four points (1 G, 3 A), by far his most productive night as a Devil…Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond once again dropped the gloves, fighting Jared Boll in the second period. This fight didn’t last 2:30 minutes like his Sunday bought, and there wasn’t a clear-cut winner.
Thirty years ago, the United States cemented their place in hockey lore with an incredible win over the Soviet Union.
While tonight’s victory doesn’t hold the magnitude of the “Miracle On Ice,” Team USA pulled off another upset, defeating Team Canada, 5-3, for the first time in 50 years.
With the score tied, 2-2, in the second period, center Chris Drury (New York Rangers) gave the U.S. a one-goal lead. Martin Brodeur (New Jersey Devils) stopped a shot, but the rebound came to the front of the net. A scrum developed, and Brodeur attempted to poke the puck away from the pile. He couldn’t get to it, and Drury swept the puck into the empty net for his second goal of the tournament.
Team U.S.A. captain Jamie Langenbrunner (New Jersey Devils) scored the eventual game-winning goal in the third period. With the U.S. on the powerplay, Brian Rafalski (Detroit Red Wings) took the puck at the point and fired a shot on goal. The puck caromed off of Langenbrunner’s left skate and slid through the pads off Brodeur for Langenbrunner’s first goal of the tournament.
But Team Canada wouldn’t go quietly.
Sydney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) brought Canada within one at 16:09 in the third period. With Canada on a powerplay, Rick Nash (Columbus Blue Jackets) threw a pass to the front of the net. Crosby deflected the puck through the pads of Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres) for the goal.
The U.S. iced the victory with an empty-net goal at 19:15 of the third period. Ryan Kessler (Vancouver Canucks) chased down a loose puck in Canada’s zone and dove at the puck. He put the one-handed shot past Corey Perry (Anaheim Ducks) into the empty net for the goal.
Miller made 42 saves, including stopping Nash on a point blank shot from the slot in the waning seconds of the third period. The goalie outplayed Brodeur, who finished with 18 saves.
With the win, Team U.S.A. clinched their pool. Pending the outcome of tonight’s Finland-Switzerland game, the U.S. can become the top-ranked seed in the elimination rounds.
Rafalski scored two goals tonight, and now has four goals on six shots in the tournament…Zach Parise (New Jersey Devils) had one assist tonight. The Devils’ left winger now has three points – all assists – in the tournament…Three of Team U.S.A.’s goals came from former or current Devils: Langenbrunner (1) and Rafalski (2)…Canada will now have to play back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday.