Despite Win NJ Still Needs To Address Issues

Written by RWTD Staff on .

The Devils were excellent in their 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets last night. Henrique stepped up his game last night, much like I wrote about wanting him to prior to the game and much like I hope to see him do in this stretch run. Enough can’t be said about Jagr’s goal in the 1st and his determination not to give up on that play. Would love that work ethic translate throughout the team and sometimes you see it and sometimes you don’t. That hail mary/alley-oop pass Elias made to Henrique on the PK is beyond words.

Yes, EVERYTHING seemed to be clicking for the Devils last night but it is 1 game and we know the Devils have things that need to be addressed hopefully by next Wednesday. The main thing that the Devils need is consistency in scoring. Here is what I would like to see.

The Edmonton Oilers are said to be looking to move Sam Ganger (6 goals, 18 assists) and might be looking at defense as the price. I’m not a huge fan of a number of Devils defensemen. Salvador, Fayne and Volchenkov so if any or all three can be packaged with something to make Ganger a Devil, I might do it. All 3 would be a hefty price to pay but you see where I am going with that.

If Ganger doesn’t work out, David Legwand (10 goals, 30 assists) is another possible addition to this team. He’s a big body and knows how to get his line mates the puck. The main thing here is Legwand would be a rental as he’s a UFA in July whereas Ganger has a couple years left on his contract.

The Devils need to figure out Larsson and whether or not he fits in with the New Jersey Devils and not the Albany Devils. I’d like to see him on the ice in the NHL but for some reason he’s been a consistent scratch throughout his tenure in NJ and now has been down with Albany since early January. At first it seemed like a rehab stint in the AHL because he missed so much time with a knee injury but he’s been there for quite some time at this point which makes me wonder how the Devils view this kid. Yes, Gelinas and Merril seem to be paying off more for NJ than having Larsson in their place but then may I present to you Mark Fayne??

As for Marty, I honestly don’t think he goes anywhere. It’s not fun getting old and it’s not fun watching another goalie move you to the bench but it had to happen at some point. I just don’t see any deal that makes sense for either NJ or Martin Brodeur. He’s not going to go to a team that is in playoff contention where he would be the #1. Teams in playoff contention seem good with the guys they consider their #1. I don’t think Marty would want to be traded just to be a #2 either, he has that here. Minnesota has come up but I think that is where Ryan Miller ends up next Wednesday so I think that won’t happen. I guess one could think of Washington as a possible destination but I don’t see Lou dealing him to a team in the East. Also, Marty is loved in NJ and trading him would be a real jolt to the Devils fan base which isn’t something Lou is going to want to do, especially since the return isn’t going to be very high.

Sounds like the Brunner injury suffered last night isn’t too severe which is good because losing him for a lengthy period would certainly change what the Devils need to do before next Wednesday. Haven’t heard about Salvador but that’s a bad place to take a puck. Time will tell…

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Is Henrique A Key To Winning?

Written by RWTD Staff on .

Adam Henrique currently ranks 3rd on the team with 14 goals, 7th on the team with 13 assists and 6th on the team in overall points with 27. Not exactly a player that has been putting the Devils on his shoulders and carrying them this season. Especially when you consider that Henrique he has only 2 games with multiple points this season and neither of those being multiple goal games. Yet I believe he could play a key role into getting the Devils into the playoffs over the course of the next 23 games. Why is that you ask?

The Devils are 10-1-3 when Henrique scores a goal.

If he can start scoring more often, the Devils could find a way to go from 7th to 3rd in the Metroterrible division over the course of the 23 remaining games. The Devils need someone to step up and start scoring goals on a nightly basis, so why not Henrique? If you look at the standings, you will see that Philadelphia, the current 3rd place team is only 5 points ahead.

Even is Henrique continues to have trouble finding the back of the net, he could still prove to be a key role in the Devils push to the playoffs. Currently he has 13 assists on the season which isn’t a great stat, especially when look at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins numbers, who is a guy that Henrique battled it out with for the Calder Trophy back in 2012. Now to be fair, Nugent-Hopkins is a 1st line center where as Henrique hasn’t been that but Henrique does have Elias, Brunner and at times Ryder on his line and all three of those can be excellent finishers.

Hopefully Henrique has used the Olympic break to work on the one glaring issue in his game, his work in the faceoff circle. He’s taken a total 761 faceoffs and has 341 wins and 420 losses. Unfortunately the stats aren’t broken up into how many are won and lost in their own zone but everyone knows that winning the faceoff is a key point in most hockey games. The Devils don’t do well at it with the exception of Travis Zajac.

So if I am right and Henrique is a key to getting the Devils into the playoffs, it has to start right away by winning some more battles in the faceoff circle and either finding the back of the net or helping Elias, Brunner or Ryder find the back of the net.

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State of Devils Hockey

Written by RWTD Staff on .

The Devils season hasn’t exactly started out the way most fans would have liked. They are coming of back to back shutout losses which only begins to tell the story of the very young 2013/2014 season. When you sat down after training camp and took a look at this team, the thought was that they weren’t going to run away with the new Metropolitan Division but they would at least be competitive. Yes, the sudden retirement of Kovalchuk and departure of Clarkson left the Devils with an identity problem but with additions like Schneider, Ryder, Jagr and Brunner, the thought was that the Devils would be just fine. Apparently they aren’t.

Let’s start this off by taking a look at some key stats that are important to the success of any hockey club.

  • Goals For: 26
  • Goals Against: 42
  • Times Shutout: 4 (which wouldn’t be awful if we left out the part that they’ve only played 14 games)

The bottom line is that the Devils just aren’t scoring. Coming off a 4-3 victory against the Bruins and then a 2-1 victory over the Lightning, it looked like the Devils might be starting to put some momentum together. They followed that up by a 1-0 shutout loss to a Flyers team that got obliterated by the Caps the night before and then followed that up against the Wild with a 4-0 shutout loss.

I can’t write this little article without bringing up the injury issues for New Jersey. They’ve had a lot of them and that will certainly derail many teams. The biggest name in this category for me this season would be Patrik Elias. He’s either been sick and dealing with some type of lingering injury but whatever the story is, any night that Elias isn’t in the lineup, the Devils are then dealing with a decent size whole to fill. Ryan Clowe is also a big injury story but all the fans knew he had injury issues when they brought him on board in July so can we really be shocked he’s having issues with injuries so far? However, he’s supposed to fill the hole that was left by Clarkson and that is a hole that needs to be filled. (Quick check on Clarkson stats – 10 games missed due to suspension, 5 games played, 1 assist so he’s not being missed here yet!!)

On paper I liked the Marty Brodeur / Cory Schneider tandem but I am starting to rethink it. Both goalies have played 7 games each. Marty’s record is 2-3-2 with a GAA of 2.68 and a Sv% of .888 while Schneider’s record is 1-4-2 with a GAA of 2.27 and a Sv% of .907. Neither goalie has played awful and at times you can say the play of the goaltenders is what has kept them in some games but the Devils need consistency and it would be great to get consistency in the net and then throughout the lineup. We will have to keep our eye on Brodeur as this tweet sent the Devils Army into a bit of a frenzy on Tuesday evening:

It’s the Devils, you never know what could happen with this team. I hope they don’t replace DeBoer anytime soon but that’s a road we’ve been down many times. This is also a team, which I have said many times, very capable of turning things around and stringing together a bunch of wins and putting themselves back into a very good position in the standings. When it comes to Devils hockey, you just NEVER know.

The highlighs of this young season would be the 4-3 come back from behind win in Boston and the 4-0 shutout of the rival NY Rangers. Hopefully, there are many more hightlights to come.

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Devils Pre-Camp Preview

Written by RWTD Staff on .

That faint light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter with each passing day. The Devils haven’t played a game since April 27th but rookies and minor league players report for physicals on Monday and veteran players report on Wednesday. Devils hockey is almost here!!

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All Good Things Must Come to an End

Written by Scott Robb on .

The New Jersey Devils' five-game winning streak came to an abrupt end on Tuesday evening. The Devils were defeated by a fiesty Carolina Hurricanes team in a game that could have easily gone the Devils' way. After falling behind 2-1 going into the third, the Devils tied the game at two, but allowed two more unanswered goals before time ran out.

While the game did not turn out the way New Jersey had hoped, they remain at the top of the Eastern Conference at 8-2-3.

The Devils hit a road bump last week in Pittsburgh and responded well. Hopefully, they can do the same after yesterday's loss. The focus in the locker room must now be on the fact that the Philadelphia Flyers are rolling into town on Friday night.

Ilya Kovalchuk collected his fifth goal of the season last night on a first period Devils powerplay. The play was ruled "no goal" on the ice, but upon further review, the call was overturned. The powerplay was decent at best last night; good puck movement, as usual, just not enough shots.

Jussi Jokinen tied the game for Carolina early on in the second period. The Canes added another goal 18:29 into the middle frame to take the lead. Patrick Dwyer tallied his fourth of the season to put Carolina in front 2-1.

New Jersey made some clear adjustments in the locker room between the second and third periods. They came out with a faster pace of play and had several quality chances. Ryan Carter took a loose puck away from a Carolina defender and sneaked one by goaltender Cam Ward to tie the game at two. Carter's second goal of the season came 1:34 into the third and shifted the momentum back to the Jersey side.

Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

Mark Fayne, who missed the morning skate yesterday due to a death within his family, took a useless (a very useless, that is) penalty 6:31 into the third which sent the Hurricanes to the powerplay attack. Jiri Tlusty wasted no time and scored less than a minute later what would be the game-winning goal.

The Devils had a chance to tie the game late in the third but were shorthanded, yet again, after Andy Greene was called for tripping with under three minutes to play. Jiri Tlusty iced the game with his second goal of the night (an empty-netter) and propelled the Hurricanes to a 4-2 victory.

Final Thoughts

  • The Devils did not play their best game of the year last night. You win some, you lose some. New Jersey has a big divisional match-up coming up this Friday night and can make a quick response to last night's game by beating the Flyers on home ice.
  • The stupid penalties have to stop. Nothing more to say here.
  • Despite not playing so great, the Devils had a chance to win this game. Clarkson could not connect on a golden opportunity early on in the third in which he and Henrique had a 2-on-1. Butler also fanned on a shot as the puck was trickling across the crease with under a minute to play. It was a difficult shot, but one that he could have made.
  • Dainius Zubrus has been placed on Injured Reserve. Andrei Loktionov has been recalled from Albany. I am excited to see what this kid's got. Hopefully, he gets a solid opportunity to play and produces.

As mentioned, the Devils are back in action on Friday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. I will be at the game, so stop by and say hello. Section 107, row 7, first seat! We have to ROCK the ROCK on Friday and say NO to orange! Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM EST.

For all of your latest Devils news and reaction, follow Running With The Devils (and me) on twitter. Let's go Devils!

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David Clarkson - Just Killing It

Written by RWTD Staff on .

So I used to be all over this guy because every training camp I would pick that year to be the year Clarkson broke out. And every year he would disappoint me. That is until Pete DeBoer got here. Clarkson is thriving under DeBoer and this season seems to be no expection. 12 games, 9 goals, 6 assists, 15 points. Show of hands, who predicted this kind of season for Clarkson? I'm keeping my hand down because I certainly did not. 

I always thought David Clarkson could be this generation's Randy McKay. You know, the type of player that gets in front of the net, pesters the goalie, is there to jump on rebounds and not afraid to mix it up when push comes to shove.The thing is, Randy McKay never turned heads like David Clarkson is doing...

Keep it up Clarky!!

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Get the Brooms Out: Devils Win Again

Written by Scott Robb on .

The New Jersey Devils extended their winning-streak to five games on Sunday evening after defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 3-1. The Devils dominated the Penguins this weekend, outscoring their division rival 6-2 in two games and playing solid hockey for the full 120 minutes.

Ryan Carter energized the Devils as soon as the puck dropped. He scrapped with Robert Bortuzzo and got a few good hits in. The Devils committed only three minor penalties tonight and kept the Penguins off the board on the penalty kill.

David Clarkson collected his eighth and ninth goals of the season tonight, propelling the Devils to victory. Ilya Kovalchuk added his fourth tally of the year in between.

And what else can be said about Devils' goaltender Johan Hedberg? Moose played in his third game this season, stopping 23 of 24 shots, and collected his second win. Throughout those three games, Hedberg has only allowed 2 goals and is 2-0-1. It is nice to know that there is a solid goaltender ready to go behind Martin Brodeur--Hedberg definitely provides that comfort.

Photo: Keith Srakocic

The Devils power play has really come to life over the five-game win streak. After going 1-for-1 tonight, New Jersey has connected on seven of its last 22 opportunities (32%). Excellent puck movement has led to goals, and goals lead to wins.

The Devils defense really stepped it up tonight. Evgeni Malkin was limited to just one point (an assist) tonight, while Sidney Crosby put up a goose egg in the points column. The "superstar" forwards were held to a combined one point in the home-and-home series.

I am happy to report that there are no negatives, as far as I can see, with the way the Devils are playing as of late. If they keep this up, they are serious Cup contenders. And don't tell me that our fast start "doesn't matter." Of course it does. In a shortened season, getting off to a good start is key.

New Jersey is now 8-1-3 to start the year. They have collected 19 out of 24 possible points, good enough for second in the NHL. The Devils are on pace for 76/96 points this year. That will win the Eastern Conference. Guaranteed.

Jersey's Team looks to continue its red-hot play on Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM at The Rock. For all of your latest Devils news and reaction, follow us on twitter. Staff writer Scott Robb can also be found on twitter.

Go Devils!

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Just A Reminder

Written by RWTD Staff on .

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Marty, Just Stay in the Crease

Written by Scott Robb on .

The New Jersey Devils showed a lot of fight tonight, but fell just short to the New York Islanders. The Devils lost their first home game of the season and third consecutive contest. A sloppy performance all around tonight led to a 5-4 defeat at the hands of the division rival Isles.

Through the first ten minutes of the first period, Jersey looked strong. They were dominating in the shots-on-goal category and had several chances to put one on the board. The Islanders, on the other hand, had just one of the first ten shots-on-goal of the game and had trouble putting anything together. As luck would have it, New York tallied the first goal of the game despite being outplayed. John Tavares ripped his third goal of the season 14:31 in and put the Isles out in front.

The Devils out-shot the Islanders 10-7 in the opening frame, but trailed by one heading into intermission.

Things went from bad to worse just 2:41 into the second period. Keith Aucoin notched his fourth score of the year on the power play and put the Islanders ahead by two. The Devils responded quickly, however, as Steve Bernier scored just 32 seconds later to cut the lead in half. Ryan Carter followed it up with a goal of his own (6:21 in) to tie things up.

And then, a minute and ten seconds later, the Devils were trailing again. John Tavares scored his second of the game and put New York up, 3-2. Henrik Tallinder answered for New Jersey 17:12 into the middle frame; both teams skated into the locker room tied up at three heading into the final period.

AP Photo

With the sloppy play the Devils displayed through the first two periods, it was a miracle that they were still in this game. Mark Sanchez had a better pass completion percentage against the Patriots than the Devils did tonight. Brodeur was solid, for the most part, but the defense gave up way too many chances.

Mark Streit sneaked one by Brodeur 11:32 into the period to send New York in front. Upon closer review, Adam Larsson appeared to have tipped the puck by Marty as he was cutting in front of the net. This was the theme of the night for the Devils--they just couldn't catch a break.

In his season debut, Adam Henrique tied things up for New Jersey 13:50 into the third. Both teams would gain a point and head into overtime.

Brad Boyes notched the game-winning goal for the Isles 2:01 into the overtime period. Henrik Tallinder was in the penalty box for the Devils after he received a penalty for cross-checking. The goal came on a net-mouth scramble that the Devils nearly escaped. Marty tried to do just a little bit too much and was caught out of position. The goal also marked the Devils third straight extra-time loss; this one was perhaps the most bitter.

The positives of tonight include the return of Adam Henrique and remaining in first place. It is extremely important that the Devils clean up their sloppiness and beat the Penguins on home ice on Saturday. Puck drop is set for 1:00 EST. Make sure to get your JERSEY on and follow us on twitter for your latest Devils news. Also be sure to follow our staff members on twitter: Scott Robb, Devin Mattera, and Raj Vaidya!

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Hedberg Not Enough: Devils Fall 2-1

Written by Scott Robb on .

Johan Hedberg kept the Devils in the game as long as he could, but New Jersey fell to the Boston Bruins by a score of 2-1 after an extended shootout. The Devils looked better than they did on Sunday in Montreal, but the offense just was not enough to slip by Boston tonight.

New Jersey and Boston played in a scoreless first period that saw nine shots on goal for both teams. Despite this statistic, the period seemed heavily dominated by the Bruins. Johan Hedberg was strong, as he was all night, in the opening twenty minutes and denied several scoring opportunities at his door step. The Devils were not as physical as we would like them to be, but looked better than they did on Sunday--that's for certain.

David Clarkson scored the lone goal for Jersey's team 8:30 into the middle period. The goal, Clarkson's fourth of the year, came on the power play and seemed to shift the momentum towards the visitor's side. Through strong defense and outstanding goaltending through the rest of the period, the Devils headed into the locker-room up one-to-nothing.

One thing is for certain: the Boston Bruins are unstoppable in the third period. Tonight was no different.

The Bruins entered the game without a goal given up in the final twenty minutes of any contest and kept their streak alive against the Devils. Nearly sixteen minutes into the third, Nathan Horton tied the game for Boston on a wrister that squeaked through Hedberg's five-hole. The goal was Horton's third on the year and sent the game into overtime.

Both teams refused to budge in OT, despite some pretty good scoring opportunities. Again, Hedberg came through in the clutch and kept New Jersey in the game.

Tyler Seguin went first for the Bruins in the shootout and converted his opportunity. The Devils caught a break, however, when the officials ordered a re-do after an object was tossed on the ice. Despite the displeasure of the crowd, Seguin converted on his second chance and put the Bruins up 1-0 in the shootout. Ilya Kovalchuk converted on the Devils' first chance and evened things up.

Both squads failed to score in the next four rounds. The Devils closest opportunity came on a Patrik Elias shot that rang off the crossbar. Brad Marchand scored for the Bruins in round six. Here's where things got confusing: Marek Zidlicky was sent to center ice to take the Devils' sixth-round chance. My question is: why?

With Gionta, Carter, and Zubrus on the bench, I am dumbfounded as to why Zidlicky was out there taking a shootout opportunity. Coach DeBoer made a smart decision by resting Martin Brodeur tonight, but this was just a bonehead move.

Final Thoughts:

  • Zidlicky should not have taken the final shootout attempt. Period. End of story.
  • The Devils power play (1-for-5 on the night) looked decent but needs some improvement. The puck movement was excellent, but New Jersey could not find a way to score on the man advantage. I have confidence that when Adam Henrique is back, the offense will be more potent and able to score.
  • Henrik Tallinder looked flat out there tonight. He lazily skated the puck out of the zone in overtime with plenty of time left on the clock. Without Henrique and Parise, New Jersey cannot afford lazy play. Someone needs to provide an energy boost for these guys out there. Where are you, Salvador?
  • Things NEED to turn around on Thursday at the rock. The Devils are still in first place, but the Rangers and Islanders are starting to turn things up. If the Devils want to stay where they're at, they will have to do the same.

Jersey is back in action on Thursday evening against the Islanders at the Rock. Puck drop is set for 7:00 EST. For all of your latest Devils news, analysis, and thoughts, follow us on twitter. Make sure to follow our staff as well: Scott Robb, Devin Mattera, and Raj Vaidya!

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