New Jersey Devils Month in Review for November 2007

Amazing the difference a month makes isn’t it?? (Not to mention a few more people may read this one then month one in review…HI 2MA READERS!!!! Always happens when the team is good again!) Not to mention the players are healthy again (not to mention important one).. the coach becomes a “find” and Lou “genius” and the funny part is it’s still the team most people hated in the first place! But winning does solve everything right? Time to enjoy November in Review NJ Devils style!

Forwards:

Patrik Elias:

Only 5 points in 3 games this month (yeah that’s NINE games where he didn’t score).. that’s a little eye opening… it’s not like he’s not working hard and playing well… alright… more like he’s playing OKAY… he was exactly even for the month on the +/- stat… it’s just like he’s lost something.. be it confidence… ability to finish… I don’t know what it is… or he’s in one of those “saving it for when it counts later” moods.. I dunno… I do like the little things that he is doing right and while he may be frustrated as hell he’s still playing hard and I can respect that….Grade C+

Travis Zajac:

Not a productive month either, but the bar is a lot lower for Travis then Elias… so we can accept that as he falls into his #2 Center Role nicely, haven’t really noticed an excess of him good or bad (but it’s still football season and the Cowboys are pounding teams left, right and sideways, so maybe I am distracted!)… would like more offense as the season wears on (4g, 9a is NOT gonna cut it), but until recent the offense and the lines have been a work in progress…. Grade: B-

Brian Gionta:

A MUCH better month for Gio here (6 goals, 7 assists), and seems to be the #1 beneficiary of the return of Langenbrunner, opening up things and plays for him (playing with Zach Parise also has helped lots, but having #15 back made us able to do that without pouring the eggs in one basket!)… Can’t really complain about a damn thing here… Grade A-

He's so awesome, we have to keep using this picture!Zach Parise:

It’s like someone took Patrik Elias’ skill and finish and stuffed it into him… first career hat trick on Friday, and the move on the breakaway was all-star caliber!!! The Devils best and most consistently dangerous forward EVERY night in and out (and shit he’s only 23!).. and a NINE GOAL MONTH.. wow! How can you not be impressed or just love this Farooqer?? Only legit All-Star player on the team not wearing goalie pads….Grade A+

Sergei Brylin:

Look, I love and respect everything Brylin has done.. but my god how the HELL is he getting 17 minutes of ice time a night?!??!! The offense just ain’t there any more and is only resorted to PK and 4th line duty… hate to say it but I think the well is running dry on him and his NHL career… it’s gonna suck when we cut the cord though…but the time is coming sooner then later folks…. Grade D (and it sucks to say it people it really does)

Dainius Zubrus:

The switch to wing has been a major helper to him it seems and it’s showing in the production, 2 game winning goals in the month and only once went 2 games without being on the scoreboard, another person who’s been loving life since Langenbrunner came back, steady and solid all month long… more then you can say about the guy he “replaced”!! Grade B

He dreams, and so do we!Jamie Langenbrunner:

11 points (9 assists!!) in his 8 games back and like I said the PERFECT player for the Sutter system…his return really “fixed” the offense in one fell broad stroke and it’s good to see, odds-on favorite to be wearing the C on his jersey (which to me is still vastly overrated, leadership is not about a letter on your shirt!)… would like to see some more goals but he’s creating and making so many plays you can live without it!! Grade A

Jay Pandolfo:

As expected the scoring dropped right off the face of the Earth (2g, 2a on the month), but it’s not affecting his level of play (but come on Jay’s used to not scoring in the whorehouse with a blank check!).. Penalty kill has gotten better (up from 60 to 80%, God that’s scary)… and while not a super month a solid one… Grade B-

John Madden:

4 assists is a solid month when you factor in his wingers were Pandolfo and Clarkson with a dash of Rod Pelley…didn’t score this month, but was a +2 overall… much like Jay he was solid but not spectacular.. which is what we’ve grown to expect from Madden, Grade B

Aaron Asham:

The more you see of him the more you grow to like him.. he hits.. he plays ok…but the more you see why he gets 4th line minutes, but he’s VERY effective in that role…would like to see a bit more speed out of him, but he is what he is (last point was a MONTH ago though which is kinda bad), but is useful in his 8-12 minutes a night… Grade C+

Mike Rupp:

It tells you all you need to go when Sutter chooses to go 7 defenders instead of putting this stiff in the line-up and quite possibly could be the worst player to have a Cup Winner in the league’s history…. hope he enjoyed it, hasn’t played since Nov 14 and no rush on changing that… Grade F (we may love me some T.O., but man we hate me some Rupp!)

Hell yes.David Clarkson:

This kid is REALLY growing on me as a player (but I am biased to grinders).. has hung with Madden and Pandolfo on the checking line and tacked in two nice goals this week… I really see a HUGE upside on this kid and want to see where this goes with him! Grade B+

Rod Pelley:

Has scored some of the most retarded pretty good, but yet totally weird and bad angle goals this year.. that bank shot off Atlanta… RETARDEDDD!! (yes I went for the cheap Mencia reference) +4 in limited minutes isn’t shabby.. and you gotta be doing something right when the 3rd period last game was Rod Pelley appreciation night in section 209! Grade C+

Defense:

Colin White:

Not a number one defenseman, but he SURE plays on in New Jersey! The Devils have allowed only 5 goals and have 2 shutouts in the games since White has come back and that in itself says it ALL…with him and Martin eating the key minutes of game it allows the rest of this young and spotty defense to get their own feet and keep their mistakes down…Grade A


Paul Martin:

Three points a month isn’t going to cut it as the guy who needs to be the top scorer on the defense, but a +5 on the month is still VERY solid… like I said with White is eating our defense minutes for lunch and this is a good thing… and maybe our best break-out from our zone defender… would like to see some more points but I hope that will come over time! … Grade B+

Johnny Oduya:

The guy I love to love because you all so hate him so irrationally that it makes me able to piss you off by LIKING him!!! So yes… I LOVE ME SOME O-D (yes I’m on a Terrell Owens kick!)… with the defense healthy his minutes have dropped (10-14 minutes is reasonable) and a +4 and 4 points is not bad either…so now that he’s a third pair defenseman and PLAYED IN A GAME WE SHUT SOMEONE OUT… as well as for all you people who want us to keep the top tier players like Elias, Parise, etc… you’re going to need DECENT minimal salary guys like HIM….so nyah! Grade B-

Andy Greene:

Much like Martin I’d like to see some more offense out of him (I feel that they are the only two we can expect consistent offense from the defense-corps (and two assists ain’t gonna cut it for the month) didn’t really seem out of place or flat out awful, but didn’t show much improvement either… and I’d like to see some positive steps from the younger guys over the season… Grade B-

Sheldon Brookbank:
Ice time has been cut back lots since the return of a full defensive corps, even was healthy scratched as the Devils fuss through their healthy defense options.. good size… decent hitter… seems to have a solid shot too, not gonna make you think Norris Trophy or 25 minutes a night but in the current NHL there is a spot for him! Grade C+

Mike Mottau:

Another one of the promising young defenders we seem to have who’s there, decent but not standout or spectacular… (God I wish one of these kid had some freaking offensive potential!!).. yeah he had that one wipe out that cost them bad in the Islander game, but that was more the ice’s fault then his! He’s been a nice surprise this year so we’ll grade him proper here! Grade B-

Vitaly Vishnevski:

Doesn’t get that BIG hit as much as advertised (Stevens spoiled much?) and doesn’t seem to add a lot much else… I’d like to have seen him get more ice time when the big guys were injured… but never seemed to win the trust of the coaching staff…or they simply know his limits… I’m not too sure on either, but the fact that he never cracked 20:00 of ice even when we were most beat up says plenty… Grade C (I want to see more from him!)

Karel Rachunek:

He was a +11 this month !!?!?! And like the rest of the damn team he too only had 4 points in November also, I still don’t like him though… maybe it’s the coming over from the Rangers I dunno… maybe I’m still remembering his crap play in October and as a vet he doesn’t get a pass like the kids do…I guess he’ll get better with 3rd pair minutes also… Grade B- (just doesn’t really impress me)

Goalies:

Laser picture is classic 'round these parts.Martin Brodeur:

Over .500 on the season (and in wins)… save % up over 90 always a plus also, it’s been 8 games since he’s given up more then 2 goals in a game (prime indicator of winning hockey)… only had two BAD games this month…and oh yeah… two shutouts too!! I was going to give him a lower grade but when you see it from game to game you can appreciate how good he was this month! Grade A

Kevin Weekes:
Solid, steady and reliable… all you can ask for out of a Devils backup goalie… gives them a chance to win when Marty needs a game off… hoping to see him more as the season goes on, but so far so good… Grade A

Coaching Staff:

Amazing how Brent Sutter now looks like a genius when he has a full team out there isn’t it?? (I swear to God most of you seriously need to take chill pills and drink more decaf when it comes to the NHL it’s SO LONG there is no way you are going to play an “A game” for all 82 games…. Just enjoy the highs and shake off the low’s… you’ll live longer! Anyway.. the line shuffling has slowed down now that the team has a flow going… he’s used Weekes more then most… special teams have gotten better… and I think he’s adjusting nicely to what it’s like in the NHL now, and get used to him Sutter is gonna be here a LONG time! .. Grade B+

Comments

  1. Good stuff.

  2. A B- FOR ODUYA? With how many million turnovers he had! geeze. Anyway, nice first post.

  3. He likes being a contrarian (a Stan word) with Oduya…but less icetime does = better Oduya at least.

    I agree with almost all the other grades including Brylin – not like it’s his fault he’s a D but really he does look like he’ll be out of the league within a year or two. I’d probably bump Pando up to at least a B+ because of the whole overachieving offensively angle. I’d bump Martin up into the A range at least cause really he’s only supposed to be the highest scoring defenseman by default.

    And that last photoshop does need fixing (Clemmensen’s jersey and I think Weekes’s face?). But entertaining read and I agree with most of it.

  4. Did ya read the whole thing? 🙂

    like I said all the mass Oduya hate has made him grow on me… and MENTAL mistakes are correctable over ice time and experience… he’s no less a turnover FACTORY then say Rachunek… and as long as he’s logging the ice time he’s been with the full crew on the defense… he’ll be fine!

  5. Hasan, there’s nothing wrong with the picture. We’ve used it all season, it’s Weekes.

  6. Weekes wore 40 in pre-season, which is where the pic is from, I think.

    I don’t disagree with the grade for Oduya. When he makes mistakes, he makes BIG mistakes, but we have to remember that this was a 30-day month, not a 14-day month. Johnny was playing particularly well early this month when most weren’t. Just like we should temper our enthusiasm over the last few weeks, we should also credit the (few) things that went right early in the month as well.

    And, of course, how much is really expected of Mr. Oduya in the first place, besides holding into his stick and not making a big flub?

  7. Tim Green says:

    Do you actually watch the games? Or do you just look at stats and pull a review out?

  8. I totally agree with you Patricia, but I think Martin’s grade should of been a little higher and Oduya lower. Overall a very good review.

  9. Zach, I didn’t write this review — Scott did.

  10. Ok, totally don’t agree with all this, but overall its good.

    Travis getting a B- is something I don’t agree with. He’s a great centerman, he constantly forechecks, is strong, sees the whole ice, and creates a ton of chances. I would T funk a A-.

    Sarge Brylin needs to leave. Haven’t liked him in 3 years. I know you guys don’t like Ruppy, but I think he would fit in better than Brylin. All Mike needs to do is play more and get the confidence of the coaches. He’ll step up, we just got to get him playing.

    The D was definately given a boost when Colin came back. The monthly grade though I’d give a C- to a D+. It wasn’t very good and only came to be a better unit late in the month. Hopefully Dec we step it up.

    I think we’re making progress in the right direction on both sides. As long as each month we keep improving I think we’ll be ok. But if we revert back to our old ways of win one, lose two, and have a faulty Defense, then players need to go. But I don’t think we’re going down that path, I think we’re headed in the right direction.

    Lets keep it up. Period by Period, we can do it.

  11. Terrible review. Marty had perhaps three good games after killing a dozen for us and now he’s worshiped again: undeserved. Brylin has never been a goal scorer, he has different duties and he does it well. Oduya is horrid regardless of the sakes of a special opinion. Parise is great, but why would you call a mediocre shot through the pads a great super star move?

    Overall: this guy doesn’t understand the game, perhaps you should stick with football.

  12. Patrick D'Amico says:

    Thanks for the review, I agree basically with everything you said except I have already learned to like Rachunek, I didn’t like him a couple of weeks ago but he’s pretty solid now. Good review though.
    P.S. You never closed you parenthesis.

  13. it’s so easy to dislike oduya this season caus ehe’s been making mistakes here and there, but when he’s not making mistakes i feel like he kinda gets unfortunate penalty’s called on him quite often that could have easily gone by. but i should hush before i get fined for talking about the offiating.

  14. I think it’s a pretty good review even though I can’t understand how Crasher rated Johnny 5 a B-.

    Elias just sucks. He hasn’t been the same since his new contract.

    Stick a C on Parise and give the A’s to Langenbrunner and White. Those are the players who have turned your team around.

  15. Oh yeah, this worthless Brylin just scores a very important goal. Must be a certain sign for a prompt retirement.

  16. I did agree with alot that was said, except the part about Sarge having nothing left to contribute to this Team, It’s going to take alot to convince Me that He has nothing left to give. His work ethic alone says alot about how much He has left in the tank. And His 2 point night should speak for itself.

  17. DancingQueen says:

    I think Sergei Brylin has read your review;-)

  18. I think Sarge must have read your review of him before today’s game!

  19. DevilnearCharlotte says:

    Elias is not making mistakes, he’s just not producing like he should. Personally, I think that it has to deal with all of the fan’s BS regarding last season (69 points, how is that disappointing?!). It has had a huge impact on his confidence regarding his abilities as a player. His hard work ethic is there; his scoring touch just isn’t. As long as he’s under pressure, he’s going to continue to struggle until he learns to shake it off. I’d give him a C+ on his performance this past month too, since he came up big in several games this season. At least Elias isn’t alone – Cheechoo and Marleau aren’t doing anything in SJ while Afinagenov is pretty much invisible in Buffalo.

  20. Oh okay Josh, I didn’t realize Weekes’ number had changed from the preseason.

    Spooky how Brylin picked it up tonight just as everyone has been speculating about him being washed-up. I wonder if someone showed him NJDevs or this lol.

  21. Tim, do you mean from my season tickets, or the three TVs in the living room…or perhaps the fact I’ve been recapping games since.. umm… 1995?

    Feel free to pick one of the above and I’ll gladly argue with you until the December review is posted :)… stats are a reference, in particular ice time on defensemen (also serves a good reminder that a month runs about THIRTY days)… as well as well.. goal scorers need to SCORE to be considered good, and goalies who stop goals are doing their job nicely! :p

  22. **PLEASE READ**

    Just a reminder to everyone — no name calling or insulting. We’re not that kind of site. We are all Devils fans here and we’re all part of the 2MA Crew so let’s have respect for one another even if we don’t always agree with everyone’s opinions, mmmkay?

    Thanks!

  23. Wow, as I typed the reply it was gonna be post number 10… damn!!

    Hey it wouldn’t be the first one I did it to (Gomez much? :p)

    Besides all the Giants and Jets hate I do… I’m sure that not goes over well here either, and I said Brylin is CLOSE to done… not finished… but it’s ok, rage runs strong here… gooodd… goood… I can feel you ANGER (oops… I keep that up and I’ll get told to do Star Wars recaps :D)

    *begin Round 3!!*

  24. Derek- I would never say elias “sucks”, he’s actually bustin his ass out there most of the time, he’s really just lost his scoring touch. He’s getting nice shots off, probably the best puck handler on the team along w/zub, but he’s not finishing like he used to and it’s really unfortunate. I would never \put a C on zach parise, he’s not the leader of the team. He’s our spark and star right now for sure, but why would you make him a captain? Langenbrunner should be the captain, the A’s should stay where they are. I am not a sidney crosby fan and snarled when he became captain. Although he’s a terrific player and has more hype than marty, he’s just not a respected power of authority. Parise is friggin the man dude, but he’s not man enough to be captain of the devs.

  25. Just a couple notes. Elias has been playing well since the move to center between Zack and Geo. This is a serious #1 line which plays both ends of the ice. The fact Rackounek in the top 5 of +/- can’t be ignored. Sarge is an excellent 4th liner with the versatility to fill in at different positions as necessary. The return of JL and CW has completly settled the team down. Finally, the ability to play the agressive forchecking game while not getting burned on odd man rushes has been much better during the steak. A couple of games ago, Clarkson was asked the biggest difference between the NHL and AHL. His response. “coaching” Please no football.

  26. MIKE HARRISON says:

    I would like to give Brylin and Elias a pat-on-the-back, they do whatever is asked from them, and are loyal to the NJ DEVILS, Elias could’ve gone to the Rangers when he was a free agent, but decided to STAY HERE, and Sarge will drive the zamboni if they tell him to. OK so Patty’s days as “THEE GUY” might be gone, but give him some slack, he’s ours for a while.
    And the team is getting better by the day.

  27. MartysB3tt3r says:

    Great review (again) Crasher.

  28. There’s a lot more than just stats that this review leaves out. Yeah, Pandolfo hasn’t scored like he did earlier but he’s been playing really well. Worse than that though is how the defensemen scoring seems almost random: first of all, you comment on more offense for nearly every single defenseman. Well in case you forgot, the job of the defenseman isn’t to score. Then, you comment on plus/minus being important, yet Rachunek, who is around the top of the NHL in plus/minus right now, gets a crappy rating? And that’s not even mentioning you randomly giving Oduya a decent rating just because you want to be controversial. Sitting on the “B-” rating for half the defenseman for no reason doesn’t cut it. And please look beyond points alone for the ratings next time.

  29. Alright, let’s take this one step at a time.. I gave Pandolfo a B-, last I checked that’s pretty good… to compare that, it’s like giving someone an 81 on their 2nd test (I gave him an A for month one, but I wasn’t writing here then, but you are welcome to dig up the grade on NJDevs or my MySpace Blogs as well)

    You name me the successful team in the last 30 something years that DOESN’T have a presence from the blue line that at least keeps teams honest enough to not collapse totally on the forwards, and we need SOMEONE on the blueline who adds offense to the play it’s just FACT in the NHL, and I said in there too I’d have liked ONE of them to be the one to do it, even a Rafalski-type (not that I wanted to resign him, I didn’t want to pay him until he was 40), but this team NEEDS AN OFFENSIVE PRESENCE FROM THE BLUELINE and I would HOPE one of our kids would be it! (this team needs a first or second line center too, but the reality of the league is we ain’t getting either from trades)

    So because I used stats as a refernce I’m basing my whole rating on stats?? What?? I work on computers I use tools like programs and spare parts to test out for problems. When I write an evaluation of a player for the month, NOT using his stats would be quite honestly brain dead… and if I wanted to cause a stir, I’d tell a player (RUPP) I’d rather see him swim in barbed wire and AIDS then be on the ice again… I don’t need the cheap way out to rile people up.. I LIKE ODUYA, I LIKE HIS GAME, I THINK HIS MISTAKES ARE FIXABLE… I don’t like seeing him play over 16 minutes a night WHY IS THAT SO HARD TO COMPREHEND? Then again it’s the same mentality I see in wrestling fans “I hate John Cena cause he sucks and everyone else hates him so I boo him to be cool like everyone else and I hate that he has only four moves so I’ll cheer for Orton who has three moves to look cool”… the Oduya hate to me feels the same way (look NOT a football reference!)… I don’t “sit” on ratings, the team played well, the defense has been better since White and Martin returned and the lesser players have returned to the lesser roles they BELONG in, so they get graded proper!

    I should also add that I think our play has gotten better as the ice got better without Bon Jovi screwing it up every night, but I didn’t see a proper place to put that in

    Oh boy this is gonna be fun every month ain’t it?? 🙂

  30. Decent job with the monthly player ratings, but you need to stop the Live Game recap stuff. It’s become a mainstay of what was a good blog site and it’s unnecessary.
    I already saw the game, why would I need to read your minute-by-minute recap ? This is not ment to be insulting, it’s just the truth. If a Devil’s fan has no access to radio ot TV, than I could see, but otherwise, WHY ?
    If you’re not offering insight or insider info. you’re really not worth reading anymore (and yes, I did read much of last year’s blogs – so I’ve paid my dues).

    Two periods to play guys, make corrections & pick it up the play boys !!!! Go Devils !

  31. Loved the wrestling reference by the way….hate Cena and Orton…

  32. just wondering…

    that b- for oduya…

    is that grade for the time when he is holding his stick

    or

    when he drops it and it is sliding all over the ice? like it is. at least twice a game.

  33. Liked the recap Scott…pretty much spot on for the most part…though I still think Brylin will play his best hockey as the season goes on. But you have to go with what has been brought to the table so far…hence his grade. Oduya does need to be sent to Lowell for a stint to get some confidence back. Yes Rachunek has made his share of turnovers but Oduya just seems to make the more of the killer ones.

    Other than that, welcome aboard to 2ma…and I expect every monthly review to be far from dull.

  34. wow, so now I’m getting grief for the stuff I don’t write too… gotta love it 🙂

    though that and the lockout was why I stopped doing by the second recaps of the game… he/she would read it, already had Center Ice!

    and Dana, I’m all for spiking up WWE/TNA convos in here too 🙂

    hey any chance the 2MA powers that be let me put the football ones up too?? (man I’ll really start a fit in here :p)

  35. don’t watch much TNA..but i’m in love with Jeff Hardy.
    And Gerry, the live-caps are amazing, I look forward to reading them in the morning.
    I’m starting to shake…i need my devils fix…

  36. Fair enough, fair enough. I agree that the defense needs to be offensive, but that’s not their first job and they need to play defensive as well. Rachunek has done both superbly and his rating, based on your other ratings at least, should be considerably higher. I also disagree with Greene (I love that guy), Mottau (pretty solid for a rook), and a few of the other defensemen ratings. But since this is your first review, I’ll ease off on the criticism. But next time, could you be a bit more specific for the ratings other than “I don’t like him because he was a Ranger” or “His stats are good, but I’m just not impressed” (yeah those are both referencing Rachunek, sorry, haha).

  37. I didn’t wanna give ya full blast balls out CRASHER mode in the first review 🙂

    you guys ain’t ready for THAT… trust me 😉

    Dana, from a talent perspective TNA is a hundred times better then WWE, they just can’t book a main event!