Sharks-Kings Series Preview

This is the series I am most looking forward to. These don’t appear to be the San Jose Sharks we are used to. By that I mean it’s no longer a team that hinges on the success of Joe Thorton and Patrick Marleau. Sure, they still play an important role on this team but I look at the Sharks as a team that now belongs to Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture. The Sharks easily handled the Vancouver Canucks in round one and head into the Conference Semi-Finals a well-rested and confident bunch.

Let’s not give the Sharks $200 for passing “Go” just yet. These are the Kings, the king of all Kings if you will, the defending Stanley Cup Champion. Throw out the first two games against the Blues in the first round and you could say the Kings handled the Blues pretty easily as well. After a little bump in the road to get things started, the Kings rattled off 4 straight wins to send St. Louis home….again.

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Hawks-Wings Series Preview

This is a match up that very few saw happening a few weeks ago but a very welcomed match up since the upcoming re-alignment will put an end to this rivalry. Let’s be honest for a moment, this isn’t the deepest or most talented team or even the most experience team that Detroit has put on the ice over the last 20+ years but the growth that they’ve shown over the last month has been very impressive.

Just a few short weeks ago, the Red Wings were being inserted into the conversation about the draft lottery, not about making a run in the playoffs. Yet here they are, one of the final 8 teams to remain in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs and they are coming off an impressive series win against the #2 Anaheim Ducks. They’ve managed to go further into the playoffs than the 2012 Red Wings, a team that put together a league record 23 game home winning streak. The Red Wings have come a long way but now, they face an enormous task, the rival Chicago Blackhawks.

It’s no surprise that the President’s Trophy winning Chicago Blackhawks are still around. They are a team loaded with guys that know how to score, defensemen that know how to minimize the opposition’s opportunities and a goalie that cleans up after those rare mistakes are made.

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The Rebirth of 2MA

“Back like Jordan, wearin’ the 4-5”

Yes, I know, that’s a basketball reference and this is a hockey blog but I couldn’t come up with an NHL player that fit that line. Plenty of guys have left the NHL for a bit and returned but I couldn’t think of one that returned to the game wearing a different number and was as dominate to the NHL as Michael Jordon was to the NBA. Somehow, “Back like Mario wearin’ the 6-6” didn’t convey the right message. I guess I could have referenced a Phoenix rising from the ashes but the words “Phoenix” and “hockey” don’t seem to go well together.

So what is this all about? This is the return of 2ManAdvantage.com … sort of. Once upon a time for a very brief amount of time, I was pegged by Patty to help write on this site. Of course real life got in the way then and I couldn’t find the right balance between life, a job, a family and a blog. Since that time, I’ve learned how to juggle everything so I sent the powers that be a message and said I wanted to revive 2MA but changes were going to be made as well.

I’m a Devils fan before anything but I am also a hockey fan so while 2MA might still focus on the Devils at times, it’s really going to turn into a general hockey blog. I have a lot of ideas in the hopper that will hopefully come to life over the next few months. Sadly, I didn’t get to revive this blog in time for the 1st round of the NHL playoffs but there is still plenty of hockey to be played which means there will be plenty of hockey to talk about, which is what I will be doing right here.

Hopefully you will come back regularly because 2MA, while serving up some different content than what has been done in the past, will be talking about hockey on a regular basis.

NJ @ The Rock For The First Time – Live Cap

9:40 – Devils lose… Sutter stands there looking like an idiot. Players don’t look happy and they shouldn’t. This was supposed to be our night but no one told the Senators that. Devils will be back here on Halloween night against the Lightning… The pimp in the pink is back behind Dano…they really need to keep people out of the area during this. My wife just said Dano’s hand is bigger than that kids head.

9:38 – Lots of chances… Ottawa looks to ice it.. OH CRAP… Alfredsson beat every one for it… 4-1

9:37 – Devils get a PP with 1:23 to go…. Fischer in the box for Tripping… Devils are 1 for 2 on the PP tonight with 3 shots

9:36 – Holy Scrum Batman….

9:35 – For those wondering, Red Sox up 5-0

9:33 – Two minutes to go… this isnt going as we wished… Icing called on the Sens.. Sutter takes a time-out

9:30 – Martin with a nice intercept and a shot right into the pads of Gerber….

9:29 – why didn’t we schedule the Thrashers or the Blackhawks for our first home game??

9:25– I knew they couldn’t keep the Sens 0-for on the PP … Fischer puts home a back breaker…

9:24 – Vishnevshy gets called for slashing and will sit…This isn’t a good time for a PK…

9:18 – Ottawa appears to be slowly getting a little more control of this game… Marty goes flying across the crease to make a save…Devils are making some ugly plays.

9:13 – I’d have to imagine that there is a goalie controversy going on in Ottawa. Gerber looks awesome so far this season and Emry we know is a very capable #1…. The just showed highlights of a missed Slashing call that led to the Ottawa goal..

9:12 – UGLY GOAL – Ottawa goes up 2-1 on some ugly play…Sean Donovan gets the goal…

9:11 – More crazy back and forth….Elias passes to no one with a wide open net…

9:10 – Chico said something about a penatly but the guy must be watching a different game.. TOO MANY MEN IN FRONT OF MARTY…Colin get better soon

9:08 – Brylin with a chance but it didnt work out, Ottawa back the other way… Wow this period is a lot of back and forth

9:06 – Eliase with a chance… Gerber got that one

9:04 – I will say the old broadcasts on FSN from the CAA were so dark and this arena shows up very nicely on TV.. back to the game

9:01 – Third Period coming and more talk of the scoreboard…I have to see this thing…

8:55 – This kid in the pink shirt behind Dano during the intermission report certainly thinks he’s a pimp….Pimp in a Pink Shirt….They need to not put people behind Dano during the intermission reports…

8:45 – End of 2, score is knotted at 1, shots on goal are Devils 23 Senators 15 so far (Ottawa out shoots NJ 10-5)

8:44 – Devils kill another one off

8:40 – Andy Greene will sit for jabbing at someone during a scrum on top of Marty…. Ottawa gets another chance..

8:37 – Fans are noticeably louder now after that goal and they are more noticeable now than they ever were in the Meadowlands…

8:35 – ITS A POWER PLAY GOAL….. Lucky bounce off a Senators skate so the first Devils goal at The Rock goes too….#14 Brian Gionta.

8:33 – Heatley gets another penalty, sits for slashing…

8:34 – Commercial break..penalty on the Senators upcoming…

8:30 – Box empty, Devils killed it

8:28 – Redden has a wicked hard shot…bounces off Marty to the corner…

8:27 – First NJ Penalty goes against Travis Zajac for hooking… he will sit for 2 and hopefully the Devils can kill this off and stop being the worst PK team.

8:25 Scoring change…Mezaros is being credited with scoring the first goal at The Rock, not Chris Neil…

8:24 – How many people are willing to bet that Derek Jeter doesn’t actually drive a Ford Edge…back to the game

8:18 – Well, that hurts.. Chris Neil deflects the puck under the cross bar Ottawa takes a 1-0 lead and we continue to struggle in second periods…Once again there are just too many people in front of Marty

8:15 – POWER PLAY GUYS…STOP GIVING UP SHORTHANDED ODD MAN RUSHES…

8:13 – Dany Heatley will go down as the first guy to receive a penalty at the Rock – Heatley will sit for 2 minutes for Cross Checking…

8:11 – Second Period ready to begin and Doc an Chico talk about the scoreboard again…I don’t, from the TV it doesn’t look that impressive so I wonder what it looks like in person.

8:01 – Wow the chick that sang the National Anthem was the chick from the Phantom of the Opera movie….ummmm No Comment…

7:55 – Period 1 at the Rock in the books… Devils outshot Ottawa 18-5 but nothing to show for it but an impressive showing against a very good Ottawa team…

7:52 – Nice 3 on 2 rush up the ice and Gerber had NO idea where that puck popped up to…

7:48 – I have to say, the Fire Louge looks awesome, at least from my couch….

7:45 – Rupp on a One on One and he’s got ZERO moves..

7:41 – Wow that was close…Ottawa dings one off the post…Yo..DING DONG…DING DONG YO…DING DONG…

7:40 – Dont you think Marty should have gotten more time to get acustom to the arena….

7:34 – I think I just saw my high school teams hockey jersey.. Go Morris Knolls!!

7:32 – I have to say, the Devils have come out with a little jump but now it seems awfully quiet…

7:27 – First icing in Rock History

7:24 – CMON Greene ..hold it in!!

7:20 Who sang the National Anthem? because that version was EXTREMELY long

7:08 – HELLS BELLS BABY!!!

6:52 – Radio City Christmas Spectacular commercial already?????

6:44 PM – Almost time to drop the puck at The Rock…. Is it me or am I the only one who hears either Sean Connery or The Rock when that name is mentioned??

Game 6 – @ Pittsburgh – We’re Now A .500 Team!!

Are you buckled in tight? Are you sure? Like I said after the last game, I have a feeling that there really won’t be any easy games this season. That’s not to say the Devils won’t have a good season, I am just saying that there are going to be a lot of tight games.

The Devils did get some breaks in this game, mainly due to the lack of anger management on the part of the Penguins but that happens to the best of us sometimes. I have to say that the gods smiled upon Marty and made sure the Penguins had too many men on the ice during a ridiculous 2 on none play that made it seem like the Lowell Devils were out on the ice. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a crowd in Pittsburgh get so angry but it was the right call. There were some calls that I thought were questionable but you have to take what you can get because you know there will be calls made against the Devils that will be questionable.

It is starting to become extremely clear that Sutter hockey is completely different game. These aren’t the Devils I grew up with but that is not really a bad thing. This team has really started to look like more of a run and gun type of team and not the systematic defensive team from the past, at least in the last two games anyway. After the first few games I was worried that this team was relying too much on the Parise/Zajac line but with Elias scoring 2 against the Thrashers and Madden and Pando having an extremely good night last night that worry is gone. I just hope that Sutter decides to continue to keep the Madden and Pandolfo team together.

I do still have some worries with Marty as he looks continues to have issues stopping the puck. It’s early and maybe Marty needs to get some of the off-season rust off but the bottom line is that he won his second in a row and that’s all that matters, I just wish the Defense would help him out a little bit more. Larry?? Can we get on that???
Now it’s on to Filthadelpia who seems to be living up to that name this season. This is a game where I wish we had a healthy Cam Janssen because you know that the Flyers will come out hitting.

Game 5 – Devils @ Thrashers: Recap

I have this feeling that last night’s game is a preview of what the season may hold for the New Jersey Devils, a complete roller coaster ride. I think the Devils came out with some jump in the first period but once again took the second period off. I’m not sure why NJ feels the need to not play an entire 60 minutes but it’s something that Sutter needs to address in the very near future. NJ owned the third period and showed everyone that when they work together and concentrate on the basics, they can be successful, especially on the power play.

Let’s start with the bad: What is going on with Marty? He doesn’t look very confident in goal and I felt last night that he was playing too far back in his net which gave the Thrashers too much of an advantage. In the last three games, Marty has seen 12 pucks get passed him (plus an empty netter he watched from the bench). This isn’t the Marty we are used to but judging how he broke his stick against the wall on the way to the locker room after the game last night, Marty isn’t happy about it either. Hopefully he straightens this out in a hurry before Syd the Kid comes shooting our way because 6 goals on 17 shots is not acceptable. I have to put this down on paper even though the question in my head feels completely stupid but is Marty feeling some kind of pressure with a completely viable backup sitting on the bench? Or is it more that the defense is so mediocre right now that he is trying to do too much?

Now the good: Well good morning Mr. Elias, did you just realize that its hockey season and even though there are 82 games, they all count? Glad to see he figured out where the net was tonight but honestly he seemed to be everywhere when the Devils were rolling. The power play was also coming together last night. The Devils cycled the puck extremely well which resulted in a number of shots on goal.

Hopefully this comeback win can build a little confidence in the Devils as the head into a group of Atlantic Division battles starting with Sydney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Even if the Devils come out of this road trip with a 3-6 record, I am certainly not about to hit the panic button. There are a lot of new changes on the ice at the moment and I think it is going to take time to come together and really be comfortable out there. I keep reminding myself of the horrible start that was 2005 and how eventually this team came together but putting that aside, hang on because this roller coaster is going to have many ups and downs.

Can Somebody Please Stop Lecavalier?

One game in the books and I have to say I was more than a little disappointed with the end result. I was pleased with the way the Devils played in the beginning of the game. The Devils came out and I thought it was very obvious that Sutter had a different way of doing things. Last season I felt the Devils spent a lot of time waiting for the puck to come to them and passing the puck more than they needed to. In the first period last night, things were different. New Jersey was actually shooting the puck. Maybe this has something to do with Scott Gomez leaving NJ but NJ didn’t seem to be looking for the perfect setup to score, they were just trying to put the puck on net. The Devils also seemed to generate a lot of pressure in the Tampa Bay zone during the first period. At the end of the first period, I was liking what I saw of the new Sutter era.

The second period started just like the first ended but it all changed very quickly. Gionta had a 2-on-1 going that he couldn’t finish and a few moments later, Lecavalier put the equalizer past Marty. I find it heart breaking every time Lecavalier scores because he really seems to have Marty’s number. Unfortunately he would strike again in the third. The crowd came alive and I thought from that point on, the Devils didn’t play a very strong game. In the third period I witnessed a Devil team that stood around too much. Eventually Lecavalier would strike again, putting the puck in a net so open I think my 16 month old could have scored on that pass. What bothers me mostabout last night was the absence of the scoring. This leaves a big question mark in my mind. I know we have the artillery to score goals but why are they already having trouble scoring goals?

The one thing I hate about playing nine straight home games to open the season is that we play a lot of home openers. Emotions are usually very high for the home team in these games and that can make for a tough time. Despite the things NJ did wrong last night, especially in the third period, I think if you put that game in our building, the Devils skate away with a win. Next up are the Florida Panthers which should also be a pretty tough game.

Up To The Rafters

It is September and most people have their eyes on the upcoming NFL season but training camps open in the next few weeks and hockey news is starting to pick up. It was announced today that the Montreal Canadiens will raise Larry Robinson’s #19 to the rafters of the Bell Centre this upcoming season. Larry will have his night on November 19th in a game where the Canadiens host the Ottawa Senators.

“I was very honored to play on some tremendous hockey teams, and I wouldn’t be the player I was if I hadn’t played with them,” Robinson said at a news conference.

Bob Gainey will also have his number raised to the rafters this season. The Canadiens, who had not retired a number since Jacques Plante’s in 1995, began annual jersey retirements in 2005-06 leading up to the club’s 100th anniversary in 2009.

Congratulations Larry, we all know you deserve this!!

Max McNab, 1924-2007

The Devils lost another member of their family as Max McNab passed away on September 2nd.

For those that don’t know the name, Max was the Devils second GM, replacing Billy MacMillan mid-season in 1983. Current GM Lou Lamoriello suceeded McNab in 1987.

The Devils drafted such players as Kirk Muller, Chris Terreri, Sean Burke and Eric Weinrich during his tenure, and these draft moves would help change the team image from a Mickey Mouse club to respectability. He remained with the team as Executive Vice President until retiring in 1994.

I tend to think of the Devils organization as a close knit family and anytime we lose a member of that family, we should take a moment and say a little prayer. So as training camp looms on the horizon, take a moment and think about Max and what he did for our little hockey team. His son David McNab is Assistant General Manager with the Anaheim Ducks and I hope that Max got to spend one more day with the Cup before his death.

Offseason ’07, My Two Cents

I will not beat around the bush, frustration has been the name of the game this summer for me when it comes to the Devils. I expected Lou to name a head coach long before the Free Agency Open Market got here and every day that he continues to delay with this, the more frustrated I get. The reason for this frustration is that I firmly believe whoever coaches this team should have had some input into whether or not Scott Gomez and Brian Rafalski were important to the direction that he wanted to take the team. Since there is no head coach for this team, that descion rested completely on Lou’s shoulders. I am not saying that you would completely rely on the coaches word about resigning these guys but you need to take these players and the direction the new coach wants to take the team into consideration. At the end of the day it became a money issue and the future head coach may inherit a team he’s not happy with.

My thoughs on the transactions that took place so far:

The Departed:

Scott Gomez – I think we can all collectively agree that we knew this was coming. We knew there would be no #23 with the name Gomez on the back come October. For some reason Scott thought he was worth a lot of money, a lot more than the New Jersey Devils were will to pay and I guess from Scott’s point of view, he was right. I personally think New York completely over paid for him and have once again set a dangerous precident for salary sizes going forward. It doesn’t make sense to me how 13 goals and 47 assists equals the dollar amount he has been given but then again I have only read the book “Moneyball” once in my life, maybe I need to read Glenn Sathers version of it. Will I miss Scott, at times I am sure I will, he had great speed and on the days that he wanted to, he would create some great oppurtunities for his teamates. It will be interesting to watch him respond to the Garden’s booing when he decides to not show up for a stretch of games as we all know he will do.

Brian Rafalski – Again, I am puzzled at the amount of money Detroit threw
at him. I might be a little crazy here but I for one did NOT want Rafalski to return to NJ. In 2005, Lou made it known he had every intention to let Rafalski walk and concentrate on bring Niedermayer back long term. When Niedermayer decided to go help his brother taste championship glory, Lou hit the panic button and brough Rafalski back as the #1 D-man. Rafalski in my mind was a very weak #1 and constantly did things to frustrate me as a fan. Will Brian work in Detroit? I think he will work very well in Detroit, as he did in NJ during the 2000 to 2004 years. Why?? Like those years, he certainly wil not be relied upon as the #1 D-man in Detroit and can get back to certain basics that made him successful early on in NJ.

Brad Lukowich – This one hurt in my opinion. I’ve always felt that the Devils have a certain look and feel. While our rivals across the river like to throw money at the flashiest guys out there, I’ve always thought the Devils were about those guys who would grind out goals and fight tooth and nail for points and their place on the team. Lukowhich was exactly that kind of player. He gave his all and put his heart into the game while he was here and I will miss him.

Scott Clemmensen – What can you say about a goalie that never really got fair playing time. He wrote an article the Hockey News last season about how he didn’t really feel like an NHL goalie due to the lack of minutes. He worried which team would even be interested in him since he never got a chance to show what he was made of. Now he’s off to Toronto and while it is a 2-way contract, I do hope to see him get some time with the Leafs to prove his talent. I only wonder if he will sit down with Tucker and Kaberle and rehash the Cam Janssen hit…

The Arrivals:

Dainius Zubrus – According to his stats, Zubrus look as if he will produce 20+ goals and 30+ assists. He doesn’t strike me as the kind of player who will pass off the puck instead of ripping it on net so I feel he is certainly an upgrade for our offense. I only question where he fits in when it comes to the lines.

Karl Rachunek – Not my favorite signing but its certainly better than the McGillis and Malakhov signing a few years back.

Kevin Weekes – He was injury prone last season with the Rangers but I can honestly say, Kevin Weekes was a goalie I hated facing. It felt like he always had the Devils number when he played against them so I guess Lou went with the advice of “If you can’t beat him, get him to join your team.” Wonder if Mr. Weekes doesn’t mind the possibility of counting the number of starts on one hand? Honestly, it doesn’t matter who your #2 is when Marty is your #1.

Vitaly Vishnevski – To me this is just another average D-man. Stats on this guy certainly aren’t wonderful and I certainly hope Lou doesn’t stop here.

While I am satisfied with the offensive possibilities this team possesses at the present time, I have to say that if I were Marty Brodeur, I would not be feeling to confident with the defense that will be playing in front of me. As it looks right now, our #1 D-man duties will fall on Colin “I Take Lousy Penalties” White or Paul Martin. With news that Souray isn’t really close to signing any contract, I have to hope that the offensive firepower will outweigh the defensive short comings. I worry that the Rangers, Flyers and Penguins will be true playoff contenders and can four teams from the Atlantic Division make the playoffs two years in a row?

Just my two cents…