F(ree Agency) This.

Us Devils fans are a naive bunch.

It’s the only period over the course of a seemingly never-ending summer that a hockey fan can get their fix. Free Agency. It’s irresistible to wonder over the possibilities of who could be lacing up their skates in your building come October.

Could Marian Hossa be coming to town? Nope – Chicago locked him up forever. Maybe sniper Mike Cammalleri will be suiting up in Black ‘N Red next year? Nah, he’d rather Blue ‘n Red. Havlat? Nope. Gaborik? Ha. Niedermayer coming home?? Pshh. Perhaps we could bolster the blueline with guys like Mike Komisarek or Mattias Ohlund? Nien. Ok, we’re obviously saving money for Koivu… or not.

But I’ll tell you what we can do… We can say goodbye to one-third of our starting forwards and wish good will to the goaltender who saved our arses last season. Wait…wha?!

So thus far it’s a big See Ya! to John Madden, Brian Gionta, Bobby Holik, Scott Clemmensen, and Mike Rupp. And a great big how-do-ya-do to… Ilkka Pikkarainen.

Ugh.

Last year it seemed as if Lou was trying to reunite the rosters of glory days-past. This year, the reunion will be ending with an awkward and uncomfortable orientation.

But, then again — it’s Free Agency and we’re Devils fans.

I mean, really.

Rantings of a coping Gionta fan… the FAQs on a Free Agency Defection

Let me start by saying THIS IS NOT MY BLOG… NOR MY FEELINGS (well it hits a lot of what I feel about Madden jumping ship)… but when you see and read something damn good on the internets and you can ask the person and they don’t mind sharing it… the name protected (well unless you know me well you know who this is :p)…. but I figured it was a great and personal perspective on the pains of free agency in the NHL

Is it true? With the signing of Brian Gionta, the Montreal Canadiens are now your second-favorite team?

Yes, for every second that Gionta is there.

Um, WTH? Who has second-favorite teams anyway? What are you, 12?

Yeah, many times I am. It explains why I still think it’s funny to use an excessive amount of swear words.

What about Scott Gomez?

What about him?

Well, don’t you hate him? How can you possibly root for the Habs when he’s on the team?

I got the “I’m a douchebag” vibes from Gomez even during his days in New Jersey. I just ignored it, and him in general, because he was a skilled player making a positive contribution to my favorite team, even helping them win two Stanley Cups, despite his flaws, which of course came out in full force once he jumped across the Hudson. So yes, I still hate him, and he deserves to be eaten alive by the Montreal media and fans for performing well-under expectations. I will laugh if/when that happens. However, my love for Gio far exceeds my hatred for Gomez, so I am pulling for Gio and the Habs to be successful. Yes, that probably means Gomez is going to need to have at least some degree of success, especially since he and Gio will probably be on the same line, as they have been since they were teenagers playing for Team USA and as they were when Gionta broke the Devils’ single-season goal-scoring record. I’ve had plenty of practice ignoring Gomez as a Devil and can do the same with him as a Hab. So what if he has success? It’s actually a win-win situation because Gomez having success would twist the knife in Glen Sather’s heart, especially if injuries strike Gaborik yet again.

Why do you like Gionta so much? Why is it so easy for you to move on and pull for the Habs?

For those who haven’t heard the story yet, I have been a huge Brian Gionta fan since 1998, his freshman year of college, before he was ever drafted. I watched him play for BC during the NCAA Tournament (the Eagles, who also had Clemmensen and Mottau on the team, made it all the way to the final before losing in OT to Michigan that year) and was just in awe of the energy, determination, speed and heart this kid played with, and, at 5’5.5″ (his REAL height :P), to overcome the odds to play at this inspiring level. He’s a special player, and I don’t think I’ve ever actually said that about anyone before. I knew this was a player I had to follow throughout his playing career. On draft day that summer, I would have felt very grateful if he were picked by any team except the Rangers or Flyers because as a Devils fan I automatically would have had to hate him. Never could I have imagined he’d actually be picked by my beloved Devils. It was my beautiful, unrealistic fantasy coming true. Just that moment was a bonus. Who would know that 11 years later, this little guy from Rochester would not only be drafted by the Devils, but he would win a Stanley Cup with them, break the team’s single-season goal scoring record, and play 6+ wonderful years here. Talk about a bonus. I hit the jackpot. Because this was all a bonus, I can say with all sincerity that I am so appreciative of the time he spent in New Jersey. The way I look at it, Gionta could have been drafted by the Habs in 1998, and I would have been pulling for them then (or actually not until 2001ish after Gio graduated). I am grateful that he didn’t sign with a division rival; otherwise I’d be in no position to cheer him. At all. So no, this is not easy losing Gionta, but it’s definitely workable.

Wait, so if the Habs and Devils are playing and Gionta scores, are you going to cheer for him?

Of course not! The Devils remain my number 1 priority. My passion for the Devils far exceeds my Gionta fandom. So Brian, no scoring against New Jersey. Don’t make me boo you. I’ll do it, I swear.

I heard that you have Gionta and Madden wallpapers on your home and work computers, respectively, and you purchased only Gionta and Madden hockey gear at the Devils’ latest equipment sale. Is it true that you jinxed the two veterans into leaving New Jersey?

I have no jinxing powers once the hockey season has concluded. However, I CAN tell you that Scott Mackie has a Clemmensen voodoo doll and is directly responsible for his signing with Florida.

Are you mad at Gionta for leaving? Are you mad at Lou for letting him go?

No, and no. Gionta expressed a sincere desire to remain in New Jersey. It sounds like he didn’t get much of an offer, if anything, from the Devils, and I really can’t blame him for taking $5M for 5 yrs. from Montreal. He made a good decision. As far as Lou, I know he has put the welfare of the team before everything else, and as desperately as I wanted Gionta to stay (Madden too. Both those guys were perfect examples of what Devils hockey is all about), Lou has earned my trust over the years. If he thinks the Devils need a change and that the young guys are ready, then I believe there’s a good chance he’s right. In fact, when, to top off all the ridiculousness of July 1, Lou’s dramatic signing turned out to be Finnish forward Ilkka Pikkarainen, I could only imagine what brilliant secret Lou (a man talented at finding random gems in Europe) knew that no one else did. Well, we all know the secret, but Lou UNDERSTANDS it. The salary cap is going to drop and a lot of teams will be fucked while the Devils keep plugging along and fighting back when everyone else thinks we’re down.

So you’re not freaking out that Lou hasn’t done shit during free agency while everyone else has?

Nope. Everyone seriously needs to chill out. This happens every July 1, and the Devils haven’t missed the playoffs in more than a decade. We still have all of our defensemen from last year (Minus Havelid, who doesn’t count because he was here for 2 secs. and, well, he’s Havelid). We have our top line and 2/3 worth of second line players in Elias and Rolston (though Elias is top line caliber and I think Rolston really should be a LW, so that’s a mess that the next coach is going to have to figure out because Rolston should NOT be on the third line). It’s more than sufficient to start out training camp with.

What do you think of the whole coaching situation?

With the Sutter situation, it is what it is. With the new coach (be it Lemaire or whomever… Lemaire is def. not the end of the world; he gets the most out of the players that he has and really teaches the young guys, something that wouldn’t be bad to have for a couple of years), if everyone keeps using that stupid cliche, hit the stationary bikes!!!

These signings just happened! How were you able to compile a list of FAQs so quickly?

They’re frequently ANTICIPATED questions. I am too lazy to develop/maintain a Web site/blog to develop a following and accumulate questions from it. Deal with it.

Why don’t you take a seat?

It sucks to be a Devils fan if you have a fat ass.

…what, too blunt?

I apologize.

Let’s be frank here though. The round buns of many Devils fans far and wide (pun partially intended) are wedged between a Rock and a, well, plastic seat.

What the heck am I saying?

Oh, the seats are too cramped!

Or so says the organization and its fans, as Black ‘n Red has outright refused to pay $1.2-million to the Michigan-based seating company Irwin Seating.

Buggers filed a lawsuit against the Devils!

As reported by John Brennan over at NorthJersey.com, New Jersey ain’t payin’ ’cause Irwin Seating “failed to perform its obligations in accordance with the (January 2007) agreement.”

Ouch.

Common complaints across the Rock range from cramped, narrow seats to lack of cupholders (as previously promised, of course). The small seats make for very little arm and leg room between patrons. And forget about it if you’re a bit thicker — there ain’t much space for that derriere.

Some fans also argue the seats to be “too low,” making the sightlines a bit less than favorable. Granted, it won’t be as hard to spot Devils players next season with the departure of four-foot tall Brian Gionta, but STILL! Actually being able to see the game is always a plus, right?

So, what happens? Do we beg for Devils fans to enroll in Jenny Craig or should we unleash the wrath of a couple Newark thugs on Irwin Seating?

I kind of want to vote for the latter. If nothing else, it would at least be funny.

2 Man Advantage Free Agent Signing Day Happy Fun Time & Box Social 2009!

10:57 PM: Kay, this looks like a good place to end the night. Thanks for tuning in everyone, check back for any (or no?) Devils signings as they happen!  -Josh & Patricia

10:55 PM:
Aaand we have numbers for the Havlat deal. Looks to be six years at $5-million a year.

10:30 PM:
Apparently the Wild are also closing in on Saku Koivu.

10:26 PM:
TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that Havlat and the Wild do have a verbal agreement in place.

10:23 PM:
Unconfirmed report that Martin Havlat has signed with the Minnesota Wild. More to come.

9:58 PM:
Okay folks, we’re going to stay live until 11PM ET and then call it a night. Josh and Patricia are quite tired after a hectic July 1st. Naturally, if anything breaks, we’ll be sure to report it. Thanks for sticking with us tonight!

9:42 PM:
Report out of Montreal indicates Saku Koivu, Alex Tanguay, and Alexei Kovalev will not be re-signed. Lou, GET ON IT. KOIVU. NOW.

9:19 PM: I now dub thee John “Chicago Style” Mad Dog.

9:03 PM:
Confirmed, Madden to the Hawks. One year at $2.75-million.

9:02 PM:
We can confirm that Madden will NOT be returning with the Devils next season.

9:00 PM: John Madden
may have signed with the Chicago Blackhawks. Working on it.

8:57 PM:
The Phoenix Coyotes have signed Jason LaBarbera to a two-year contract. Financial terms undisclosed.

8:53 PM:
Rich Chere is reporting that prospect Jeff Frazee may very will be the backup to Martin Brodeur next season for the Devils. Looks like we might not get to use the Weekes Laser picture anymore…sad face.

8:51 PM:
The Calgary Flames have signed Frederik Sjostrom. Terms undisclosed.

8:47 PM: Chris Neil
has decided to stay in Ottawa after all, re-upping with the Senators for a four-year, $8-million contract.

8:35 PM:
Indeed. Gio has been reunited with Scott Gomez in Habs-land. Five years at $25-million. Uh…Saku, wanna play in Newark?

8:33 PM: Reports indicate Devils winger Brian Gionta has signed with the Montreal Canadiens. Working on confirmation.

8:23 PM: Marian Gaborik
has signed with the New York Rangers  for five years at $37.5-million total. Overpay much? So, let me get this straight. Rangers get rid of Gomez as a salary dump, then spend seven ba-gillion dollars on an oft-injured winger? Genius.

8:07 PM:
Good ol’ Tom Gulitti reports that we might hear within the next few hours where Mr. Brian Gionta will land.  Montreal has been the number one talked about team for the good part of the day.

7:28 PM:
The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed Mathieu Garon to a two-year, $2.4-million deal.

7:19 PM: Jason Strudwick
has re-signed with the Edmonton Oilers for $700,000 over one year.

6:54 PM:
Things seem to have quieted down a bit. We’re still here though, ready to report any free agent signings or trades!

6:24 PM: Samuel Pahlsson
has signed a three-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets worth a total of $7.95-million.

6:15 PM: Steve Sullivan
has re-signed with the Nashville Predators. The deal is worth $7.5-million over two years.

6:11 PM:
The Bruins have signed Steve Begin to a one-year, $850,00 contract.

6:01 PM:
Bob McKenzie is reporting the Komisarek deal to be worth five years at $4.5-million a season.

5:55 PM: Mike Komisarek
has signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Working on terms.

5:54 PM:
Little bit more info on the Kubina deal: Colin Stewart also goes to the Leafs in exchange for the rights to Tim Stapleton.

5:49 PM: Vernon Fiddler
has signed a two-year deal with the Phoenix Coyotes that will pay him $1.1-million a season. Byron Bitz has also re-signed with the Boston Bruins. Terms not disclosed. The Ottawa Senators have re-signed Mike Brodeur to a one-year, two-way contract.

5:46 PM:
The Minnesota Wild have signed Greg Zanon to a three-year deal worth a total of $5.2 million.

5:42 PM:
Still very quiet in New Jersey. I know one 2MAer who would love to see Saku Koivu inked by Black ‘n Red.

5:36 PM:
Cammalleri is confirmed per Darren Dreger. The Hurricanes have also re-signed Michael Ryan to a two-way deal.

5:28 PM:
We’re hearing five years at $30-million for Cammalleri, while Garnet Exelby is Toronto’s return for the Kubina deal.

5:26 PM:
Several outlets are reporting Mike Cammalleri has signed with the Montreal Canadiens while the Pavel Kubina-to-Atlanta deal has finally gone through. Working on terms for both deals.

5:25 PM:
The Carolina Hurricanes have re-signed Patrick Dwyer to a two year, two-way deal. Blockbuster.

5:11 PM: The San Jose Sharks have re-signed Kent Huskins to a two-year, $3.4-million contract while David Koci has gone to the Colorado Avalanche for a one-year, $575,000 deal.

4:46 PM:
Devils bruiser Mike Rupp has signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins, two years at $825,000 a year.

4:42 PM: Hal Gill
has signed with the Montreal Canadiens  for two years at $4.5-million total while the Florida Panthers have inked Ville Koistinen.

4:40 PM:
The Philadelphia Flyers have signed Ian Laperierre to a three-year deal at $3.5-million.

4:33 PM:
We’re hearing three years at just over a million per season for $3.6-mill total. Good for you, Mr. Clemmensen. Good for you.



4:27 PM:
Unverified reports indicate Devils netminder Scott Clemmensen will be signing with the Florida Panthers for a multi-year deal. Working on confirmation.

4:22 PM: Adam Pardy
re-signs with the Flames.  Meh.

4:12 PM: 2 years, $2.8 million and $3 million for Cole.

4:09 PM: 4 years, $15 million for the Bulin wall, according to TSN.  Cole’s looking at a 2 year deal from Carolina.

4:01 PM: TSN reporting Nikolai Khabibulin to the Oilers, no word on years or dollars.  Erik Cole also said to be re-signing with the Hurricanes.

3:50 PM: Jaroslav Spacek to the Canadiens, three years, $11.5 million according to the Boston Globe.  With every new Canadiens signing, I get a little more hopeful the Devils will wind up with Saku Koivu…

3:42 PM: Signings have dried up over the last half hour or so.  It’s getting kinda boring.

3:28 PM: Hello 2000! Brian Boucher has signed with the Philadelphia Flyers for two years at $925,000 a season.

3:16 PM: Joel Ward
re-signs with Nashville, 2 years, $1.5 million per.  Aaron Rome signs with Vancouver for $550,000.

3:12 PM: Why can’t anyone with an easy name do anything today?  Lukas Krajicek re-signs with the Lightning.  One year deal.  Financials undisclosed so far.

3:08 PM: Scott Niedermeyer re-ups with Anaheim, one year, $6 million + bonuses.  Drats.

3:05 PM: TG says that both Gionta and Shanahan are fielding offers.  Guess no one cares about poor John Madden.

2:54 PM: Donald Brashear to the Rangers.  Me no likey that. Two years, $2.8 million.

2:50 PM: Andy Strickland reports that Mike Knuble‘s signed with Washington, two years $2.8 million per season.  Nothing official on Gio yet.

2:46 PM: Steve Montador signs with Buffalo.  2 years, $1.55 million per.

2:41 PM: Get your height jokes in while you can, boys and girls, rumors are that Gio’s nearing a deal with a new team.

2:39 PM: TSN just listed the Devils in a laundry-list style rundown of teams that may be interested in Scott Niedermeyer.

2:32 PM: Forgive me for the pun I’m about to make, but…Twitter is all a-Twitter that Brian Gionta is apparently a hot commodity this afternoon.

Been nice knowin’ ya, shorty.

2:23 PM: Dwayne Roloson to the Islanders, 2 years, $2.5 million per according to NY Newsday.  Tomas Kopecky to Chicago for two years, financials not yet known.

2:15 PM: Final numbers on Andy Greene’s contract:  Two years, $1.475 million.  $725,000 in year one, $750,000 in year two for a cap hit of $737,500 per year.  All of this info via TG at Fire & Ice.

2:12 PM: 12 years, $62 million for Hossa from Chicago.  Hot diggity the ‘Hawks better hope he’s healthy and not cursed.

2:11 PM: Conkblock himself, Ty Conklin has signed with the Blues, two years, $1.3 million.  Prepare yourselves for an outdoor game, St. Louis.  Ty likes those games.

2:05 PM: Matt Walker to Tampa Bay, four years/$1.7 million per according to TSN.

2:04 PM: Apparently Chicago’s looking to deal Huet now.  I think they don’t have much of a choice.

2:02 PM: Hossa’s a done deal in Chicago, rumored to be TWELVE years at 5 million a year.

2:01 PM: Darren Dreger reports that the Lightning were in the running for Hossa too.  Which just proves that yes, the Lightning really were given cap immunity.

1:56 PM: Craig Anderson, goalie extraordinaire, to Colorado for two years, financial terms undisclosed.

1:47 PM: A big name!  Finally!  TSN is currently reporting that Marian Hossa will make it to the Stanley Cup Final and lose with the Chicago Blackhawks this year!  Terms undisclosed.  Also, David Booth re-signs with Florida for 6 years/$25.5 million.

1:46 PM: Pavel Kubina rumored to be being traded to Atlanta.

1:45 PM: Pierre LeBrun of ESPN says otherwise on the officialness of the Kovalev deal.  So, it’s still rumored.

1:40 PM: Kovalev deal is now official (or not…), he re-ups with Montreal for 2 years, $8.75 million.  Greene’s a two-year deal, still waiting on the dolla dollas.

1:32 PM: It’s a very slow go of it so far.  Only three signings in the first hour and a half.  If I recall correctly, it picked up between 2 and 3PM last year.

1:18 PM: Kovalev re-signing with Montreal is still just a rumor.  Deal has yet to be signed, according to TSN.

1:13 PM: Tough guy Colton Orr has inked a four-year, $4-million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

1:07 PM: Okay Devils fans, we can all breathe easy.  The official Devils Twitter feed reports that the Devils have re-signed Andy Greene.  Thank God that’s taken care of.  Since it’s the Devils, terms are, naturally, undisclosed.

12:59 PM: Rumors flying that Alex Kovalev has re-signed with Les Habs for 2 years and about $8.8 million.  Not confirmed yet, though.

12:49 PM: Radek Dvorak re-ups in Florida.  Two years, $3.4 million. n Ohlund’s deal is indeed frontloaded, Darren Dreger tweets that Mattias will take home $22.5 million of the $24.5 million in the first five years of the deal.  Speaking of tweets, why not follow us?  @2MAblog

12:27 PM: Ohlund terms disclosed:  SEVEN YEARS, $3.75 million per.  Gotta be frontloaded.  Just has to be.

12:15 PM: First signing!  Perennial Devils trade rumor Mattias Ohlund has signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Terms yet to be disclosed.

12:03 PM: No free agents have signed yet.  What’s taking them so long?!  Jerks.

12:00 PM: Let the festivities commence!  The floodgates, they are being opened.

CLICK TO READ MORE!!! —> [Read more…]

Scott Stevens, was that you? (A half-cap, if you will)

11:53 PM ET: A bittersweet moment, but we must give congratulations to Richard H. as he has taken home the 2MA t-shirt. Thanks to all who entered!
____

10:10 PM ET: What a waste. Season over.

10:08 PM ET:
…and that’s that. Staal fires one past Marty with just seconds left. You’ve gotta be kidding me.

10:07 PM ET:
Devils with the timeout. I’m not sure my heart can handle this.

10:06 PM ET:
Well, we have a minute left. Please do not break my heart, New Jersey.

10:05 PM ET:
DAMN IT DAMN IT DAMN IT.  Tied game.

10:01 PM ET:
Marty with a purty glove save on Rod Brind’amour. Do I need to bust out the You Go Girl picture? I think I do. Ever since that crap goal Brodeur gave up early in the first, he’s been on FI-YAH.

9:57 PM ET:
Two-on-one, Madden and Whitey. That’s almost as good as a Colin White penalty shot.

9:51 PM ET:
Martin Brodeur is a pretty darn good goalie. Just sayin’. He’s keepin’ the lead for the Devils right now.

9:51 PM ET:
Cam Ward is a pretty darn good goalie. Just sayin’. He’s keepin’ the Canes in it right now.

9:47 PM ET:
Madden with the game on his stick, can’t quite get it high enough on Ward. Consequently, Tuomo Ruutu gets absolutely reamed by Patty Elias. This has not been Ruutu’s night.

9:47 PM ET:
GOOD KILL GOOD KILL GOOD KILL

9:46 PM ET:
MARTIN BRODEUR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11ONE!1

9:45 PM ET:
Captain-brunner takes a bad penalty…no good. This is a huge kill here. DO IT.

9:38 PM ET:
Madden and Pandolfo on a two-on-one? Wow, I’m having serious flashbacks here.

9:33 PM ET:
So, yeah, normally the Rangers Suck chants annoy the heck outta me, but there’s something so divine about hearing 17,625 fans mocking the failed season of the Blueshirts in unison.

Loves it.

9:32 PM ET:
HOW DID THAT NOT GO IN? Elias, you’re fired.

9:29 PM ET:
Let us all take a moment bow our heads in silence for the Rangers’ 2009 season. Rest in Peace, New York. Rest in Peace.

…Nelson, I need to borrow your laugh right here.

_____
9:15 PM ET: Oh, and thanks to everyone who entered the 2MA t-shirt contest! Winner will be announced at the conclusion of tonight’s contest!
_____

9:13 PM ET: And we’re done with two! Devils with an additional buck-twenty left on the power play going into the third period.  I need a drink.

9:11 PM ET: Atta-boy, Zachy. Good to see Parise back on the ice immediately after getting his cheek ripped open.

9:08 PM ET:
Okay, I was totally kidding about, you know, any injury to Zach Parise. Poor pretty boy takes a stick to the face, draws blood and we’re on a four-minute man advantage. Make Gleason and the Canes pay Black ‘n Red!

9:04 PM ET:
GOOD KILL GOOD KILL GOOD KILL

9:02 PM ET:
I’m going to punch Zach Parise in the knee. Keep your stick down holmes! ‘Nother penalty kill for the Devils. Gotta stop taking the penalties.

9:00 PM ET:
GOOD KILL GOOD KILL GOOD KILL

8:56 PM ET:
If Facebook had a Does Not Like button, I’d click it for that play. BAD PENALTY CALL for flip’s sakes! Two-man advantage for the wrong team. Huge kill coming up. DO IT BOYZ! ‘Kay, maybe Facebook has taken over my life too.

Speaking of, add us on Facebook! …ah crap. Addicted.

8:50 PM ET: YUS!! POWER PLAY GOAL SUCKAS! 3-2 NEW JERSEY! What a PLAY by Brian Gionta! Amazing awareness, throws it over to Brian Rolston who *gasp* FINALLY GETS A GOAL! Oh my GOSH it’s like it was in the stars…

8:48 PM ET:
Solid shift by Black ‘n Red results in another pee-pee. If I don’t get my power play goal, I’m going to cry.

8:37 PM ET:
Uh…defense? Hello? Tied game. That power play goal would have been lovely, eh? Whatever, Ray Whitney is stupid.

8:36 PM ET:
Why does our power play suck so much?

8:34 PM ET:
Huge pee-pee! …uh…that sounds wrong. I WANT A POWER PLAY GOAL DARN IT.

8:33 PM:
‘Kay, Brendan Shanahan is awesome. Solid two-way play tonight by the 75893-year-old forward.

8:15 PM: PS Jay Pandolfo can grow a playoff beard like no one’s business. Shades of Scott Niedermayer anyone? …lies. That man came out of the womb with a full, furry, fantastic beard.

8:14 PM: Shaky start, solid ending. Good period overall. I like when the defense doesn’t completely suck. I also like when Captain-brunner looks like his old self.

KEEP IT GOING
KEEP IT GOING
KEEP IT GOING
KEEP IT GOING
KEEP IT GOING

8:03 PM: I LOVE JAY PANDOLFO.
_____

Holy…Johnny O-flippin-duya!

That was the hit of the playoffs right there ladies ‘n gents. I’m pretty sure poor Tuomo is still shakin’ in his skates right now…if he even remembers what skates after that boomer of an open ice hit.

KEEP IT GOING
KEEP IT GOING
KEEP IT GOING
KEEP IT GOING
KEEP IT GOING

Game 5: Hurricanes @ Devils SORTACAP!

10:08 PM: I’m gonna call it a night, boys n’ girls.  Thanks as always for hanging with me.  Goodnight!

10:05 PM: It’s funny how my Sorta-Caps always turn into LiveCaps at the end.  Devils lead the series, 3-2, game 6 in Raleigh Sunday – if the Capitals beat the Rangers tomorrow night, then our game Sunday will likely be on MSG+ at night.  If the Rangers win, our game will likely be on NBC during the day.  I’m pulling even moreso for the Caps tomorrow, ’cause, well, I got work on Sunday.

10:03 PM: Doc, doing the usual end-of-game TV stuff…”This game is a copyrighted event, you don’t want to monkey with our attorneys, ’cause they’re tough.”  Bwahahaha.

10:01 PM: Three stars:  3. Andy Greene, 2. David Clarkson, 1. Martin Brodeur.  I love Andy Greene, and I can’t stand the Hurricanes, but Ward should have been one of the three stars.

10:00 PM: YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!  Jesus Christ I could not handle letting one up late again.  Holy god.  Game over, Devils win, 1-0, and there will be at least one more playoff game at the Rock.  Oh god it feels good.

9:58 PM: Okay, after the icing it was a Hurricanes time out.  Now it’s a Devils time out, after a drive is covered by Brodeur.

9:56 PM: Oduya without a stick in the defensive zone, Martin picks up the pick and goes all the way up ice, Elias with a blast, Ward loses the rebound way out of the net but no one can connect with Ward out of position.  Eventually, Devils ice the puck, Devils time-out, and there’s 23 seconds left with a faceoff in the Devils zone.

9:55 PM: HOLY GOD WHAT GLORIOUS CHANCES!  Ward out of the net, less than a minute to go.

9:53 PM: Wow, shots are 40-39 Devils.  The goalies are by far the stars tonight.  Two minutes to go.

9:50 PM: Again, Chad LaRose is given room to move.  Again, Marty’s up to the task.  Scary nonetheless.  Four and a half minutes left.

9:49 PM: Pandolfo sprung on a glorious breakaway and stopped by Ward!  Drats!

9:47 PM: Andy Greene is playing out of his freakin’ mind.  He’s gotta be at at least a half-dozen shots, as a third-pairing defenseman.

9:46 PM: Bad defense there.  Rolston bounces it off the boards back to Martin, who’s not really paying much attention…

9:45 PM: Devils to the PP, Eaves takes…some sort of penalty.

9:43 PM: We can’t keep thinking Chad LaRose is Chad LaRose and therefore doesn’t require attention.  He’s playing out of his mind this series, stop letting him WALK RIGHT IN ON GOAL UNTOUCHED!  Luckily Marty’s not asleep.

9:40 PM: Nine minutes left in the game.  That stomachache I had during game 3?  It’s back.

9:38 PM: HUGE glove save by Cam Ward on Parise.

9:37 PM: Blue Jackets give up a goal with less than a minute left in their game, after taking a too many men on the ice penalty, and Detroit has swept Columbus.  Shame.  Philly beats Pittsburgh and lives to fight another day.

9:32 PM: Playoff hockey is hazardous to one’s health.

9:29 PM: Penalty: Killed.  Phew.

9:27 PM: Colin White’s out of the box.  Johnny Oduya’s in the box.  He done cross-checked a Hurricane.

9:25 PM: Game back on.

9:07 PM: Aaaaand that’s the end of the second.  Hurricanes will start with a minute of PP time when the third starts, and the Devils lead 1-0.

9:05 PM: White to the box for roughing with less than a minute to go in the second.

9:04 PM: Must be embarrassing, Chad LaRose, to be thrown to the ice by Brian Gionta.

9:00 PM: Blue Jackets/Red Wings game is nuts, 5-5 after 2.  C’mon Jackets!

8:59 PM: Jesus Christ, Mike Rupp.  It’s not often you can get sprung on a breakaway like that from Marty Brodeur.  The least you could do is PRETEND like you don’t have hands of marble and maybe, y’know, not get pickpocketed from behind?

8:52 PM: Okay, it was tipped by Clarkson.  I was so excited for the Mean Greene Goal-Scorin’ Machine.  Now he’s just a Mean Greene Assist-ing Machine.  I’ll take it anyway.

8:50 PM: GOAL!  Andy Greene with a rocket from the point!  Possibly tipped by Clarkson in front, 1-0 Devils!

8:46 PM: Much as I don’t like to give other team’s players affectionate nicknames, particularly pains-in-the-ass like him – but Ryan Bayda needs a nickname.  Ryan VHS Or Bayda?  Ryan Bayda-kerotine?  Ryan Alpha Bayda Parking Lot?

8:44 PM: Still no score, 12 minutes left in the second.

8:37 PM: Clarkson got sammiched by opposing sticks.  No penalty.

8:33 PM: So much for that PP.  Rolston goes down for holding, 4-on-4 for a minute or so.

8:30 PM: Second period on, it looks like Marty was indeed cut by the skate blade of the Hurricane.  He’s still out there, so I guess he’s good?  Starting the period with the fire that we need, and Tim Gleason interferes with Parise, so the Devils to the PP.

8:11 PM: No score after one.  Andy Greene is shooting like he wants to keep playing beyond tonight.  I like that.  He’s talking to Stan Fischler now, and looks weird with a playoff beard.  Devils looked good late in the period and might have scored with there were a few more minutes in the period.  Gotta come out with that kind of fire to start the second.

8:05 PM: Alright.  Alright.  Marty gets tripped, but if the last few days have done anything for me, it’s gotten me intimately acquainted with NHL rule 69.1, and since the dude who took Marty’s feet out from under him was being pushed/trying to avoid contact, it’s no penalty.  Somewhere in the resulting play, Marty picks up an interference penalty, and seems to be kind of hurt, though he’s still playing.  Might have been cut by the skate of the offending Hurricane.

8:04 PM: I…have no words.  I want to see a replay before I completely freak.

7:54 PM: THAT was the big save by Marty that we desperately needed.  Great play by Johnny O, cutting out the passing lane on that 2-on-1.

7:43 PM: Oooooh that’s rich, goalie interference on David Clarkson three minutes into the game.  Is that how it’s gonna be?

7:34 PM: Anton Babchuk, he of the four goals against the Devils and the cannon of a slapshot on the powerplay, is a healthy scratch this evening for Carolina.  Allow me to ask the same question I’m sure most New Jersey (and Carolina) fans are asking when I say…B-WHAAAAAA?

7:15 PM: Hey gang.  Can’t commit to being here all game long for a true LiveCap, so I’m going to check in every once in awhile with thoughts and observations.  Consider this an open thread for game discussion.

Devils @ Senators LIVECAP!

10:19 PM: That’s gonna be it for me tonight gang, thanks for hanging out.  See you at the Rock on Saturday!

10:14 PM: Devils win the Atlantic Division and are locked into the number three seed – both of these determined before the game was even over.  The win tonight gives the team 50 wins on the year, a franchise record.  Montreal earned a point in Boston by sending the game to overtime, and now all eight playoff spots in the east are secured, it’s just a matter of seeding now.  Your elite eight of the east:  Boston, Washington, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Carolina, Pittsburgh, New York, Montreal.

10:13 PM: Spezza denied by Brodeur and the Devils win the shootout 2-1 and the game 3-2!

10:13 PM: Langs stopped glove side by Auld.  Still 2-1, Spezza up for Ottawa.

10:13 PM: Fisher misses to the left, remains 2-1 and if Langs scores we win.

10:12 PM: Shanahan roofs it over Auld’s glove, 2-1!

10:12 PM: Alfredsson snaps it past Marty’s glove.  1-1.

10:11 PM: Zach Parise just completely undressed Alex Auld and it’s 1-0 Devils.  Remember the goal earlier this year against Washington?  It was like that.

10:10 PM: I predict Parise, Elias, and John Madden’s stick as shootout contestants.  Also, I think I just heard the TV change to NHL Network at Scott Mackie’s house.

10:09 PM: Seriously though, I can’t remember the last time we played in a shootout, let alone the last time I LiveCapped a shootout.  Interesting.

10:08 PM: Game over, 2-2.  Wait, what’s this?  Shoot-out?  What is this…shoot…out you speak of?  Surely you jest!

10:06 PM: Zach’s never gonna score again (with deference to the -Ookies once again).  Can’t tip Oduya’s shot, nor can he pull home the rebound.  A minute to go in OT.

10:05 PM: Capitals beat Tampa, and now the Devils are officially locked into the number three seed for the playoffs.

10:03 PM: Ooooooh man Marty with one of those magician-like glove saves – entirely too flashy with that previously-injured arm, but it shut up the Sens fans for a second there.

10:01 PM: Man, I’m tired, I just wanted to go to bed.  Stupid Senators.  Overtime on.

9:59 PM: Going to overtime now.  Life isn’t fair.

9:57 PM: DAMMIT!  Sens fire one off the post that looks like it’s in, White with a good defensive play to prevent a goal, then Dany Heatley manages to pound it home.  God-friggin-dammit.  Tie game, 30 seconds left.

9:55 PM: Alex Auld on the bench for the Sens now, timeout Ottawa…A minute and a half to go and it’s still 2-1 Devils.  Meep.

9:54 PM: Two minutes to go.

9:53 PM: Lots of pressure on the Sens goal…really nice shift there.  Zach Parise must be the hardest luck 45 goal scorer in history.  Okay, probably not, but still.  Boy can’t buy a goal lately.

9:48 PM: All penalties are up now.  Six minutes left in the game.

9:43 PM: …and now the power play’s totally done.  Andy Greene takes a tripping penalty and it’ll be four-on-four for a minute, then Sens on the PP.

9:42 PM: First minor is done, two minutes to go on the PP.

9:41 PM: Gio got smooshed again.  Gio’s too easily smooshable.

9:39 PM: Ooooh, Daniel Alfredsson got pissy with a ref over a penalty and now is serving two minutes for interference (I assume) and another two for unsportsmanlike conduct.  Four minute power play for the Devils!

9:36 PM: Welp, Rangers win so they’re in the playoffs.  Sigh.  BUT, it does mean that the Devils are officially 2008-09 Atlantic Division champions!

9:35 PM: Jebus.  Marty can’t hold onto the puck and gets creamed by about 20 Devils and 14 Senators.  …I may be exaggerating a little.

9:32 PM: Ruutu takes a hook and we’re back to the PP.

9:25 PM: To borrow a line from the -Ookies of Interchangeable Parts, ZACH’S NEVER GONNA SCORE AGAIN!  Hits the post on the power play.  Shortly afterward, Martin with a drive, breaks his stick, and then breaks up an ensuing Sens breakaway WITHOUT A STICK.  Paul Martin is a defensive machine!

9:23 PM: Devils have a full two minutes of PP time to start the period.  Fresh ice, fresh legs, full length power play…surely we have to score, right?  Surely…?

9:22 PM: I love the Chuck the Duck season recap.  Almost more than the actual season recap.

9:05 PM: That’ll be the end of a much better second period.  Penalty on the Senators as time expires and it’ll be the Devils on a full two minutes of PP time when the third starts.  Yay!

9:01 PM: I wonder if John Madden’s hockey stick is also an unrestricted free agent this year, and how much it’ll cost to lock it up for three years.

8:59 PM: BRILLIANT!  The pass bounces off of John Madden’s stick – which Madden was not holding – and out of the zone.  LOVE IT!

8:58 PM: And now John Madden has no stick.  Crap.

8:58 PM: Yep, Whitey’s in the box…again…

8:57 PM: Colin White (I think) takes a hooking penalty.  Even if it wasn’t him, I’m gonna blame Colin White anyway.  Just for the hell of it.  Someone, because of Colin White, takes a hooking penalty.  So the Sens head to a PP.

8:52 PM: Leblond with a Cam Janssen-like heat-seeking missle type hit.  Awww.

8:51 PM: Nearly a two-on-one for the Devils but Zajac is a step slow and Langenbrunner misses the net on the shot.  Two-on-one the other way and Marty stones ’em.  Phew.

8:45 PM: White and Chris Neil get pissy with one another and start bitchslapping each other – Colin won’t drop ’em ’cause of the eye injury, and Neil won’t drop him ’cause he’s Chris Neil.  Two minutes each for roughing.

8:42 PM: Alex Auld plays another puck behind the net.  He didn’t just give it to one of the Devils this time, though.  Drats.

8:39 PM: That was Gionta’s 20th goal of the season.  Kind of sad when we’re looking at that as a milestone for Brian Gionta.

8:34 PM: WHOO!  Auld with an awful giveaway to Clarkson, who attempts the world-reknowned Clarkaround – misses terribly, but the puck slides straight out to Brian Rolston and it’s 2-1 Devils!  Also, Gionta’s goal did not come at the tail end of the power play, it came just after it ended.

8:33 PM: GIONTA!  Gio tips-in Shanahan’s shot at the very end of the power play and we’re tied!

8:32 PM: Ugh.  Terrible giveaway by Andy Greene.  On the plus side, at least he recovered and was able to play some decent Greene-fense to prevent a shot on goal.

8:30 PM: Senators take a very stupid too many men on the ice penalty while in the offensive zone, after a nice save on a very impressive drop-pass-and-shot from…a pair of Senators.  God I’m not very good at LiveCapping tonight.

8:29 PM: We be back yo.

8:12 PM: And that’s that.  1-0 Senators after one.  Sigh.  See ya in seventeen.

8:11 PM: The time remaining in the period and the power play are exactly the same.  Funky.

8:10 PM: …not a very GOOD power play, mind you, but a power play nonetheless.

8:09 PM: On a long delayed penalty, Gionta gets the puck to Zubbie, who drives, protects the puck, cuts for the goal…and falls and collides heavily with the boards.  Oh well, at least we’re on a power play now.

8:04 PM: Paul Martin was a puck-handling, puck-possession machine!  Killed the last 10 seconds on the Senators PP all by his lonesome, forcing his will on the puck carrier and qoinking it away.

8:02 PM: How did Ottawa get two Irish guys on their team?  Shannon and Kelly…I assume they’re Irish, don’t get much more Irish than that.  Also, a Devil took a penalty.  I think Colin White, but I wasn’t paying much attention.  Sorry.

8:00 PM: ‘nother odd-man rush, this time for the Sens, and Marty’s like “NUH-UH!”  ‘least he decided to pay attention tonight.  Much better save there than anything in the Toronto game.

7:58 PM: 2-on-1 with Zajac and Langenbrunner.  No goal.  No surprise.

7:55 PM: PLcubed vs. Winchester (who?).  Lots of grappling, not so much on the punching side.  “How’s your wife and my kids?” kind of affair.

7:51 PM: Elias gets sprung on a mini-breakaway but can’t do anything with it.  Why did you get those days off again Patty?

7:50 PM: All kinds of bad things are happening elsewhere tonight:  Rangers are winning, Panthers are losing…I was hoping we could get a win this evening to guarantee the division, then watch the Flyers sweep the Rangers out of the playoffs and helping Florida in.  Oh well.

7:47 PM: Elias is back too.  Only half as important as PLcubed’s return.  Rupp and Holik take a seat in the press box, much to the maniacal laughter of Jay Pandolfo.  Still no Havelid, which means there’s still a certain level of Greene-fense this evening as well.

7:46 PM: Apparently we recalled Pierre-Luc Letournau-Leblond!  OH JOYOUS HYPHEN-LOVING DAY!

7:44 PM: I rushed a post up for this?  Sigh.  1-0 Senators as Rutuu jams home a rebound.  Maybe we were better off without a LiveCap tonight…?

7:43 PM: Late start for me tonight, terribly sorry.  Game’s already underway, no score, sixteen minutes left to play in the first.  Let’s get this thing going.

The Day After

It’s been said over and again, by Scott last night, by comments both here and elsewhere, by talking heads on TV.  Last night, simply, was amazing.

I sat down to try to put something up on this blog before heading back to my much-less-thrilling day job, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to say.  I’m 60 words into this thing and I still don’t know, really.

I do know that last night’s game re-affirmed my love for this game, for this team, for that goaltender, for this franchise.  I’ve never been to a Stanley Cup Final game – I can only imagine that the atmosphere in the Rock last night was as close as it gets without Lord Stanley’s mug riding on the outcome of the game.

I love that this game fell on St. Patrick’s Day.  There was a nice, loose atmosphere to the crowd – whether it was the history-in-the-making aspect, the beer flowing pre-and-during game, or (most likely) a healthy combination of both, it made the Rock truly feel like home for perhaps the first time.  Sure, there was the stray Blackhawks fan (and the obligitory guy in a Rangers jersey despite their team actually playing a pretty important game at the same time), but last night, the Prudential Center was the DEVILS building.  That is what it should have felt like during last year’s playoffs, and hopefully will feel like this year.

I love that Patrik Elias’ record-setting assist was a primary assist, and that everyone in the building saw the play and recognized it for what it was instantly.  The eruption for Patty’s assist was worth the price of admission alone, regardless of Marty’s feat.  I love that the response to Patty’s record-breaking point was so intense and so overwhelming that I actually had to look up who scored the goal just now, because for the life of me, I couldn’t remember.  It was Brian Gionta, by the way, and it was shorthanded.

I love that there was no scripted cheesy celebration after the game, that Gary Bettman didn’t hit the ice to shake Marty’s hand and present him with a plaque.  There will be time for that before another game, but the celebration last night was rightfully focused on Brodeur.  As awkward as it became after a few minutes, I love that he was given scissors and cut down the net.  I love that the rest of the team jumped in to help out so Marty could take his victory lap.  Without his team, he wouldn’t have won one game, let alone 552, and without his team, he would still be cutting that net down this morning.

I love that we had the greatest play-by-play man in all of hockey (and arguably all of sports) in house to call the historic game, just as we have the greatest play-by-play man in all of hockey to call every game, historic or mundane.  Doc Emrick, as we’ve stated many times on this blog, is one of the greatest perks to being a Devils fan.  We’re lucky to have him.

We’re a lucky fan base in general, I think it’s safe to say.  We’ve got the greatest goalie of all time.  We’ve got the greatest point-scorer in Devils history on the ice right now.  We’ve got the greatest announcer.  We’ve got three Stanley Cups, four Eastern Conference championships, seven Atlantic Division championships, sixteen consecutive winning seasons, eleven consecutive playoff appearances.  A good number of those will likely go up by the time this season’s over.

We’ve also got among the greatest fans in hockey.  Let’s face it, it’s not always easy to be a Devils fan.  We’re too quiet.  We can’t fill our building most nights.  We’ve got a preoccupation with the team on the other side of the Hudson.  We’ve heard all of that before and undoubtly will continue to hear it for a long time.

But last night – last night I was proud of our fan base.  Proud of our franchise.  Proud of our owner, GM, coach, team, game-day crew, ushers, building, city, state.  Last night was one of the greatest nights I have ever experienced as a Devils fan.  A night I will never forget.  Thank you, Mr. Brodeur.  Thank you, Mr. Elias.  Thank you, Mr. Lamoriello, Mr. Vanderbeek, Mr. Sutter.  Thank you, Mr. Langenbrunner, Mr. Clemmensen, Mr. Weekes, Mr. Martin, Mr. Parise, Mr. Zubrus, everyone who’s ever skated with a Devils crest on their chest.  Thank you to everyone involved in getting that building where it is, to the people who make the games happen every night.

Thank you to those who read what we have to say on this site, whether you like us or…not so much.  Thank you, Devils fans.  Last night was special, because of all of us.  Hopefully, this is not the last time that building feels like it did last night.

…not bad for not knowing what I wanted to say, eh?

Devils/Rangers… 12/12… Thoughts from Section 209!!!

Oh my God, where to start with THIS one?!??! Talk about all the way up and then way back down and to come all the way up again!!! Not the way ya wanna start your 36th birthday trying to run to the therapist to get some xanax! but anyway… so much to get to …..

the GOOD:
— 8 goals on Hernik the PuffyPads (my new name from tonight)… did we get 8 on the Queen ALL LAST YEAR?? I don’t think we did… good to see the Fraud be revealed (though if I was a Ranger fan, well besides having my wrists slit long ago, I’d wonder why the hell he wasn’t pulled at 5-1)

— IT’S A SHORTHANDED GOAL…. fuck you Sam Rosen…. times TWO!!!!

— Was good to finally hear the MAJORITY of the fans in the building stuff the idiot minority….

— 9 for 9 AND a +2 on the penalty kill?? that’s kinda hot in an almost sexual way!

— ya blow a 5-1 lead…but score 11 seconds after you blow the lead?I haven’t jumped that high out of my seat since Jeff Friesen in 2003 (talk about a goal that saved my week and put my birthday back to tolerable levels!)

— Good God even Bobby OneBrow got an assist tonight!

–Brian Gionta… 4 point night “and the Rangers have lost their defense” (and goaltending too Mister Rosen… go call your 4th string football game on FOX!)

the Bad:

— Scott Clemmensieve kinda lived up to the name I was kinda giving him … well cause it was working… but if you know goaltending and you watch it enough you saw this implosion pending (least the other guy was WORSE again!)

— BLOW A 5-1 LEAD.. WHAT THE FUCK GUYS!!! That was bad… this team can NOT sit back and hold on to a lead… EVER…. IT DOES NOT WORK!

— the 5 forward power play MUST go… Rolston looked pathetic trying to play D…

— …. come to think of it Rolston didn’t look much good at all….

— come to think of it the rest aside of goalteniding and Rolston was pretty darned acceptable to even good!!

the non-hockey:
— Seriously… I know you’re scum and douches… but Ranger fans SHUT UP DURING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM be quiet and respect said country that lets you be the scum sucking fuckface douche you are!!!

— thanks to route 22 for the damn flood in the right lane that killed my whole pre-game walkarounds!! (and that goes double to the Devils resturant staff for hanging up on me trying to reserve a seat for tonight for our mutual birthday thing… all I did was ask… well what happened to my season ticket holder priority…. I expect no less from this franchise :p)

— but the post-game “skate in the practice rink” the Devils offered… 5 stars!! But things to keep in mind…if you rent skates make sure they are SHARP (mine weren’t)… don’t be that moron in the Drury jersey who can’t take two steps without falling on his ass constantly (though it was funny as hell and facebook pics to follow!!!)
— and yes it is kick ass to skate on the Devils practice rink :)…made for some good pre-birthday enjoyment!

Hot damn I’m tired, still kinda numb… and not even sure at what the hell I saw…. the WTF moment of the DECADE to be SURE!!! (and one last side note, happy birthday to Mindy too and thanks for getting my head outta my as during this one when it needed it!!)

NJ Devils Month in Review: November 2008

Well this was a different month in New Jersey… for the first time ever in my time as Devils fan, I’m not screaming about Martin Brodeur playing too much… or pretty much at ALL….Injuries, second stringers… crazy stuff… but it’s made for a fun month and a fascinating look into future life without Martin Brodeur, and what this team will be like….

Forwards:
#9 (LW) Zach Parise:
On pace to challenge Patrik Elias’ all time single season points record still… 6 goals and 7 assists in 13 games… and it feels like he COOLED OFF… tells you how GOOD October was… again proving himself as this team’s best, most dangerous and consistent player… can’t say a damn thing bad about Zach Parise again….
Grade: A

#14 (RW) Brian Gionta:
Looks at home (finally) with Elias and Zubrus, and while not the focal point of the Devils offense a VERY important secondary line which makes this team dangerous… and yeah they’re feasting on bad teams, but so what this is what the Devils NEED to do to stay in the playoff hunt while the team gets healthy… 13 points in 13 games and also 7 goals… a scorer is scoring and a +6… nothing to complain about here (BUT OH MY GOD HE’S SECOND ON THE TEAM IN SCORING… TRADE HIM NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!! Morons…), give Gio credit (or call it contract year greed… whatever… he GETS it this year and is doing well)
Grade: A

#19 (Center) Travis Zajac:
Is holding up his end as the team’s top center (well anyone who plays with Parise is our top whatever…steady on faceoffs too (no game under 40% this month)… solid on both ends… and doing his own on puck possession… maybe you’d like a few more points, but he’s not dragging down Parise which is all you ask for on this line… scoring some nice goals too!
Grade: B+

#26 (LW) Patrik Elias-A
17 points in 13 games… multiple players on a point a game ratio or HIGHER?? On the NJ Devils?? CMON OFFENSE!!! Really if you have a complaint about Elias’ game this month… you have mental issues… his level of performance this month was A-Line level good… and you can’t knock ANYTHING here! (it sucks when they all do well… I do my best work when I can get angry… what the hell can I complain about here?)
Grade: A+

#11 (Center) John Madden-A
Injury causality number 2003 this year… I’m not buying in the “well the penalty kill got better without him” theory…. The quality of power play got worse and this team as a whole is improving each game it seems… but 4 assists, a -3 against the Caps (not to mention NO ONE covering the best player in hockey by the side of the net with 2 seconds left)… he’s just becoming a faceoff specialist now more then top-end defensive forward… hopefully having Holik back will allow the Devils to share the defensive responsibilities, and take the load off of Madden
Grade: C (again, not good… but he doesn’t suck either, the lack of offense is bad)

#8 (LW) Danius Zubrus:
OK, so what he scored all four of his goals in the month in one game?? Look what his linemates are doing!! He makes space and he controls the puck for them….the 7 assists kinda show that effort too…faceoffs were ok too, not great, but not his main worry now) and I know personally feel more confident that good things will happen with number 8 out there… possession, control and chemistry with his linemates…. That’s all good things, while the stats may not show up on the scoreboard (and still he’s fourth on the team… and he IS on pace for 56 points, flirting with a career high when he was with that Ovenchicken dude), he’s become a quality depth players!
Grade: A

#15 (RW) Jamie Langenbrunner-C
Still getting too much ice time, but he seems to be 100% healthy (which wasn’t the case last month)… only one goal… but 8 assists and maybe the funniest damn thing I ever saw on that 5 on 3 pp with the Islanders where both defenders lose sticks and then Jamie blasts the poor bastard with a slapper leaving the dude limping and a virtual 5 on 1 moment as Martin scored!! (I still chuckle at that!)… hopefully once the damn minutes get back to the 17 minute range (that means HURRY BACK Rolston and Holik)… he should get even better, though he had a good, but not great month
Grade: B+

#23 (RW) David Clarkson:
He’s still… “eh” to me… seems that he can be SO much better then he is (explains why the coach has such a hard-on for him… then again he’s not from Europe)… 3 goals and 2 helpers… not awful for the 3rd 4th line type he is…but still not overly impressive either… should get some more pp time in front to just get his damn hands dirty raising hell in front, but that doesn’t seem to be our way (but SHOULDN’T it be Sutter hockey).. only two fights in the month also….one of the few forwards who could be better…..
Grade: C-

#20 (LW) Jay Pandolfo:
Two goals and an assist for ol’stonehands…least he was even for the month, and now with Madden out has even LESS of a role on this team… it’s starting to look like resiging him was a loyalty driven mistake, but we’ll see as the season goes on, another guy getting WAY too much ice time for his role (I know he’s supposed to be the shutdown forward, but he’s not doing that so well)….I’ve just not been overly impressed… if we were losing more I’m sure this would be angrier…..
Grade: C-

#22 (LW) Petr Vrana:
Who? 1:38… 2:34… 5:33… 4:07… 3:34…6:03… 4:58… 4:14…. 7:31… 7:11…8:33
How the hell can I judge this guy??
Grade: INCOMPLETE (thanks Sutter!)

#17 (LW/C) Mike Rupp:
What the hell was Sutter thinking trying to have him fill in for Madden last week??? Oh yeah.. he’s big, skates and North American… that makes him a diety here….two goals and an assist for the month… that will probably be a season for him there…. He’s fine in the 5-9 minute role on the 4th line… give him more then that… and it’s yeech time! Please just keep this stiff to a MINIMUM and I’ll be ok!
Grade: C-

#18 Nicklas Bergfors:
Has good speed, and seems like he can be a useful player on this team…again though caught in the idiot notion that young players can only play on the 4th line, and not even being thought about in a useful role and it’s a damn shame…and one of the coach’s biggest problems… the old boy’s club trash will be less annoying when we have a full team, but in this transition time of needing to be a more offensive team, it’s criminal that the team’s top two prospects are donkeyfucked before they even get out of the box!
Grade: INCOMPLETE

#21 Barry Tallackson:
Again, not giving a ton of ice time to impress… but he’s been in the bigs before and that seems to be his standard M.O…. just never seems to be overwhelming… or show the flash or hope that say Vrana or Bergfors offers… but he’s big and from the US *sigh*
Grade: INCOMPLETE

Defense:
#7 Paul Martin:
No coincidence that this team started winning… and scoring… when Martin got healthy, he’s so key to the defense… he eats minutes and makes Salvador better and adding 4 points in 8 games is acceptable offense on top of playing at a high level for 20-26 minutes a night as needed!
Grade: A-

#27 Mike Mottau:
Joke suspension aside… oh he hit a guy and the guy gets hurt so the NHL HAS to overreact and suspend the guy… ah whatever (can I do that and not invoke the spirit of Aaron Asham… oh wait.. he had no spirit….) He’s been decent again this month in his proper role as a 3rd pair defender…little offense… +5 on the month, good ice time… again nice steady and can’t complain!
Grade: B

#5 Colin White:
Colin the one-eyed wonder….+6 on the month… wow…again, like Mottau when not asked to play a top role, he’s tolerable for what he is.. will still make stupid mistakes and so on, but that’s just something you need to live with, he’s not tradable…. Or would any team WANT him at his price… so for what you get…yeah he’s okay…. And that translates into as expected….
Grade: C

#29 Johnny Oduya:
One goal… NINE assists.. now we’re talking!!! Oduya has stepped up with Andy Greene out of the line up (though the game winner was a funny level of botch and not to mention his FUBARed quasi-breakaway in the same game).. seems to have the speed and ability to help Colin White fix his mistakes, which is also important… looks like he could be a key “X-factor” guy who can make a difference and someone who you don’t really want to account for on the other team….hopefully it keeps up as the level of opponent rises this month
Grade: B+

#24 Bryce Salvador:
Didn’t seem to have too good a month, but was without Paul Martin for half of it which doesn’t help (-3 without Martin)… minimal offense, and can’t really do much to make up for it when he makes mistakes… I still like the guy but wasn’t the best month for him in red and white
Grade: C

#28 (D) Anssi Salmela:
MONSTER shot from the blueline (he’s going to score eventually you’d think) +2 on the month is good… and somehow this team has grown a nice set of mobile, younger defenders who can skate, play and add some offense and he’s an example of this… like seeing a bunch of games with multiple shots … means the blast is getting through to the goalie… which is never a negative, this kid’s gonna be a keeper… and when Andy Greene comes back there’s gonna be some decisions to float around here…..maybe not 100% ready for primetime yet… but DAMN this kid has an upside!
Grade: B-

#2 (D-RW) Sheldon Brookbank:
I don’t get how a stiff defenseman gets put on the Devils top line as a FORWARD… but hey that’s Sutter-hockey, I guess… more suited to be that physical winger on the 4th line where the things he can’t do on defense are not an issue, but still it’s unthinkable that he’s higher on the depth chart then Vrana and Bergfors (yes I know and understand he fills a role of 4th line toughie… but holy shit he’s not that good)… just look at his ice time… and results… it’s nothing special….and the on-ice looks ain’t much better… serviceable utility player though…..
Grade: D

Goaltending:
#35 Scott Clemmensen:
How in the bloody blue hell did this guy become our #1 goalie?!?!? This is a sad scary situation….yeah he’s 4-3, but he’s been no better then Weekes except for the fact that he can move the puck a little… this guy’s a career AHL guy for a REASON…but hey whatever… I guess we’re stuck with this… it’s gonna be scary when the bubble bursts on him… he’s been ok, but the big boys are coming on the schedule….guess we’ll find out.. but I kinda cringe each time there’s a shot on goal…..
Grade: B-

#1 Kevin Weekes:
I don’t understand this team… they sign Weekes to be a door opener last season because Brodeur refuses to sit, but he’s the insurance policy JUST IN CASE Marty went down they had a solid guy to hold the fort, and what does he get?? Garbage time in the Brodeur injury game… thrown to the wolves against Buffalo (20 shots in a period… yeah the team was shell shocked from hearing about Marty’s long term injury status)… assaulted by the Red Wings… and thrown under the bus for ONE BAD GOAL in the Ranger game? The rest was a HIDEOUS display of a team skating with its head cut off…. Frankly it’s bullshit and I think Weekes got an absurdly raw deal from this team and I’d not blame him for saying fuck off and never come back after this year….he gets a WEEK and he’s tossed under the bus for Clemmensen?!?!?!? 2.87 gaa and 90 sv % is not awful….I kinda really feel for the dude he deserves SO MUCH better then he got….
Grade: B+ (for being such a damn trooper!)

Coaching:
Same garbage with not playing the rookies enough… a miserable job of penalty killing (77% killed) and not much better on the power play (14%), but the team is starting to adjust and opening up the offense (though they seemed to crawl back into the old defensive shell… MISERABLE effort with the Penguins… and letting Florida tie that game at 2 was a pathetic effort to sit on a lead), but 12-10 with this roster is a nice job at this point… but I have a LOT of concerns still here….this team is still adjusting and he barely had a full roster for a week till players began to drop like dominoes… (part of me wonders if he practices them too hard and it’s adding to the fragility, but I have no proof on this)…We’ll see in the future… much like Clemmensieve… I worry about this coach and I’m erring on the more negative side…..
Grade: C