Thoughts from Section 209: Devils vs. Starrrrrrrrrrssssssss, 1/5/2010!

Happy new year and all that to ya! (I know I still owe a month in review… it’s half done, I swear and I’m hoping it’s done tomorrow, but you gotta write the more pressing piece first always….and not to mention I got a little bit of Dallas Cowboys fever right now… and CMON… you know you wanna see another Phily team lose, right?)….but another feel-good night and some very pleasant memories from the 1999-2000 Stanley Cup run and all the crazy stuff I’ll try to get to down below…. all in all a great night and a great win against a VERY erratic STAARRRRRSSSS team……

the Good:
— Patrik Elias…. welcome back to the scoresheet….all those passes that Andy over-shot you to make you skate harder and get in the right place are starting to pay off… yay!
— Zach Parise… my God nine shots on goal!! (I’ll get more into this when I do the month in review but I love how his level of play didn’t drop when he slumped and he keeps playing the same way hat-trick or ten-game drought be damned!!)… pretty good night for our personal “one man Jonas Brothers”… many ‘ginies were tingling (and an evil Mickey Mouse was counting the cash!)
— PL^3… yeah he hit… yeah he did his thing… but I saw some REALLY good board work and puck control and a little finesse to keep the play and the board work going (7:40 and more ice time then Rod Pelley tells ya Jacques liked what he saw too)… and this is a step in the right direction of leaving Andrew Peters in a ditch somewhere near Bayonne HS (it’s a big-ass school, plenty of hiding spots!)
— Bryce Salvador…. I’d swear he was announced as a scratch, but 14:00 from the press-box and he looked pretty good playing from there too… smart plays… and he adds a stability to the blue line that no one else not named Andy has brought to the team this year!
— so I hear mb30 broke the old mask and had to actually be Marty Brodeur for half the game…. I really wish he’d listen when the hockey Gods TWICE tell him something :p…. and yeah shutout #106… it wasn’t as dramatic as the last two were… it kinda felt like the Stars cashed out late in that game, but it’s still a lil bit nice to be a part of more history each time the score goes to zero (and how sick is it that like one of ever 5-some wins… is of the zero variety… that’s just sick to digest….)
— and shame on me almost forgetting to talk about lil Nicky breaking the damn bank with all the stuff he won in the Zamboni race during the first period… good lord our #1 draft pick is well taken care of by this team…always good to see it happen to the deserving fans (and it shut up a fool in 109 who said the good stuff doesn’t happen to those in the cheap seats!)

the Bad:
— there was no bad last night… I’m gonna to use that space for 2000 Cup memories and my Stanley Cup Party story in that old basement apartment back that Saturday night in June of 2000 🙂

the Funny:
— Brian Rolston… first shift… looks like he blew a tire jumping on the ice… and kinda reminded me of the Matvichuk (I think)… getting injured and crawling to the middle of the ice to block shots back in 2000 for the Stars…. I should remember better who it was that was a classic moment in maybe the best, and most exciting Stanley Cup Final of the 4 the Devils had and possibly the most exciting one I remember in my lifetime… but as he was falling and limping to the bench I mumble… hrrmmm… I wonder if anyone reminded him that he got traded for Claude that year and it took him like 18 months and a second trade to mentally recover (and talk about pressure to be traded for Claude… and then be in the trade that brought Andreychuk and ESPN’s first love child, Ray Bourque, that’s a TALL order…)
— so I had what I like to call my personal “moment of Cangelosi” last night (handy link of reference:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOEO4XuQCj4 … just so you know and get what I am talking about)
…. one of my running jokes of late is that when Tasha watches the game, her boys in Parise and Bergfors NEVER score (and even when they do she gets stuck on the escalator to not see it… and I get to yell CLOSE YOUR EYES and STOP LOOKING or GO TO THE BATHROOM, we need a goal!!!)… so on the Zajac goal I saw Bergfors swat at it… I swore he tipped it in…. so i text her and go… look you finally got to see your goal…..so when they announced it was Zajac’s goal… I kinda yelled to myself… “NINETEEN!!”… oops, well at least her Lordship wasn’t there to make fun of me for that and goddamit I am taller then our roaming gnome of parody fame!

the 2000 Cup run memories:
— the Devils did a GREAT job of reliving that Cup run… hell they even dug up Steve Kelley (I guess he was glad they remembered he was on the team.. he played like one game and 10 shifts in the entire playoff run)… it’s always good to see Claude in the house again too…Larry Robinson (we all remember that locker room beatdown/tirade too of course)…. Patrik Elias in game 7…. Jason Arnott in game 6…. the “six shots on goal game” (I swear I can still hear Sundin and Pat Quinn piss and moan they had more shots on goal then that)… Scott Stevens dominating Pavel Bure and then the world…. and that game 5 in the Cup Finals… the single greatest one on one goalie duel ever seen by human eyes…..It’s been 10 1/2 years it really was the right time to remember, look back, and smile at those awesome memories (and thoughts of a 110-recap season… my God I was burnt out that summer)
— Lord Krang: lol, sherry just listed “sykora getting knocked out” as one of the memorable moments of the 2000 cup run!
(and she’d be right….Petr Suckora only knows FAIL when he is on the ice as a Stanley Cup Finalist… the only two he’s won, he was unconscious in 2000, a healthy scratch last year…. and 3 times the loser when he played)… I love when the professionals think as I do :p
— I still need to recall the party at my house that night…. it was Brian… a hockey princess we no longer associate with, her BF at the time and we’re all just there watching the game…. I remember my “SHUT THE FUCK UP AND STOP POUTING OVER SYKORA WE’RE PLAYING A FOR A STANLEY CUP” rant (one of the reasons I no longer associate with said person… the sick obsession over mediocre to BAD hockey players and not caring about who her friends were… gee, a theme in my life eh :p)…. so I blasted her so bad the boyfriend kinda hid and curled in the corner…. so a few hours later Jason Arnott does the deed… I had one of those old “giant soda bottles of popcorn” wrapped in tin foil and a bowl on top of it to look like a mini-Cup… and yeah we filled it with champagne… I think I drank a whole bottle by myself that night…. and a few more friends came over… I was on the phone with two more… John and Jen walk in (I know the names don’t matter, I think the only person I still talk of all these people is Brian, and that could change as of his wedding in September *whistles*)…. they walk in… I’m already fuzzy and the last thing I remember that night was going “OHHHH, WINE!!!”…. and then dragging the mini-Cup and champagne stinky body to Rex Plex the next day to skate around with our Cup and sweat champagne in goalie pads!! Feel free to add your own memories and comments too… it’s the right place for 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

NJ Devils Month in Review, October 2008

Back at this again!!! Always fun, always exciting to start a new season and have some expectations to it… and then soon after… it fizzles away by game ….goals… slugfests, all sorts of crazy stuff… but the roller coaster is on a down swing and injuries aside the first month of the 2008-09 season has some things to worry about!!!

Forwards:
#9 (LW) Zach Parise:
The future of this team and holy shit the future is NOW too… 12 points in 9 games… goals in his last five, a game winner and a game tying goal too… what the hell more could you ask from this kid?? This may be the easiest guy to talk about this month… and it’s a shame… he deserves more time here… but nothing to say besides… awesome!!!
Grade: A+

#14 (RW) Brian Gionta:
Has been bounced around already… and not by opposing forwards…. Victim #1 of the Sutter lines out of a hat shuffle… but really has done pretty well so far…people will bitch and whine “because he only has one goal” (should have had a second last night, but it did become an assist)… and leading the team in assists and second in points… not too shabby, more so for a guy with a knock of being shoot first second and third… shots lead to rebounds which lead to assists…. I like the feisty play and for a midget he really does thrive when he gets his nose dirty!
Grade: A-

#19 (Center) Travis Zajac:
Looks like a bounce back year so far for Travis… he’s bigger, meaner (from my seats he sometimes looks Holik-ish)..killing penalties… and looking like the team’s best center this, again only one goal, but SOMEONE scored on his 5 helpers right?? Last year is LONG forgotten here (and remember this all you dopes that wanted to trade a 25 year old with this much upside… I TOLD YOU AGAIN… be patient with the kids!!!)
Grade: B+

#26 (LW) Patrik Elias-A
5 minor penalties is not a good thing already, and seems to lost a step on his shot and is looking to help and pass first… hasn’t exactly clicked with Zubrus and Vrana, and with the injuries at forwards seems to be looking for a guy to make plays with.. willing to cut him some slack based on injuries and shifting talent around him… but will need more from Patrik if/when Parise slows down….least on the bright side… Elias has 40 shots, which means the effort and opportunity IS there… just a matter of them falling in….
Grade: B-

#11 (Center) John Madden-A
The 3 goals is a nice start, but it seems like Madden may be slowing a bit… look at the goals scored by opponents in the last few games…. 5, 3, 6… a troubling sign and yes the defense has been spotty, but some of that falls on the checking line… blasted in the post game by Sutter as well… maybe it’s a sign that this checking line can no longer be the focal point of this team’s strategy anymore….does have value still as the team’s lone faceoff guy too…
Grade: C+ (just a bit above average.. seems about the right grade for him)

#9 (LW) Danius Zubrus:
Has been a nice surprise this year… the goal stats are a bit eh, but also has been shuffled around… seemed to be more comfortable and physical with Holik as his center… but this physical controlling play seemed to have continued without Bobby One-Brow around…
Not really in the right mix playing with Elias and Vrana either… but the guy has a skill set and it’s just a matter of finding someone to play with him when Holik and Rolston get back too…. He’s been good so far though…
Grade: B+ (another much improved from last year folk)

#15 (RW) Jamie Langenbrunner-C
Disappointing could be a word… slow could be another… rushed back from an injury when there is NO NEED to (it’s October… play the kids and let the beat up guy you need in the stretch heal) 16 PIMs is a bad sign of being caught behind the play and having to cheat and heal up…. It may be a point in his career where he’s going to need to take some nights off to be effective, but the old boy’s club coach ain’t gonna do that either…then again this could be a “he’s off to a slow start and will get better come January” things… all the MORE reason to sit his ass and let him get healthy!!!!
Grade: C-

#23 (RW) David Clarkson:
VERY frustrating player… has all the skills and tools to be one hell of a power forward… but won’t get his nose dirty…. 2 goals again looks nice on the stat sheet but one was a Marty Turco whiff… the other was a NICE tip-in though… had one hell of a fight last night though… if he’d do more of that and keeping his stuff in front of the net he’d be a million times better, but I guess he’s still young… personally I’d give him #21 and make him watch Randy McKay films until his eyes bled!!
Grade: C

#20 (LW) Jay Pandolfo:
Again seems a bit slow this year… the 2 on 1’s shorthanded are long long ago and probably not coming back… maybe a bit complacent after getting the new contract, but he’s been slow out of the box too… not expected to score, but if this line is gonna get 18+ minutes a night… he HAS to be more then 2 assists, and again when Sutter is calling him out for a bad game (which should be expected when as many goals have flown by as they have in the last week)…it’s a scary thought if these guys wear down this year….
Grade: C

#22 (LW) Petr Vrana:
Has a nose for deflections by the net which I like.. stands in front… get his shit dirty, but doesn’t seem to have any explosion or anything in the play so far… but then again this team demands a lot on both ends of the ice and that and getting used to the league jitters are the norm (playing him on a line with Rupp is a TOTAL waste though mind you), 5 games is a short body of work to judge him on… and not to mention when the coach smells a sniff of shortening the bench he seems to be the first to go, and that seems to be more about his age rather then performance
Grade: C+ (some of this is fault of the coaching staff still, more on that later)

#12 (Center) Brian Rolston:
Looked like he was about to find his way and got hurt… that sucks….
Grade: Incomplete

#25 (LW) Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond:
Nice long ass name… he can fight… he can hit… he’s got an assist… but if he’s playing every night… we got problems… thug-loving fans will call for him to play in Cam Janssen like fashion, but is a spot player for limited minutes and he’ll be ok at that
Grade: Incomplete (3 games, and probably 10 mins of ice)

#17 (LW/C) Mike Rupp:
Still the worst hockey instincts I’ve seen in a human being outside of my pickup games in Short Hills… he’s fighting more which is a plus….but still… he’s kinda eh… tolerable as the team’s 12th forward which he seems to be… loved the fight with Hollweg last night that was 5 stars!
Grade: C+

#16 (Center) Bobby Holik:
Was scrappy and annoying and in people’s faces and backs when he was in the game… but the broken finger came at a bad time when he could have seen more, decent faceoff numbers… will eventually chip in some points and hopefully mentors Rupp and Clarkson along the way….he was decent enough until he went down…
Grade: C

Defense:
#6 Andy Greene:
Wow what a difference a year made in Andy’s play… more points in the month then all of last year… the shot is improved and two multiple assist games…. And the confidence is showing in his game as well, third on the team and first of all defensemen with a +4, and there’s been a few nights he’s been the best guy on the ice from the blue line…much like Zajac WORLDS of improvement over last year!!
Grade: A

#7 Paul Martin:
Three assists isn’t going to cut it over the course of a month… good thing Andy Greene is picking up the slack… has a nice rapport with Salvador and is playing like a top pair defenseman (though he did look gassed 26 minutes into his ice time last night)…the kid is coming along very nicely and his skating is better then any other defender on the team..
Grade: B-

#27 Mike Mottau:
Less minutes and on the 3rd Pair D is exactly what he needed… seems to have clicked with Andy Greene and the offense is coming from both of these guys nicely (hell look at the point upgrade in defense from this year to last already)… can’t complain much about this guy either… off to a good start….
Grade: B

#5 Colin White:
Spotty… kinda playing with just one eye open (I know that’s awful… but I yell way too much NO PLAY IT WITH THE GOOD EYE COLIN at games)… may never evolve into the next top defenseman the team expected… but he’s ok… he just needs to be more ok then bad, and he’s not been doing it that well this year… it’s only 9 games, but it is troubling… but still he’s a +4, that’s odd… but it also doesn’t account the wet soggy swiss cheese the pk’s been in the last few games….
Grade: C-

#29 Johnny Oduya:
Seems to be okay so far this year… still the mental mistakes are back a little… and he doesn’t seem to know how to use his speed and shot again (then again he’s probably getting scared to death of the Wrath of Sutter…. JOHHHHNNNNNN…. JOHHHNNNN!!)… only one assist is disappointing and may be spending more time covering Colin White’s bad eye then he need be doing….
Grade: C

#24 Bryce Salvador:
Is fast becoming my favorite player on the team… plays smart… sticks up for teammates… hits after the play… fights… you name it and this guy does it… Playing solid with Paul Martin (we call this earning the contract!)… not doing much in offense, but doesn’t need to… I think this keeps up and my next paycheck is getting me a #24 jersey! I have no complaints on this guy!!
Grade: A

Incompletes:
#28 (D) Anssi Salmela, #10 (RW) Matt Halischuk, #2 (D) Sheldon Brookbank:
Salmela looked not ready for prime time… it’s ok, let him bake and come back in Lowell (though he might be back now with Andy Greene on the shelf with the broken hand)
Halischuk looked like he belonged with Madden and Pandolfo… this is good…
Brookbank didn’t kill anyone with his slapshot yet, so we are pleased!

Goaltending:
#30 Martin Brodeur
Stupid, arrogant and ego-centric as the helmet may be (and it annoys me that he is allowed to put something on his mask that so OBVIOUSLY makes him ahead of the team)… he’s really been kinda good this month… well not the last two games (and I won’t go even into the fact that it’s a fucking joke that he played 22 hours after the game on Friday Night too… why waste money on a backup? Came out of the box really good and hellbent on breaking this all time wins record that NO ONE really cares about (well some Devil fans might… I don’t…want to set records that MATTER? Win more Cups… go get Patrick Roy’s PLAYOFF win record…. Until then it’s meaningless stat compilation and I’d rather he not burn his ass out in February again)… looked flat out EXHAUSTED by about shot 40 in the last game (then again that used to be a week’s level of worth… sad this is the only way I say the word WEEKES… free him now!!), but the blips in the defense and goaltending aside (it is a bit troubling that he’s let in some softies against the Rangers and Flyers)… he’s been pretty damn good… PLAY LESS GAMES!!!!
Grade: B+ (yes I knocked him down some for the helmet and the back to back garbage)

Coaching:
Ah Brent Sutter… where to begin?? Now let me say this.. I LIKE the guy… I stress this because it’s going to sound like I don’t and I want him gone… but he’s doing things that piss me off so far……let’s get to those
? Rushing Langenbrunner back when Bergfors was called up… Langs has been beat up, injured and showing a lot of age and wear on the tires at this point of his career… letting him take the foot off the gas and rest up would have been wise…
? TOO MUCH ICE TIME TO THE OLD BOY’S CLUB!! Yes Elias, Madden and all have been key parts of this team, but how are you going to see what these kids in Vrana, Halishuk and so on have when you DON’T THROW THEM TO THE FIRE IN KEY SCENARIOS (and it’s even a bigger disgrace when you see how BAD Madden, Pando and Langs looked… more so in the last game… instead of bitching them out post game HIT PLAYERS WHERE THEY CARE… put the young legs out there and see what they got…. Every other god damn team in the league does it… not like we’ve been piling up Cups since the lockout!
? Lack of creativity in the offense… this seems to have changed a little with the youth… we’re actually seeing speed… flow… people in front… deflections….and not to mention… I’m sorry.. it’s retarded to have you finesse guys in Elias and Parise being the guys standing in front of the net while the Clakrson’s, Zubrus’ and Gionta’s are the ones outside the paint and they NEED to be in the goalie’s face to be able to make plays and finish shit off!!!
? Special Teams…. They’re more like from the special Olympics… the power play concepts seem to be good and shots and traffic are flowing from it… just not bounces… I guess that can be injuries and personnel issues now as well (though I’d rather see Greene get pp time as a reward for this resurgence)
? Brent is the first second and third guy to kill someone when they mess up.. how come he NEVER comes out and praises the team as much as he kills them… the more you beat on a horse without break or reward the sooner the damn thing is gonna die on you….

Things I do like though:

? This team finally seems to have some balls… re: Salvador creaming a guy who tried to run at Martin….Rupp crushing Hollweg, etc…. this team is taking no shit and won’t be as soft or intmidated as they have been past years….
? The defensive pairings… White and Oduya almost by default… but this might change with Greene out… Greene and Mottau have chemistry as well as Martin and Salvador are a nice top pairing… but the minutes may need to be kept in the 22 range

So all in all…. We’re way better then we were last year, but an alarming sign against the better teams in the East… but the talent and mindset is there for this team to do well… but they’re doing only ok….. like I said I like the guy and I think he can adjust but he better get to it.. CMON BRENT!!!!
Grade: C

(no comments on Lou yet, because we have yet to see how his improvements to the team will pan out)