NJ Devils Month in Review, December 2009!

What a month of December!!! 11-4 overall (and ok the Hawk game left a bad taste in your mouth, but don’t be spoiled bitches about it!!), the team is still atop the NHL… and hey… it’s all good… enjoy the goddamn ride and how fun December was! And yeah I know it’s a bit late (but hey with my track record compared to the rest f 2ma, I’m allowed some slack… and I’m not going to tonight’s game so you have this to read instead… it’s all good!!)

Forwards:
#9: Zach Parise-A (2g, 10a=12 pts,+2)
OH MY GOD PARISE ALMOST WENT THE WHOLE MONTH WITHOUT A GOAL!!!!! And look…. the world didn’t end, dogs and cats didn’t start having babies… I didn’t start speaking Spanish….. the Cowboys didn’t start winning in Decemeber…. oh… wait… they did 🙂 But in seriousness the best thing about Parise’s scoring funk… he NEVER stopped playing hard, getting chances (hell he still had 10 assists so someone got ten goals thanks to Zach)… and his body language and effort never sagged or dropped during the funk… that’s the sign of a good player! Hard work, consistent effort, it’s all good Zach!
Grade: B+

#19: Travis Zajac (2g, 5a=7 pts,+1)
Had some scoring troubles in the month too, but I’ll link those issues to Parise’s (since for the most they are linemates for life in jersey)….But you can also say that maybe Parise struggled too because Zajac was kinda eh in the month also…slumps do happen though, and the Devils were fortunate that the 3rd and 4th lines were GOOD this month (and it helped the team alot)…his level of play and intensity didn’t seem to match Zach’s though (but that’s expected and why Zach is the superstar on the team and why Zajac is just a good supporting piece)… he’ll be ok, and he’s already scored in January so it’s all good!
Grade: B-

#15: Jamie Langenbrunner-C (5g, 5a=10 pts,+1)
It’s a weird thing… and stats aren’t always everything (yes I’ll get shit for this with the first week he had in January. but this is DECEMBER’S month in review :p)…. he has nice offensive numbers, but there was a REASON he’s been pulled from Zajac and Parise… and down to the 3rd line… the wheels are not there and something seems off on his level of play… he reminds me of the top scorer on my Ford’s Cup team… he had great hands and could finish with anyone…. but man he didn’t do much else… maybe he’s playing through injury again I don’t know (he does too damn much of that and costs himself a month of good play to not sitting a few nights… I know that kinda stubborn, as anyone who saw me walking around like my leg fell off at Tuesday’s game)… there’s a reason me and my fellow 209ers have been tough on him all month…..
Grade: B-

#18: Nicklas Bergfors (7g, 3a=11pts,-5)
Love the offense and the skill and the confidence this kid shows on the ice each game… but you can tell from the -5 on why Lemaire dogs him about defense and learning both ends of the ice…. but in doing his main job in making most of up forget Brian Gionta (sorry your Lordship :p)….also showed he can skate and play with Parise and Zajac (hell his efforts are part of the reason Langenbrunner is no longer on that line)… not to mention that second in the league in rookie scoring is pretty damn good too… he’ll learn the rest of the game and Jacques’ will crack the whip as it’s needed to keep him in line!
Grade: B

#21: Rob Niedermayer (3g, 3a=6pts,-1)
Smart…crafty, does a lot of little plays still that you just look and see… DAMN I liked that… kinda spotty on faceoffs (some days it’s real good… other days it’s 15%..crikey! Not the fastest… or overly physical, but he still finds way to do the little things, and that ear-piercing NIEEDDDDMMMMAAAYYYYYEEEEERRRR to my left is always attention getting :P…..he’s been solid
Grade: B

#12: Brian Rolston (5g, 4a=9pts, +4)
Steady through the month, but hit the wall at the end (hell alot of the guys did… that was a ROUGH month of games)…. no points in his last 4 games is a bit of a downer…. and he’s back on a 27-goal pace after what was a slow start to the year for him….he kinda is what he is at this point, and the main thing…but there’s been too many games you forget he’s out there and with his shot, speed and pp time that can’t happen…..
Grade: B-

#20: Jay Pandolfo (1g, 3a=4pts,-5)
Ugh… of all the guys to come back and be healthy this is the one I wanted back the least…. I know I’ve been on Pando’s ass since he came into the league, but the good years are behind him…gets too much ice time (I don’t like or beleive in the defensive shadow role… that died with the lockout)
Grade: C-

#10: Rod Pelley (2g, 2a=4pts, +2)
The POWER OF PIST ROD PELLEY (ah, leave it to me to take moments of personal idiocy and make them into gold and eternal running commentary for life)… and four points in a MONTH?? I’d have been shocked to see that for the YEAR… he’s really growing comfortable in his role.. and he can lay some MONSTER hits for a 5’11” guy! I mean don’t get me wrong.. he’s still a 4th liner… but again with the lousy level of 4th liners and how the chicken-shit coaches of the past didn’t use them… it’s been a god send to see an effective 4th line, and it has been Pelley-Powered!!! (and people who know me love I loves me a good 4th line!)
Grade: A

#25: Andrew Peters (4 games, no points, +1, 15 PIM)
I’m sorry I don’t give a shit what he did the rest of the month, but when you ain’t played in 3 weeks and you get into a fight 16 seconds into the game and your jersey comes off YOU FAIL AND YOU SUCK SIR!
Grade: F (TIE YOUR FUCKING JERSEY DOUCHEBAG!!!)

#17: Ilkka Pikkarainen (11 games, 1g, 2a=3pts, +1)
Pikka-chu’s been decent this month too, and even the garbage way his first NHL goal was scored (PRICE WAS WRONG BITCH!!)… I see points on the 4th line and I get all excited! And add in the fact he was getting 8-10 minutes a night that shows the level of improved play here… and keep in mind the grade is for what his role is on the team, and he’s been good at what he does!
Grade: B

#11: Dean McAmmond (3g, 4a=7pts, +1)
Geesh, he was a -8 in the last 4 games, and the only non-minus game was a shutout :o…. damn), he slowed down a bit as the month went on (obviously :p)… but still… he’s been ok between Elias and Rolston, and he’s putting up John Madden-style numbers… hopefully the end of the month slip is just a rut and not the old fella crashing into the wall after only 6 weeks back in the NHL… he’ll adjust… I’d hope, though as old as he is, he ain’t THAT established in the NHL as much….something to worry and keep an eye on….
Grade: C

#28: Vladimir Zharkov (0g, 6a=6pts, +5)
Nifty little player, has nice flash… doesn’t get enough shots to the net yet… but he’s learning, played well with Elias and Rolston and that helps too….good guy to just plug in there and get a bit of offensive crafty in there….probably gone back to Lowell when this team gets healthy, but he’s got a good chance to be on this team next season and beyond (or a key piece in a playoff push type of trade)
Grade: B+
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Defense:
#6: Andy Greene (2g, 9a=11pts, +2, 25:00 TOI)
What can I say about Andy that I haven’t already? 2nd in the East in scoring… plays damn near half the game… makes smart plays in one step back in his own end….mobile… and still growing as an NHL player… it’s been the best story about this year (yes in more ways then one <3 )… Andy could fix the economy, move continents and even get Michael Bay to write good movies!!! Need I say more????
Grade: A

#24: Bryce Salvador (2g, 0a=2pts, +2, 21:00 TOI)
As good and obvious as the Andy Greene Show has been… I think what gets really lost in that act is the fact that he's had a pretty damn good side kick in Salvador with him…. long gone are the days of people pissing and moaning that we got this guy for Cam Janssen (think about THAT for a second)… Bryce has done everything asked of him and been the steady compliment and rarely needed backup plan for Andy when he jumps into the offense…..
Grade: A

#2: Mark Fraser (1g, 1a=2pts, +7, 14:00 TOI)
He's been solid too…but protected… you can tell by his ice time and when the Devils are home, they take advantage of match-ups and keep Fraser off the ice when the big boys are out there…he's big, he takes the body….he could fight more, but I don't like defensemen fighting personally… he's coming along nicely!
Grade: B-

#5: Colin White (1g, 4a=5pts, +2, 23:30 TOI)
WHITE POWER!!! (it's my thing deal with it :p)… he's been good again this month, plays big ice time each game…. again when you don't notice Colin… it's good… and I didn't notice him much… and it's been a long time since you'd yell HOLY SHIT COLIN at him… so since less is more for Colin, I'm gonna say less about him and grade him more!
Grade: B+

#29: Johnny Oduya (1g, 0a=1pt, +5, 21:00 TOI)
ONE POINT?? Really?!?!?! Least his defense is getting better… and he's moving the puck again and better on defense… still you'd think the one guy who'd benefit from Lemaire like every one else… There's still much time to improve at least, and he did improve this month….
Grade: C-

#27: Mike Mottau (0g, 1a=1pt, -7, 26:00 TOI)
Looks like all the ice time is catching up with him a little bit here… his stats slipped (and look at that -7), and the plays… just not as good… been forced (again) to play over his head and it caught up a lil bit this month… he's still a useful player… but they pushed the gas pedal too far this month and it's running on empty…..
Grade: B+

#32: Matthew Corrente (5 games, no points, even, 10 PIM)
Much like Fraser was brought in sparingly, and allowed to get his feet wet… and in the NHL getting your feet wet playing defense is NOT an easy job… I liked the fighting (but again, more when he was playing forward)…. he was pretty well protected when possible….still truly hard to figure him out while he's still figuring it out… but he's been ok!
Grade: C+ (borderline incomplete)
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Incompletes:
#7: Paul Martin-A… did not play all month
#23: David Clarkson (2 games played, no points,-2, 5 PIM)… came back and got hurt again *ugh*
#16: Matt Halischuk (2 games, no points, -2)
It's a damn shame, he just looked like he had gotten it on the NHL level and caught up with the game and the speed of the players on ice…he got sent down… grrrr… in a perfect world, he's in and Pando's out, we all know this ain't a perfect world though
#22: The man called PL^3….Hasn't played a game since Nov 4th… wow
#8: Danius Zubrus… also did not play in December

Goalies:
#30: mb30 (15 games: 10-4, 2.37 gaa, 3 So, 3a)
Well what can you say??? He's in mid-season form (and it IS mid-season so that makes sense :p)…. played too many games in the month but this is NOTHING NEW *sigh*…. I guess we're supposed to forget this is an Olympic Year and the fucker's gonna play 100 games BEFORE the playoffs… and trust me…I'm 37 also… the body DOES break down admit it or not…. dude needs some rest (and Dennis's been good when allowed to play, and I do mean allowed)… being benched after one bad period in his ONLY bad game in the month ain't enough… UNLEASH THE DENNIS!!!
Grade: A

#35: Jan Dennis (1 game, 1-0, 0.67 gaa)
Only got one chance to shine and hot damn he DID make the most of it when he did… came in for the Atlanta game at the same time that the Cowboys shocked the WORLD in New Orleans (what a great snowy night that was….)… I just give him a grade because it's so damn hard to sit there all the time and flip the switch and play when you win the lottery and get a damn start on this team!!
Grade: A

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Coaching Staff:
What can you say about what Lemaire and company is doing with this team?? If the head coach is the conductor for a symphony then Jacques is crafting his greatest song ever here….The dealing with the injuries, the growth and development of the rookies… it really is the mother of all masterpieces…. the only knock I have on Jacques is that he's not letting Dennis play enough… but I can see why the way mb30 is pumping out A games each night…
Grade: A

Front Office:
… well there were no trades or major moves to really talk about… I mean there's not much need to… things just keep on keeping on!!!
Grade: A (but could be called Incomplete too)

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.