Oduya wanna be a Devil?

Johnny sure does.

The Swede re-upped with Black ‘n Red for a multi-year deal worth $3-million a season.

Not bad, Mr. Lamoriello, not bad.

Oduya was sure going to be a hot commodity on the open market this July, so this Devils fan right here is definitely happy that there is some semblance of awesomeness on the blue line in the coming seasons.

Okay, okay, maybe we razzed the poor fella quite a bit in years past, but forgive and forget…right?

RIGHT?

Whatever. I still hate the Pittsburgh Crosbys.

NOTES: The Devils swapped centers with the New York Islanders, acquiring prospect Ben Walter and a conditional 2012 draft pick in exchange for Tony Romano.

In 65 games last season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Walter posted 20 goals and 30 assists. He also appeared in four games with the Isles.

Game night.

So.  Tonight.

It’s a big one.  A little too big for a pair of teams that have been pretty poor in their last four games.

The Devils, of course, are 0-3-1 since Marty Brodeur recorded shutout #101 two Fridays ago.   The Rangers, who play host to NJ tonight at MSG, are 1-2-1 over the last four.  I’m sure this is exactly what Versus was angling for.  Show Us Your V indeed.

Ah, who am I kidding.  We all know the real storyline – not that it’s the REAL storyline, but the storyline the media’s going to hype ad nauseum – Sean Avery Vs. Martin Brodeur, round whatever.

Avery’s keep his mouth shut on tonight’s game (as probably should have been expected, the Rangers won’t allow him to talk to the media ’til post-game), and Marty’s dodging questions with relation to Avery.  In reality, there’s bigger fish to fry than worrying about Sean Avery – namely, righting the ship before crashing and burning in the first round of the playoffs again, while simultaneously striking a big blow to the Rangers playoff chances.

Avery can do whatever he wants as far as I’m considered, so long as the Devils escape unharmed and with a regulation victory.  Of course, it’s easy enough for me to say, I’m not playing the game, nor do I have a hoard of reporters asking me about Avery.  So of course, that’s going to be in the back of Marty’s mind, and in the back of the team’s mind.  Focus is the key tonight, however.

Moving on from that sideshow, the Devils remain pretty awful on the road – losing seven of the last ten.  Tonight’s game, of course, is in MSG, which means they’ll have to break that pattern in order to come away with a big two points.  The Devils are in the midst of a brutal stretch of games, six games in nine nights.  The Flyers are nipping at their heels, only six points back.  Two points tonight will be huge, snapping a losing streak, opening some more space in the division race, and making the road all the more difficult for the Rangers going into the playoffs.

While the Devils have not been particularly good against the Rangers in the last few years, as we all know, the boys in Red n’ Black have taken three straight from the cross-river rivals.  Problem is, they all came with Scott Clemmensen in net.  Marty’s beaten New York dozens of times, but not very often lately, so here’s to hoping we can right that little bizarre wrinkle of a stat this evening.

There won’t be a LiveCap tonight, sadly.  At least not from my end, as I won’t be catching the early portions of tonight’s game due to schooling commitments.  So kick back, enjoy and game, and for the love of all that is good in the world, let’s win this one tonight, yes?  Yes.

MARTY’S BETTER!

This is it children.  It’s been a long time.  Painfully long.  I think I speak for most Devil fans when I say, I’ve been counting down the days.  Waiting, hoping, wishing.  And now the day is finally upon us.  The man is back on the ice.  The myth.  The one simply known as Martin.

Yes gang, Paul Martin returns to the ice for New Jersey tonight when they take on the Colorado Avalanche at the Rock, after missing four games with an undisclosed “upper body injury.”  Wait, what? …You thought I was talking about someone else?

Oh, right, Martin Brodeur’s back tonight too.  Man, sucks to be Paul Martin, huh?

Tonight’s game will actually be the first since mid-OCTOBER that the Devils can say that they’ve had a full, 100% injury-free lineup.  Brendan Shanahan and Bryce Salvador will both be in the lineup after obtaining numerous owies over the course of the recent woebegotten roadtrip that we will now forget ever happened.  I guess Florida, Tampa, and Islander players just don’t like B.S. (get it?).

So, with a full lineup, some people are going to have to make their way over to the healthy scratch list, and surprisingly, Jay Pandolfo ain’t one of ‘em!  Super Jay’s in tonight’s lineup.  In his place in the press box is a (presumably) not-very-happy Mike Rupp.  Jay Leach also sits tonight.  Anssi Salmela was sent back to Lowell the other day with Mr. Scott Clemmensen, who may or may not have seen his last days in a Devils sweater this season – we’ll know the answer to that a little better in about six days.

So with Marty back, the biggest question, of course, is “is he ready?”  Judging from his responses in various interviews over the last few days, I’d have to say that he is.  I would hope he, Brent Sutter, Lou, and everyone involved in the organization realize that he’s coming off major surgery and the first extended injury break of his career and that caution is the key.  I don’t think they’d be stupid enough to allow Marty to dictate when he returns, which makes me feel that yes, he’s ready for NHL-level action today.

Once he’s back, Marty may want to play every day, but it will be imperative that Weekes (and maybe Clemmensen) get some time in to spell #30.  The first test of that will be this weekend, two games against teams in the thick of the playoff race on back-to-back AFTERNOONS.  If Marty plays both of them, I may pop a blood vessel in my frontal lobe.  Kevin Weekes should be playing Saturday, period, and with apologies to those who bought tickets already.

But, that’s another worry for another day.  Tonight, we sit back and enjoy the return of a Hall-of-Famer.  The timing couldn’t be better to get his feet wet, either:  Four days off before this game, against the worst team in the Western Conference.  The Avalanche, while still in the playoff race out west – it’s rather bunched up at the bottom of the conference – are also coming into New Jersey in the midst of a ridiculously long road trip.  Marty should be getting a cupcake team tonight to start his big return (no fat jokes, please).

As a programming note, for those who can’t be there tonight, the MSG network was kind enough to switch this game from MSG+2 to regular old MSG+.  You know what this means – HIGH DEF HOCKEY!  Sucks if you’re an Islander fan tonight.  As usual.

And of course, when one comes back, you lose another.  We’ll miss you ’round these parts, Patty.  Hopefully you’ll be around enough to lend some incite from the land of thick pizza and funny shaped buildings.  Also, I love the full circle-ness of your two big posts this season, covering Marty’s injury in the days after it happened, and now saying goodbye the day he comes back.  Well played, Miss Greuter, well played.  I think I speak for myself, Joe, Steve, Scott and 2MA fans worldwide when I say, this place just won’t be quite the same without ya.  Godspeed in the Windy City P!

Hiya Vrana!

It’s four games into the season, and the Devils have scored six goals. It’s four games into the season, and the Devils have a .750 winning percentage. Welcome to New Jersey Devils hockey, everybody. Same as it ever was.

So the Devils make do with next to no goals. And it looks like that continues tonight in Washington, as Brian Rolston – you know, the power play quarterback the team signed over the summer – out with a high ankle sprain. The Devils are playing it typically close-to-the-vest on Rolston, saying they’ll see what happens, but for comparison’s sake, Sidney Crosby missed nearly two months last season with a high ankle sprain. I’m not saying it’ll be the same for Rolston, but…it could be.

So in the meantime, Devils fans not living in Massachusetts will get a regular-season look at Petr Vrana, who’ll make his NHL debut tonight, likely alongside Dainus Zubrus and Patrik Elias. Vrana’s been in the system for three years now, finally making the team out of training camp this season.

So what’s to be expected out of young mister Petr? It depends on who you ask. Some out there are saying it’s about damn time, that Vrana will be a great addition to the front line and will go a long way in solving our scoring woes.

By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll understand that I am not one of those people.

My question of Petr’s is simple. As Homer Simpson once asked of Johnny Appleseed, “If he’s so smart, then why is he dead?” So I ask, if Petr’s so good, why haven’t we seen him sooner?

Vrana’s spent three years in Albany and Lowell, tallying his best point total last year (20-41-61). Aberration, or finally coming into his own? I hope the latter, I fear the former. Prior to last year’s campaign, the highest point total Vrana notched was in his lone year in Albany, topping out with 35 points.

He made the team out of training camp this year, yes. But while he did have a good pre-season, I think it’s safe to say that he made the team more likely because of his waiver status – if the Devils wanted to send him back down to Lowell, they ran the risk of losing him entirely to waivers. Rod Pelley was not subject to waivers, thus is why he’s currently with the L-Devs.

I hope that Vrana proves to be a great player. I hope that he gives Lou and Brent some things to think about when Rolston’s healed. I just hope that we, as a fan base, are not expecting too much of him. He hasn’t proved much to me yet stats-wise. I hope that changes, starting tonight.

Now watch, he’ll probably pull a Fabian Brunnstrom and net a hat trick in his NHL debut. What was that I was just saying about expectations…?

Pre-Season, You Say??

Ahh, pre-season. Music to any starved hockey fan’s ears. Well, the Devils provided some relief by releasing their 2008-2009 Pre-Season Schedule which looks a little something like this…

…four games at The Rock is tantalizing, however I’m a little disappointed that there aren’t any games scheduled for Bridgeport, CT or at Sovereign Bank Arena.

The real fun gets under way October 10th from Prudential Center with the New York Islanders coming to town.

EDIT: My apologies for the absolutely horrid quality of the image.  Gotta love Photobucket.