Poor David Clarkson…

Poor, poor David Clarkson.

And poor us as well.

That’s why you stand up and face a Zdeno Chara slapshot head-on rather than wimping out and turning sideways.  Of course, I say this behind a laptop, and not on ice staring down the barrel of a 100 MPH slapshot from the guy who broke Al MacInnis’ fastest shot record last year.

Ouch.

So add Clarkson to the infirmary list for the Devils.  Y’know, the list that already includes our beloved Dainius Zubrus.  And Jay Pandolfo.  And Rob Niedermayer.  And Johnny Oduya.  And Paul Martin.

Know what list is growing just as fast as the injured list?  The rookies list.  Add Vladimir Zharkov to a list of rookies or first-year NHLers already containing Niklas Bergfors, Pierre-Luc Letourneu-Leblond, Matt Halischuk, Matt Corrente, Tyler Eckford (who’s on his way to Lowell right now), Illka Pikkarainen, Mark Fraser, and Tim Sestito.  Guess we’re no longer one of the oldest squads in the NHL, eh?  Small victories, my friends, small victories.

Zharkov was leading the baby Devils in scoring before getting called up, and according to the ever-awesome TG, will be skating on a line with Dean McAmmond and Matt Halischuk.

Seriously gang, read that again:  Our third line – the Devils traditional strength – is two rookies and Dean Mc-friggin-Ammond.  The injuries have gotten so bad, we’re using our training camp roster.  It’s a wonder Trenton and Lowell can even field teams at this point.

So now it’s Devils/Islanders in about a half hour.  Unfortunately, no LiveCap on my end this afternoon gang.  I’ll make sure to have another one happen soon, and I’ll also make sure to let you know well ahead of time when it happens.  In the meantime, enjoy your New Jersey Lowell Devils taking on the Islanders this afternoon.

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 @ Panthers LIVECAP!!

10:06 PM: So a five-game winning streak for NJ after nearly losing the game in a poorly-played few minutes in the third. Nothing like a little tension to head into turkey day. That’s it for me tonight. Check back in the next few days for the launch of a major initiative from the 2ma! Goduya! Happy Thanksgiving!

10:01 PM: Johnny mothereffin’ Oduya!!!!! After botching a 2-on-1 just minutes ago, the reborn defenseman rips one through Anderson to win the game for New Jersey! Devils win! 3-2 in OT.

10:00 PM: Penalty killed, Devils on the attack. Thankfully the Panthers are still playing like little more than an AHL squad.

9:56 PM: OT underway and hot jesus on a hammock, they throw the puck over the glass and draw a penalty. Would somebody please find the Devils from 90 minutes ago?

9:53 PM: Damn. David Booth puts one home with 7.8 seconds left. We’re going to OT folks! Major Buzzkill is undoubtedly laughing from the bench, twirling his evil mustache. I completely blame this on my girlfriend, who wished against the shutout so her fantasy team would do better.

9:52 PM: Stop by Clemmer. Good pressure by the Panthers though, under 30 seconds left.

9:51 PM: Buzzkill pulled. Less than a minute to play.

9:49 PM: Ooof. Out of nowhere the Panthers put one in on a quick bang-bang play to Bouwemeester in the slot. 2-1. Two minutes to play.

9:43 PM: Major Buzzkill strikes again. Anderson stones Parise on a great breakaway chance. I feel like Anderson was stroking his Snidely Whiplash mustache under his helmet after that one.

9:41 PM: And now what it would have looked like if it were 1943! Anyone else getting sepia-tone replays?

9:38 PM: The Panthers look like the mighty mites on the 5-on-3 and Clemmer shuts them down when they get their act together for the subsequent 5-on-4. Still 2-0 in the second half of the 3rd.

9:35 PM: Ooooh boy. Now it gets interesting. Gio takes down a Panther and is called for tripping in what was a far more legitimate infraction. 5-on-3. The Panthers have “Right Now” by Van Halen on in the arena to boot. This sh*t’s about to get intense, hair band style.

9:33 PM: BS roughing call on Colin White. Nathan Horton comes up high on a hit on Whitey in the corner and he retaliates and gets called for a minor.

9:28 PM: 7 minutes of unremarkable hockey is broken by an absolutely absurd pair of saves by Clemmer! He made a solid save on an initial shot and I think somehow detached his spine to catch the rebound with his lower back. Johnny Oduya backs him up by kicking the puck out of harms way near the goal line. Whew! That woke me up.

9:22 PM: Back at it here in the third. Man, I agree with Josh, this Craig Anderson character is a bummer.

9:01 PM: Clemmer’s looked great during a bit of pressure from the Panthers at the end of the second there. Might be time for Weeksie to find that crossword puzzle book he was working on last year. Devils still up 2-0 after two.

8:58 PM: It even looks like the refs are taking pity on the thus-far hapless Panthers. Jay Leach gets called for a questionable interference minor and the Panthers are on the PP.

8:53 PM:Man, Patty and Gio are playing like it’s ’05-’06. Every shift has just been gold for them lately. A great give and go gets stopped by Anderson, who admittedly has done well to stonewall the Devils here in the second.

8:47 PM: And another powerplay without a goal. Still, as MSG-1294 just flashed up on the screen, the scoring chances are 16-1 at this point, so I’m not going to throw a pissy fit over it.

8:43 PM: Another penalty to the Panthers!

8:42 PM: My girlfriend, who has been affectionate to me in the comments arena tonight, just pointed out that Clemmenson is quite intimidating in net. I never noticed it, especially since there’s been no focus on him whatsoever tonight, but the dude seriously looks Devilish in net with his dark pads and mask.

8:39 PM: Another strong powerplay by the Devils with nothing to show for it. Still, the Devils look like they’re in a different league than the Panthers, who might have stayed a little too long out in the sun today.

8:36 PM: 17-4 is the shot total right now in favor of New Jersey. 17-4! Clarkson takes a spill (which I’m convinced has more to do with the fact that his skating ability is akin to Happy Gilmore than a trip) for a penalty and we’ve got another Devils powerplay!

8:29 PM: Back again for the second to find that Thomas Voukon has made a hasty exit in lieu of Craig Anderson. That’s two games straight that the Devils, the New Jersey Devils mind you, have chased goalies in consecutive games. What’s going on here? I ain’t about to question it.

8:11 PM: Hahaha. Doc ends the period with the most uncomfortable “whoohooo” ever to announce the Devils next Nathan’s hot dog night.

8:09 PM:Wow! A beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play from Parise to Cap’n Langs on over to Zajac and it’s a 2-0 game. All four lines are looking great heading into the final minute of the period down in Florida.

8:06 PM: Man, the boys are buzzing tonight. I’m almost terrified at this point that Rolston and Holik coming back will upset this magnificent chemistry that’s been stumbled across.

8:03 PM: Some good puck movement on the powerplay but nothing to show for it. The Devils are outshooting the Panthers 9-2 so far this period, so I’m not gonna complain. Are we on MSG-153 tonight? This looks like it’s being filmed in a cave.

8:01 PM: Penalty on Florida! Looked like a hook as Elias is taken down. Devils PP!

7:55 PM: Back and forth hockey here, nothing too spectacular. We could invent some Devils drama in the process I suppose. Bryce Salvador totally just rejected Parise’s stick after he broke his in the defensive zone. Is there trouble in paradise?

7:51 PM: The Devils really have a zip to their game again tonight. I dunno what Grumpy McMonkey Ears behind the bench has been saying to them lately, but he better keep it up. Is it injuries? Is the road to Lord Stanley paved with sports hernias? No probably not.

7:47 PM: Gionta scores!! The streak continues! Five straight games with a goal for Gio on another beautiful deflection setup by Mr. Johnny Oduya, who has looked freakin’ phenomenal this year.

7:45 PM: Elias just barely fans on an opportunity in front. Chico points out that this is in fact hockey and not soccer and Elias would not have been able to kick the puck into the net. Whew, that’s a load off.

7:43 PM: Penalty killed. Jesus, are the Devils really only 68 percent on the penalty kill at home? WTF? Devils powerplay as the Panthers take a minor!

7:40 PM: After figuring out some dual live-cap madness we’re underway! And less than 2 minutes in we’ve already got a penalty to Elias. Devils on the PK early.

7:35 PM: I think this truly must be a 2ma first.

7:32 PM: Oh! Dueling livecaps!!!! Damn you Burnett!!

7:30 PM: P.S. I had some trouble finding the game tonight on my cable. If you’re having the same problem, this is where I found the info on what asscrack of television the devils broadcast is on tonight.

7:25 PM:So Scottie Clemmensen gets the start tonight as we continue to work through the weird and wild post-Brodeur apocalypse. We’re still working on fixing the Zubbie Counter after last night’s explosion, but those repairs could be helped along by some continued stellar play (ahem).

7:19 PM: Hey all, it’s been a while I know. I’ve been giving a little too much love to my other wordpress baby lately (i sorta get paid for it), and I apologize. But OMG, two livecaps in a week?! We’re totally spoiling you. Let’s go Devils!

OMG we scored three goals!!!

No, really! I’m not kidding! Three whole goals! And a shootout win! Amazing! Wee!

Whew, that was a pretty intense game. Well first things first, congrats to Petr Vrana on his first NHL goal and Patrick Elias for passing his way to the all time Devils assist lead! Woo! They jump started what was a fantastically exciting 4-3 shootout win for our boys.

Now for the bad news, Chico reports that Geico Spokesman Bobby Holik has broken his pinky finger after taking a shot to the hand during the game, meaning that Lou’s grand plan for revamping the Devils is on the injured list in its entirety after a mere 5 games.

Alright so our Back to the Future team is on the IR and our season high is now three goals scored in a regulation game, but a 4-1 start ain’t to shabby is it? I don’t think so. We could put Mr. Ovechkin on our team and I’m convinced he’d score 60 points, that’s just the way it’s gotta be.

Aside from the fact that our offense reflects our country’s booming economy, there’s a lot I liked during this game. First of all, it was a blast to watch, a fantastic showcase of hockey in my view.

Of course, Zach Parise is amazing. You can’t understate it, but I feel like everything that’s could be said already has, the kid’s just money. Travis Zajac looks like last year didn’t even exist. I LOVE the way this guy has been playing this year, and tonight is a perfect example of that.

I have to interject into my own post here and say I absolutely ADORE that Ron Duguay from MSG is getting into the Halloween spirit, his Jon Bon Jovi drowning in a blue dye factory costume is just spot on. Spot on.

Anyways, much as I’ve dragged his name through the mud, Johnny Oduya looked great tonight too. He seems to have carried his second half performance through to the start of the season and just looks like he’s primed to have a big season.

On the flip side of the glory of tonight’s comeback win, why can’t the Devils score on the freakin’ rush?! I feel like every time they have a fast break opportunity the second they go to shoot, they just seem to instantly have some sort of brainfart. I don’t think John Madden has scored in a high pressure situation since he coached the Oakland Raiders in the 60s! Zing!

Ok that wasn’t funny. I apologize. I think it’s too early to start making bold predictions about the Devils for this year (spoiler! Brent Sutter will continue to go bald!). Right now, there are about as many reasons to be excited as there are to be angry, so I’m hovering at a happy medium for the moment.

Nonetheless, I’m $%(#($^# thrilled hockey’s back. Keep it to 2ma for more.

Devils @ Atlanta LIVECAP

9:44 PM: Brent Sutter: “Ankle sprain. He’ll be fine.” Uhhhhhh…yeah. Kay. Thanks, Brent, you’ve been quite informative.

9:41 PM: Alright, so no word on Rolston yet. If they say anything that actually means anything, I’ll post it up here. I’m expecting “lower body injury” (or possibly “head cold”) with no actual idea as to how long he’ll be out. If it’s different, I’ll let you know. If not, goodnight all!

9:24 PM: And, like the game itself, the first LiveCap of the season is in the books, it wasn’t pretty, but it happened. I’ll stick around a bit longer to see if we get an update on Rolston’s condition, but I’m not holding my breath…

9:22 PM: GAME! 1-0 Devils. It wasn’t pretty, the offensive production still sucks, the power play still sucks, but it’s a win nonetheless. Marty’s now 10 wins from tying Patrick Roy for most all-time by a goalie (11 from breaking the record), and six shutouts away from tying Terry Sawchuk for most shutouts of all-time., seven from breaking the record.

9:22 PM: BEAUTIFUL defensive play by Martin to prevent a shot on goal on the rush. Twenty seconds to go.

9:21 PM: Empty Thrasher net.

9:17 PM: Ice is tilting Atlanta’s way with two minutes to go. Meep.

9:15 PM: ANOTHER two-on-one featuring Jay Pandolfo, another non-shot-on-goal. At least no one crashed in a heap into the boards this time, though, so, y’know, take what we can get, yes?

9:13 PM: No updates on Rolston (what, you expected the Devils would reveal anything ever at any time?), but the replay reminds me a little Sidney Crosby’s crash into the boards last year that resulted in his high ankle sprain. Let’s hope that’s not the case here…

9:12 PM: Still 1-0, seven minutes to go in the game. Zubrus is now centering Elias and Gionta, so I guess the great line shake-up of the second period has ended. The 32 fans in attendance are chanting! It sounds impressive for 32 people.

9:09 PM: Rolston hit the boards after losing an edge, Chico says he needed help getting into the locker room because he couldn’t put much weight on his foot. Me no likey.

9:07 PM:Elias and Rolston two-on-one gets broken up, and after the play, Rolston is down and looks to be hurting…crap. Just…crap.

9:05 PM: Shorthanded two-on-one for Madden and Pando, Madden passes, and Pando fires it directly into Lehtonen’s pads. Another two-on-one, Elias and Pando, again nothing doing. But it’s chances, at least! …right?

9:04 PM: Atlanta’s on a power play and I have no idea why. Either I wasn’t paying attention or MSG didn’t think it was important to tell me. Neither would be surprising. Atlanta hits the pipe on the power play.

9:01 PM:Penalty kill’t. Big save by Marty (and then again possibly by Salvador’s backside) at the end of the Thrasher power play. Our power play may be awful, but at least the penalty kill’s holding up it’s end of the bargain…

8:58 PM: Paul Martin going off for a holding-the-stick penalty, Thrashers to the PP again.

8:55 PM: Marty with a save on Bogosian. Come to think of it, has Bogo scored yet in his pro career? Marty seems to like giving up first career goals…

8:52 PM: Third period’s on, goal credited to Rolston after all. Zubrus and Gionta on the assists.

8:35 PM: And that’s the end of period #2, 1-0 Devils. 20 shots on goal (I still refuse to believe that). Third period coming up soonish.

8:33 PM: The official announcement at the arena is giving the goal to Langenbrunner from Rolston and Zubrus. Lehtonen with a huge glove save on Elias keeps it a one-goal game.

8:31 PM: FINALLY! Rolston, let off the point at the power play, forces his way in front of the net and jams home his own rebound. Devils lead 1-0, Rolston notches his first of his second Devils go-round, and the Devils power play finally picks up another goal. Alllll right.

8:30 PM: Exelby takes the roughing penalty for his tackle of Langenbrunner, the ever-dangerous Devil power play takes the ice.

8:27 PM: Now it’s Rolston, Langenbrunner, and Zubrus. And hey, even a little scrummy-ness involving the Cap’n and Garnet Excelby. The most life I’ve seen tonight. The 32 fans in attendance even seemed to wake up.

8:26 PM: Rupp/Zajac/Parise? Really?

8:24 PM: Cangelosi just said the shots for the second are 13-5 Devils. I refuse to believe this. There is no way I’ve seen thirteen Devil shots on the night, let alone this period.

8:19 PM: Clarkson wraparound try! Gasp and shock, it’s not even close.

8:15 PM: Zubrus charging in on a three-on-one, opts to shoot…and misses the net entirely. Blast.

8:13 PM: I wonder how we managed to win two games so far this year considering I can’t recall ever actually scoring any goals…

8:06 PM: Hey hey, something interesting! Brodeur with a stop on the big blast by White (not Colin, Todd), leaves a huge rebound and manages to get in front of the follow-up shot as well. Stellar stop by Marty. The 32 fans in the building agree.

8:04 PM: I think Sutter’s futzing with the lines again. Clarkson was just out there with Holik and Rupp. Zubrus is centering Rolston and Elias at the moment as well.

8:01 PM: God, Lehtonen is leaving some juicy rebounds. However, in shades of last year, the Devils can’t do a damn thing about it. Penalty’s over, though. Devils have killed three of three of ‘em tonight now.

8:00 PM: Okay, second period on, Devils still on the PK. A little bit more…something, this period? Anything? Please?

7:42 PM: Aaaaand that be the end of a very boring first period, scoreless after one. See you in seventeen for what can only be a more interesting second. I hope.

7:39 PM: Welp, least they killed that one. Holik gets booed by the 32 Atlanta fans in attendance tonight. Yet another Devils penalty coming up, Zajac for hooking. Less than a minute to go in the period.

7:36 PM: See, this is why I miss Doc. Cangelosi lied to me, it’s actually Atlanta on the power play, not so much the Devils.

7:34 PM: And just as one penalty expires, and new one commences. The Devils get their turn on the power play, again. So in two minutes, the score will still be zero-zero, again.

7:31 PM: And so Colin White goes off for interference. This game is rather boring. Sorry. Last year’s early-season game in Atlanta was all kinds of crazy. I miss that game. A little.

7:26 PM: Even Chico’s mentioning how few fans are in the building. And is also touting the Thrashers “Buy a ticket, eat all you want for free” sections deal. Chico Eats: HOTlanta Edition!

7:23 PM: How they managed to not get it in, I don’t have the slightest. Good pressure again, but once again, nothing doing as far as scoring. Devils PP is now 0-for-2 on the evening, and 1-for-13 on the year. Ouch.

7:22 PM: I say it every time the Devils play Atlanta, but DAMN the Thrashers have ugly jerseys.

7:20 PM: ‘nother penalty on the Thrashers, this one interference on David Clarkson. Don’t the Thrashers know they don’t have to interfere with David Clarkson, that he’s perfectly capable of stopping his own progress? Regardless, Devils PP again.

7:17 PM: You know, as a Devils fan, I should be used to empty arenas…and yet, I keep finding myself strangely drawn to the swaths of empty seats whenever the camera catches the stands. It’s almost hypnotizing.

7:15 PM: A nice chance in front for Pandolfo, who sends a backhander at the Atlanta goal with the speed of a honey-soaked tortoise. Sigh.

7:13 PM: Surprisingly strong on the puck deep in the zone, but Atlanta manages to clear each time. We’re not looking stellar tonight boys.

7:11 PM: Schneider with a puck-over-the-glass deal and the vaunted (ha!) Devils power play hits the ice. Oh boy oh boy.

7:09 PM: Puck’s on the ice in Atlanta. You wouldn’t know it from the crowd though. My goodness, and they say we don’t draw in Jersey. Hot damn.

7:01 PM: Oh dammit. First LiveCap of the year, and Doc’s sick. Sigh. Get well Doc. Other Devils news for tonight: Salmela’s hanging out in the press box tonight, and Andy Greene gets into his first game of the year. He’ll be paired with Johnny Oduya.

6:45 PM: What’s that coming over the hill? It it a LiveCap? It it a LiveCap? Ahhh musical references no one will get…see you in 15!

Bold predictions and excited rants: Season preview the first

You know what? I think Rangers fans are scared.

A mere two days away from the puck hitting the ice stateside for the first time this season and those Rag loving Wall Street types are torpedoing our economy into oblivion with the hope that maybe, just maybe, the entire country will dissolve in time to put off the hockey season, and as a result their inevitable demise. It’s gotta be that. Or the Russians.. Hmm.

Well I will not be deterred! It’s Devils season preview time baby!

Three days to go before the New (Old) and Improved New Jersey Devils hit the ice against the New York Islanders at the Rock. If you’re like me, you’ve read the 645 other season previews out there who are writing off the Devils as an aging group running an outdated system.

I say eff that.

Marty

Yes Brodeur is a year older. Of course we’ll need to address this in the coming years but I for one am not gonna even pay a passing thought to this considering he won the Vezina for oh, the 4th time in 6 years. Next topic.

The new old guys

I’m actually extremely excited to see what this offense can do this year. On paper I see it as a solid blend of experience and youth, speed and size. I think that in the second year of Sutter’s reign, the boys will come out with a lot more confidence and gusto working in his system that will produce a noticeable increase in goals with the addition of Rolston and Holik.

The retooled front lines could also fall completely flat, but after several lean offensive years and two years of epic collapses from my beloved Mets, I’m prepared to handle everything short of the top three lines tearing up their contracts on the ice and signing with the Rangers, Flyers and Islanders, respectively.

Oduya’s army

Oh the defense.. You know, I’ve got no idea on this one. They were so befuddling last year I’m not going to even try. Maybe someone taught Johnny Oduya to skate backwards. Maybe Paul Martin will step up and show the offensive prowess we saw glimpses off last year. Maybe Annsi Salmela will become the next Scott Niedermayer and alleviate the need for me to start calling him salmonella by mid-November.

Anything’s possible, I suppose. If I were a betting man though, I’d be placing my chips on the guy in net and the offense carrying this team forward.

The Tykes

Speaking of Salmela, the potential youth influx certainly bears watching. I think Lou and Brent made the right choices on Vrana and Salmela for opening night, but I’d also like to see what Matt Halischuk and Niklas Bergfors can do at some point in the season. Who knows, maybe if they take Matt Corrente off suicide watch after his miserable pre-season performance he could even make an appearance. Definitely a wait-and-see approach with the new guys though.

All-in-all, I’m optimistic. If the D steps it up I think we’re a cup contender. If not, we could at least make up for a terrible showing last year by beating up on the Rangers and Islanders in the season series. Friday night’s a great time to start. Go Devils!

P.S. Church claps all around to the Rags fans who will undoubtedly point out that they scraped by with a pair of victories against a Tampa Bay Lightning team that had played together for all of 35 minutes before the first game. Kudos.

Are We There Yet?

After a weekend of driving through the mountains of Cobleskill, you can imagine I had more than a fair amount of time to think about…well, absolutely anything.  Aside from the usual day dreams about Chinese takeout and when my next Dunkin’ Donuts rest-stop will be, my mind inevitably ended up on the ice.

Typically, I wouldn’t have a problem with that, but with the off-season still flaunting its ugly style it can tend to get a little frustrating.  Well, I’d like to announce that I’m tired of waiting for something news-worthy to write about.  That being the case, I’ve decided I’d like to spill whatever has been on my mind as of late.

Sound good?  Too bad, here goes…

IS IT WORTH IT TO GET EXCITED?

Part of me says YES, and the other part of me thinks its counterpart has an addiction to sniffing glue.  You see, it’s easy as a fan to get wound up over signing a player of Brian Rolston’s caliber, but it’s not so easy (or enjoyable) to know that realistically Lou Lamoriello hasn’t done much to improve his squad other than sign Rolston & Holik.  Granted, some weeding was also done in the Black & Red garden, but the current selection of crops leaves me with a sinking feeling that the team still isn’t ready to compete.  Why do I feel that, you ask?  Look no further than the blue line.

With Paul Martin as your reigning #1, and Johnny Oduya as our token puck-mover, I just have a hard time feeling confident about our defensive corps.  Even guys like Halischuk and Corrente competing for a spot out of training camp, it’s going to take a lot more to keep the Devils from becoming a part of a few embarrassing highlight reels this season.

WILL LOU MAKE ANOTHER MOVE?

If I knew the answer to this question, I wouldn’t be typing to you from my ground level living room/bedroom.  Then again, when it comes to Lou, the highest of the hockey insiders still probably wouldn’t have a clue.  Would I like to see another move made?  Absolutely.  One involving a defen

seman?  You bet!  Again, reality donkey-punches me in the face and I’m forced back down to earth, knowing that another roster tweak isn’t likely.  Barring a few minor additions out of training camp,

it looks like the current Devils roster will be the one that takes the ice October 10th at The Rock.

HOW MUCH DOES MARTY HAVE LEFT?

It just wouldn’t be a legitimate pre-season breakdown without asking this question.  It seems th

at year in and year out, it rears its ugly head.  The funny thing is that every single year, the answer remains the same.  Marty is Marty. He will bring his usual lights-out game with him no matter what the situation is.  Kevin Weekes will play sparingly or when necessary, unless the team happens to be 39-1-1 at the All Star Break.

WILL THE OFFENSIVES WOES CONTINUE?

It depends.  Obviously, Brian Rolston could boost even the weakest offense.  Which is good, because I think the Devils are the proud(?) owners of that title.  The real question is: what kind of year will his support have?  Rolston has already proven what he can bring to the table, it’s the veteran Devils that worry me.  If anything, they’ve been consistantly inconsistant. 

Let’s take Patrik Elias for example.  Dude is either lights-out or a dud christmas light.  Gionta is no better, and Travis Zajac left much to be desired in his Sophomore campaign.  Perhaps the only reliable forward the Devils currently boast is Zach Parise.  Likewise with returning captain Jamie Langenbrunner.  John Maddens surprising 2007-2008 season was likely a one-shot-deal (that went high and wide…BA-ZING!!), and Dainius Zubrus will need to step it up in order to be effective in ’08-’09.

In all, Rolston is a great addition and I’m beyond excited to see how many times he will make my jaw drop.  The downside is that he won’t be able to do it by himself, and that’s where I start to worry.  The boys are going to have to either shape up or ship out in order for the team to be successful.

CAN BRENT SUTTER REALLY LEAD THIS TEAM?

I say yes.  Brent Sutter was under fire for a lot of the choices and decisions he made last season and although I was often the one tearing him a new one, I feel confident with him behind the bench.  I feel he, like his team, will have to change some things about his game to be successful but in the end is still a leader the Devils can feed off of and will learn much from.  If they’re not too stubborn to listen, that is.

*****

That’s all I got for now.  I’m sure there are tons more questions that fans like myself ask themselves every day about the team.  Got one?  Feel like sharing?  I’d love to hear them and voice my own opinion about whatever it is us Devils fans like to shoot the breeze about until the puck drops.

Keep it bookmarked at 2MA, the season is nearing and we’re just getting started!!