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.

Devils @ Canadians LIVECAP!

9:45 PM: I’m going to call it a night, boys and girls.  A great evening all around.  Thanks for checking us out tonight, goodnight!

9:43 PM: Patrik Elias with a goal and an assist ties John MacLean for the career lead in points as a Devil.  Jamie Langenbrunner ties his career high for goals in a season.  Brian Rolston earns his 300th career goal.  Martin Brodeur notches career win #551.  What.  A.  Night.

9:41 PM: Three stars – Elias, Patrice Briesbois (who played in his 1,000th career game tonight and skated over to congratulate Brodeur while out as the second star), and, of course, Marty.

9:40 PM: The Canadians fans are standing for Marty – they went from booing their team to cheering Marty as the clock ran out.  Beautiful.  Beautiful.

9:39 PM: GAME!  Martin Brodeur has tied Patrick Roy for the all-time wins record!

9:37 PM: Last minute of the game…if you live in New Jersey and don’t have them yet, I’d advise picking up your tickets to the game on Tuesday night right about now while there’s still some good deals out there!

9:36 PM: Two minutes…Halak still in net for the Canadians.  Devils aren’t even giving them a chance to pull him if they wanted to.

9:35 PM: FORTY-FIVE shots on goal for the Devils so far tonight, versus 22 for the Habs.

9:34 PM: Fans are booing the Canadians now…so much for the possibility of their cheering Marty, at least so far.  To be fair, the Canadians have looked really bad for the last ten minutes or so.  Three minutes left.

9:33 PM: Four minutes to go…

9:28 PM: Bobby Holik doing what Bobby Holiks do best – no, not taking bad penalties, but getting physical with the goaltender.  Which, I guess could constitute a penalty, but not in this case.

9:25 PM: CAPTAINBRUNNER!  Beautiful wrist shot after backing away from the slot and it’s 3-1 Devils.  Langenbrunner ties his career high for goals, and all but one of the big milestones I mentioned at the beginning of this LiveCap have come to fruition, and the fourth one is about six minutes from being a reality as well.

9:24 PM: BIG HIT by Mike Rupp!  Pacioretty, with his head down, is knocked loopy by Rupp between the circles.

9:23 PM: I’d really, really like this game to be over.  My tummy hurts.

9:20 PM: Ten to go in the period.  It’s been kinda slow since the first, eh?

9:17 PM: Clarkaround!  Of course it doesn’t go, and a quick whistle puts an end to any rebound chance.

9:12 PM: DAMN!  Two-on-one for Zajac/Parise but a beautiful defensive play by Briesbois puts an end to that before Zajac can shoot or pass.  Nice play by Patrice.

9:11 PM: 34 shots on goal for the Devils so far, and it’s still only 2-1.  Halak’s been pretty damn good.  Dammit.

9:08 PM: Man oh man, if Marty does tie the record tonight, he will have definitely earned it.  Good couple of chances for Les Habs on the power play, all stood up by Senor Brodeur.

9:07 PM: One minute down in the Canadians PP.

9:04 PM: Ooooo, more chippy-ness following a Bryce Salvador over-the-glass delay of game penalty.  Nothing more comes of it and Salvador is the only one to sit in the box.  Canadians to a PP.

9:01 PM: Third period on!

8:44 PM: Aaaand that’s the end of two.  Score remains 2-1 and I will see you, if you’re still out there, in the third.

8:43 PM: Ouch.  Zajac gets smushed behind the Canadians net.  He’s okay though.  Crazy sustained pressure by the Devils in the Canadians zone.

8:39 PM: Ah, Josh Gorges held someone, that was the Canadians penalty.  As for our power play – some chances, no goals.  Halak’s pretty good about his rebound control.  Power play is over, three minutes to go in the second.

8:38 PM: Huh.  We come back from commercial to be on a power play, but I wasn’t really paying attention so I don’t know why.  I’ll take it, though!

8:36 PM: I dislike Halak.  He’s playing pretty well tonight, which disappoints me greatly.  Didn’t he get the memo that it’s Marty’s night?  Jackass.

8:34 PM: Things getting chippy.  Clarkson in the middle, of course.  Before that was Rupp getting cranky with some Canadians.  Also of course.

8:31 PM: Habs with some serious pressure on Marty and in the Devil end for the first time tonight.

8:29 PM: Canadians fans cheer wildly for the most mundane of bringing-the-puck-up-the-ice plays.

8:23 PM: Wow, the replays of those two stops showed they were even more awesome than they originally appeared.  He kicks one out with a leg behind his body, then blocks the other with his shoulder while falling down.  Hot diggity!

8:20 PM: Marty with a couple of big stops!  Wait, they’re actually going to make him WORK to tie the record?  I thought this was an arranged marriage type situation?!

8:18 PM: This Shanahan-Zubrus-Clarkson line – I like the cut of it’s jib.  Another thing I like?  That little WRAT promo angling for disenfranchised former K-Rock listeners.  Shame most K-Rock listeners can’t pick up The Rat.

8:16 PM: That was funky.  Somehow Parise wound up in the Canadians net, wiping out Halak in the process.  No penalty on young Zachary, however, much to the chagrin of the Canadians faithful.

8:13 PM: This power play, not so great.  PP time is up and the teams skate five aside.  Also, I kinda like these retro Canadians jerseys.  At least they’re not the barbershop jersey from earlier this season/way early in the Canadian’s existence.

8:12 PM: Oh yeaaaah, we’re still on a power play!  Usually that “oh yeaaaah” realization only happens when we’re killing a penalty to start a period.

8:12 PM: We back, yo.

7:53 PM: ‘nother Canadians penalty, another delay of game penalty, this one on Markov.  Period ends with the Devils on the PP – 1:47 of PP time to start the second when we get back.  14-7 Devils by way of shots on goal, 2-1 Devils by way of score, and I will see you in seventeen minutes.

7:52 PM: Clarkson wants to wraparound so badly.  He’s been thinking it at least twice tonight, only to be stopped before he even really got started.

7:48 PM: Oh jeez, Marty gets bodychecked by Alex Tanguay.  It was definitely a penalty, but Marty sure made it look good, too.  Hah.  Devils again to the PP – fourth time already tonight.  Two minutes to go in the period.

7:47 PM: Patrick Roy’s in the building.  Hooray, I guess.

7:44 PM: I can’t believe I didn’t notice this immediately – Patty Elias gets the assist on the Rolston goal, tying him with Johnny Mac for the all-time lead in points as a Devil!  ‘grats PATTY too!

7:40 PM: The ice-level microphones are working quite well tonight.  You could hear Kostopoulos’…uhm…”complaints” about his last penalty loud and clear, same with the ref yelling “NO HIGH STICK NO!” when Patrik Elias tipped the puck into the zone just then.  This amuses me.

7:37 PM: Dang.  Tomas Plekanec with a goal.  2-1 Devils now, and the shutout counter ain’t gonna change tonight.  Sad.

7:35 PM: WHOA!  Rolston with a dump-in, blocked down by the defender right back to Rolston, who blasts it by Halak!  That’ll be Rolston’s 300th of his career (‘grats Rollie!) and it’s 2-0 New Jersey.

7:33 PM: ‘nother Canadians penalty – silly Tom Kostopoulos, you don’t have to hold Mike Mottau to slow him down!

7:31 PM: Madden shorthanded breakaway – misses wide.  Okay, maybe his hand WAS amputated, without the aid of hospital-grade painkillers.

7:30 PM: Komisarek outtathabox for Montreal, one minute of penalty-kill time.  Also, Mad Dog’s back out, so I guess his hand didn’t have to be amputated.  Or it did and he’s hepped up on Pecosets.

7:26 PM: Aw dang.  Gionta with a holding-the-stick penalty.  Four-on-four for a minute, then Canadians to the PP.

7:24 PM: GOAL!  Patrik Elias with a BLAST and the Devils with a 2 MAN ADVANTAGE goal!  1-0 Devils, Elias with his 700th point as a Devil, one shy of Johnny Mac’s record, and we’re still on a power play for 1:45ish.

7:23 PM: Devils to the 2 MAN ADVANTAGE!  Someone from Montreal flips the puck over the glass and the Devils get the 2MA for, oh, 7 seconds.

7:22 PM: Good pressure, bad staying-on-feet skills.  Zajac takes a tumble in the offensive zone.

7:20 PM: Langenbrunner to Parise, who’s sliding on his butt directly into the goalpost.  Luckily, sliding on his butt was the result of a Tom Kostopoulos hold, and the Devils to a PP.

7:19 PM: John Madden takes a shot off the hand and heads to the bench.  Man up, Madden.  Man up.

7:17 PM: I’m moderately disappointed that the game’s been on for two minutes and we haven’t scored yet.

7:15 PM: Puck’s on the ice in Montreal!

7:09 PM: Les Habs are continuing their 100th year celebration by wearing another old jersey, one that is primarily white.  Which means the Devils are wearing their home reds.  Works for me, the way they’ve been playing at home lately.

7:02 PM: Need MORE proof that tonight’s gonna be a huge historic event?  Check out who’s roaming in the comments section!  Hiya P!

7:00 PM: Obviously, the big one:  With a Devils victory, Martin Brodeur ties Patrick Roy’s record of 551 career wins.  Other possibilities:  With two points, Patrik Elias can tie John MacLean’s record for career points as a Devil.  With a goal, Jamie Langenbrunner will top his career high for goals in a season.  Also, Brian Rolston’s next goal will give him 300 on his career.  Finally, Kevin Weekes is two chapters shy of finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, completing his quest to finish the series while the rest of the team plays hockey games.

6:47 PM: There’s something historic in the air this evening.  Some kind of record could be tied tonight.  Actually numerous milestones can be attained – I’ll run it down in a bit.  LiveCap coming – let me know you’re out there!

So, He’s Back.

Hey, You know what would go really well with Martin Brodeur returning to the Devils lineup? How about Sean Avery bringing his circus act back to Broadway.

Oh wait, HE DID.

Yes, Glen Sather has once again reminded the Ranger faithful why their beloved blueshirts are where they are.

Y’know, don’t worry about the fact the Rangers have only amassed 159 goals — third fewest in the conference — despite names like Gomez, Drury, Naslund, and Zherdev buzzing around every game. Nevermind the fact that Henrik Lundqvist couldn’t stop a 747 from going top-shelf glove-side. No, no — Sean Avery is the answer. Right. Well. Good luck with that. Guess he already forgot who he put behind the bench.

Get the popcorn ready, there is a bomb about to go off on 34th St — and hey, where better to watch the festivities from than just across the Hudson?! 😉

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!

Real life sucks.

So I missed Tuesday’s game.  Probably a good thing.  I’m also going to miss tonight’s game.  Not a good thing.  Especially for, y’know, updating our much-loved blog.  Sorry gang.

I will, however, at very least be WATCHING Saturday’s game against the Islanders.  I may or may not LiveCap it, depending on where I’m watching from.  Regardless, it’s probably going to be slow going around here for the next handful of days or so, so please accept my apologies ahead of time.  Next week is a rough one between school and work, but immediately afterward it should be smooth sailing into Mr. Martin Brodeur’s glorious return to the pipes and the rapidly-approaching trade deadline.

Thanks as always for sticking with us!

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

Brian Gionta Goes Splat.

Crikey, it’s getting old. Brian Gionta just got pushed off the puck hard, and it looks like he hit both shoulder and head against the unforgiving Detroit boards. He skated off on his own power, but has yet to return to the game, which currently sits at 2-1 Detroit after two periods, on the strength of a pair of Marian Hossa goals. Parise notched a deflection off an Oduya slapshot for the Devils only tally so far.

Edit: As the third period is starting, it becomes apparent that Bryce Salvador has not returned to the ice either. Salvador was hit by a puck in the second period, leading to Hossa’s goal. Sigh.

So, the updated injury counter:

Martin Brodeur, torn bicep
Brian Rolston, high right ankle sprain
Bobby Holik, broken pinkie
Andy Greene, broken hand
Paul Martin, upper body soreness
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, cracked orbital bone
Brian Gionta, unknown head/shoulder injury
Bryce Salvador, some kind of puck-to-knee injury

Add to that Matt Halischuk’s apparently serious leg injury suffered in the L-Devils game at Wilkes-Barre the other night, and the Devils are short EIGHT players, less than one calendar month into the season.

Ouch.

The Eve of the Opener

Well folks, it starts tomorrow. Game one of eighty-two. To me, it really feels like Christmas Eve.

A bigger, stronger, and faster Devils team will take the ice tomorrow night at The Rock. Martin Brodeur will don the newly designed mask for the very first time as he resumes his quest to overtake Patrick Roy’s wins record. Brian Rolston & Bobby Holik will make their returns to the Garden State.

I’m drooling. The long off-season is finally over and for the first time in three years, Red & Black will christen the new season on home ice, and against a cross-town rival nonetheless. Home openers are great, but Home season-openers are even better. The Rock will be even louder and more decorated than last season, I’m sure.

I will be in attendance myself — section 122 / Row 12 on the aisle — stop by between periods or before the drop of the puck and we’ll have a beer and talk Devils! It would be great to hear from YOU – the readers – face to face and give me some feedback on what you would like to see more/less of right here at 2MA! While you’re at it, you could print out and bring a copy of THIS with you… I’d be happy to autograph it for you. 😉

Make sure you hunt down Josh as well and tell him how awesome his 90’s Music Blog is and talk live-cap with him!

In all seriousness, tomorrow night can’t get here soon enough. See you all at Fan-Fest!!

Devil’s Got A New Diguise

Holy quotable Aerosmith, batman! Martin Brodeur has a new mask design!

Breathe…

I was just as shocked as you are. The main design of Marty’s world-famous mask will remain the same, but the devilish “J” that has always graced the upper part of his helmet, has now been changed over into an “MB30” logo.

The new design relates to the new website Marty will be releasing soon: martinbrodeur30.com.

There are some great quotes and insider info about all of this over at Tom Gulitti’s Fire & Ice Blog.

A new look for a new style, perhaps?

Pre-Season Continues, Devils Drop To 2-2

It’s been a pretty stellar pre-season for the Devils thus far, despite a 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals last night at Prudential Center.

The Red ‘n Black roster, consisting mostly of Lowell regulars and a few main-stays, handled the competition pretty well. Considering that competition consisted of guys like Alex Ovechkin, Niklas Backstrom, and Michael Nylander — I’m alright with the loss.

Washington was able to grab a 3-0 lead in the third period, but the Devs were resilient, adding two late tallies thanks to Zach Parise and a Petr Vrana deflection. Kevin Weekes went the distance for New Jersey.

The next tour of duty for the Devils will find them in the Nassau Mausoleum tomorrow night for a 7:00pm faceoff. The contest will be the only home pre-season matchup for the New York Islanders. I’ll be in attendance, Section 325 / Row A for those 2ManAdvantage fans on Long Island 😉

Martin Brodeur is expected to play the full contest tomorrow night.