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!

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.

The Final Playbill

I thought it would be another day or two before we saw the roster but Christmas came a little early this year! The Devils have trimmed their roster down to twenty-three, and it looks a little something like this:

You may notice a few surprises such as Petr Vrana & Anssi Salmela grabbing roster spots. Vrana ousted Rod Pelley who was assigned to Lowell of the AHL. To me, Salmela isn’t exactly a surprise… after watching him play live on Long Island last week I had a strong feeling he had earned a spot on the big team — especially after his off-balance rocket that beat Joey MacDonald to put the Devils up 3-0. Salmela’s biggest Achilles seems to be his puck control at the point, but the issue seems to be cleaning up fast and shouldn’t even be a problem once the puck drops on Friday.

Speaking of Friday, the lines figure to look a little something like this:

– FORWARDS –

Elias – Rolston – Gionta
Parise – Zajac – Langenbrunner
Pandolfo – Madden – Clarkson
Rupp (Vrana?) – Holik – Zubrus

– DEFENSE –

White / Salmela
Mottau / Oduya
Martin / Salvador

Brodeur

I should also note that Fedor Fedorov has been placed on waivers. Apparently the Devils gave up on him and it’s not exactly a mystery as to why. The guy has a weak work ethic and that won’t carry you anywhere in this league, especially under Lou Lamoriello.

Although I can be quoted as saying that the team hasn’t done much to improve, I am ready to accept my helping of crow. After reviewing the roster and taking in a live pre-season game, I can see a noticeable difference in this years squad. They are bigger, faster, and a ton more aggressive than any team in recent history.

If pre-season was any indication, I think the Devils style this year will surprise many — players & fans alike.