NJ Devils Month in Review October 2009

One month in the books already??? Wow… Where does the time go?? 5 home games to rant about already…. but now I get to talk
about the games they actually won eh?? 8-4 start with no Patrik Elias and a mish-mosh D corps and 4th line… the NHL’s regular
season Juggernaut rolls on!! (I swear the Devils are the NHL’s version of the Indianpolis Colts…)… and the year is young, even if the
writer ain’t!

Forwards:
#9: Zach Parise-A
AAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!! (sorry you can’t say Parise without screaming like you’re front row in a Jonas Brothers concert), but what
the hell else can you say about him?? He’s consistent… plays every night… he’s over a point a game again and showing last year
was no fluke and we should come to expect elite level stats and results out of him each and every year… and all of this without
Elias around to take some of the scoring burden off of him… and even MORE when the bottom 15 guys on this roster COMBINED
have less points then Zach… that’s frightening… and it just goes to show how GOOD Parise is!
Grade: A+

#19: Travis Zajac
Travis HAS ARRIVED!! This month has been the true breakout and emergence of this kid as not only our top center, but the guy
Lemaire puts you with when he wants to get you going… faceoffs, special teams… offense… defense, the kid just does it all
too!! THIS IS WHY YOU SHOW PATIENCE WITH YOUNG PLAYERS and let them grow up in front of your eyes… when you get the
right guy it’s a special thing when they do grow up!!! He’s on the verge of cracking that plateau from very good to borderline elite
player…. and it’s been fun to watch!!!
Grade: A

#23: David Clarkson
Another guy who’s growing up before our eyes (he still needs a nice nasty scar though dammit)… 9 points and 20 PIMs… it’s a
good balance for him, though I’d rather see more offense and less fights….he’s also been a bit stuck in the shuffle with no real
line to stay on and get comfortable with, but it’s hard to get on him about it… look at the centers on this team (I still want to
see him play more with Rolston because Rolston played his best with him last year… I’ll save that for Rolston)… I like the 6 assists…
it means the toe-drag/wraparound specialist is DEAD and now he’s getting closer and closer to a complete player and his stats this
month were actually Patrik Elias-like.. another good sign for now and beyond… good month kid!!!
Grade: A

#15: Jamie Langenbrunner-C
He’s been decent enough… and certainly not bad enough to bash… (Jesus he’s shot % is 6.4 though…)… I expect more then
2 goals a month from the Captain… and no I don’t give a shit what he does in shootouts, they’re NOT hockey I won’t watch
them, and they don’t even count on the stat sheet!), his shortie against the Flyers was a beauty… but that penalty shot try
was the ugly 9way to go making the same FAIL move twice… in a row too…), he’s not the fastest of starters, but with this team
as thin as it is now… they’re gonna need more from the Captain, though an assist every other game is good production… and I
have more players to bash later then he….
Grade: B- (needs more goals)

#18: Nicklas Bergfors
Not a bad rookie month for the kid (I know he’s been on the team before, but that didn’t count… see Halischuk later on this)…
his two goals were big ones… and the bar isn’t set as high with him as the people he is ranking with among team leaders in
offense, though a 41 point pace is a welcome start (and you’d HAVE to think those numbers will go up when #26 returns)…
he’s shooting lots…. a sign of confidence (he is 3rd on the team in shots) and I have to say I’ve been pleased with his results
so far! (God damn I wish this team had a #2 center)
Grade: B

#21: Rob Niedermayer
I have to admit he’s been a pleasant suprise to me (in a team in my life I don’t get many happy shocks :p)… he’s slick, he’s
crafty he does a ton of little things that you notice and go… hey that was pretty damn smart… unlike his whipped little brother
he stands up to crazy mama Nieds… I can never find that damn faceoff stats… but I don’t think he’s been too good on those…
but he’s been better then advertised (hell again with the #2 center but if we had one he’d be like awesome!)
Grade: B

#8: Danius Zubrus
ZUBBIE!!!!!!!!!! He’s been better this year… he clears out space… he owns the puck… he does they dirty work (hell there’s a
reason he’s been between Parise and Langs this year)…and if you’re going to only score two goals, better make one a game
winner on the Rangers, and the other one won the Boston game too… call it a crap goal if you want… but you still gotta BE
THERE and able to finish the play! One of many guys who’s been vastly better under Lemaire then under Calgary’s cure for
Insomnia! And you actually almost believe this guy’s turned it around and can get it done! Another feel good guy on a team
that should ne nowhere near as good as it’s been!
Grade: B+

#12: Brian Rolston
Oh boy… this been not so good…2 goals.. WHAT?? 2 assists…. WHATTTT!?!?!?!? This was supposed to be the guy who was
gonna take the slack for Elias being out… this was supposed to be the guy who was begging for Lemaire since he thrived under
him…. ok, I’ll give him that he keeps firing over 4 shots a game at the goalie he’s gonna get better results even off rebound
goals (this is why I would like to see him with Clarkson to pick up some trash points)…at least rip ’em wide Rolston is hitting
the damn net though… but still… the numbers ain’t so good and he HAS to be better (especially with so many younger… and
dare I play the salary cap card of saying CHEAPER…. players coming of age on this team)… it’s only October though, so we’ll try
to be hopeful he gets his shit on right…but it’s NOT there yet…
Grade: D

#20: Jay Pandolfo
Well he’s not been too awful has he? He’s not setting the world on fire…. and is it coincidence that the pk got better when he
went down?? Hard to tell Doesn’t do very much… but he was decent enough with Lil Niedermommy…. eh, he’s just not one of
the kinda guys I think this team needs anymore…. Veteran presence… really?? I don’t know… we really don’t have anything
better that’s NHL ready… that’s a backhanded compliment eh?? I won’t kill him but I ain’t singing his song either….
Grade: C

#10: Rod Pelley
When you average about 10 minutes a night and you’re a -5… that’s not good…. when you’re there for faceoffs and penalty
killing… that’s not good … it’s really sad that the only good thing I can say about him is I am pleasantly shocked that he’s good
for one hit a night! His faceoffs suck… but go figure he has a power play assist (on that Bergfors goal… life is funny)… but this
is the #1 reason we let John Madden go?!?!?! That’s sad…. couldn’t we have just said because he’s old and a douchebag, really??
Rod thou are NOT god sir!!
Grade: D

#25: Andrew Peters
…oh boy… a key member of the “Pretty Poor Players” 4th line… dude can’t skate… he doesn’t hit or fight much, but at least
he’s “only” a -1, we have guys on the 4th line that are much worser… limited ice time… and even more limited results… I don’t
see much of what he brings to the table, aside of keeping Clarkson from having to fight people…..
Grade: D (I have no expectations of him so he’s not even worth failing!)

#16: Matt Halischuk
Not ready for the NHL yet and it kinda showed (he was as lost as Bergfors was last year… but at least Jacques LETS HIM PLAY…
fuck you again Sutter) Didn’t really show much… had one nifty shot that was about it…. we’re gonna go easy on him though
cause he’s a baby and wasn’t ready to play with men yet, and was forced in there dude to the Elias injury….
Grade: INCOMPLETE

#17: Ilkka Pikkarainen
Eight minutes a game and he’s a -4?!?!?!?! OI VEY!!! (no I’m not making fun of Jewish people so DON’T START!!!) I mean I know
he’s new to the NHL and all but for Christ’s sake… YOU’RE TWENTY EIGHT YEARS OLD… IT’S TIME TO GROW UP A LITTLE (oh
boy I need to walk away from the computer and have some coffee after that one :p)…. anyway… I’m still not getting a good
feel on him, seems to be a 28-year old thing :p…. but so far… not so good, and 8 games is enough to start bashing… maybe
it’s time to change your hair color or something…something needs changing….
Grade: D (I could be a real asshole and say DD, but then I’m pushing it :p)

#22: The man called PL^3
Six games…. ZERO fights… but only a -1… not much ice time either… haven’t noticed him hitting as much as I’d like…
Personally I like the kid and want him in the enforcer role… but he’s gotta drop some damn gloves and whip some candy ass!!!
The Cowboys have (Miles) Austin 3:16, so why can’t PL^3 be out there Layeth the Smacketh Downeth?? CMON PL^3!!!!!!!
Grade: D

——————————————-

Defense:
#6: Andy Greene
Talk about a feel good story!! I stuck behind this kid and believed in him more then Johnny Oduya (remember that fight two-man
folk??)… though three points is a sorry stat to be leading the Devils in defensive scoring… the kid is a winning machine and each
time they ask him to step up he’s ANSWERED the call this month!!!! And now the Greene MACHINE is getting 20 minutes of ice a
night (due to injuries)… but man if he keeps this up, the Devils defense gets a LOT better… and we never lose on the road :p
Grade: A+++++ (he’s my boy now, deal with it!!)

#24: Bryce Salvador
Heh, he has 3 assists too…. I did not realize that!! But Bryce also has been pretty good this year! Veteran player with a defined
role under Lemaire, seems to have had a resurgence that looked lost under Coach Grumpy (yes I have many names for Mister
Sutter)… sticks up for his teammates… fights, makes plays amd is going to be a MUCH more important player then expected a
month ago with the injuries on the D… VERY good first month!
Grade: A

#7: Paul Martin-A
Has stepped up his offensive game… was all over the ice before his injury and he’s one of the most irreplaceable guys on the
team (even though it’s not showing in the wins and losses do NOT underestimate how important #7, and his 24 minutes of ice
time is to this team)… I do think the offense is going to come with the way he was playing…it’s just a matter of time… and
him getting back on the ice in the next 3-5 weeks
Grade: A

#2: Mark Fraser
One thing I always try to teach newer Devil fans or people I am getting into hockey….”the forward
who wears #17 sucks (yes I include Suckora in that list)… and the defender who wears #2 is bad (and
good Lord that goes all the way back to Slava Fetsiov), but Fraser’s been pretty decent (playing with
the MIGHTY Andy Greene helps)… and he’s been limited in his minutes which has been wise too… let
him get his feet wet… when he first broke into this team like 3-4 years ago, I liked his hitting game…
he’s not doing that, but he’s got a little offense and he’s not been Cory Murphy-bad either… I’ll call that
a semi-win from the kid….I also believe in this coaching staff to be patient and smart enough to let this
kid grown and not let him get Petr Vrana’ed
Grade: C+

#5: Colin White
He’s been solid… not taking penalties, killing penalties… and he’s a hard guy to really rate because
he’s best when you forget he’s there… and he’s been forgettable (and that is praise), and since less
is more is his game… I’m gonna say more by saying less about him! Good job so far!
Grade: B+

#29: Johnny Oduya
How in the blue hell does he NOT have a point yet?? Geesh… that’s not good… needless to say he’s
kinda struggled mighty this year….the -5 kinda reflects on that too… he’s hurt now, but we’ll see
what happens when he comes back… in a way the time off might be a blessing… let him get his head
back… just is that the timing is kinda bad on it since his offense (when he starts having some) is gonna
be needed more then ever!
Grade: F (yeah he’s been that bad)

#28: Cory Murphy
Was flat out AWFUL in his first three games and was directly responsible for two losses…. oddly
enough some time off and Andy Greene made him better in his fourth game… he’s gonna need to
add some offensive numbers (I do seem to harp on that but when Zach Parise has more points then
THE ENTIRE DEFENSE… it’s a problem!) to be worth it to this team…. and yeah he had 3 BAD
games… but it’s only a 4 game body of work… we’re watching you and we’re not happy…. but you
get a pass this month… and maybe this month alone…
Grade: INCOMPLETE (and yes some of my hate was an Andy Greene denial!)

#27: Mike Mottau
Has made a lot of good, smart and aware plays this season…. still doesn’t have the wheels… but he
has the smarts and with Scott Stevens preaching position and timing … he’s been better this year….
still would like even an accidental assist or two from him… but he’s been decent enough and he’s not
hurting the team, with the D as depleted as it is… that’s a good thing to have there… a nice solid
player who can chomp down some minutes!
Grade: B+

——————————————-

Goalies:
#30: mb30
Oh boy… this is a tough one… six BAD games… three good games and two okay games…. that’s
not gonna cut it for the guy who’s supposed to be the constant (and hell shouldn’t you be driven by
some other irrelevant regular season stat again?)…I guess we can call it a slow start, you can’t peg it
on injuries since he was better when players started dropping like flies….maybe it’s just a slow start…
but hey I don’t make excuses I just blast em for not performing :p… it always causes a shit-storm…
but what the hell he’s not been good….15th in save %, 7th in GAA, it ain’t awe-inspiring either….
Grade: C

#35: Jan Dennis
I loved his effort in his one game… it’s not easy to come off the bench cold once a month and do
what he did! He didn’t have to lunge or make OH SHIT plays… the team got comfortable with him in
net FAST… and he didn’t make any mistakes!! This guy could be a find and might be the first guy this
team turns too when the big guy with the ego goes to future endeavors and beyond…. and you know
me… I love the backup goalie ’cause we NEVER see enough of them!!!
Grade: A

——————————————-

Coaching Staff:
I’ve been sitting on this all month because I was saving it for here…. tripe sideways drop passes at
the blue line?? Paul Martin behind the other team’s net making plays?? mb30 out and playing the puck
again??? (I had thought under Sutter it was just our goalie was getting old and wanted to conserve
energy… but now he’s out and playing “closet defenseman” yet again…. guess it tells much about
the second most famous quitter in my life in the last year)…. the results speak for themselves… and
look at the improvement in Travis Zajac, Andy Greene, and even our beloved Zubbie man!!! I was
against this for I thought we’d be in trap-central, but I NEVER doubted the man’s hockey mind and
KNOWING of the game… and that’s proven to be a VERY good thing for the Devils… hats off to ya
Jacques.. you’ve been 5 stars this year!!! 24th on the power play (7/46, 15.2%) and 11th on the pk
(35/43, 81.4%-though this is improved)… these need to get better
Grade: A+

Front Office:
… well they raised my ticket prices… I frown on this :p….let’s see…. I don’t mind Madden and Gio
being gone… Bergfors is coming along… Robbie Niedermommy’s been a FIND I must say… Pika-chu’s
been eh, Andrew Peters sucks, and the next generation of kids ain’t ready yet… I kinda wish Lou could
have gotten one more stop-gap player for a season or two to keep the NHL spots warm while the kids
season and develop…..
Grade: C-

Well okay… back into that writing again… more bad language and Thoughts from 209 to ensue on Wednesday!!!!