Devils Look Good At First, But Fall to Lightning

Tonight’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning started out with a Devils team that appeared to have really thought about their loss from Game 1 – they were attentive, sharp, and it didn’t hurt that they scored two goals in the first five minutes of play.

Goal one for the Devils came at 52 seconds in from a laser of a shot by John Moore.  Moore wasn’t credited with the goal, however, as it deflected off of the stick of Kyle Palmieri ever so slightly – but it was enough to make the puck change direction a bit and in to the net past Tampa Bay net minder Andrei Vasilevskiy.

They quickly made the score 2-0 when Travis Zajac received a cross-ice pass from P.A. Parenteau.  The shot actually was deflected in front by Tampa Bay Anton Stralman.  Again, it changed direction of the shot ever so slightly, but was enough to make the puck slide through the five-hole of Vasilevski.

The ice seemed to level off for the remainder of the first.  Unfortunately for the Devils that seemed to end their dominance of the game.

The second period continued that same level play until mid-way through when Steve Stamkos and Alex Killorn scored to tie the game up.

With the game tied, the Devils managed to score two more times.  Unfortunately for them, the first goal didn’t count because a delayed penalty call on Tampa Bay was whistled when the Lightning ever so slightly touched the puck.  The second goal, a great shot from Andy Green from the point, went in cleanly – however the Lightning challenged the goal stating that the Devils were actually offside.  Upon review, the officials agreed with Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

Tampa Bay’s Valitteri Filppula took advantage of the Devils misfortune and managed to score a goal just under 6 minutes in to the third – a goal that upon further review may have gone off of a high stick of Vladislav Namestnikov, but was never reviewed by the officials or challenged by Devils coach John Hynes.

Late in the third the Devils appeared to have a golden opportunity to tie the game up after Tampa Bay’s Andrej Sustr hooked Devante Smith-Pelly.  Devils power-play units unfortunately were unable to convert this chance in to a goal, and in fact Devils net minder Corey Schneider had to make a couple of short handed saves.

With 1:06 left to play, Schneider was pulled and the Devils made nearly a half dozen good scoring opportunities but were unable to convert, leading to their second loss of the season, their first regulation loss.

Devils Lightning
34 Shots 34
27 Hits 27
12 Blocks 11
0/3 Power Plays 0/3
27 Face-Offs 29
7 Takeaways 11

You can see by the above stats that the game was in fact very close.  In actuality both teams struggled at one point or another, and dominated at one point or another.  But the Devils caught some unlucky breaks and Tampa Bay capitalized when the Devils found themselves on their heels.

The team will try to regroup and prepare for their home-opener on Tuesday, October 18 against the Anaheim Ducks.  Game time is at 7pm and will be aired on MSG.

Opening Night for 2016-17 – Knee Jerk Reaction

As I sit and watch opening night in Florida, I… have some concerns.  They are not playing badly, but just not too sharp.  It is opening night, though, so I’ll give them some slack.

I’ll start with the good:

Their offense which has consistently struggled post Parise and Kovi, has some real potential.  And the “new” style of fast paced hockey I think will really serve the new lineup well.

And Corey Schneider looks sharp.  In fact (well the score is tied 1-1 right now) but he’s the reason why the Panthers haven’t scored more is solely because of him.

And that brings me to the bad:

The game wasn’t chock full of penalties, but I feel like they were on their heels a little too often leading to some situations that they could have had better control of.

They haven’t spent a great deal of time in the offensive zone like the once were able to.  Keeping the puck in the Florida end is the best way to keep the pressure on and keep the chances going.  The best defense is a good offense, right?


The third period has just ended and they showed some life.  As Jen said while sitting next to me, “They woke up.”  She also noted that it took them four games last year to get a point, and we’ve done that game one tonight.  So that’s looking at the silver lining.

Now we go in to OT – I’m still not settled in to three on three overtime.  Something about it just makes me feel like this is part of some type of all-star competition, much like the shootout.  But I lived with it all last year and clearly the feedback wasn’t all that bad because here it still is this season.

Pavel Zacha make an incredible defensive play, stopping a shot attempt from point blank range in front of Schneider which probably saved the game as the OT clock ticked down.  But no more than a minute later we lost.  Schneider went to poke the puck away from Florida Panther Mike Matheson who came around the net and, unfortunately, Matheson passed it to Aleksander Barkov – instead of shooting it.  Schneider didn’t even see the pass and, with his head still turned, Barkov had the puck, shot the puck, and the puck hit the back of the net.


So game 1 ends up in the Regulation Overtime Loss column.  It wasn’t a bad game by any stretch of the imagination.  There’s some work that needs to be done.  The stats from tonights game:

Devils Panthers
24 Shots 34
18 Hits 19
16 Blocks 4
0/2 Power Plays 0/3
26 Face-Offs 30
8 Takeaways 10

This solidifies a bit what I was saying – their shots are indicative of the fact they didn’t spend as much time in the offensive zone as they should have or would have liked to see, and we spent more time defending as seen by the shots blocked category.  In total, Panthers made 50 attempts that either hit Schneider or another Devil.  Devils only had 28 – nearly half.  That needs to be addressed.

But I remain optimistic that the team on the ice has the potential to gel and become something special.  After all, that’s what being a fan is all about, right?  Unfettered optimism that your team will be great!

Post 201 – Welcome Back

So I’m sitting on the couch with my wife watching the game, and I thought to myself, “Self, I miss my Devils websites.”  I know, I know, it’s my own fault.  You know the last post I made was over three and half years ago.  And the original site that started the obsession with the team, njdevils.info, has been closed for some time – and to be honest would most likely be obsolete today.

Nevertheless, I’m sitting on the couch, watching game one of the 2016-17 season, and have decided I want to begin this again.  I watch a lot of hockey, and while the team and organization look drastically different from what it did three and a half years ago.  Are we rebuilding?  Are we just a mediocre team now?  Will they ever return to greatness like they once had or will they continue to struggle and miss the playoffs?  Quite honestly, no one knows the answer.  But with the management that has come in as long time GM Lou Lamoriello departed more than a year ago, I remain hopeful that they have the knowhow and understanding the construct a team that will soon be competitive once again.

Anyway, this is post 201.  But for all intents and purposes, it’s post 1.  Again.  I look forward to posting again, and making this at least a weekly thing, not a yearly thing.  As always, lets go Devils!

Hockey Will Return in 2013

Some good news came out of CBA negotiations at 5am this morning – a framework has been agreed upon by both the NHL and the Players Association.  While there is still a lot of work to be done, the preparations are taking place to get ready for the (2012-)2013 season.

In simple terms, both sides have to still sit down and formalize the physical document that is the Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Once the document is complete, then the NHL Board of Governors (the owners) and the Players Association need to review it and ratify it before hockey can resume.

While many fans feel that boycotting the games is the thing to do to "make a statement," I for one will not be participating in that.  Quite honestly, I’m just thrilled to have hockey back.  While I blame the owners for this mess this year, me not buying tickets to see them play isn’t going to affect things much.  The season ticket holders in the lower tier owned by most companies will still sell and still be empty during many games.  So the (majority of) fans who sit in the "cheap seats" who are going to make a statement will be a small blip on the Owners’ radar.

In other words, stop trying to make a point that won’t be heard, be happy the game is returning, and go out and support the players and your favorite team.

Oh, and here’s a statistic for you: the Devils have won 100% of the Stanley Cups during shortened seasons.

Open-mouthed smile

More Games Cancelled, Less People Care

The NHL made a mistake this past week.  The offered the players a 50/50 split and planned on playing all 82 games, thinking that the players would buy in to this and the owners wouldn’t lose a cent.  That, however, was a miscalculation.  The Players figure that the 50/50 split wasn’t much of a compromise on the leagues original offer since it’s probably what they wanted in the first place.

To counter-offer the leagues proposal, the NHLPA sent in three proposals which, in ten minutes, were dismissed by Commissioner Garry Bettman.  The reason? The proposals don’t make mathematical sense to the owners because it it doesn’t work out to an effective 50/50 split for the initial years.  Meaning that what you would see is an effective gradual decrease of the percentage over the life of the CBA, what the players wanted all along and what the owners won’t even consider.

Basically both sides are still very much far apart and I don’t see much changing any time soon.  And as such the league cancelled games through November 1st, although more cancellations will be coming later this week.

My prediction: this season is done for.  And if NHLPA leader Fehr is as good as we think he is, part of next season will get cancelled too.  The players are together on this, unlike in 2004 in which much of the union was fragmented.  By the time next season when they start to cancel games, the owners will cave because the amount of revenue lost will start to really hurt the teams and the league.  Garry Bettman will step down as the commissioner and the NHL will once again play hockey.

Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking…

Talks Resume in Secret as Games are Cancelled

As anticipated, the NHL cancelled games from the start of the season, calling it a “postponement” of the season.  I guess that’s a good sign.  But a better sign is that, as the Star Ledger reported, both sides came together for a secret meeting up in Toronto.

An even better sign that that, both sides are looking to get new proposals.  Previously both sides stated that they were awaiting the other side to submit something new.  If you believe in “I go then you go,” the Players Association was the last group to submit  a new proposal to the league, which they quickly turned down.  But the league argued that it was so far out of the ballpark they had to try again.  A do-over, if you will.

The fact that both sides have now asked for new proposals and both sides have agreed, means a compromise could be in the works, as suggested by ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.  This sounds like what the NHLPA has been looking for all along.

It is anticipated that both sides will have discussions this weekend on a new meeting date for sometime next week to review each other’s new proposal.

And now I agree with Chris Christie… Thanks NHL!

While plodding around on the inter-webs, I came across an article where two NHL Senators wrote a little love note to the NHL and NHLPA asking them to please settle their differences because this hurts local business in Newark – which I wholeheartedly agree with.  But I took away from this story two things:

1. The NHL and NHLPA don’t care about local businesses in and around arenas.  The NHL cares about what they feel is in the best interest of the league – however misguided it may be.  The NHLPA, like most unions, cares about itself and doesn’t dare peak outside the box for that would be against union regulations.  In many cases – it most likely is going against it’s members’ wishes to do what it feels is in it’s best interest to keep face and rake in as much money as possible.  And yet of the two sides, I have to hitch my boat to the NHLPA because I really feel the league is just trying to get away with whatever they want and truly justifying why unions still need to exist today.

2. I severely dislike the threat thrown in the letter by the senators stating “Congress has jurisdiction over interstate commerce, which includes professional sports, and will be keeping a ‘close eye’ on negotiations.”  So if everyone remembers what a waste of taxpayer money Congress spent during the baseball drug use trials, just remember they could easily waste money butting in to the issues being hashed out by the NHL and NHLPA.

And lets be honest here – Congress isn’t going to weigh in on this issue because, as I stated in yesterday’s post, not enough people care about hockey to really warrant someone paying attention to the problem.  And even if they did, they wouldn’t pay attention to the correct problem anyway, and that is in my mind the league feels it can strong-arm the players in to any deal they want because, if they don’t agree 100% to their terms, they’ll just lock the players out.  To me, that’s not negotiating in good faith.  I never thought I would be sticking up for the people who in a given year make more than I could ever imagine to make in a lifetime, but here we are and here I am – doing just that.

And now today I find an even more interesting news article in which Gov. Christie hopes to see the lockout end “as a fan” and for the “economic impact.” But he admitted that he couldn’t really add anything to help the situation along, and any politician who tries is just grandstanding.  And I agree.  Not to get in to a political debate here, but I’m not a big fan of the big governor.  I don’t agree with a lot of what he says or does.  But every so often I must admit that he says something that just makes real sense and I can’t deny it.  And this so happens to be one of those times.  Don’t sit around Congress and draft a letter to the NHL and the NHLPA asking them to make things right in their little world.  How about you try to help in the issues of things that really matter to the country?

 

Back to the hockey side of the NHL, we will most likely hear on Wednesday that the NHL has cancelled the start of the season.  Probably just the first few weeks to begin, and then they’ll continue to chip away as both sides sit and stare at each other waiting for the other to cave.  In recent meetings, both sides have met but not made any progress on the hockey related revenue.  Instead, discussions and progress are being made on other “peripheral” issues.  I think that means they’re discussing things like the players’ dental plans.

And then there were None

So last we spoke a la circa May 26th, the Devils were about ready to enter the Stanley Cup Finals with, who I would learn to dislike, the LA Kings and, apparently, Matthew Perry (seriously who names a character on their new sit-com after their favorite sports team?). It was quite a matchup. I maintain for the record that I did wish dearly the Devils would be better, but I knew the Kings had a leg up on them. From the start, it seemed like this was going to be a sweep. Thankfully the Devils made things interesting, but alas still could not put up enough of a fight to fend off the Kings and their quest to a cup.

Truthfully I have no ill feelings about anything that occurred. I was thankful and very pleased how the Devils came back to force a game 5 and 6. But in my mind the strong team won the cup. I’m man enough to admit that, and everyone should be as well.

Now on to more depressing news. The season is a little over a week and a half away, and the top story on the official Devils web site is about an Albany Devils scrimmage.

Like it or not, we’re not seeing an on-time start to this season. And, in the event it wasn’t evident enough on njdevils.info, I blame the owners, the league, and most importantly, the commmish.  Even just looking at pictures of him, this short round guy standing behind this oversized NHL podium, I can’t help but think to myself, “What a weasel.”

Wakeup call to all owners: you’ve missed the point!  You have a gun in your hand, and you didn’t aim it at players or fans or advertisers. No, you aimed it right at your foot, and fired at least three times. Congrats. The sport started gaining cred amongst the pro-sports franchises. The NHL was finally starting to catch up to the WNBA and about to overtake them as the 17th most watched sport.  Games were getting exciting.  The shootout was no longer being mocked by everyone – most people still were, but not everyone. The Winter Classic has been a huge hit in every city it’s been played, and a national TV deal with a major network was, amazingly, obtained (started out as Outdoor Life Network, then OLN, then Versus, then Vs., and finally NBC Sports – what a ride!).  Sure some southern states are finally succumbing to the fact that hockey will never work there – they’re too busy watching Honey Boo Boo to really care about real entertainment (seriously TLC, aka The Learning Channel, I’m disappointed in you).

Overall things are starting to take shape the NHL is starting to become credible in the public’s eye once more.

And then you pull this out of the bag.

 

If it wasn’t for the fact that I love hockey so much, that I’ve invested so much feeling, time, energy and – as you know so well – money, I’d seriously pick up another sport like Baseball or NASCAR.  But unfortunately for me, the Mets suck and I lost interest when racing became “safe.”  Oh and Pocono Raceway – a tri-oval? Really? At least add some cool banking to the turns or – ooooh better yet – throw in a chicane on the straightaway!

 

Huh? Oh yeah, Lockout!  I guess my point is, folks, if you think the world is going to miss having hockey, think again.  Most people I talk to don’t even realize there’s trouble brewing, let alone an immanent cancellation of opening night.  I hate to say this, but I’m pretty sure no one would realize hockey is missing until about February or March when people start talking about playoffs.  Get a deal done. Players may cave, but I have my doubts.  Players want 57, Owners want 47, lets make it 52 and move on with our lives folks. Lets play hockey. Having your fourth lockout since 1992 is not helping the sport at all people, and you better not be blind and think it’ll bounce back.  It takes time, years, and lost revenue before that’ll happen.  It hurts everyone, including you.

And then there were Two

I will not gloat about the Eastern Conference Finals Championship. Fact is both the Devils and the Rangers were two teams well matched for each other. And the Rangers made the Devils work hard and pay for their mistakes.

The Rangers have a good team, and a style that is tough to score against (a la games one and three). Unlike many Devils and Rangers fans, I don’t have a strong dislike for the opposition. And I didn’t feel as if one deserved moving on more than the other. But I of course felt that the Devils were capable as long as they continued their level of play. And, for more or less, they did just that.

For my dear Ranger fans, my condolences. The Devils have experienced the shock that you find yourself in just like the Rangers in the locker room are feeling. With one little scramble of the puck, a bounce, and a tap in, everything comes to a halt.

And then there were two…

P.S. For all of you Ranger fans who called the Devils a rookie team… ha. For all of you Ranger fans who point and chant “Maaaaaaartieeeeeeeeeee,” thank you – were quite fond of him too. And for all of you Ranger fans that had a chip on your shoulder feeling entitled to the Stanley Cup, Lord Stanley takes no pity on you. Enjoy the next round of golf.

Oh, and Torts, I think you got in to your players heads just a little to much. Something about you seems arrogant. I feel that may have lead to your eventual demise this post season.

Devils Come Alive in Game 4

My wife and I had the pleasure of joining those in section 122, the Diablose… Granted we were in row 2 so we were able to sit and enjoy must of the game. But by far this was perhaps the most fun I had in a very long time at a Devils game.

First, I have to give props to the Devils team that creates the visual effects and video on the jumbotron and LED ribbons around the rink. They created an audio/video experience which was, in principal, simple: red pulsating on every screen in the rink, a near black environment outside of that, and this industrial dark music which, all together, gave me the chills. It was awesome. In fact I’m looking forward to attending another game, partly because I want to experience it again. It set a tone throughout the fans in the arena that this is a different type of game. This is something much deeper, much more important. This is the playoffs. And we were about to see Hell on ice. About halfway through we started to wonder if this was some form of brain washing… But all in all it was a spectacular light and sound experience.

Second, I’ll admit that the game started out with me being unhappy with their level of play. They seemed a little disconnected, and things like passes weren’t connecting. They we also having trouble it seemed to keep any kind of offensive pressure.

But the best thing to come out of the first was that it was a 0-0 tie. No one was ahead, no one was down. In fact even shots on goal were tied at 10 apiece. Now we enter the second period, and the Devils have some more life to them and little step up in their game. And their hard work pays off as the score the first goal. We finally scored against Scott Clemmensen, which has seemed to prove difficult since he left the Devils.

The third period proved to be successful as the Devils were able to get more pucks on net, more pressure and consistent pressure in Florida’s end, and subsequently more goals on the board.

Marty Brodeur ended up with a shutout, breaking yet another record in the NHL. One thing to note is that because Marty has played for so long and played well for so long, I figure about every 4-6 months he will break some form of record. It is just inevitable.

Marty ended up as the first star of the game.

As I mentioned before this was perhaps the best game I’ve seen in a very long time. The Devils played well, the fans were really loud and in to the action on the ice. The place was just rocking.

Now the key: the Devils need to keep this up. They must continue to put consistent pressure on Florida and whoever they decide to throw in net. They need to play like they have the edge. In my mind they do; with the talent they have on the ice, they really do.