Update on Devils Injuries

Tom Gulitti has put together a nice update on all of the Devils injuries and who’s looking to return soon.  Here’s the latest on all the Devils who find themselves still ailing – and my speculations on when they may return.

  • John Madden skated Tuesday in practice back in New Jersey.  He is not going to make the trip down to Florida, but expect to see him – at the very least – in the pre-game skate in Pittsburgh on Saturday.  Depending on how it feels, he may play Saturday.
  • Bobby Holikalso skated on Tuesday  -for the first time since his broken pinkie.  (Not for nothing – but why couldn’t he skate with a broken pinkie?)  He most likely won’t see any practice time with the team for until mid next week.
  • Brian Rolstondid make some time on the ice.  He will be practicing with the team later than Holik as his right ankle is still not 100%.
  • Andre Greene  was also on the ice, and was going to have his hand looked at by the team doctor later on Tuesday.  The results of that meeting have yet to been released…
  • David Clarkson – Bet you didn’t know he was injured.  He is today!  And guess what, he hurt his right foot.  His foot was struck by a puck shot during practice.  He says he’s just fine and left practice for “precautionary” reasons and will “be able to go tomorrow.”

As expected, there are no updates on Martin Brodeur.

There are no expected roster changes for Wednesday’s game against Florida, and coach Brent Sutter has not disclosed who will be starting in net.  If he goes with Scott Clemmensen, expect him to be the typical net minder as long as he doesn’t a) screw up and b) get injured… 😯

Lightning Show Good Reasons Not to have Third Jersey

Well the general consensus is that “they’re not bad…” but my thought is if you have something on the front of your jersey that A) has never been your logo, B) is not some variation of your logo, C) involves no colors that make up any of your team colors, or D) does not involve any of the words that make up your actual team name, throw it out.

The Lightning’s third jersey, dawned on Sunday, may get a bad reputation quickly.  The jersey, which simply say “BOLTS” diagonally down the front, was crushed by New Jersey’s same old jersey’s they’ve worn since 1992.

I shouldn’t say the Devils crushed the Lightning, Devils’ Dainius Zubrus crushed the Lightning, as he scored four goals in one game, tying the team record last seen by Patrik Elias on March 30, 2003 against the New York Islanders.

Zubrus and Brian Gionta now find themselves tied for third position in the Goal leaders of the team.

One of the nicest aspects of this game, and the past few wins by the Devils, is the fact that goals are coming from different sticks.  Look at the goal scorers from the Devils last four wins:

  • David Clarkson (2)
  • Patrik Elias (3)
  • Brian Gionta (4)
  • Jamie Langenbrunner
  • Paul Martin (2)
  • Zach Parise
  • Michael Rupp
  • Bryce Salvador
  • Travis Zajac
  • Dainius Zubrus (4)

If you are thinking that’s a lot, you’re correct.  That’s 20 goals in the past 4 games, an average of 5 goals per game.  And they are from all over the roster.  The Devils now have a total of 61 goals this season 20 games in, which puts them on a pace of scoring 250 goals this season.

The last two seasons they had more goals than that was 1999-2000 (251) and 2000-2001 (295).

The important thing to note here is this: they win when they score.  With 4 or more goals, the Devils have a record of 7-0-1.  That is, they have gotten 15 out of a possible 16 points.

Not for nothing, but this defensive style team seems to work well when they score, and their history also shows this as being the case.

Now for the net minder debate:

I have held an opinion on this and I believe that my opinion differs than many around here.  I know people are seeing Kevin Weekes as being shaky when he plays.  Sure he is!  He is on pace of being replaced as the number one goalie for the third time, maybe fourth in his career!  Of course he’s nervous.  But if you give him a shot, like we are giving Scott Clemmensen, you will notice that on the level of skill they are pretty equal.

Now the question does arise, does Weekes let goals against him get to him more than Clemmensen?  That may be true.  Right now, Scott Clemmensen has a record of 3-2-0 and Kevin Weekes has a record of 2-3-0.  I personally think that it’s too soon to call one better than the other – I need some more games under each net minders belts to figure that one out.

Some other notes:

“Chico” stated recently that he expects Rolston, Holik, and Greene all to return in 2 to 3 weeks.  Although nothing official has come out, this seems to be a realistic timeline.  Rolston was on pace to come back sooner, but he has cut his skating down slightly as he believes he was moving faster than his injury was healing.

John Madden is still out with a sore left foot.  Although he is not officially injured, he is “day to day” and isn’t expected to be out long term.  Although he did not make the trip down to Florida, there is nothing to say he may not join the team to play against the Panthers on Wednesday.

Mike Mottau will finish up his two game suspension on Wednesday and return to the team on Saturday against the Penguins.

Barry Tallackson has filled the void of John Madden while Jay Leach has filled the void of Mike Mottau.

The Devils have four more games left in this away stretch, which ends Saturday, December 6 against the Montreal Canadians.

The last time the Devils won four games in a row was last season, February 16 through the 24 when they won five games in a row.  Prior to that was also last season, November 17 through December 7 when they won eight games in a row.

Mike Mottau Suspended by NHL for 2 Games

The Devils, who won on Friday night against the New York Islanders (I’ll post more on that later) will have to go without Mike Mottau for the next two games.

The play in question was an elbow that reached Frans Neilsen’s head, knocking him to the ice pretty hard.  After Neilsen fell, additionally injuring his right knee when falling, Mike Mottau found himself in a fight with Islander Trent Hunter.

Once the dust settled, Mottau received 2 minutes for elbowing and 5 minutes for fighting.  Trent Hunter received 2 minutes for instigating and 5 minutes for fighting.  He was also assessed a 10 minute misconduct for instigating.

According to Tom Gulitti, Mottau had a conference call hearing with the NHL at 1:00 pm today and discovered that he will be forced to sit out Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Wednesday against the Florida Panthers.

As I posted on the aforementioned article,

I’m not trying to make excuses, but it looked like an accident. Mike realized that Neilsen was drifting to the right, so Mike stretched to complete his hit. At the same time, Neilsen looked to be dodging the hit so he lowered himself causing Mottau’s elbow to hit Neilsen’s head.

That plus the fact that Trent Hunter went after Mottau evened everything out.

In any event, I understand the NHL wants to make sure players understand that stuff like elbows to the head wont be tolerated.

But my count has Mottau with 4 penalties this season, two of which were last night. The other two was Interference (Game 1) and Tripping (Game 13)… not exactly up there in the Goon category.

I’m sure some will say I am simply expressing my bias to the Devils, but in actuality, I think the league has been making poor decisions like this league wide.  I’m sure they feel they must make these suspensions for public relations reasons and to ensure the correct message is sent down to the rest of the players, but really, Mike Mottau?

In the Stands: Devils find victory in tough matchup

The night started out as most do to trips to the Prudential Center.  Jen and I board the train in Dover on the way to Newark – though this time we had a few friends with us.  The six of us were planning on meeting a seventh who was arriving at Newark Penn outside the arena.

I wasn’t afraid, though, of finding a method to the arena.  Unlike opening night, members of the New Jersey Devils contacted me to assure me that shuttles would be waiting like they were last year to take fans to and from the game.

What I didn’t realize was that the shuttles sat, literally, 12 people.  And they wouldn’t pack everyone in them like the old shuttle buses used to.  That is, until the sky opened up and we were drenched.  Then they allowed us to stand in the shuttles.  There also only appeared to be two of them, so you were waiting quite some time before you were able to be picked up.

Okay, so now we finally get in to the arena.  I have, once again, missed the opening ceremonies, but thankfully I was able to see the opening face-off.  But I’m excited to be there.  It feels like the Devils home now.  Things have settled in and I can’t picture the Devils playing anywhere else.

As always, attendance pops in my head as I notice there are empty luxury boxes and lower tier seats, but the rest of the arena is packed, and the lower tier seemed fuller than normal.  Perhaps that’s because they all want $1 hot dogs…

The Devils opened up the game scoring a very early goal.  I laughed at the comment made by a fan behind me who said “This never happens for the Devils!”  The Devils, like they played on Friday against the Capitals, played strong.  They were on top of things, but net minding still seemed a little shaky.  Scott Clemmensen made his second start in a back to back game.

But that’s not to say there weren’t setbacks.  Brian Gionta took a penalty before the halfway point of the period was hit and not even 30 seconds later, Washington capitalized and scored to tie up the game.  Alex Ovechkin broke the tie at the end of the period, which I felt was going to drain the life out of the Devils for the second period.

To my surprise, it didn’t; mostly thanks to Jamie Langenbrunner who scored in the first minute to tie things up and bring the energy back in to the team and the fans.  Patrik Elias scored to break the tie, and although Washington did score later in the second, it looked as if the Devils actually had the strength to break out of the losing streak they found themselves in.

The Devils penalty killing unit did kill off a penalty during the second, as Colin White found himself in the penalty box for cross checking Alex Ovechkin.  Personally, I think it was justified.  But the Devils penalty kill wasn’t tested again after that, and their record has been pretty poor this week.

Patrik Elias looked really solid the entire game, while Zach Parise was neutralized.  This is something very important, though, to the team.  They need to have more than one guy who can score goals consistently for the team.  Zach Parise cannot be the only one, as teams will begin to figure this out, and cover him.  Guys like Patrik Elias, Jamie Langenbrunner, John Madden, and even Jay Pandolfo must be able to get in front and get the shots that they need to make offense happen.

Scott Clemmensen did not seem to play any better than Kevin Weekes.  In my opinion, they are pretty much at the same level, but nevertheless, Brent Sutter will stick with Clemmensen as long as he thinks the team as a whole will play better with him between the pipes.

Scoring went back and forth in  the third period, but it looked as if they were truly going to win it as the clock was winding down and the Devils were showing some good defensive plays.  The crowd was very much in to this game as well; a buzz was going through the stands as Devils fans excited and happy began the wave that went around several times.

A face-off deep in the Devils zone, however, and a struggle in the front of the net left Alex Ovechkin open to take a shot from a rebound and put it in the top corner of the net.

From the stands, the green light went on before the red light, so it appeared as if the goal came too late.  But it was reviewed and, apparently evident to the TV viewers that this goal was scored while there was still a second left on the board.  The arena grew silent as overtime began, as did I.  Fans were distraught, as was the team and Brent Sutter, from what I heard.

Washington made the best chances in Overtime, but the Devils found a way to hold them off and the shootout began.  Clemmensen, from what I remembered in the past, was a very strong shootout goaltender, so I figured getting past overtime and in to the shootout would be best for him.

First up was ex-Devil Viktor Kozlov.  Devils fans appropriately booed him recognizing he was an ex-Devil.  Clemmensen saved his shot, as well as the other two capitals that went up.  To be honest, they didn’t even look like they had great opportunities – unlike the Devils.  First Zach Parise faked out the Washington net minder and was able to get the puck in the wide open opposite side of the net.  Then Patrik Elias tried to feed the puck through Jose Theodor’s legs, but to no avail.

Last up for Washington was Boyd Gordon, but he again was what appeared to be an easy stop for Clemmensen and the Devils rushed out to celebrate the end of the losing streak, their first victory since Wednesday, November 5.

Above are the photo’s from the game.

Devils Break 4 Game Losing Streak

I just returned home from the game.  I’ll be happy to post full details about the game, pictures and details, tomorrow after I’ve hada good night’s rest!  That, plus I need to dry out.

All I really want to say is “thank you” for breaking this four game losing streak, getting more than a goal or two, and finally clicking on the special teams.  I almost died when Washington tied it up with 1 second left, but we kept Ovechkin and the Capitals off the board during the shootout, so I am very happy. 😀

Good night all!

“Not winning games is getting frustrating.”

Really, Brian Gionta couldn’t have said it better.  The official Devils record sans Martin Brodeur is now 1-5-0 and we now have two goalies that split this record.

I’m not going to yell at the Devils tonight, though.  Personally, I thought the team looked about 175% better than they did on Wednesday.  In a way, I think their level of play was consistent and promising.  I even was ecstatic about the fact that the Devils only took one penalty.

Brent Sutter, of course, was not happy about it, especially since it was a lazy “Too Many Men on the Ice” penalty, but if you can play the Capitals and only give up two goals without taking a single hooking, holding, interference, or abuse of the officials penalty, I think you did a good job.

Furthermore, the Devils only gave up two goals, and if they could score more than 2 goals in a game, maybe they would win a game or two.

The Devils goal simply capitalized on a mistake made by Washington, however.  Patrik Elias took a long pass from Brian Gionta and caught the Capitals in a bad line change.  He was in all alone and managed to get the puck through Washington net minder Jose Theodore’s gaping 5-hole.

Hey, and who can forget the fact that Paul Martin returned to the Devils lineup and aided in keeping Washington off the board even more.  That cannot be downplayed too much; as the team begins to reassemble with players coming back from injury, the Devils may find the hope and the strength they need to get past this losing streak, now at four games.

The Devils simply need more talent on offense, and better special teams.  I do agree with coach Sutter in that Scott Clemmensen played well tonight, but I didn’t think his caliber of play far exceeded that of Kevin Weekes, enough so that Sutter has decided to play Scott again on Saturday for part two of the Devils-Capitals Home and Home series.

Personally, I’d simply flip-flop them back and forth until one of them clicks.  As it stands, Clemmensen has a record of 0-2-0 while Kevin Weekes stands at 1-3-0.  Neither of those are good, but Sutter apparently sees more promise in Clemmensen than Weekes.

I will admit that in Wednesday’s debacle against the Rangers, Weekes did look flustered during the second period when the team decided to take a 20 minute break.  But in the event you couldn’t read the sarcasm in the last sentence, I don’t blame that period on Weekes or consider him at fault for that.  If you put Clemmensen in the same situation, I’d be interested to see how he handles it.  Maybe he’d be calmer, in which case I take it back.  But personally I don’t see that as being the case.

In any event, overall the Devils did perform better; the team as a whole played harder, had more puck possession, more attack time, and better defensive plays.  The Devils even out-shot their opponent which is amazing to me because I always find the Devils shoot wide of the net a great deal.

Today, Saturday, I will actually be attending the game and resurrecting At the Red Line’s In the Stands section.  I should also be able to take some pictures until things go downhill and I get depressed.

This will be a very telling game, however.  If the Devils at the very least pull out one point, I may find a glimmer of hope this season.  A win would always be nice, but without one, I may need to resurrect the panic button.  Interestingly enough, it was around this time in which I posted that button last season, and right around this time, things turned around for the Devils to a winning streak that stretched between November and December.  Maybe it’ll work once again…

Who knows, frustration may be a very good motivator because it’ll make the team desperate.  That isn’t necessarily a bad thing: frustrated players play harder, grittier, and will make more hits.  That plus the home crowd will lead to a noisy arena and pump up the players (hopefully).  And unlike Wednesday night, I don’t imagine we’ll find too many visiting team fans making a ruckus or chanting louder than Devils fans.

The key to Saturday night’s game: offense.  The Devils have scored only 9 goals in the last 18 periods of play.  They have yet to win a game this week.  Although they cannot take penalties, they are simply apart of hockey and the Devils Penalty Killing units must be stronger.  And when they have power plays, scoring chances are nice, but they must find a way to get the puck in the net.  Collapsing in on the goalie isn’t a bad start, but they can’t get caught out of position.  Plays like this come with practice and good coaching, and I believe that the Devils can get it done.

I seriously believe the season is not lost.  Not yet.  The past ten games they have won twice and lost eight times.  They are in a frustrating time, but again as players begin to return I think we could see the team start to play like they did when the season first started, getting five wins in six games, making good plays, having good positioning, and scoring when it counted.  It’s not far fetched, but without Brodeur, will the players believe they can do it?  I think they can.  And now to take off my rose colored glasses for the evening… 😉

Ooof…

Well, this was the worst game of the season for the Devils.  The wheels spun off in the second period and the Devils simply couldn’t recover.  And to make matters worse, it was against the Rangers.

First, I want to preface this and stipulate that, hey, the Rangers played well.   And it was the entire team that was nonexistent after the first period.  Anyone wearing red.

Here is something I’d also like to point out.  The Devils record since Martin Brodeur has left: 1-4-0

In fact, they should post this in the Devils locker room.  The Devils must get it through their minds that Brodeur is gone, and for a long time.  They must collectively step up and play harder, grittier, tougher, faster, better.  And, to further make life difficult, people are not going to be coming back anytime soon.  Rolston, Holik, Brodeur, Leblond, Greene and Martin are all out for a combined 44 games.  You may see this number double before you see consistancy on the Devils roster.  In fact, the Devils may be lucky if they are able to get consistancy on the roster at all this season.

I can’t even blame the refs for making bad calls.  They, in fact, are calling the games consistently.  I don’t like the fact that a stick up near someone’s stomach is instantly called a hooking penalty, but the fact is the refs continue to call it, and the Devils need to learn that they can’t continue to do that.

I’m not going to take anything away from Rangers net minder Lundqvist either.  He did play very well.  But a vulnerability opened up: rebounds work against him.  And yet the Devils can’t position themselves in order to take advantage of it.  Even Jamie Langenbrunner admitted that they couldn’t capitalize on the chances they get.

To make the game even worse, they Devils got into some serious penalty troubles during the second period, leading to two separate 5-on-3 advantages for the Rangers, both of which the Rangers were able to score on.

Brent Sutter decided to pull Kevin Weekes for the start of the third period, putting Scott Clemmensen in net as his replacement.  “I thought at times he looked shaky tonight,”  Sutter claimed.  “And also I felt that team needed to be shook and changed. That part isn’t his fault. It’s coach’s decision.”

Clemmensen did give up a goal, but did not have the pressure on him that Kevin Weekes had.  In fact, during that second period, Kevin Weekes had 20 shots against him.  Devils were unable to clear the puck out, they were unable to intercept passes, they were unable to clear out the Ranger forwards from in front of the net, they were unable to get many, if any scoring chances or even really have some form of offensive pressure for nearly two thirds of the game.

So far I’ve discussed the Devils poor defense, lack of offense, and even the goaltending just wasn’t up to par to exacerbate the issue.  But the issues drive even deeper than the core fundamentals of hockey.  The Devils Power Play and Penalty Kill can’t keep up right now – almost to the point of embarrassment.

This was just a bad game overall.  The second period did them in, but they only had good chances during the first period and a little bit in the third.

Sure, you can point to injuries.  Sure, you can point to the loss of Brodeur.  Sure, you can point to the fact that the Devils have struggled against the Rangers for the past couple of seasons.  Sure, you can point to the tough calls against the Devils by the refs.  But you cannot deny the fact that the Devils just didn’t come prepared for this game.  They went to take the SAT’s and forgot to bring their pencils.

Like Ken Daneyko during the intermission, I am up in arms about this game and the amount that went wrong here.  But please, if you take anything away from what I have said above, please let it be that this was a complete collapse across the board for the Devils.  Not one aspect was on key tonight.  Everything from bad penalties to poor goaltender to horrible penalty kills and lack of defense – not one thing really worked after the first 20 minutes.

In that first period, I would just like to point out, immediately during and after the first goal was scored by Travis Zajac, a skirmish occurred behind the night, cutting short the celebration and I think eliminating the Devils energizing goal to start off the game.  I think that may have messed with their heads a little because after the first intermission, that same team was not on the ice.  During the first period, the Devils outshot the Rangers 13 to 5.  The second and third periods, the Rangers outshot the Devils 37 to 19.

I’ll end with this: the Rangers played well, but we didn’t put up much of a fight.

Rangers take on the Rock and Brodeur Notes

I’d be lying if I said I was looking forward to this game.  But as a close Ranger’s fan mentioned to me, he had nearly a decade of losing to the Devils – so this is just some payback.

While I agree with what he says, I don’t like it!

In any event, there is a silver lining to this game: the Devils will see the return of Brian Gionta and Bryce Salvador to the lineup.  Tom Gulitti confirmed both players skated in Tuesday’s practice and both players made statements they were ready to play.  Brian Gionta said “After sleeping and coming back, I felt tight.  It was a pretty good impact. Things kind of tightened up.”  Bryce Salvador also claimed things just didn’t feel right on Sunday, but an X-Ray has come back negative and he too is ready for Wednesday’s match up.

Devils will still be without Paul Martin who is up on Injured Reserve and probably won’t be back until after the upcoming Home and Home series against the Washington Capitals Friday the 14 and Saturday the 15.

Some Brodeur Notes:

Brodeur is bored and visited the team on Tuesday at practice.  Apparently he was playing with a mostly torn tendon in his arm before it completely ripped back on November 1.  He spends his time watching TV and not much else.  If you interested in reading how his tendon rolled up and flipped over (which personally the thought gives me the hebe jebies), check out this article by Rich Chere.

The aforementioned article also mentions that Brodeur’s cast may come off as early as the end of the week, but his arm must remain immobile for the next weeks around his elbow.

He has also been encouraged by some who have mentioned he could start working out in as early as two months, but he admits that isn’t very likely; Brodeur will most likely not see action until March.

Injury Updates – all of them…

Rich Chere over at the Star Ledger was kind enough to speak with Lou Lamoriello and get an update on the Devils injured players – by my count, all of them with the exception of Martin Brodeur. You can read what Rich Chere wrote here, but I’ve also comprised a simplified list for those of you looking for the Cliff Notes version.

  • Paul Martin (upper body soreness) was placed on Injured Reserve, but is eligible to come off for Wednesday’s game against the Rangers if he feels up to it. My take is that this is not very likely.
  • Brian Gionta (soreness) “is fine” according to Lou, but still a little sore. Expect to see him on Wednesday.
  • Bryce Salvador (left foot) is day to day, and may not see ice time on Wednesday. He will most likely come out for the pre-game skate, and will decide then if he is good enough to play.
  • Andrew Greene (broken right hand) has his cast off, and will need to start working on getting back in to shape soon.
  • Bobby Holik (broken right pinky) is scheduled to have the pins removed soon, and could be working out as early as next week.
  • Brian Rolston (sprained ankle) will start to practice on ice by the end of this week.
  • Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (cracked orbital bone) is listed as day to day, but I wouldn’t expect him to play for another week or two.
  • Rodney Pelley (sore back) is also listed as day to day. Expect to see him return early to mid next week.

Chere also asked Lou Lamoriello if he anticipates trading players to help fill the void left by the injured team. Lou, although did not deny the possibility, did say “Right now we have to weather this storm. Right now it’s giving people the opportunity to come forward. And people who can do more have to take that responsibility. Our best players have to be our best players.”

Devils Have Unproductive Weekend

First, as previously reported, Brian Gionta and Bryce Salvador were supposedly returning to play Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers as they were not seriously injured Saturday at Detroit.

Well, the Devils were not so lucky.  But Gionta and Salvador stayed off the ice on Sunday.  Brian Gionta complained of overall soreness, and Salvador did come out for the pre-game skate, but decided against it.

To make matters worse, the Devils came out of the back-to-back weekend games without a single point.  Sure you could blame this on the dozens of injuries the Devils are currently dealing with.  But who wants to make up excuses?

The Devils did have another scare tonight, when Mike Mottau was hit in the face with a stray puck.  Yes, he was sitting on the bench minding his own business when a shot around the boards came up and struck him right in the face.  He did leave quickly, but eventually returned later that period, with no apparent scratches or marks.

Brent Sutter, whose apparently very tired of his injury prone team, hung his head as Mottau was rushed to the dressing room.

Scott Clemmensen took the start tonight, as Sutter doesn’t wish to wear out Weekes.  But Clemmensen did miss a what should have been an easy shot, as it went between his legs and in to the net.  While I’d love to pin this on the goaltender as being his fault, the Devils only scored one goal, and yet again, Zach Parise got it.

Zach Parise now leads the Devils with 11 goals; he finds himself in second place in the league.

Perhaps when Rolston returns, as well as some of the other injured Devils, we will see more offense.  Nevertheless, until then, the Devils will have a mostly minor league team as most of Lowell finds themselves on the Devils roster.