Devils Dysfunction Continues At Home

I won’t lie, I didn’t catch the whole game.  But from what I have seen, they just are not able to muster anything at home.  They are unbeaten away, but home now they sit at 4 losses and 1 win.

Why is the Prudential Center the worst place for them to play?

It’s just a mental thing.  They come in now with the anticipation of loosing.  You can’t deny the fact that yes, they have had some tough opponents at home to start the season.  But there was very few times in tonight’s game that the Devils looked like they were putting up much of a challenge.

Defensively the Devils were without Paul Martin, easily the Devils number 1 defenseman.  They are also missing Jay Pandolfo

But fact is, they still cannot win at home.  Devils coach Jacques Lemaire doesn’t want the fact that they simply play much better away to get into the players head simply because he doesn’t want them to focus on that from now on.  I think it’s too late.

 

The Devils need to clean up their play in front of Martin Brodeur.  Martin’s absence cannot mean the end of defense, and based on the fact that Martin was present in the other 3 home losses means that he is not the reason for tonight’s bad game.

 

I’m not going to dwell on this further.  The Devils will be playing away tomorrow – it is rumored the backup netminder Yann Dannis could take the ice tomorrow, but that would go against what Jacques wanted to do – he was hoping to sure of the Devils defense before he put Dannis in net.  That may not be something that occurs anytime this season, so Jacques may need to break that promise.

Devils Stuck Between The Rock and a Hard Place

Warning: I’m not happy about this loss.  The following article is being written in this unhappy state and thus may sound like the game was much worse then it actually was.  My bias should be considered when reading.  Thank you for your attention to this warning.

 

Not much has changed on the Devils front.  In the past 6 games, the Devils have a 3-3 record.

This may not sound too bad, but in the 6 total games, one of them was a great game.  The Devils – Washington matchup was perhaps the best game they’ve played in a long time.  But the wins against the two Florida teams I don’t consider a strong win.  Against competitive teams, like the Flyers, Rangers, and now the Thrasher, the Devils fail.

Yes, Washington I also count as a competitive team – that’s the silver lining to this cloudy season.

 

Power Play – still sucks.  They went 0 for 6, including a brief 5 on 3.  In fact Atlanta scored a short-handed goal on one of the last power plays the Devils had.

Fact is, they are not getting in the middle of the ice, their passing the puck around looking for an open lane and not making opportunities.  To be successful, you cannot simply wait for a mistake, you must make them make a mistake.

Their over passing lead to the giveaway that eventually lead to the short handed goal that did the Devils in during the third period.

 

Defense – still sucks.  The defense was on their heals while Atlanta passed and skated the puck around them.  One of Atlanta’s goals came from a play in which two Thrashers skated down on one Devils defenseman – Johnny Oduya.  The correct play in this situation is to prevent the pass to the other rushing forward and let the goalie handle the man with the puck.

Instead, Oduya let the pass go right through him, Brodeur couldn’t get over to the opposit side, and the shot went in.  Oduya was spinning trying to recover and never had a chance of helping Brodeur out.

Oduya wasn’t the only man in trouble.  Bryce Salvador (I believe) was caught in an obvious set play in which the Atlanta Thrashers plant a man in front of Brodeur – Antropov, Peverley passes the puck to him, Antropov quickly passes it back and Peverley shot it in to the now out-of-position netminder.  Salvador was the monkey in the middle of this play and literally had his back to the man making the shot because he was too confused as to where the puck was going.

 

This was just abysmal.  Thankfully, I can’t put much of the blame on Brodeur.  There was a goal by their young draft pick, Evander Kane, who shot one that appeared to drop just below Brodeur’s glove and into the net.  That was, from my point of view, the only goal he should have really stopped.  Say he did, the Devils still lost 3-2.

 

Penalties – bad penalties – added salt to the wound.  The Devils took way too many penalties, including their third "Too Many Men on the Ice" penalty of the season – giving the Thrasher not just the man advantage for two minutes, but also the momentum.

Colin White took a tripping penalty that was just lazy – in going to reach from the puck, he instead pushes a player’s skate out from under him.

 

In total, the Thrashers only had three power plays to work with, but the Devils penalty killers let them score two goals.  The Penalty Kill, as crazy as this may sound, didn’t seem that bad to me, but Defense overall needs work.

 

 

The Devils will take the ice again tomorrow night against the Carolina Hurricanes.  There is no word yet on who will be sitting in goal.  Martin Brodeur would love to, and Jacques Lemaire wants to hold off on installing Yann Danis until he’s certain the team can support Danis.

To be honest, the team can’t support Brodeur either right now.  I’d say throw in the backup netminder and give Brodeur a rest.  There’s no need to overwork him this early in the season.  And maybe without the assurance of Brodeur in net the defense will kick it up a notch.  I guarantee if you look at tape from last year, when Scott Clemmensen was in net, the Devils defensemen looked a whole lot better.

Devils Capitalize on the Road

After a dismal start to the season (I know, only two games, but they were dismal!), the Devils took a trip down south to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals.

Apparently it was just the Rock that caused the Devils to play poorly.

The Devils have come away with winning all three games away, making their record 3-2-0.

 

It’s actually a refreshing sight – last year the Devils had a habit of starting a game really well and then dropping the second and third periods giving their opponent ample time and opportunity to come back, and 9 out of 10 times they did.

Now, it’s the complete opposite, where the Devils end the first period down, and come back to get the win.

To be fair, looking at Monday’s game against the Washington Capitals, the Devils actually played a whole 60 minutes against them, and fought hard the entire game.  Washington, as always, has a tough team to beat thanks to star Alexander Ovechkin.  He’s one of those "always dangerous" players that make you cringe when they have the puck.  But the Devils had a complete new style against them – they were taking pucks away from them, intercepting dangerous passes, and even getting some great offensive opportunities.

Who were these guys?

 

I give most of the credit to David Clarkson.  Clarkson was rumored to be the breakout player for the team – the guy who was going to just have the year that represents his career.

As we’ve seen in the past, one season or handful of seasons does not a player make, e.g. Brian Gionta, John Madden, etc.  Nevertheless, it appears as if he’s going to have an awesome season.  He’s already had a point a game streak running for 4 games, he’s tough, physical, can park himself in front of the opponents net (a la Brian Gionta style), and he fights.

What more could you want in a player?

In fact, in Monday’s game against the Capitals, he had a fight near the end of the first when the Devils went down 2-0, and scored the game tying goal forcing overtime.

 

Don’t be afraid to say this, either, the acquisition of Rob Niedermayer has not been in vain.  He is as visible on the ice as Jamie Langenbrunner and Zach Parise.  If you get a chance to go to a game, watch him.  He’s in the right places at the right times and is experienced enough not to get himself in trouble easily.

As much as I may criticize, the Devils actually have some good offensive strength it appears.  Just looking at some of the core player, Rob Niedermayer, Jamie Langenbrunner, Zach Parise, David Clarkson and Patrik Elias are all strong players.  Plus you have support from longstanding veterans like Jay Pandolfo, who is also showing signs of having a great season, that make the Devils almost impressive to watch.

On offense.

Weird, right?

 

It would be nice to see the Devils sure up their defense a little more.  Someone who can make the Stevens-esk type hit or the Ken Daneyko-ish type grittiness, would be a welcome addition.  However, Johnny Oduya seems to be coming along at a slow but steady pace, and Paul Martin still seems to be the anchor of their defense.  Colin White is also solid in his position but doesn’t seem to be as tough as he once was.

 

As for Martin Brodeur, he, appears to be playing much better, as he predicted.  But he’s still given up goals that you sometimes question.  Nevertheless, he’s been stronger in net and has given the Devils two wins via shootouts.

What’s the deal with njdevils.info?

Some have asked, others have been more secretive.  Why is njdevils.info so… stale?

Okay, okay.  I’m publically announcing "Uh – I’ve been busy…"

Here’s the dark secret: me, myself, and I work on this site.  Have you tried to get things done when you have a multiple personality disorder?  Let me tell you, it’s difficult!

 

Okay, in all seriousness, njdevils.info will thrive once again.  As of right now, it’s easy to post some blog entries, so that’s what I have been doing the past week.

The long and the short of it is, I just need time.  As many of my loyal followers are aware, I am no longer single (I know ladies, but there are other fish in the pond, I swear, and you’ll find one soon, I promise).  And let me tell you, living away from home is difficult!  You have to go food shopping, pay rent, wash your own clothes – I didn’t realize so much more was involved!

Anywho, between all of that, a full time job, a part time job, another part time job, and cleaning up after a cat who likes to use his dry food as toys, I find myself minus time to spare.

 

So here’s the plan:

  1. I am going to develop a simple little interface to help with inputting box scores.  I spend entirely way to much time trying to do this, and it’s about time I make my life a little easier in this process.
  2. Upload all missing photos for every game.
  3. Begin working on videos for this season.  I’ll work on last seasons soon.
  4. Finish up Members Area and re-create the mailing lists.
  5. Work on Members Area of the News Center.

After the above is finished, the next following items will be developed simultaneously:

  • Update and expand the Devils Data section.
  • Update the NHL Zone and reintegrate with njdevils.info.
  • Update the Downloads section.
  • Promote and integrate DevilSphere with the other njdevils.info sites.

For anyone curious to hear about more, please feel free to contact me or post a message in "General Management" at DevilSphere.

Devils Drop to Rags, Start Season Off 0-2-0

Unlike Game 1, the Devils actually tried harder and played for just about all of the 60 minutes that made up Game 2.  The problem is, they still lost.

If you watched the game in its entirety, you would know that the players played harder, defense was visible many times (still not all, but much better after Saturday’s debacle against the Flyers), and Brodeur let up a few softies that he should have had.

The one in particular that sticks out in my mind today is one shot from the top of the near circle that slid under Brodeur’s right pad making it’s way into the net.

 

Coach Lemaire is keepings things positive and is not worried, like a good veteran coach, but he doesn’t seem to be showing much fire or emotion, something that Pat Burns had that made the team, in my mind, motivated.

It appears as if he’s trying to build the teams confidence and thinks that will play a part.  I think if the team continues to progress like they have between games 1 and 2, they will be just fine.  The Devils started the scoring on Monday night’s game against the Rangers, instead of reacting to scoring like they did Saturday night against the Flyers.

Rob Niedermayer and Travis Zajac were the two Devils that scored, with assists coming from David Clarkson twice, along with Zach Parise and Jay Pandolfo.

Rob Niedermayer appears to be a solid addition to the team, adding some extra power and scoring ability on his line.  Perhaps a few more western acquisitions might not be such a bad thing, giving the Devils more scoring power overall.

 

The Power Play had ample opportunity to score but only connected once in five chances.  Rangers had six tries and scored on three of them.

I guess the Power Play isn’t the only thing that needs work.

 

Overall the game was better, but they still need to working on playing as a team.  It’s obvious they aren’t fully connected to each other – passes are going behind teammates, are being easily intercepted, and breaking into the offensive zone, let alone getting a cycle going or getting scoring chances are tough.  Even line changes are a little convoluted and need some more time to work out.

But the same thing occurred when Brent Sutter took over the team and in a month or so the team finally came around.

 

For now the Devils will be practicing on everything until their next matchup on Thursday when they begin a three game road trip south – Tampa Bay, then Florida Panthers followed by the Washington Capitals.

 

One last note – the Devils have announced that the free shuttle service from the Broad Street Station to the arena has been discontinued.  This is really a shame for Devils fans, like myself, trying to get to the arena via the Broad Street station.

Chances are, with this message being posted online, they are not going to cave like they did last year and restore the shuttle service for the games.  As indicated in the last post, write, call or e-mail the team and let them know about the convenience of getting to games – how that was one of the big pushes for bringing the team to Newark, and how loosing this free shuttle hurts that image.

Heck, if they charged a buck for the shuttle that gets you right behind the arena, I’d pay it!  As it stands now, the walk from Penn Station through the Gateway Center is quite long – it feels longer then just two blocks – and the bus drops you off not near the arena but about 3 blocks away.

For me, I don’t mind the walk, but I’m sure for many this is not convenient.

Nevertheless, I assume the fact that this has been posted online, they have made up their mind and do not have any plans of changing back.  Last year when they tried this, they kept it very quiet and made no mention of it anywhere.  Now that we have it printed out, my guess is they’ve stopped it for good.

Someone forgot to tell the Devils that game counts…

There are truly about 5 different ways I can start this post:

  • The Devils started the way they finished last year.
  • The Devils have some off-season rust they need to clean up.
  • Aren’t you glad we got rid of Shanny because that solved the problem with our team!
  • This is what all of you who hated Madden and Gionta get for claiming they need to go.

But the winner is this:

  • For those of you who are worried the Devils are going to return to their lock down defensive minded mind-numbingly boring games under coach Jacques Lemaire can rest easy.  As evident last night, we have no defense whatsoever.

I know, it’s not fair to judge them based on one game, and I know, I shouldn’t press the panic button, and I know, Brodeur just had an off night, and I know, the team’s complexion is a lot different now then it was and they haven’t fully gelled yet.

 

But lets face facts here people, that game was awful.  Seriously, it may have been one of the worst I have ever attended, and I have attended a lot of games.  After the first 15 minutes or so, if not less, the Devils stopped playing.

As evident by the booing at the end of the second period.

As evident by the eerie quietness in the concourse after the game.

As evident by the sarcastic clapping when Brodeur made a save.

As evident by the lack of celebration after the Devils scored either of both of their goals.

 

Come on, this was opening night, the fans came in energetic, we were playing one of our Atlantic Division rivals, Brodeur was making his 1,000 career start, and we were celebrating the 2008-09 Atlantic Division title – not to mention the festivities outside of the arena at the new Championship Plaza.

The early excitement, however, was quickly diminished after the first period horn sounded.

In moral victory notes, Rob Niedermayer looked like a good addition to the team, Jamie Langenbrunner seemed to keep things together, and Dainius Zubrus assisted on both goals the Devils scored.

 

Okay, 1 down, 81 to go.  Not the end of the world, I know, but gosh that game really did suck.

 

Some other noted from section 128:

  • Yet again the Devils are trying to eliminate the free shuttle from the Newark Broad Street station to the arena.  We ask that anyone interested to please e-mail Devils Management at mgmt@newjerseydevils.com or Devils Public Relations at pr@newjerseydevils.com
  • It’s good to see that in an off-season not much has changed.  The Devils Power Play still needs life support to be effective and the top two tiers of the arena are packed to the brim while the bottom tier, those $250 leather and logo embroidered seats, and not even half full.  Nevertheless, the game was a sellout – the missing people most likely season ticket holders not interested in going to opening night.
  • The Devils didn’t seem to recognize the fact that they were Division champions last year.  Not sure why, but at the very least, they normally shine a spotlight on the banner and there’s clapping involved.
  • It’s good to hear the "Hey" song again, even if it’s a hopeless goal that’s scored.
  • I think I like the new pricing of the arena this year. $79 gets you in the corners of the lower tier and $56 gets you in the corners in the upper tier.  If you don’t mind heights, $35 gets you in the third tier anywhere with the exception of the corners, which are $10 tickets only sold just before the game starts.