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.

In the Stands: Section 129

This was a tough game to sit through. Even my coaching from above the ice in section 129 didn’t help to motivate the team. What’s even worse is that two consecutive losses puts a serious question mark on the Devils push to make it in to the playoffs. And to further compound the problem, Carolina and Toronto have both won a game since Thursday night to push ahead of the Devils and leave them behind in twelfth spot.

So what went wrong? Thankfully I can’t pin the blame on lack of trying. The Devils outshot the Capitals 33 to 12 – a season low for the Capitals. They threw a lot at the Capital net minder but the toughest shots they made on net were stopped.

The Devils then started to get a little flat-footed as they received a few power play opportunities and could not take advantage. In fact the past two games their power play has just looked dreadful – to the point where you wish they could decline the penalty like in football.

The loss put a damper on what has typically been a fun St. Patrick’s Day (or close enough) tradition for the past two seasons, Retro Night. The night was complete with old style graphics on the jumbotron, “hightlights” from the ’80s and early ’90s, and even former Devils Public Address announcer from the old Brendan Byrne/Continental Airlines arena, Bob Arsena (who was a lockout casualty and retired).

The arena was packed with energy at the start of the game, but by the end of the second period, two goals by the Capitals, and an unproductive 4 minute power play, the fans let out boos to let the team know they were not pleased with there play.

Signs held up by fans reading “I Believe” disappeared by the start of the third period, with the most excitement coming from NJ Devil throwing t-shirts to fans.

The only comment on the players that I will make is that there were a number of plays in which the team looked like they had reverted back to their old style of play before the mid-way point this season. They were falling down at key moments, making a perfect pass to the opposing team, or worse yet just putting the puck into an empty spot on the ice leaving it behind for a Capital to pick up.

It looked just like it did earlier on in the season – they just didn’t get any breaks tonight. They tried, but couldn’t get anything going, as if they were holding on to their sticks too tight. Kovalchuk was at the heart of issues. While coach Lemair said he was just covered well by the opposing team, it didn’t look like he had his best night missing the puck at key opportunities and dropping passes just ahead or behind teammates. Fans cheered for only a handful of plays, one in which the puck bounced out of play on to the Devils bench and backup net minder Johan Hedberg caught the puck, Fans began to chant “Mooooose” with many thinking perhaps he should have gotten the start tonight.

The Devils didn’t just play poorly to concede a loss; the Capitals also played very well, with Ovechkin getting two assists and a +3 on their three goals scored. His line was out each time the Capitals got one past Brodeur.

Again, three losses in the past two weeks will certainly hurt the Devils chances of making the playoffs, especially as teams in front of them collect wins. If the Devils wish to push themselves into playoff contention, they are going to need to string a lot of wins together between now and the end of the season in just three weeks, 11 games, from tonight. Speculation states that they can only lose once more in regulation between now and the end of the season to really put themselves in contention of making the playoffs. But no math can truly predict what the end result will be.

For now, continue to believe. And hope. And pray.

In the Stands: Opening Night Review from Section 108

(I would like to point out to those that are reading this that I am ignoring what has occurred tonight in Washington while writing this post.)

The Devils and the fans have a lot to be excited about. With recent acquisition Ilya Kovalchuk now starting the season with the team, top veteran Jason Arnott back in the lineup, and big defensemen in front of net minder Martin Brodeur, this has the makings of a tough team top beat. And for the first half of the first period, it showed.

Two goals very quickly gave the Devils a quick lead to the start of the season. Their lead would dry up and the Devils, while never losing at any point, could not regain a substantial foot above Dallas.

Dallas would learn very quickly to smother Kovalchuk. Fans got impatient, even booing at one point but there was nothing Kovi could do, being surrounded by three Stars.

The Devils largest problem was the second period. Again, while the Devils didn’t leave the second down, they were unable to start anything substantial and really lost momentum in the game. Dallas seriously outshot them and the Devils looked like how they exited the post-season last year.

The third period brought excitement back in to the Prudential Center, with the Devils having the most of the opportunities. They came out of the third period, however, tied at three goals a piece.

In to overtime, Dallas took care of things very quickly and the Devils were soon skating off with only a single point to start the season.

Devils lackluster second period worries me. They’ve dealt with this type of dysfunction before. I’m not sure if it can be classified a coaching issue or if it is more of a personnel problem, but essentially you are not getting 100% out of your players, and John MacLean, a former player and newly christened head coach, better address this very quickly.

One last note – we have two years left on Brodeur’s contract. I would like to make these two years good years. While obviously at the age of 38 he doesn’t look as sharp as he once did, I think he can still play better. He seemed a little rusty. Perhaps it’s just the off-season cobwebs that need to be cleared out, but I wasn’t astounded by his showing on Friday night.

Pictures will be uploaded soon for tonights game.

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.

In the Stands: Devils Get First Post-Season Win At The Rock

I will admit that I was caught off guard when Steve Cangialosi interviewing Zach Parise asked how it felt getting the first playoff victory the Prudential Center has seen.  I probably shouldn’t have been surprised, after all this is only the second season being played at the Rock, and last year’s first round was against the Rangers.

Sitting up in section 116, I did notice something I failed to mention as a key to the game – home ice advantage.  And I don’t mean how the Devils will get the extra game at home or how they get the last line change – I mean the fans.

Think about last year’s disaster of a post season against the Rangers.  You would start a "Lets go Devils" chant and about a minute later you would hear a "Lets go Rangers" chant – just as loud and just as powerful.  The Devils didn’t have that "home" feeling when they played at the Prudential Center.

Thankfully, the Devils are playing against a team that’s in a state not bordering New Jersey.  It’s highly unlikely that you will hear a "Lets go Hurricanes" – or whatever Carolina fans chant.

Oh, and I think it should be pointed out that the game was a sell-out, something the Devils seem to have had trouble in the past with first and second round games.

 

Now to the hockey game!

Devils beat writer Rich Chere mentioned something about the Devils using defense and relentless forechecking as the formula for their victory.  I will agree about the relentless forechecking, but I didn’t think I saw much defense in play at the Rock.

Granted, I was distracted a little by the wave going through the crowd, but defense didn’t seem at forefront of the Devils game on Wednesday.

What I did notice was that the forecheck and the offense the Devils employed was perhaps the best I have seen them play in a few weeks.

From within the arena, it felt like Carolina took a lot more penalties than the Devils did, but looking at the differential, 4-2, it wasn’t that big of a difference.  What was big was the chances teams got on the power-play.  The Devils appeared to get the most chances, and had two opportunities in the first period.

The first period started out quiet.  Both teams were very much so playing it safe.  Simply put, neither team wanted to give up the first goal of the playoffs.  The crowd was a little quiet with the sporadic "Lets go Devils" chant and some buzz when Carolina took a penalty.

The first penalty was just bad luck for Carolina, when the puck came to their bench as they were changing and caught an extra man on the ice for Carolina.  While the Devils were unable to capitalize on their penalty, it did give the Devils some momentum.  In fact each penalty Carolina took, even though did not directly result in a power play goal, gave the Devils some additional momentum.  The Devils first goal, scored by Mike Mottau, was scored only 10 seconds after Carolina’s second penalty had expired.

Getting back to the Devils offense, the Devils solid offense simply kept Carolina on their heels and kept them from getting dangerous scoring chances.  A couple of mistakes did allow the puck to squib near the net, but no where as close as some of the Devils chances.  It is clearly evident when looking at the stats that the Devils just had possession of the puck more, getting nearly double the number of shots the ‘Canes had.

 

Looking at the game as a whole, the Devils did a lot right:

  • They had some great hits – Mike Rupp’s physical presence helped out.
  • They had some fantastic scoring chances – players like Zach Parise, Jamie Langenbrunner, and Patrik Elias stepped up to get the shots needed to win.
  • Netminder Martin Brodeur made good saves – when needed; the Devils kept Carolina from really getting too much rubber on net, but when they got through he made the poke check or save needed.
  • Devils defense stepped up to the offensive role – Johnny Oduya and Mike Mottau stepped up to keep the puck in Carolina’s zone and, in Mottau’s case, even scored a goal.

 

And lastly, looking ahead:

Carolina was off Wednesday night.  Star Ledger reporter Colin Stephenson said in an article that Cam Ward admitted the team was playing a little "nervous."  Essentially the Devils can’t get cocky here.  They played a very smart, very up-tempo, and very offensive game.

If they want to keep winning, players like Parise, Elias, and Langenbrunner are going to need to step up each night.  Players like Brian Rolston and Brendan Shanahan are going to need to provide their veteran leadership and hockey sense each night.  And Brodeur is going to have to be sharp each night.  Carolina will get a handful of chances on an "off" night, and will get many more on an "on" night.

 

Since it’s very popular to offer predictions, I will give one now that I have seen game one.

Devils in 6.

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.

In the Stands: Oh Thank God

In a sea of Red, Black, White, and Blue – almost patriotic – the Devils finally beat the New York Rangers for the first time this season… oh, and the last time, since this was the last game of the season!

It was fun to be in the stands as the Devils’ Patrik Elias scored the game winning goal in the shootout. I guess seven wins would make any team cocky and think they were untouchable, but this is the first time where a game would really affect the standings.

Prior to Sunday’s matchup, the East was set, except for two teams: the Devils and the Rangers. If the Devils were to Win or simply take the game in to overtime, regardless of the outcome, they would have the fourth spot in the East and have home ice advantage. They would need to lose in 60 minutes for the Rangers to take fourth.

Because of this situation, the Rangers pulled their netminder Henrik Lundqvist with a minute left in the period. Without a regulation win, they would stay in fifth place in the standings. The Devils made the situation worse when John Madden was called for hooking with 30 seconds left. Thankfully, the Devils killed off the 6-on-4 advantage for the remainder of the third period to bring the game into overtime and secure the home ice advantage.

Here’s the bad news: things look a lot like they have in the past few seasons. The Devils played a great first period and then drift off the second and third. Of course the situation was exacerbated when Rangers fans out-cheered the Devils fans… either we were all too busy stuffing hard pretzels down our throats or watching in disbelief as the Devils blew a two goal lead.

Now the good news: The Devils have some momentum finally against the Rangers, especially beating them in a clutch game. Now the Devils have 4 to 7 more games against the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Devils are set to begin Round 1 on Wednesday at 7:00 in the Prudential Center.

Devils, Brodeur Take 1st in the East

It’s been a very long struggle, but Sunday the Devils finally took first place in the Eastern Conference from the Ottawa Senators, and now sit 3rd overall in the NHL.

The Devils did have first for a few hours on Saturday, but Ottawa took first back with their victory over Pittsburgh.

Nevertheless, the Devils have won 5 games in a row. They have 7 wins in their last 8 games. They are on their best stretch of the season. And Devils netminder Martin Brodeur has been the star in the accomplishment.

He has been in between the pipes for the past 22nd consecutive games and is showing no sign of needing a break. In fact since February 8th, the start of his streak, the Devils have gone 14-6-2.

The Devils have been playing well together as a whole, making better passes, connecting on key plays, and scoring in the clutch. In fact, the Devils in the past month have never really dropped an entire 60 minutes.

It is probably no longer possible to play a consecutive 60 minutes all the time anymore with the division of talent that you now have. What this means, aside from more close games, is that teams need to be conscious of this and understand that if they do play poorly for a period, they need make sure to return to the ice for the next 20 minutes and play harder.

Looking back on Sunday’s matchup against the Washington Capitals, the Devils played poorly in both the first and second period. Not so bad that the Capitals were able to score, but the Capitals certainly outplayed them. At the end of the second period the team spoke up as a whole in the locker room and the Devils came out with 18 shots on goal, nearly double the amount they had in the first and second periods combined.

Martin Brodeur was given the first star of the game stopping 37 of 38 shots on goal by the Capitals.

Martin Brodeur has been a star of the game 19 times this season. He was a star 27 times last season and 24 times the season before that.

In the Stands: Devils Beat the Worst Team in the NHL… Whop-De-Do

Alright, I’ll stop being cynical. Devils coach Brent Sutter did light a fire under the Devils and it paid off, as they scored 6 goals to beat the LA Kings 6-3 on Saturday night.

In an interview with Stan Fischler after the game, he stated that the importance of this game was huge, and that the fact that it wasn’t against a divisional or conference opponent was irrelevant.

I tend to agree with the Maven since the Devils are coming off of a three game losing streak, two of which were against divisional opponents! They needed a win, regardless of who it was against.

In all seriousness, they did play well. Each goal came from a different stick, which is nice to see because it means that the team as a whole played well and there was a very nice balance in the line combinations. The Devils used a number of different methods to score goals as well, and not just the typical dump, run, and attempt. Colin White’s goal was made on a shot right off of the faceoff. Travis Zajac scored at a scramble at the net. David Clarkson scored on a toe-drag that could have easily been a simple dump in during a line change, but he put it on net and scored.

Colin White scored his first goal of the season, leaving Sheldon Brookbank as the only “active” Devils player without a goal. Sheldon Brookbank was a scratch for last nights game, along with Andrew Greene (healthy), Jay Pandolfo (expected to return this week sometime), and Cam Janssen (who is ready to return, but there are no open spots on the roster just yet).

The Devils next match-up is on Monday the 4th against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The game will be broadcasted on Versus. They have seen each other 5 times so far this season and have a 3-2-0 record. The Devils have 12 Goals For and 16 Goals Against when playing the Penguins this season.

And now for some Arena Observations:

* The Prudential Center is still awesome. The atmosphere is phenomenal, the inside is tremendous, and the sights are unique.

* John Oduya is looking better and better. I have criticized him a great deal, but it looks like he’s improving. I do not believe I can blame him for every mistake made during the game.

* Scoring is just what the doctor ordered. Their last win prior to Saturday night’s was January 22 against the Flyers in which they scored 7 goals.

* Jen (Strawberrie) was on TV. The family sitting in front of us knew someone from FSN, and thus the cameras just happened to pan up and show them. When they were shown on TV, you could see Jen in the top-right corner of the screen. If you have the game recorded, go to 2 hours and 3 minutes of the broadcast. I’ll post a screen shot when I get it. The leg next to her is mine.

* Jen also wanted me to post that her and I are engaged. She said she typed it on here somewhere but I can’t seem to find it. We got engaged on January 8th in the Gulf of Mexico. We were on a ship – not just floating around in the Gulf of Mexico.

* Its fun when you sit next to someone who doesn’t know hockey very well, and is confused why the crowd randomly chants “Rangers Suck.” For the record, that was not Jen.

In the Stands: Opening Night!

First I want to make a public service announcement and say congratulations to the New Jersey Devils for pulling this off. The arena is absolutely gorgeous. I was a little hesitant but they’ve really got it right. The atmosphere is great, the concourses are wide, the food is excellent, the seats were comfy, the ice looked good, the view was great, and getting there was nice and easy since I took the train.

It started with hopping on the train from Dover to get in to the Broad Street station. The station, although under construction, seemed to have promise. Getting off of the platform, we saw three shuttle busses waiting for us with workers directing fans right to them and the busses clearly marked “Shuttle for Prudential Center.”

The shuttle stopped at the back of the arena, dropping us off at one of the less crowded entrances. But Jen (Strawberrie) and I walked past to get a glimpse of the whole arena. It is astounding what they accomplished in such a short time span. There were some tell-tale signs that they were rushing a little, however. No plants or decorations around the arena (although it is October), and the fact that the doors opened late because the fire alarm was going off inside the arena.

When we stopped touring the outside of the arena, we were at the PNC Tower (the glass cylinder on the right side) where hundreds of fans crowded trying to squeeze through only a few doors. It was a little disconcerting that this wasn’t thought out better, but I chalked it up to the fact they opened the doors later than they wanted to and a lot more people coming early then normally would.

Once getting in the arena, we saw the Stanley Cup, saw some excellent places to get food, took some pictures, and found a stand that sells hot dogs. Again, this is something we’ll get used to, but it was odd that the concession stand behind our seats didn’t sell hot dogs, just cheese stakes, pizza, and Chinese food. After wandering around, we finally saw “Top Dog” and grabbed a few to eat while we found our seats.

I found it really interesting that where we sat was wide open to the concourse. It wasn’t like this corridor that lead you from the concourse to your section, it was completely open so you could see in to the bowl from the concession stands.

Now this is where things started to get a little hairy. We walk down to our seats… row 11… row 10… seats 14 and 15… there is no seat 14 or 15. Check the other isle… no that’s section 15… Okay, so I give up. Where are our seats?!?

As it turns out, the Devils ran a little short in the seat department. They assumed they would have 15 seats in row 10 and sold 15 seats in row 10. I was just the unlucky one who got two at the end which the nixed. Nice job guys. So in any event, the usher called someone who helped us out, and got us different seats. They were 11 rows away from where we were supposed to sit, but I was happy sitting down and not being in the second tier!

Another minor but still inconvenient was that you had to get a program for the small Devil’s Den shop. This is one thing where Continental Airlines Arena had it right with guys standing in the concourse selling Programs and Media Guides. I didn’t even see a Media Guide to buy!

I won’t bore you with a recap to the game but instead some observations I noticed during the night:

1. I now fully understand the criticism people give John Oduya. This guy can barely stand on skates, let alone keep his grip on his stick. I think someone said he was gripping his stick to tight – so he wanted to prove them wrong.
2. I do not like the fact that the goal judges no longer sit behind the nets. It has become very obvious that the goal light comes on a good 10 seconds after the goal is scored. Really, what’s the point of it then? Either put them back, or get rid of the light altogether. I can watch the ref signal much quicker then a delayed red light.
3. The Devils horn sounds more like a train horn (which would make sense for the area I think) but I’m not a big fan of the goal song. Both the “Hey” song and the “Ole” song could be sung with. This song has no words, so you’re signing “Da da da da da. Da da da da da da da da da, da da, da da.” I still think we should be singing the “Hey” song, but I grew to like the “Ole” song after a few games.

Luckily it doesn’t look like this will be much of a problem because it appears as if this season we’ll be struggling to get goals, let alone wins.

The ride home was fine, but quiet. A general passenger getting on a few stops after the arena looked around, saw all of our faces, and said “Guess they didn’t win tonight, huh?”

Although what’s on the ice doesn’t look particularly good, everything else about our new home is just about there and looks great. I will be looking forward to going to more games soon.

Click Here for Photos from tonights game.
Includes photos by Kyle Bisignani, Jeff Zelevansky, Bill Kostroun, and Bruce Bennett