I’m Not One of Those Fans

You know the ones I’m talking about (I’m looking at you Steve).  The ones that sit out for the regular season.  They don’t really pay attentions until mid-April, when their team reaches the playoffs and then they talk in your face about how their team is better than yours – and they can’t even make an argument like that because they haven’t paid an ounce of attention to their team for the past 9 months!

Yet updates come few and far between around here.  I promise I’m not one of those fans.  Just… busy.  You see, I have a full time job.  On top of that full time job I have a side business.  And it dawned on me the other day that my side business has it’s own side jobs apart from the side business.

And, while I certainly can’t argue the benefits of home ownership, owning a home is like having another full time job.  By my count, I’m employed like 2.75 times.  That’s the real reason why the unemployment rate has been decreasing – not that unemployed people are getting work, employed people are just getting more work.

 

Blah blah blah, excuses excuses.  And, oh by the way, did you hear? Devils are in the playoffs!

 

I will be posting, I promise.  I don’t think anyone really cares at this point.  I’ve pretty much lost all my visitors to legit news organizations.  Although the News Site does relatively well, mostly because it links to content elsewhere on the internet and is automatically updated.

 

One of these days I will get back in to the swing of this.  I am paring down a little.  I’ve just about completely removed all the references to DevilSphere.  That project is permanently on hold (it was supposed to be a forum, but I don’t think people use those as much these days thanks to the Facebook and the Twitter.  Hey, who here remembers MySpace?!?  Anybody? Hello?

 

So I’m still here.  I’m still a fan.  I still watched 90% of the games, and went to a few of them at the Rock.  And took some pictures too!  I’m not one of those fans.

Comeback Kids, Devs Top Caps

Our three stars of the game, Hedberg, Fayne and Tallinder.

First, Johan Hedberg. The Devils got themselves in trouble early on on the game going down by two goals before the first period horn sounded. Devils commentator Steve Cangelosi commented that it looked like he was busier than the shots on goal tally indicated; the reason for that was simply because most of the shots were huge saves. A any point the Devils could have found themselves in a hole too deep to dig themselves out of.

Next up, Mark Fayne. Mark looked like he was given Ovechkin duty, as he seemed to tail the Caps captain most of the night. In fact during the second and third periods, I would credit him for keeping Ovechkin off the scoresheet. That alone means the Devils had a shot to win tonight.

Lastly, Henrik Tallinder. His persistence, energy, and drive is the sole reason the second goal was scored. He drove hard into the corner, wasn’t phased by a Caps hand under his arm, and actually pulled the Caps defender’s stick and glove off his hand using his armpit. That distraction, gave the Devils the slight edge they needed to get the puck back to Bryce Salvidor, who made a hard pass to Ryan Carter that he deflected in to the net to tie things up.

That brings us to the shootout. After a nail biting overtime, the Devils were fortunate to pass five minutes still tied, and even get a couple of scoring chances. In the shootout, Zach Parise made an excellent fake then shot to give the Devils the initial advantage. You would expect the Capitals Alex Ovechkin to score, but Hedberg stopped the other attempts leaving the teams tied at one goal a piece after the initial three rounds.

Nicklas Backstrom was next up for the Caps and could not get his shot past Hedberg, giving the Devils a chance to win it. The Devils choice was David Clarkson, and it was a good choice. Clarkson faked out Capitals net minder Michal Neuvirth and his backhand shot reached the back of the net. The Capitals were dealt only their second loss at home so far this season, and the Devils won their eighth game of the season, five of which now have been generated in overtime.

Of course the Devils aren’t coming out of this matchup unscathed. Their Penalty Killing unit kept the Capitals off the board when they were short a man, getting the Devils a 93% PK rate, second only to Pittsburgh Penguins who have a 94% rate. But their Power Play continues to struggle. To be fair, the Devils PP ability has struggled for quite some time, but they now sit dead last in the league’s Power Play percentage with 10%. If the Devils really want to come out of their mediocre haze, this must be addressed immediately.

A Thought: Devils Need Help

I’m not going to even dignify the stunt Sykora pulled with a post.  It was incredibly stupid and I wouldn’t blame the league for fining or suspending him, especially since he has flat out admitted to what he did.  Its downright cheating and I would expect it from sports like Baseball and Football, not hockey.

 

Instead, I need to point out that the Devils need help.  There are three key elements missing from the Devils and if action isn’t taken soon, we might find ourselves mid-season too far behind (a la – last season).

Key element #1: Depth.  Missing someone like Jacob Josefson in the lineup will hurt the Devils.  He sustained a broken right clavicle Friday against the San Jose Sharks.  In addition to missing Travis Zajac, Josefson’s injury will soon take it’s toll on the Devils if they cannot fill the void with a competent player.  Devils go-to move is always to fill with AHL talent, but said talent may not be good enough to to keep the Devils afloat.

Key element #2: PK and PP.  It hurts enough when the Devils take too many bad penalties.  And sure enough that’s what we’re seeing today.  It gives the opposition good chances and, perhaps worse, momentum.  Now sprinkle in the Devils inept-ness on the Power Play and you have a perfect concoction for mediocrity.  Devils GM Lou Lamoriello hired Adam Oates to work with the Devils’ power play unit and to act as an assistant coach.  Guess what folks – it isn’t working out.  I’m sorry, but it’s time to find some new help here.

Key element #3: Defense. I will harp on this until they get it right, I’m sorry.  The Devils must get help on their defense.  Offense is great, but we need talented blue-liners who can get the job done in front of our net.  And having a pair of aging goaltenders in the crease doesn’t help matters either.

Brodeur Watch 2011: Out for 7 to 10 Days

Earlier in the day Devils coach Peter DeBoer declined to make any information on Martin Brodeur’s doctor visit public, instead forwardingt hose requests to Devils GM Lou Lamoriello.

However newjerseydevils.com is now reporting that Marty will be out for the next 7 to 10 days.  The results from the doctor indicate that he will not require surgery, but will need to go through further rehab.

Devils net minding lineup until then will have Johan Hedberg starting in net with recalled Albany Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid as his backup on the bench.  When asked about Hedberg, DeBoer stated "He’s been very good, exactly as advertised.  He’s a great pro, great person. Someone gave me a stat that he’s [12-2] going back to last year in his last [14] games."

That stat is correct.

The 7-10 day estimate isn’t set in stone.  Further evaluation during rehab may push the date back further should sufficient progress not be made.

Brodeur’s Questionable Return

Devils start net minder Martin Brodeur is on the final year of his contract. His fate in the hockey hall of fame is sealed. His presence on the ice is noticeable in every NHL rink with a trapezoid behind the net of where goalies are not allowed to play the puck. And his records broken will take many many years to break, many if ever.

But all this fortune has taken it’s toll, and now Marty is no longer unbreakable. Once again Martin Brodeur is sidelined with an injury of which was previously noted as getting much better, but is apparently still a concern as the Devils have brought up the Devils AHL affiliate’s goaltender Keith Kinkaid to join them against the San Jose Sharks this Friday.

Keith is a solid goalie and may very well be the Devils next go-to man between the pipes in the not so distant future. Current back-up goalie for the Devils, Johan Hedberg, is a solid performer and has proven that he can step in at any time to take over the crease duty when called upon. But even he is only a year younger then our all-star Marty.

Brodeur’s test results will not be known until Wednesday, and even then the outcome may be uncertain.

Devils With Solid Start

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the Devils are playing like Stanley Cup contenders. I’m not going to type out a line about how the Devils are cruising and are a top team in the East. What I will say is that they are playing a very solid game post game one of the season, and that we should see a good season from them this year.

What has contributed to this start? Goaltending for one. Hedberg is currently filling in for Marty Brodeur, who was knocked out a few games back with what may just simply be a pulled muscle. But at his age the coaching staff isn’t taking any chances and having him sit. The Devils are now in the midsts of a short break before their next game on October 21 against the San Jose Sharks, and you may see Brodeur return to the crease then.

Next up, strong play from all of the Devils. Sure, my instinct is if Kovalchuk doesn’t get a hat trick every night I’m not happy with his performance. But between the top two lines on the ice, the Devils are scoring goals and making a good stand.

Last important point, confidence. Right now the Devils have some. Last year at this time the Devils started to slip in to their worst start in franchise history and confidence was severely hurt. As you can see, however, the Devils came back from a two goal deficit in Nashville and were able to come back, force overtime, and win in a shootout.

It’s certainly not an ideal win, but the point is it easy to get yourself in trouble, it’s hard to dig yourself out of a hole, and if the Devils can accomplish that, they have one very good thing going for them, much better than how they were doing last season at this time.

Welcome Back Hockey! Devils Not Dominant in Preseason Game 1

In an effort not to sound too “glass half empty,” the Devils took on the Rangers for their first preseason game. Truth be told, it looked like a typical mid-season grind away type game with relatively low score, not great offense on either team’s part, and on the plus side for the Devils, low shot count for the Rangers.

Overall I’d rate the team at a B. They did not show any form of dominance, which is to be expected in the first game of the preseason. But in the same vein, I was hoping to see more from the team as a whole. Energy was their from guys like Zach Parise and second time Devil Petr Sykora, but I still find myself wanting more from players like Ilya Kovalchuk.

Again, this was the first game of the preseason, so I will not harp on this.

My thoughts on the new coach – for the first time since… Pat Burns? the Devils have a new coach to the organization that has actual NHL coaching experience. Truth be told, I’m hopeful that this works out for the team. The Devils dearly need consistency behind the bench, and lord knows we haven’t seen that in a very long time. With consistency comes familiarity and a level of comfort that will hopefully make the players think less and play better.

The team last year had one of their worst first halves to a season in franchise history, and it could be chalked up to over thinking and gripping their sticks too tight.

We’ll see what the next game will bring, which will take place on Friday night at the Prudential Center. That game will also be televised on MSG with new Devils Play by Play guy Steve Cangelosi behind the mic.

Farewell “Doc”

On Thursday the Devils lost perhaps one of their most noble and passionate members of their organization, a man who changed my perspective of the sport, and who has been awarded numerous times getting credited for his exceptional ability at being the best across not just hockey but all sports.

(And to be frank, I’m really bummed about it!)

The voice of the New Jersey Devils, Mike “Doc” Emrick, will be stepping down from his position as the Devils play-by-play announcer. He will continue to work with NBC and Versus on a reduced schedule – in effect partially retiring.

He will turn 65 during the 2011-12 season.

“Doc” wrote a letter to fans in which he says “I wanted Devils fans to know of this news quickly after I reached the decision since their kindness to my wife Joyce and me on countless occasions brought us so much joy. Candidly, it has also left me with a sense of regret that I will not be continuing to call the team’s games.”

I’ve actually met Doc on a couple of occasions, most recently on January 30, 2009 during “Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick Night” which celebrated his 40 years of broadcasting. I actually got his autograph that night, and he seemed a little surprised by it. To me, his role with the Devils has been just as important as any players, simply because he’s the interpreter of the games to those of us who watch the majority of them on television.

I feel bad saying this, but I would always be disappointed when Doc would be “on assignment” televising a national game for NBC or Versus and Steve Cangelosi would be doing the play by play. Doc had a way of broadcasting that is reminiscent of a radio play by play announcer, but he did it on television and it just worked beautifully.

This may seem silly to some, but as a fan of the Devils through three Stanley Cups, and having one broadcaster being their for easily 95% of the time, even on national broadcasts since he did that too with Fox, NBC and Versus, you expect to hear that professionalism and ability each and every game night.

He not only broadcasted, he did with passion and real enthusiasm. He got himself involved in the game and the excitement, and would not hold back with excitement in his play by play.

Some of my favorite “Doc” one-liners:

“I have an excellent grasp of the obvious.” -many times
“If you’re keeping score at home… why?” -after a very confusing scoring change during a high scoring game.
“If you’re just joining us, where have you been?” -in the middle of the third period with the Devils ahead by a lot.

Doc, on behalf of Devils fans everywhere, we will miss you; your broadcasts, your excitement and your astounding ability to call the games. Telecasts will not be the same without you behind the microphone. Good luck in your partial retirement and I hope you stop by the Rock from time to time to visit.

On A Personal Note…

To be fair, I must admit that going on a four month hiatus during the off season isn’t all that uncommon for me.  Njdevils.info certainly shows signs of neglect, DevilSphere just isn’t getting off the ground, the last post here At the Red Line was made as the regular season had just ended.

 

The last thing I want is for my web sites to become one of those pages that never get updated and no one knows why or what happened to the people that run them.  (Seriously 2MA, nothing since December 22, 2010??)  So here goes:

 

Right around the end of the hockey season, Wife and I decided we’d take a look at buying a house.  At first it was, “Can we buy a home?”  Then it slowly morphed into “How much of a home can we afford?”  Slowly but steadily the idea of buying a house became a reality, until just three weeks ago when we sat and signed every piece of paper in a small conference room to become homeowners.

 

Since that time I have started more home improvement projects than I can count (notice the use of the word “started”) and, being the computer geek that I am, attempted to run network cable to every room in the house (in actuality I’m close to finishing 2 rooms).

 

My point here is that I’ve been a little busy.  For the first time in my life, I’m mowing the lawn, cutting holes in sheetrock, attempting to replace a sink, and spending more up close and personal time with an attic then I’d care to admit.  And while I’m doing all this work inside our new home, I’m also trying to maintain my 9-5 job, my side business (Devil’s Playground), spend time with friends and family, and still get 5 hours of sleep at night.

 

It soon begs the question, what will become of the njdevils.info Web Site Network? First, DevilSphere may be a lost cause.  I really wanted to make that a viable forum for fans, but more time is needed to maintain and promote it than I have, by a lot.  I will hold on to the domain as maybe down the road it’ll be a project I want to take on, but not now.

 

That leaves njdevils.info, At the Red Line, and the News Center.  At the Red Line is easy, but I need to try to make smaller but more frequent posts.  The News Center is pretty much automatic, but some maintenance work needs to take place and I want to try to get the article tools in working order.  And finally njdevils.info…

 

Njdevils.info will never go away.  Sure it’s appearance may change from time to time, and I may remove some features and add new, but severely unfinished ones without much notice, but it is the epitome of my life as a programmer, seeing what cool and interesting things I can make and have it be useful to some fans out there.

 

I guess without getting into each area of the site individually, all I can say is it is still a site I want to maintain, and will work on making changes as time allows.  I spent some time last year working on appearance and underlying structure to make njdevils.info more web compliant and work on more browsers.  I also cleaned up the NHL information area and made part of that actually useful.  Now I just need to get the content it holds up to date.  It will, it’s just a long process.  But for as long as I can type, it will not shut down.

Devils Win Lottery

It’s not every day you hear of a sports franchise winning the lottery.  I mean, they typically have enough money as it is.

Ah, but this was no ordinary lottery.  In reasons that are really sad (which I will get to in a moment), the NHL holds a draft lottery in which the teams that don’t make the playoffs are ranked from lowest to highest, with the lowest (Edmonton) having the best shot at winning.

If a team wins, they can – at most – move up four positions in the NHL Entry Draft.  In this case, the Devils had less than a 4% chance of winning, and they did.

Side note: See!  All you conspiracy theorists that think the NHL is just out to get the Devils.  Obviously the NHL isn’t out to get us, we won their own lottery!  But I suppose that might just be to try and throw us off their trail…

So here’s what this means. The Devils were, because of their placement in the standings, slated to get the number eight seed in the Entry Draft, but by winning the lottery they can move up the max four positions, placing them fourth in the Draft.

 

So why is this done?  The logic as I understand it is that this will help prevent teams from sucking on purpose just to get the number one draft pick.

Anyone who watched the Devils the first half of the season can tell you we were not sucking on purpose.  We legitimately sucked.  But alas, we started to win games once again and thus moved us from being the worst team in the NHL to the eighth worst team in the NHL.

Now if only we can eliminate the trapezoid behind the net will I officially stop believing in the conspiracy the NHL has against the Devils.