Mair Signs On, Rolston Out 4-6 Weeks

Adam Mair tried out with the Devils, spent time in training camp, only to find out that he still was unemployed for the start of the season.  The Devils must have given him an indication, however, not to give up hope and stick around.

Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (whose name I will not miss typing) was placed on waivers earlier in the week, effectively demoting him to the minors.  While he can still be called up to play an NHL contest if needed, his salary at present will not count against the Devils salary cap.  This gave them enough wiggle room to sign Adam Mair to one year deal.

The Devils received some more cap relief when veteran Brian Rolston was placed on long term injury reserve.  Brian was out early this week with a Lower Body Injury he received on Saturday against the Washington Capitals.  After a second opinion, it was certain that Brian had a sports hernia that requires surgery and he will be out 4-6 weeks.

Rolston being placed on the IR list will effectively wipe $5.2 million from the Devils salary cap, giving them some freedom to hire interim players from Albany to cover the player shortage they currently have.

There is not enough time, however, to call anyone up for tonight’s game against Boston.  They will continue to be two players short, but will be able to place call-ups from Albany for the Devils next contest on Friday when they take on the Colorado Avalanche at the Prudential Center.

Devils Searching for First Win

Missing an entire line, the Devils took on the Pittsburgh Penguins with a roster of only 15 skaters. Both the Penguins and the Devils were looking for their first win, and guaranteed by the end of the day one team would have theirs. Unfortunately for us, that team would be Pittsburgh.

In the past couple of games you could point out points of the game, entire periods even, in which the Devils play significantly dropped giving the opposing team the opportunity needed to take the game away. You cannot say that about this afternoon’s game.

Penalties we a bit if a concern, and could be the best point of contention that may have caused the Devils to not have as many opportunities as perhaps they should have. Part of the reason is because the the Devils found themselves a little behind on the plays. Attempting to poke-check the puck away wound up clipping player’s skates and when a Penguin would fall, a Devils penalty would be called.

To rant a little here, I think the referees were a little quick to call penalties on the Devils. First, if you enter the personal space of Sid the Crybaby Kid, a 2 minute minor for “Getting Too Close” was called. Second, even if one of the Penguins was on his was down to the ice, and then a stick of the Devils entered the skate area of a Penguin, they would call a tripping penalty. Lastly, a similar play occurred with Patrik Elias and no penalty was called. It would be fine if the referees were consistent in that call but it felt a little one-sided.

Again, just we ended last season, you can’t put too much blame on goaltending. The Devils only have six goals in three games. With the offensive prowess that the Devils are supposed to have, scoring should be a little more prevalent. Granted, it would be better and perhaps easier if they have four lines to work with for an entire game.

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What Went Wrong?

The Devils experienced a very tough loss on Saturday night being downed 7-2 by the Washington Capitals. What went wrong? Every team will experience a game like this, but you don’t typically see it this close to the start of the season and you don’t expect to see it with the type and quality of players the Devils have.

First, the game wasn’t all bad. Midway through the first period, the Devils were tied up with Washington at one goal apiece. Jason Arnott started the scoring getting the first tally on the scoreboard for the Devils. But the excitement nor momentum carried long as the Capitals scored quickly to tie things up.

Things actually started to look better for the Devils after Zach Parise got a penalty and created a 4 on 4 situation. During the play in the Washington zone, the Capitals got a man back, but play was still deep in Washington’s end and the Devils scored a shorthanded goal, something that was sure to sweep momentum in their favor.

With the 2-1 lead the Devils exited the first period looking pretty good. Then the second period came, and like the previous night, everything seemed to unravel.

I won’t go through every step of what occurred, but suffice to say the Capitals scored 4 unanswered goals, forcing the removal of Marty Brodeur for the third period, after which they then scored two more on backup net minder Johan Hedberg. The Devils for the second night in a row had significant trouble clearing the puck out of their own end. A number of fights, including one near the end of the game by Pierre-Luc Leblond that will most likely incur a guaranteed one game suspension, didn’t seem to help the Devils either. To make matters worse, Brian Rolston left the game with a “lower back injury” and one of their top new defensemen Anton Volchenkov took a shot to the face and had to leave with a broken nose.

With some key players down, the Devils will need to do some serious regrouping if they don’t want to make three losses in a row. Their next matchup will be Monday night when they will return home to take on the Pittsburgh.

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.