Thursday, October 25, 2012

Charles Wang's notes from the Brooklyn press conference

Charles Wang indicating the number of people
who are sad to leave Nassau Coliseum.
Once upon a time, the 1980s happened.  Gas prices were cheap[er], people were having terrible crises with their hair and the New York Islanders were relevant.  But since winning four straight Stanley Cup championships to kick off that decade, they've pretty much been a joke.  Nowadays, a trip to the playoffs for the Islanders is as rare as Rick DiPietro playing consecutive games (that's your unoriginal and quite honestly terrible joke about Rick DiPietro for the day).  Now though, the Islanders have decided that the best way to forget their misery is to move west and abandon Nassau County and the awful concrete slab of an arena that sits in it.  The Islanders are moving to Brooklyn.

Islanders owner Charles Wang held a press conference to announce the move to Brooklyn to those who don't have Twitter accounts.  I wasn't there, but thanks to some friends in the media business, I obtained a copy of Charles Wang's notes from the presser, and I'm here to share them with you.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The NHL will lock out, and they don't care about you or me

I was heavily debating what to write about on here regarding the inevitable 2012 NHL lockout.  I thought about discussing who is to blame and why they're even negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in the first place, but every other blogger and beat writer has already tackled that, so I won't bother.  For most of you, none of what you're about to read will be breaking news, but for those who don't know, maybe this will be a little bit helpful.  If not, I've wasted 15 minutes of my day.  Oh well.

Instead of any of that, I've decided to write a brief piece directed towards fellow hockey fans.  Obviously, every hockey fan is disappointed that in all likelihood, at least part of the 2012-13 NHL season will be lost to the lockout.  Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing we, as fans, can do to get the NHL and NHLPA to work out a deal.  It's just not going to happen, no matter what we try to do.

Recently, many hockey fans have been taking to Twitter and other social media outlets with hashtags and other pleas directed at the league in the hopes of making a statement to the NHL that fans don't want another lockout.  The bitter reality, though, is that doing these kinds of things is hopelessly pointless.  The important thing to remember is that NHL owners and league management know how passionate hockey fans are, and they know that regardless of how many fans threaten to boycott the NHL, fans will come back after the lockout, and business will resume as usual.  And even if the league loses a few thousand fans, they can compensate for them rather easily.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Matching each Devils' player with a car

I recently launched a new blog for my "other" hobby: sports cars.  The blog is called Traction Control Off, and as an introduction and segue between blogs, I wrote a guide giving each current Devils player (and one former Devil) a corresponding car based on their role as a player.

The post can be found here: Matching each Devils' player with a car

Friday, August 10, 2012

How to prevent another NHL lockout

"How many fingers am I holding up?  That's how many lockouts the NHL will have suffered by time I'm done here.
You're welcome, David Stern!"

For the, uhh, millionth third time in the Gary Bettman era, the NHL faces the possibility of a lockout that would shorten, or worse-yet cancel another season of NHL hockey.  In case you didn't know, Bettman worked for David Stern in the NBA before becoming NHL commissioner in 1993.  The first lockout happened in the fall of 1994 (yes, right as MLB was finishing up a strike of their own) and forced the 1994-95 season down to 48 games.  But I'm not complaining, because there was a happy ending to that season.  Then, exactly 10 years later, the entire 2004-05 season was lost to a lockout.  So here we are in 2012, desperately hoping to avoid a third lockout in a 20 year period.  Gary Bettman told us not to be worried three weeks ago, but now says he's prepared for a lockout.  But this can all be avoided.  I've arranged a few helpful tips for the NHL and NHLPA to prevent another lockout.

  • Well, the easiest way to settle the labor war is to lock Gary Bettman and NHLPA director Donald Fehr into a room, and whoever comes out alive after an hour gets whatever they want in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
  • Make sure the next CBA has a no-lockout clause, similarly to players' no-trade clauses.
  • Have the NHLPA hire someone who's been in a sport that never locks out.  Okay, anyone but Donald Fehr...
  • Tell Ryan Suter and Zach Parise that they won't be able to make their salaries...oh, right, they have massive signing bonuses that pay them even if this very sort of thing happens.  Never mind...
  • Put Dany Heatley on the NHLPA's player committee and tell him that if there's no CBA in place, he can't inevitably request a trade to Edmonton.  Or Pittsburgh. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

If the Devils were in a Winter Classic, who would play in the alumni game?

This week is the week that the Red Wings and Maple Leafs will announce their rosters for the 2013 alumni game during the Winter Classic weekend.  Now, as outrageous as this may seem, it is possible for the Devils to be a part of a Winter Classic someday.  So, I got to thinking: if the Devils were a part of that weekend, who would play in the alumni game for them?

Adam Henrique, Adam Larsson and Jacob Josefson are three of the most logical choices, since by the time the Devils get picked for a Winter Classic, they'll be the only ones still able to skate.

*Last year, the Flyers had 17 forwards, 9 defensemen, 3 goalies, 3 coaches and 3 ambassadors on their alumni roster.

Let's start with the obvious choices.  In goal, it'll be Chris Terreri and Chico Resch.  Those two are second and third on the Devils' all-time games played list for goaltenders.  Which reminds me, if Terreri and Resch are second and third, there must be a first.  ... Oh, right.  Brodeur.  Yeah, I guess he can come if he wants.  He's been a pretty solid goalie over the years, I'd say.

Obviously Brodeur is a lock to be the primary goalie for the Devils.  Marty is the NHL's all-time leader in games played for a goalie, wins, losses, shutouts, minutes, playoff shutouts, plus he's got 4 Vezina trophies, 5 Jennings trophies, a Calder trophy, 3 Stanley Cup rings, a couple Olympic gold medals and he's scored two goals.

After Brodeur, there would a battle for second between Terreri and Resch, but since the alumni roster allows for three goalies, both of them would probably make it.  Terreri was Marty's backup during the 1995 Cup run and well, Chico is Chico.  Unless you really like Yann Danis (and no, Johan Hedberg has not played long enough for the Devils).

Sources say: you just got scammed. #CONFIRMED

Chances are that if you have a Twitter and follow hockey, you've probably heard a rumor started by @HockeyyInsiderr, you just may or may not know.  For some reason, many people continue to follow him and believe his idiotic rumors.  In fact, the mysterious character that "HockeyyInsiderr" is has amassed over 21,000 Twitter followers.

Anyway, I usually ignore people like him.  I've never followed him, and I never will.  While I disagree with what he does, which is essentially trying to create rumors (like Brodeur for Semin two years ago and Parise for Malkin last summer) and inflate reports to boost his follower count, he doesn't force anyone to follow him.  If people follow him, that's their problem.

There was a little extra buzz surrounding him recently.  Why?  Well, usually when he's wrong about something, he's able to cover up and pretend that never happened.  He was unable to do that this past week.  On July 3rd, the night before Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed with the Minnesota Wild, "HockeyyInsiderr" boldly tweeted that there was a 95% chance that Parise was heading to the Penguins and Suter had pretty much agreed to go to Detroit.  He was the laughing stock of Twitter the following day.  His sources must have misguided him.  Eventually, he got into some kind of Twitter dispute with some members of the media, including TSN analyst Darren Dreger.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Devils' 2012 off-season spotlight: Alexander Semin

Well, the dust has cleared.  Zach Parise is in the past, as far as Devils fans are concerned, and it's time to move on.  Unfortunately, timing was awful for the Devils this summer.  Their star captain hit the free agent market, and the free agent market itself was extremely thin, thus inflating the demand for those players and driving their prices up.  Add to that the Devils' financial problems and the potential for a lockout in the fall and this was a disaster waiting to happen.  There really aren't any high-end players who can make a difference in the NHL next season left on the free agent market...except for one: Alexander Semin.

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of bringing Alexander Semin to New Jersey (not that it's my call, but you get the point).  First of all, there are two alternatives if the Devils don't sign him: do nothing and hope for the best next season before hoping to cash in on the 2013 free agent group or make a trade for Bobby Ryan or Rick Nash, which would cost the Devils trade assets that they really don't have, such as young forwards (which is already a scarcity) and first round draft picks (the Devils will have to give theirs up in 2013 or 2014).

So that leaves the Devils with two realistic choices: Semin or nobody.  Now, Semin is always associated with two things: awful jokes regarding his last name and lackadaisical on-ice play.  There's not much anyone can do about the first one, but hopefully a few facts will change your mind about the second part.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The aftermath of Zach Parise in New Jersey

Well, Lou Lamoriello failed to get something that he wanted.  That's a fairly unfamiliar concept to Devils fans.  Lou has always had a knack for letting guys go and then those players decline shortly after, but Lou wanted to re-sign Zach Parise.  So, before you do something irrational or insane, please read on and hope that cooler heads prevail.

Let's start off with what this means for the Devils.  They've lost their captain to free agency.  Sure, that's happened before.  Kirk Muller was traded out of New Jersey, Scott Niedermayer left as a free agent later in his career and Jamie Langenbrunner was also traded away.  But this was supposed to be different.  Zach Parise was the heart and soul of the Devils, so what happened?

The concept of loyalty has gone forgotten in the world of sports.  Sure, there's a few exceptions: Derek Jeter comes to mind, Mariano Rivera, LeBron James, and in the Devils' world, Ken Daneyko (as Bryan Evans so kindly reminded me of on Twitter), Patrik Elias and Martin Brodeur are truly dedicated to the only teams they ever knew, but for most athletes, money talks.

Zach Parise signed with Minnesota for 13-years/$98 million.  I'm sorry, but there's no way around it: money was a huge factor.  Consider that Ilya Kovalchuk, who turned down 10-years/$100 million and other huge offers from Atlanta, agreed to a 15-year/$100 million deal with the Devils.  Is Parise really worth the extra dollars per season ($7.54M cap hit compared to Kovalchuk's $6.67M)?  Is Parise really going to be an elite player for that long?

The quick answer is no.  Zach Parise, the player, is not worth $98 million or 13 years.  He's simply not as good as Crosby, Ovechkin, Kovalchuk or any other player who's signed a similar contract previously.  Sure, he's two years removed from back-to-back seasons of 94 and 82 points, but Parise's game is all about his speed and hustle.  He'll have that for a few more seasons, but he lacks the raw scoring ability that Kovalchuk and the others have.  It's great to have a player like Parise on the roster, there's no denying that, but you can't simply throw anything but the kitchen sink at him because he's the captain (But Parise's contract will not look nearly as bad as Ryan Suter's will in 5-6 years).

It's time to move on.  Obviously, Parise wanted to go home and resurrect the miserable Minnesota Wild organization, and he managed to bring Suter with him.  Money was a huge factor for Parise, but he did want to go home.  Of course, he did that out of the expense of leaving the team that drafted him behind.  Devils fans have every right to be bitter.  He had a choice, and he left New Jersey.  But seriously, it's time to move on.

The Devils went on a 23-3-2 run during the 2010-11 season, following the John MacLean failure.  Zach Parise was not a part of that run.  The Devils have added Adam Henrique, Adam Larsson, Marek Zidlicky plus the entire fourth line since then.  They're a better team now.  It will take time for the team to overcome the loss of Parise, both on and certainly off the ice, but by no means is this the beginning of the decline for the Devils...if it's handled properly.

Where do the Devils go from here?  The Devils have just 11 forwards under contract for next season, including Cam Janssen, who likely won't be a regular in the lineup.  They have 8 defensemen and two goaltenders under contract, so there will likely be some changes coming in New Jersey this summer.  Obviously, some people will immediately think towards Rick Nash or Bobby Ryan, but with the Devils' reported "budget" they're operating under, how much salary can the Devils afford to add?  They've committed $54 million of cap space towards next year, but remember, Ilya Kovalchuk's actual salary increases to $11 million next season.

There's really no easy answer right now.  Losing Parise will set the Devils back a few seasons, as far as winning a Stanley Cup is concerned, but the Devils still have the foundation to continue to make the playoffs. Perhaps the Devils might try to bring in Alexander Semin and hope that they can help another Russian's career?  Who knows, maybe they will look into bringing Ryan or Nash to New Jersey, but in my opinion, they might do what they always do: make a few under-the-radar additions and hope for the best next season.

I still think there should be some urgency to add a scoring forward or two.  The Devils do have the assets to do so.  They have a tremendous number of good, young defensemen that are either NHL-ready or close to being ready.  There's Adam Larsson, Mark Fayne, Matt Taormina, Eric Gelinas, Jon Merrill, Alexander Urbom and others.  Obviously, not all of them will get to be Devils full-time, but some of them might be suited to be packaged in a trade.  If that circumstance presents itself, then perhaps a trade may occur.  What the Devils don't have are forwards or first round draft picks that they can afford to give away.

But regardless of what happens, the Devils will do what they always do: overcome the loss of a departing free agent and continue to compete and win.  I'd be shocked if they somehow missed the playoffs next season.  They'll still have Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Adam Henrique, David Clarkson, etc., and a solid group of defensemen as well.  Adam Larsson will be better next season, as he continues to mature and develop.  Henrique will continue to grow as a player and take on more responsibility on the ice.  Then, hopefully within another year or two, the Devils can get back to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Finally, Lou Lamoriello has to consider negotiating with next summer's free agents.  Obviously, a lot can change from one season to another, but Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Dainius Zubrus, David Clarkson and Marek Zidlicky are all unrestricted free agents next summer, and you can add Jacob Josefson and Adam Henrique to that list, as they are restricted free agents.  The Devils would probably like to get all of those players re-signed.  Does Parise's departure mean that some may not want to stay?  That's always a possibility, especially in Travis Zajac's case, as the two seemed to be good friends (they also shared an Alma Mater: the University of North Dakota).  Maybe it's time for Lou to break his own rule and negotiate before he faces losing them for nothing.

So, good-bye Zach Parise.  It was fun to watch you, from your first ever game, stealing some of the attention from Sidney Crosby and scoring your first goal, to growing into a perennial 30-goal scorer, maxing out at 45 goals in 2008-09, scoring in the Olympic Gold Medal Game in Vancouver, then being a part of the 14 win playoff season the Devils enjoyed this past spring.  The seven years you spent with us were filled with ups and downs, but it's over now.  You're just a memory in the eyes of Devils fans.  Life will go on for both of us, but I wouldn't be upset to look back and realize that you made a mistake years from now.  Hindsight is 20-20, after all.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The wrongful perception of European NHL players

(Warning: this is a senseless rant.  If you don't like to read strong opinions, do not read on.)


Oh, you like senseless rants?  Well then, I hope you enjoy this.

Consider the following situation.

A young, talented Russian defenseman just came over to North America, and he's ready to become an NHL player.  He's been drafted by a smaller market NHL team with a roster of players he's unfamiliar with, so he refuses to sign an entry-level contract with that team.  A year goes by and now he's demanded a trade or he'll become an unrestricted free agent.  He and his agent provide General Managers with a short list of teams he'd meet with, and his list is based on teams that have players he knows and teams that he'd be guaranteed to play a certain number of minutes for next season.

That's pretty selfish of him, isn't it?  He refuses to sign with the team that drafted him?  Who does he think he is, Eric Lindros?

Of course, this situation is playing itself out right now, except the player is not Russian.  He's Canadian.  His name, if you haven't figured it out already, is Justin Schultz.

Yet nobody questions Schultz's tactics.  He's been invited to meet with several NHL teams, and he actually refused to grant teams meetings with him.  Essentially, he'll only sign with a Canadian team or the Rangers, and Toronto might be the leading candidate because his buddy, Jake Gardiner, plays for them.  But Schultz is a good Canadian boy, so let's not dare call him selfish.

Flash back to the winter of 2009-2010.  Ilya Kovalchuk is miserable, playing for a bad Thrashers team for the eighth time in nine seasons.  He turns down a pair of massive contract offers from General Manager Don Waddell, suggesting that he would not re-sign with Atlanta in the summer of 2010.  Instead, his GM went out and found a trading partner, the New Jersey Devils.  Kovalchuk went on to sign a $100 million extension with the Devils later that summer.  Kovalchuk was tagged as a selfish individual.  Why?  For not wanting to commit to a terrible team for longer than he already had?

Fast forward to this past winter.  Rick Nash is miserable, playing for a bad Blue Jackets team for the eighth time in nine seasons.  He's reportedly asked his General Manager, Scott Howson, for a trade to a contending team because he's frustrated with his situation in Columbus and at this point in his career, he wants to move on and have a chance to win.

But Rick Nash isn't selfish.  He just wants a chance to win, and that's what it's all about, right?

So what's the difference?  Kovalchuk went to a better team where he has a chance to win every year.

Now today, Sidney Crosby apparently agreed to a 12-year/$104 million contract with the Penguins.  He's not selfish.  Why is Kovalchuk for signing a 15-year/$100 million deal?  Why is Alex Ovechkin selfish for signing a 13-year/$124 million deal in 2008?

Then again, what if European players are selfish?  What if they are enigmatic and lazy?  After all, the Penguins' 2009 Stanley Cup run belongs to Sidney Crosby, right?  It's not like Conn Smythe winner Evgeni Malkin actually led his team to victory.  After all, Malkin only had 36 points in 22 games.  How enigmatic.

And how about the 2008 Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings who had just 14 European players on the team?  And how about the most talented player in the NHL right now, Pavel Datsyuk?  He only has 3 Selke trophies and 4 Lady Byng awards.  The recently retired Swedish defenseman Nick Lidstrom wasn't too bad, either.

The European stereotypes go to unbelievable extremes, and quite honestly, it's ridiculous.  What about the New York Rangers this past spring?  They struggled to score goals in the playoffs, so the Slovakian-native Marian Gaborik took the blame.  Guess what?  He posted 11 points in the playoffs, which is one more than the American-born captain Ryan Callahan.  American-born Derek Stepan had just one goal in the playoffs.

There's nobody who demonstrates more European hatred than Don Cherry, who called Dainius Zubrus "lazy" during the playoffs.  What if Zubrus was Canadian?  Cherry would love him.  After all, Zubrus is a big, power forward who kills penalties and plays a two-way game...even though he's of Russian descent.

Want more?  Of course you do.  Alex Ovechkin has 59 points in 51 playoff games.  Kovalchuk has 25 points in 28 playoff games with the Devils.  Malkin has 81 points in 68 playoff games.  Only Malkin has won a Stanley Cup.  Somehow, all three players have been tagged as "lazy" or "selfish" as recently as this past season by fans and even the media (mostly Don Cherry).

So how did this bias against European players start?  Did people knock Stan Mikita in the 1960s, Jari Kurri in the 1980s or Slava Fetisov in the 1990s?  Was Jaromir Jagr simply the lazy guy that played next to Mario Lemieux?  You know who one of the first players was that I believe changed the perception of Europeans?  Alex Kovalev.

The bottom line is that Europeans can be awesome too.  Not all of them are as beloved as Teemu Selanne or Mats Sundin, but maybe it's time to take a step back and appreciate what they're doing.  Ovechkin, Datsyuk and Kovalchuk are legends developing right in front of us, and many people are going to completely miss out on what fantastic hockey players they are because of their native country.  Obviously, some people do appreciate them, and those people are watching some pretty special hockey players.

Then again, if his name was Justin Schultzov, he'd be viewed as a selfish...

Friday, June 22, 2012

2012 NHL Off-season Guide, as written by bloggers

Well, the 2011-12 NHL season is just a memory now, and we're headed for another long hockey-less summer.  Before the hockey world completely shuts down for the summer after July 1st, I wanted to put together the second annual off-season guide post, as written by hockey bloggers from as many teams as I could find.  I found 25 bloggers (including myself), and most of them sent me a piece about their team, so here's your guide to the 2012 NHL off-season.

ANAHEIM DUCKS (written by Steve Palumbo - @StevePalumboNHL)

2011-12 Recap - The Anaheim Ducks went south faster than, well, ducks in the winter. Although they have a young team, they were led in scoring by 40-something winger Teemu Selanne. That alone should give you an idea of why the season went so "fowl." Despite the a talented group of forwards headed by 50-goal scorer Corey Perry, captain Ryan Getzlaf and Mr. "I hate New Jersey" himself Bobby Ryan, the Ducks couldn't find enough consistency on offense to win games. Combine that with the rapid demise of offensive-defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, throw in a splash of wonky goaltending from Jonas Hiller and you have yourself a recipe for failure. It wasn't until a coaching change and a flip of the calendar, did they team start to resemble an NHL franchise again. 

Free-Agency - The Ducks have most of their important pieces locked up through the upcoming season. The biggest question mark being the future of Selanne. It's obvious this guy is no ordinary old man. He can still skate circles around the youngsters. Question is, can he peel himself away from the fun times in Finland for another 82 games? Oh, and there was that whole thing about some college defenseman, but I can't quite remember his name at this moment. Expect the Ducks to try and add capable veteran depth up front. 

Draft - The Ducks will get to pick 6th in the upcoming draft by virtue of losing many, many games and missing the playoffs. Don't you love consolation prizes? Having already been shot down by a defenseman they drafted it only makes sense for the Ducks to draft another...defesenman. Mathew Dumba should fall to Anaheim. Maybe this time they can actually lock him up before he changes his mind. 

2012-13 Outlook - It's hard to imagine a group with this much talent stinking two years in a row, especially with Selanne back in the mix. Bruce Boudreau will have a full year to recreate the late season magic of 2011-12. Plus, let's not forget that their neighbors just up the 5 freeway will be spending the summer parading around Tinsel Town with the shiniest trophy in all of sports. That should be motivating enough for at least 2 or 3 extra points in the standings. It's the other 12 or 13 points they missed the playoff by that I would be concerned about. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

2011-12 NJ Devils player report cards

As another part of my 2011-12 NHL season in review, I'm taking a look at each Devils player's 2011-12 season.  For those players heading into free agency this summer, I'll weigh in on whether or not I think the player should be re-signed.  For everyone else other than Eric Boulton, they're probably coming back next season.

Johan Hedberg - #1
Season stats: 27 games, 17-7-2 record, 2.23 goals against average, .918 save percentage, 4 shutouts

Historically, the backup goaltender to Martin Brodeur never played much.  He'd usually get five starts over the course of the entire season and come in to relieve Brodeur from time to time, but for the most part, he'd just a benchwarmer.  That all changed during the 2008-09 season, when Brodeur missed 50 games with a torn bicep.  Since then, the backup goaltender role in New Jersey has become more important (mostly because they actually get to play games nowadays).

This was Johan Hedberg's second season with the Devils.  He won his second straight player's player award at the team awards in April, as his value to the team was apparent on and off the ice.  On the ice, he put up tremendous numbers, and allowed Pete DeBoer to not over-work Brodeur.  Hedberg also carried the team early in the season when Brodeur missed some time with another injury.  Without the strong play of Hedberg, the Devils' Stanley Cup run may not have been possible.

Grade: A

Hedberg is everything a team could ask for in a backup goaltender and so much more.

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent

Should he stay or should he go?

Hedberg should stay.  DeBoer should do exactly what he did this season with these goalies next season.  Brodeur and Hedberg have become one of the better goalie tandems in the NHL, and they combine to just 79 years old!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The series that was: looking back at Devils-Kings

I've decided to use the main page for some of my Devils opinion posts over the coming days.  I'll be looking at individual performances this past season and I'll put my fictional GM hat on and preview the off-season, followed by a special league-wide post, with the help of some of the best bloggers in the NHL.

Well, the season is now over.  For me personally, there's a number of emotions running through my head right now.  I'm extremely disappointed at the result of the Stanley Cup Finals, yet I'm proud of the Devils and encouraged at the future of the team.  I'm a bit saddened, knowing that this group will never play on the same ice again, but I understand how the business of sports works.  But this was a very good season.  The Devils accomplished a lot this season.  They missed the playoffs just one spring ago.  This year, they were a bounce or two away from winning the Stanley Cup.  Not bad.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Top 10 Video Special - Devils moments in the Stanley Cup Finals

There's been a lot of down time between the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Finals.  I decided that now would be a good time to put together the 19th installment of my Top 10 Video Specials series.  I recently counted down the 10 greatest moments in Devils' Eastern Conference Finals history, and now I'll count down the 10 greatest moments in Devils' Stanley Cup Finals history.

#10 - Sykora snipes

With the Devils down in the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals, 2-1, and tied 2-2 late in the third period of Game 4, Petr Sykora made sure that they wouldn't need overtime and that the series would be tied heading back to Colorado.  The Devils ended up winning Games 4 and 5, but couldn't manage a fourth win in the series to win a third Stanley Cup championship at the time.

#9 - Stevens levels Kariya

The Mighty Ducks were on their way to winning Game 6 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals, but Scott Stevens knew he had to send a message before heading back to New Jersey for Game 7.  He found his opportunity when Paul Kariya was skating through center ice...with his head down.

#8 - Dano puts the Devils on top

The 2000 Stanley Cup Finals weren't remembered for having a lot of goals, but Game 1 did.  This is Ken Daneyko's goal that put the Devils on top, and they never looked back.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Stanley Cup Finals PREVIEW: NJ Devils vs. LA Kings

Read on for my Devils-Flyers Kings Stanley Cup Finals preview.

Well, here we are, seven weeks into the NHL playoffs.  It's Memorial Day weekend and the Devils are still playing hockey.  I don't think either team's fan base truly expected to be here right now, but hey, I'm not complaining.

How they got there:

If you're a Devils fan, you know the story by now.  Peter DeBoer was hired by Lou Lamoriello to help the Devils "evolve" into a more aggressive offensive team and have a chance to win the franchise's fourth Stanley Cup championship.  There were growing pains early on, and the team battled several key injuries throughout the season, but the Devils surged out of the All-Star break and finished the regular season on a six-game winning streak.

The Devils battled hard and squeezed out of the first round against Florida in the second overtime of the series' seventh game.  After few thought the Devils would stand any chance against the "mighty" Flyers, they simply destroyed the Flyers in every part of the game and knocked them out in five games.  The Rangers presented a more difficult task, but the Devils eventually got to Henrik Lundqvist and the shot-blocking Rangers' defensemen and eliminated the East's top seeded team 63 seconds into overtime in Game 6.

With heroics from Adam Henrique in rounds one and three, the Devils advance to their fifth Stanley Cup Final in franchise history and first since 2003, when they beat Anaheim in seven games.  Four more wins would give the Devils their fourth Stanley Cup championship since the spring of 1995.

By the way, have I mentioned how awesome this moment is yet?


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Beast of the East: NJ Devils 2011-12 Timeline

"Ask Lundqvist if he'd like to join us.  No really!"

Last week, I broke down the LA Kings' 2011-12 season to date, and now, we know who they'll face in the Stanley Cup Finals: the New Jersey Devils.  Of course, this means I will be able to provide a completely neutral post with absolutely no bias whatsoever.  ...  Okay, seriously, stop laughing at me.

So how did the 2011-12 Devils come to be?  Here's a look back:

April 12th, 2011: Despite just a 3.6% chance to win the Draft Lottery, the Devils win the lottery and move up to 4th in the draft order.  Gary Bettman immediately fires everyone who planned the draft lottery in rage.

June 24th: The Devils draft Adam Larsson with the 4th overall pick.  Ten minutes later, Larsson realizes his Twitter account is now history.

July 19th: Lou Lamoriello is mocked by the entire world for hiring the recently fired Panthers coach, Peter DeBoer, because obviously not hiring a "trap" defensive coach turned out to be a huge mistake.

July 20th: In a bizarre unforeseen turn of events, Lou Lamoriello does not fire DeBoer the day after hiring him.

July 28th: The Devils trade Brian Rolston and his humongous contract to the Islanders for Trent Hunter.

August 1st: The Devils waive Colin White...and Trent Hunter.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How the West was won: LA Kings 2011-12 timeline

"Careful, Dustin, this rug is awfully slippery. We wouldn't want you to fall so easily."
Last night, the Los Angeles Kings beat the Phoenix Coyotes in overtime to clinch the Western Conference and advance to the franchise's second Stanley Cup Final.  This is good news for us Twitter maniacs, as this means the LA Kings' Twitter account will be busy through the Finals.  So how did this Kings run to the Finals come to be?

June 23rd: Flyers GM Paul Holmgren promises Kings GM Dean Lombardi that trading for Mike Richards would help him land the Richards he really wanted to sign.

June 24th: Mike Richards sends Jeff Carter a sympathy card postmarked Columbus, Ohio.

July 2nd: Brad Richards signs with the Rangers, to nobody's surprise.  Except a very frustrated Dean Lombardi.

July 3rd: Lombardi calls Gary Bettman to see if the NHL has rejected Ilya Kovalchuk's second contract with the Devils yet.

October 7th: The Kings open their season in Sweden (yes, the NHL used to do that...) against the New York Rangers.  Hmm...

October 13th: The Kings play their first game in North America, against the New Jersey Devils.  Hmm...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What would it mean to win the Stanley Cup?

(insert your own Gary Bettman/Stanley Cup joke here)

Which ever of the four remaining teams wins the Stanley Cup this year, there will be several first-time winners on that team's roster.  That means a very special moment in a team and players' history is just a few weeks away from happening.  Winning the Stanley Cup is often a dream realized by many NHL players and coaches, so let's take a look at just what it would mean to win the Cup.

Brad Richards - He's prepared a speech to give in the locker room after the game, in which he'll talk about what winning the Cup means to him.  Meanwhile, John Tortorella and Ruslan Fedotenko will just roll their eyes.

Shane Doan - After spending his day with the Cup, he'll be awfully confused as to why all of his equipment has been postmarked "Quebec City."

Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, Justin Williams, John Stevens - After winning the Cup, they've planned to meet outside their local Philly bar, but they won't be able to figure out why everyone in Philly keeps cursing out New Jersey.

Martin Brodeur - He'd obviously like a fourth Cup, but nobody has been able to figure out why he keeps Patrick Roy's number waiting on speed dial.

Mike Smith - He'd love to win the Stanley Cup, because it'd give him another large object to slam LA Kings' players with repeatedly.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

PREVIEW: #6 Devils vs. #1 Rangers

Torts?  Angry?  Get used to this sight.

"When we play our game, nobody can beat us."

You see that quote above?  That was Ilya Kovalchuk earlier this season.  Head coach Pete DeBoer insisted that the Devils are an "elite" team, and he proclaimed that many months ago.  DeBoer seems to be the most liked Devils coach in years.  This could be the best Devils team in years.  The next 4-7 games will play a huge role in determining if these Devils are as good or better than the last championship team in 2003.  Round 3 of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs are about to begin, and of course, it's Devils-Rangers for a chance to go to the Stanley Cup Finals.  *Whew.*  Take a deep breathe everyone.

So how did both of these teams get here?

As you probably know by now, the Devils needed a second overtime of Game 7 to beat a pesky Florida Panthers team in the first round of the playoffs before dismantling a fatigued Flyers group in five games to advance to the Conference Finals.  The Devils have excelled playing 5-on-5, as they're scored 24 of their 36 goals this post-season 5-on-5, and they've surrendered 13 goals against 5-on-5.  That 1.85 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio is the best of the 16 playoff teams.  Basically, the Devils will succeed if they stay out of the penalty box and continue their dominant forechecking game.

Proof that it is, in fact, possible to score on Henrik Lundqvist.
True to form, nothing comes easy for this year's edition of the New York Rangers.  This isn't your "older brother's" Rangers, who boasted the likes of Shanahan, Jagr and mega-free agents (although they rely on Gaborik and Richards for much of their offense).  This is a very hard-working, "blue-collar" hockey team that likes to play physical and wear down their opposition.  They ran into two opponents who have tested them to the brink of elimination, in #8 Ottawa and #7 Washington, but the Rangers squeaked by both series in seven games each, and now face the Devils in the Conference Finals.  The Rangers have scored 19 times 5-on-5, while allowing 17 this post-season so far.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Top 10 Video Special - Devils moments in the Eastern Conference Finals

As we continue to wait for the start of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals between the Devils and...someone, I decided to take my ten favorite Devils moments from their six previous Conference Finals appearances and put together the 18th edition of the DGA Top 10 Video Special.

#10 - "Have another doughnut"

The Devils were in the midst of their first ever playoff appearance in the spring of 1988.  After barely making the playoffs on the regular season's final day, the Devils won two rounds and found themselves in the Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins.  Game 3 didn't go so well for the Devils, but this is still one of the most memorable moments in franchise history, courtesy of Jim Schoenfeld.

#9 - "We're the DEVILS!!!"

This moment didn't occur on the ice, but it's a famous moment nonetheless.  During the 1994 Conference Finals, Seinfeld featured Elaine's boyfriend David Puddy decked out in Devils gear, and he properly ticked off his Ranger fan friends.

#8 - Claude Lemieux's 43728th goal of the series

Well, I exaggerated a bit, but Claude Lemieux had arguably the best single playoff season of any Devil in history.  With the Devils and Flyers tied in the series and Game 5 late in the third period, Lemieux beat Ron Hextall five-hole.  A Devil beat a Flyers goalie five-hole...I guess some things never change.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

How the Devils are preparing for the Eastern Conference Finals

Despite beating the Flyers in 5, Pete DeBoer knows he failed as a coach by letting Zac Rinaldo escape the series uninjured.

The annoying part about winning a short series is waiting to find out who your next opponent will be.  The Kings, Coyotes and Devils have advanced to the Conference Finals, but the Rangers and Capitals are still battling out their series, as Game 7 will be Saturday night.  The Devils have already begun preparing for the Eastern Conference Finals, despite not knowing who they'll be playing.  So what exactly are they doing?

David Clarkson - He's decided that if scoring goals while skating right in front of the goaltender when he is trying to clear puck doesn't work, he'll screen the goaltender and wave his stick in the air like an idiot.  Or did the league outlaw that?

Ilya Kovalchuk - After all the times he helped the red light go on behind Ilya Bryzgalov, he's forced Bryzgalov into a habit of flopping and throwing his hands up every time he drives up to a red traffic light.

Anton Volchenkov - Since he can't practice due to injury, he sends Brayden Schenn a get well soon postcard.  Every day.

Ryan Carter - Purchased a New York Rangers inflatable punching bag and drew a #41 "Bickel" on the back.

Zach Parise - Has been looking at real estate in northern New Jersey, because apparently the Devils winning probably bodes decently as far as Parise's future in New Jersey.

Lou Lamoriello - He's working very hard to inform the media of various Devils injuries.  Marek Zidlicky is "day-to-day with an undisclosed injury."

Friday, May 4, 2012

Biggest surprises in the 2012 playoffs (so far)

A collection of objects that went through Ilya Bryzgalov's five-hole this month.
The 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs turned four weeks old this past Wednesday, and by now, most people's brackets have been ruined.  Things haven't exactly gone as 'experts' thought they would to this point, but there have been more surprises than just which teams are still playing.  Here's what I mean.

  • Jeremy Roenick called out several Russian players in the playoffs this season.  None of them were his ex-teammates in San Jose.
  • After beating the Bruins in Game 7, Caps GM George McPhee said he might break the team's tradition of trading away their best goalie after flopping in the playoffs.
  • Jamie Langenbrunner's team is on the brink of being bounced out of the playoffs in the second round.  The real surprise is that Jamie Langenbrunner's team hasn't been bounced out already.
  • It's surprising that with all the bad shots Michael Yormark took at Devils fans that none of them went through Ilya Bryzgalov's five-hole.
  • Tyler Seguin's popularity among females is gaining on Justin Bieber's.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

PREVIEW: #5 Flyers vs. #6 Devils - Eastern Conference Semifinals

Seriously, how could I not make this the cover picture for the series?

Here’s the beauty of the playoffs: both the Devils and the Flyers are coming off emotional, physical and at times crazy series (for many different reasons), but it’s time to quickly forget the past and get ready for the next series.  Of course, these two division rivals know each other very well, and they’re about to get even more familiar with each other.  It’s the #5 Flyers and the #6 Devils, and the winner will reach the Eastern Conference Finals.

First of all, let’s quickly recap what happened between the Devils and Panthers.  Many people thought this would be a quick series and that the more skilled Devils would blow by the Panthers.  I picked the Devils to win in 5, but everyone who knows either team knew that it would be a tough series, and it was just that.  The Florida Panthers’ first trip to the playoffs since 2000 was a very competitive series.  They gave the Devils everything they could handle, and were one goal in double-overtime of Game 7 away from knocking off the Devils.

The Devils played one of the best periods of hockey you’ll ever see in Game 1 against Florida.  They scored three times, had 26 shots on goal and established themselves as a true force in the series.  While they didn’t score after the first period of Game 1, they held on to win 3-2 and took the lead in the series.  They played a bit of a lackadaisical Game 2 until the third period, when they attempted to overcome a 3-0 deficit with two quick goals early in the third, but fell short, 4-2.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A fan's guide to dealing with elimination

Pictured: Marc-Andre Fleury's 5-hole in NYC.  Or maybe that's the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel.  They're the same size...

For 29 NHL fan bases every season, dealing with elimination is a reality.  As much as we dread our team's last game of the season, it's very likely going to happen each year.  For some fan bases, that time has already come, and by this time next week, even more fan bases will be left wondering what went wrong.  But cheer up, because I've provided a coping method.  Here's how you deal with elimination and what to do when it happens.

Why did your team get eliminated?
a) Our goaltender's five-hole makes Michael Leighton's five-hole look microscopic.  Plus, we had so many injuries, and we're obviously the only team that had injuries all season and the refs screwed us over like a million times!  The league hates us!  It's a conspiracy!
b) We got trapped!  And that team won't even be in that city next year...
c) We choked because our superstar players disappear in the playoffs every year!
d) We ran into a really good goalie.  Dammit, I'm going to riot now.
e) We actually have no talent, so we didn't expect to go far.

How would you assess your regular season?
a) We had a good year, but we obviously would have been the best team in the league if we had all of our players healthy...
b) Aside from that one time when we lost like a million games in a row and that other time that we blew that lead, it was pretty good.
c) It was so good that our players got so into games that they were helping out from the bench and everything!
d) You know, I think the President's Trophy is prettier than the Stanley Cup, anyway.
e) We were so bad that even I could crack the lineup...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

How are the Red Wings the first team to be knocked out?

Shea Weber's contract: $7.5 million.  Punching Henrik Zetterberg repeatedly: $2,500.  Beating the Red Wings in 5 games: Priceless.

Two things are certain in the playoffs: someone will lift the Stanley Cup in mid-June and the Red Wings will be in it.  For the first time since 2006, the Red Wings have been bumped out of the playoffs in the opening round.  Speculation about Nicklas Lidstrom's future and potential free agents that might sign with Detroit have already begun, but let's take a look at how the Red Wings season ended early, at the hands of the Nashville Predators.

  • Late in Game 3 in Detroit, the Red Wings players skated to center ice and raised their arms, but as it turns out, it wasn't because they won, but because of a bad call by an official.
  • Coach Mike Babcock had to scold his team multiple times after they repeatedly kept looking around at the suites in Nashville.
  • Red Wings players were confused as to why Mike Babcock's lineup sheet included "Parise" and "Suter" and not Jiri Hudler or Nicklas Lidstrom.
  • According to Don Cherry, the only reason Detroit lost is because they don't have any goons that could have taken on Shea Weber after Game 1.
  • The Red Wings are now planning to suspend Pavel Datsyuk for the next four years and then bring him up so they can draw more media attention, and Jiri Hudler seems offended for some reason.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

PREVIEW: #3 Florida Panthers vs. #6 New Jersey Devils

So...are there any story-lines heading into this series?

So, it’s finally that time of year.  It’s time for the Stanley Cup playoffs.  As a Devils fan, I’m both excited and nervous at the same time.  The Devils might only be the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference, but they won 48 regular season games and picked up 102 points along the way.  I realize that this might be Martin Brodeur’s last shot at a fourth Stanley Cup Championship.  Even if Marty does play next season, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be able to carry a team through the playoffs.  He can do that this year, and hopefully the Devils will benefit from that.
Yet at the same time, we can’t help but remember the past and the failures of the Devils since the Prudential Center opened in the fall of 2007.  In the spring of 2008, the Devils were the #4 seed, but won just one of eight meetings against their eventual first round opponent, the New York Rangers, and that win came in a shootout.  The Devils lasted just five games that spring.  In the spring of ’09, as the 3rd seed, the Devils played the series from hell against the Hurricanes, but were only 1-3 against Carolina that season.  As the 2nd seed in 2010, they faced the Flyers, who they were 1-5 against, and lost to them.  This season, there are no excuses.  This is a very good Devils team, and they’re facing, well, let’s be honest: the worst team in the playoffs.
Before I talk about any negative stats regarding the Panthers, I think congratulations are in order.  After over a decade of failure and losing, the Panthers finally made it back to the playoffs and won their first-ever division title in the process.  They didn’t make life easy for their fans, but they definitely took a step in the right direction this season, even if they lose to the Devils in round one of the playoffs.
Now, let’s look at the raw numbers: the Florida Panthers won just 38 of 82 games.  They lost 18 games in overtime/shootout this season.  That essentially is like winning 9 extra games (in terms of points).  The Panthers are limping into the playoffs.  Despite their season finale, a 4-1 win over Carolina, they went just 2-3-5 in their last 10 games.  Their goal differential is a miserable minus-24 (203 goals for, 227 goals against).
But that doesn’t mean this won’t be a tough series for the Devils.  Make no mistake: it will be a very difficult series.  First of all, the Devils had just one “ROW” (regulation/overtime wins) over Florida in the regular season.  They lost two and won the other in a shootout.  Their most recent matchup was a 3-1 loss on February 11th, a game in which the Panthers led for most of the game, and simply trapped the Devils to sleep.  They can clog the neutral zone, force turnovers and score off their turnovers.

Ilya Kovalchuk drills Keaton Ellerby.  1 of 6 hits #17 on 12/13/11.

There will be several keys to this series.  First of all, the Devils will need to be patient.  They can’t get frustrated with the Panthers’ defense.  They’ll need to be smart, and not force the issue with the trap, because when you do that, you turn the puck over and you fall right into the…well, trap that the opposition is trying to frustrate you into.  If the Devils play smart and dump the puck in when the Panthers have the neutral zone clogged up, they’ll find success, because the Devils can play the dump-and-chase game.  They’re not the 1995 Red Wings, who had absolutely no answer to the trap.
The second key to the game will be to contain the Panthers’ top line.  Let’s face it: the Panthers’ fate will be determined by how their top line of Fleischmann-Weiss-Versteeg plays.  That line had success against the Devils in the regular season, so they’ll have to find an answer for them in the playoffs.  Pete DeBoer has several options.  He can try to match offense for offense, and play Zajac’s line against Weiss’ line and simply trade scoring chances with them; he can match Elias’ line, with veteran experience and Elias’ two-way ability; or he could even match the third line, with Ponikarovsky-Henrique-Clarkson as a “checking” line to try to shut down the Weiss line.  DeBoer has tried different things throughout the season.  Sometimes he matches top line against top line and sometimes he tries to shut down the opposition.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Re-living the Devils' Cup run in 1995, Part 2

This is the second of six installments of DGA's "Re-living the Cup" blog series leading up to the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.  This installment features recaps of the third round of the Devils' path to the Cup in 1995, which was a defeat of Philadelphia in the conference final.

PART TWO: Conference Finals of 1995

Following defeats of Boston and Pittsburgh, each in five games, the Devils travelled down the Turnpike to Philadelphia for a showdown with the rival Flyers.  The Flyers had yet to lose a playoff game at home in 1995, but Martin Brodeur and the Devils were determined to change that.  As they did against the Bruins in round one, the Devils struck early and often in Game 1 and Brodeur allowed nothing to the Flyers.  Bill Guerin scored a pair of goals, and the Devils were up 3-0 after two periods.  Martin Brodeur was less than two minutes away from his fourth shutout of the playoffs when Craig MacTavish broke the goose egg, but the Devils held on easily to win 4-1.

Monday, April 9, 2012

2012 NHL Playoff Bracket

I worked this out several different ways.  Boston-Nashville kept turning out to be the Stanley Cup Finals.

It's mid-April.  The NHL playoffs are about to start, and 16 fan bases are optimistic that this could be their team's year to win the Stanley Cup!  The horrible truth to this is that most of us will be let down and our teams will be knocked out of the playoffs earlier than we had originally hoped.  So now that I've depressed you a bit, it's time for the second installment (here's last year's bracket, in case for some bizarre reason, you'd like to see it) of my playoff bracket.

*All NHL logos were

Eastern Conference (I start with the East because of East Coast Bias)

#1 New York Rangers vs. #8 Ottawa Senators
Series slogan: What goes first?  Paul MacLean's 'stache or John Tortorella's temper?

I'm used to seeing the Rangers in the 1/8 matchup, but not as the #1 seed.  Both of these teams would be considered "over-achievers" this season.  A lot has to go right for Ottawa to win the series, and although I'm not crazy about giving goalies all the credit in the world, but this series will come down to goaltending.  Craig Anderson has seen this before: his Colorado Avalanche were the 8th seed in the spring of 2010, and he stole a pair of games for the Avs before losing in six to San Jose.  This series will be similar, although this Senators team is a much more offensively skilled team.  Ottawa will need to be very patient in this series, because the Rangers not only love to collapse in the neutral zone, but they collapse around the net and will make it difficult for Erik Karlsson and the Sens' defense to get their point shots through to Henrik Lundqvist.  Lundqvist, by the way, had a save percentage of .895 in March and April, so he'll need to be much better than that, or his Rangers could be heading home early again.

My pick: Rangers in 6.
Confidence in my pick: 9/10

#2 Boston Bruins vs. #7 Washington Capitals
Series slogan: Tim Thomas can ship up to Boston, but he'll have to be in the city of the White House too

It's been an inconsistently brilliant season for the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, but when they're on, they are the best team in the NHL.  They have a dynamic, yet balanced attack, which compliments Zdeno Chara, the world's best defenseman, and Tim Thomas, an elite NHL goaltender, very well.  The Capitals, meanwhile, had a very disappointing season and almost missed the playoffs, yet here they are, playing very well lately, as they've won four of five games heading into the playoffs.  If they had a consistent and healthy goaltender, I would pick this as the upset, since Washington is far overdue to make a long playoff run, but they don't, so it'll be another early exit for the Caps, even with Nicklas Backstrom healthy.  But hey, at least they fired Bruce Boudreau, riiight?!

My pick: Bruins in 6.
Confidence in my pick: 5/10

#3 Florida Panthers vs. #6 New Jersey Devils
Series slogan: If a playoff series was buried off NBC's networks and nobody saw it, did it really happen?

(I'll have a more detailed preview of this series during the week) It's been a long time coming since the Florida Panthers made the playoffs, but finally, the Panthers are the latest Miami team to take advantage of free agency to improve their team.  And the Panthers didn't sign LeBron James or Jose Reyes, so you don't have to hate on them.  The Panthers have their "Big 3," though, as Fleischmann, Weiss and Versteeg make up a very dangerous scoring line.  Meanwhile, it's been a huge bounce-back season for the Devils under yet another new coach, Pete DeBoer.  They won 48 games and picked up 102 points after missing the playoffs for just the second time in 22 seasons.  The Devils are no longer the old trap Devils, in fact, they're one of the East's most up-tempo and deep offensive teams.  That will be why the Devils win this series.  They have depth, as good of a defense as any New Jersey blue line since the lockout and Martin Brodeur has been playing very well since the All-Star Break.  Plus, DeBoer would love to beat the team that fired him.  If the Devils play a disciplined and smart game, which they'll have to against Florida, this won't be a very long series.

My pick: Devils in 5.
Confidence in my pick: 9/10

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Hockey experts sound off on Tortorella and Clowe

I don't read minds, but if I had to guess, I'd say he's not very happy there.  Or ever.

Yesterday may have been Good Friday, but the hockey world has seen some not-so-good action over the last week.  First, Rangers coach John Tortorella ripped the Penguins organization and blasted Brooks Orpik for his knee-on-knee hit on Derek Stepan.  That cost "Torts" $20,000.  San Jose's Ryane Clowe, meanwhile, cheated a bit against the Los Angeles Kings.  No, he wasn't paid to injure anyone, but that doesn't make him a Saint.  He reached over the boards and played the puck from the bench.  Here's the reaction that wasn't from hockey experts (please note: this is not real).

Pierre McGuire

On Tortorella - John is one of the best coaches in the league, he's so good with his team.  He should at least be one of the top two or three or twenty finalists for the Jack Adams Trophy.  He's so smart with his team, Doc.
On Clowe - Ryane Clowe is an excellent player.  He's a gritty player and I think every team in the league could use someone like him, but that's just uncalled for.  He should know better than that, but Ryane Clowe is still an exceptional hockey player, Doc.

Mike Milbury

On Tortorella - Well finally someone spoke the truth!  I mean, when was someone gonna man up and tell it like it is?  I love John Tortorella.  The fact that the NHL fined him is stupid and completely idiotic.
On Clowe - There is absolutely nothing wrong with players being a little creative out there.  He helped his team, and if the refs aren't looking, hey, why not?  I wish I had told my players to do that more on Long Island.

Don Cherry


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

DGA's Devils Team Awards

"Hey, Boulton, we shoot at THAT net this period..."

This afternoon, the Devils held their annual team awards, which as always, was rigged.  Zach Parise won team MVP (umm...), Adam Henrique and Bryce Salvador tied for unsung hero and Johan Hedberg won the Player's Player award for the 179th straight year.  So I'm here to fix all this rigging nonsense.  Here's the uncensored version of the Devils' 2011-12 team awards.

Team MVP Candidates:

Peter Harrold - Without him, the Devils would have to let Adam Larsson play, and according to Pete DeBoer, that's a bad thing.  Plus, Peter (Harrold) has so much experience winning in Los Angeles.

Mattias Tedenby - While he only lasted 43 games this season, he managed to pick up a rating (not golf score).  The Devils' shortest player's lack of offensive production made sure that the Devils didn't have a third line that could score until the All-Star break.

Kurtis Foster - Although he was terrible in his own end, the Devils' power play's best stretch of the season came with Foster at the point, which according to someone, somewhere, makes him better than Marek Zidlicky.

Winner: Harrold.  Why?  Well, for starters, he's the only one of the three left on the Devils' NHL roster...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Remembering the 2011-12 regular season

The next GM of the Montreal Canadiens...very hard at work.

For 14 of the NHL's 30 teams, this is the final week of their season.  After this week, they'll all go
their separate ways for the summer.  In other words, they'll all go to various golf courses until September, apparently.  So let's take a look at the teams that will not be taking part in the playoffs, and remember each of their seasons.

Montreal Canadiens - This season has been "├ęchec" in Montreal, or as Randy Cunneyworth likes to say: failure.  But hey, at least they got their money's worth out of Scott Gomez this season!

New York Islanders - The Long Island rebuild continues.  Or maybe it hasn't started yet, since Nassau Coliseum is unfortunately still standing.  With their young talent, they should be good in the near future.  Maybe...

Columbus Blue Jackets - This season was the beginning and end of Jeff Carter's career in Columbus.  What's quite unfortunate is that if Rick Nash gets traded, the Jackets might have to force Steve Mason into the All-Star Game in their own building next season.

Tampa Bay Lightning - Guy Boucher gave up on the 1-3-1 midway through the season, but those five minutes of stalemate in the Flyers game easily cost Steven Stamkos two or three goals.

Monday, April 2, 2012


The best "pranks" or "practical jokes" are ones that don't physically hurt anyone, but make people either laugh or get very, very confused.  Well, I don't know if anyone laughed, but I do know that @DownGoesSpezza and I confused a lot of people on April 1st, 2012.  In case you didn't realize what happened, we switched everything for the day: avatars, Twitter handles, background pictures, descriptions, etc.  Both of us lost several followers of our fan bases (I lost many Devils fan followers, he lost many Flyers fan followers), but hey, I thought it was worth it. Here's some of the best reaction we got.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Re-living the Devils' Cup run in 1995, Part 1

The playoffs are just around the corner, which means that the playoffs are about to start, most Canadian teams are eliminated and there's no more shootouts!  Before the 2012 playoffs get under way, I wanted to take a look at each of the three Devils Stanley Cup runs.  Hopefully, this will get Devils fans in a playoff state of mind.  All videos in these posts are courtesy of YouTube user  .

PART ONE: 1995 New Jersey Devils Season in Review (plus first two rounds of the playoffs)

Coming off a 47-25-12 season in 1993-94, the Devils made a statement to the rest of the league that they were no longer the "Mickey Mouse organization" that Wayne Gretzky infamously named them in the early 1980s.  The Devils entering 1993-94 having made the playoffs in six of the past seven seasons, but after the famous Game 7 loss to the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals, it was time for the Devils to take the next step.  They finished second in goals for (306) and second in goals against (220) in 1993-94, so they had become a complete team, with youngster Martin Brodeur in net.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Biggest stories heading into the playoffs

"Alexander, how does it feel to replace Carrie Underwood as the face of the Predators?"
 Well, it's been another entertaining season of NHL hockey (except in New Jersey, since by definition, hockey in New Jersey has to be boring.  Even if that means Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise are classified as boring players.), which means the playoffs are just around the corner for the top eight teams from each conference.  We've seen a lot of interesting things this season, so here's a look at the top stories going into the playoffs.

Ottawa doesn't suck - Despite every single 'hockey expert,' plus Damien Cox, predicting the Senators to finish dead last in the Eastern Conference this season, they're a playoff team and might even finish as high as 2nd in the conference.  Yet management claims that their success this season has nothing to do with the fact that they threatened to trade the team's worst player to Edmonton at the end of the season.  Weird.

Radulov's back - After completing his fourth straight season in Russia's KHL, Alexander Radulov decided it was time to return to the NHL and the Nashville Predators.  This fulfills Caps' general manager George McPhee's bold prediction that 'Alexander will definitely be ready for the playoffs by the end of March.'

Florida Panthers are back in the playoffs - They haven't officially clinched a playoff berth yet, but barring a historic collapse, the Panthers will be a part of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in...umm, a very long time.  It's been so long, in fact, that Sean Avery hadn't pissed off anyone in the NHL yet.

Sharks on the playoff bubble - Since the lockout, hockey fans can be assured of two things: the Toronto Maple Leafs will miss the playoffs and the San Jose Sharks will collapse in the playoffs.  This season, the latter won't happen if the Sharks actually miss the playoffs.  This year's Sharks are so bad, in fact, that Martin Havlat is averaging fewer points per game than during his Minnesota days.  Think about that.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Things that happen in the first 5 seconds of hockey games

Hey Torts, Y U HEFF TO BE MAD?

Last night at Madison Square Garden, the Devils and Rangers engaged in three simultanious fights immediately after puck drop (see below).

The results of this included an energized crowd, two angry coaches and some blood.  But was that the most interesting thing that has ever happened at the start of a hockey game?  I've thought of a few others, so you can make the decision for yourselves.

  • Rick DiPietro leaves the game with an undisclosed injury, such as itchy finger nail.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs are losing 4-0.
  • Sidney Crosby has already been named first star of the game.
  • John Tortorella is fuming, because the opposing coach actually started a line.
  • Zdeno Chara has stepped onto the ice, and all five opposing skaters gulp.
  • Kyle Wellwood has become famished.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Some St. Patrick's Day Traditions Across the NHL

Maybe fans will start throwing four leaf clovers onto the ice.  You know, there's four leafs, ugh, leaves and all...

Like many of us non-NHL players, several NHL players have various traditions that they follow every time St. Patrik (or Patrick)'s Day comes around.  I've put together a list of some of the traditions that people around the NHL.

Patrick Kane - Gets drunk.

Tim Thomas - Goes with a group of his friends to someone's house to party.  I can't swear by this, but I don't think it's a white house.

Adam Larsson - Has a tradition of insisting to bartenders that I.D.'s are a ridiculous way to proof people's age.

Boston Bruins - Have "Shipping up to Boston" playing constantly at TD Garden, which annoys no one, says Zdeno Chara, who's guarding the music room.

Patrick Kane - Still drunk.

Dustin Byfuglien - Upon drinking his fifth or sixth beer, he makes the mature decision not to drive drunk.  Instead, he often takes his boat out, which doesn't always end well for him.

Colorado Avalanche - Like most NHL teams, the Avs sell green t-shirts with their players names on the back and an added O', such as O'O'Brien, O'O'Byrne and O'O'Reilly.