The Devils got out to a great start to their season as they won their first game by a score of 2-1 over the New York Islanders. The goals were scored by Travis Zajac and David Clarkson. Mattias Tedenby, Patrik Elias, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Henrik Tallinder all picked up one assist. Marty Brodeur was fantastic between the pipes as usual, and I thought he could easily have had a shutout if it was not for a mental breakdown on the powerplay early in the third period.
(David Clarkson celebrates his game winning goal in the third period)
Aside from the breakdown on the powerplay I thought we looked great tonight. Two Devils that really surprised me on how well they played were Mattias Tedenby and Stephan Matteau. Tedenby is coming off an awful season last year where he just could not find his game at all. Tonight he was not afraid to get into the corners and battle for the puck. He also had an excellent chance to score in the first period where he roofed a backhand over the net on a breakaway. I believe that he will contribute to the Devils in a huge way this year if he continues to play at this level. Stephan Matteau did not look out of place at all tonight as he played in his first career NHL game. He threw his body around effectively, got himself in position for some decent scoring chances, and played pretty good defense. Personally I would like to keep him on the Devils this year but I do believe he will be sent back down to his junior team after the first five games are over.
All in all it was a good win for the Devils tonight. As the season goes on we will dust off the cobwebs and click more as a unit. But I should also mention that the Kings, Rangers and Flyers all lost today. Its a good day to be a Devils fan!
(Ilya Kovalchuk congratulates Martin Brodeur after the game)
This morning / afternoon I had the pleasure of receiving a text message from my friend to turn on the MSG network. The had a special on about the New York Rangers training camp, where we actually got to see them practice. After watching about thirty minutes of it, I can honestly say that the New York Rangers are the REAL DEAL! And if you do not believe that, you better start now!
In the half hour that I watched, I saw speed from every single one of those players that blew me away. The quick releases on the shots, the crisp passes, the soft hands on deflections, I can go on and on about what I saw in the half hour. But I will not because I want everyone to see what I am talking about when they open up their season Saturday against the Boston Bruins. I am predicting that the Rangers will blow them out in a 5-0 game where Rick Nash has four points in his Ranger debut. He will have two goals (one Powerplay, one even strength) and an assist to each Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards. The fifth goal will be scored by Carl Hagelin. Oh yeah and Henrik Lundqvuist will have an eighteen save shutout.
Why such a bold prediction you ask? Because that is what I saw from them on the ice today. Rick Nash looked like an absolute stud out there and did not seem out of place with his teammates. When he came off the ice for an interview with one of the MSG reporters, he was paying more attention to what was going on, on the ice rather than the interview. That tells me he is not distracted at all by the “New York Scene”. There is a strong feeling of confidence in the Rangers locker room right now, and the should have it because they are the best team in the NHL. They know it, I know it, and soon the whole NHL and all the fans will know it.
Now everyone knows Henrik Lundqvuist is one of if not the best goalie in the NHL. Today I saw an almost invincible Lundqvuist. His balance, quickness, rebound control, angles, you name it, was firing on all cylinders. He is the reason why the Rangers will win the Stanley Cup. This will be his most decorated year. He will win his second straight Vezina trophy for the best goaltender in the league, the Hart Memorial Trophy for league MVP, the Conn Smythe for playoff MVP, and last but certainly not least the Stanley Cup.
NHL Network just reported that once Scott Gomez is bought out of his contract with the Montreal Canadians, the New Jersey Devils might be one of the teams interested in signing him. ESPN.com currently has Gomez listed as a Devil on their website right now.
Lou Lamoriello I love you, but if you bring Gomez back to New Jersey, that is just blasphemous! He turned his back on us when he went to the Rangers for a boat load of money and look what happened, he STUNK! He got traded to Montreal where he did not score a goal for over one hundred games! We are trying to make up the goals we lost with Zach Parise and Petr Sykora, not dig ourselves into a deeper hole. Please Lou do not give Gomez the time day, he is not worth it.
Today during Devils training camp, General Manager Lou Lamoriello announced that the Devils number one center Travis Zajac, had agreed to a new contract extension. The terms of the contract are eight years for $46 million with an average $5.75 million cap hit. With this being done, we know that Travis will be a Devil for the next nine years.
Coming in to next season, the Devils only have two of their top 9 forwards signed,the other being Ilya Kovalchuk. With that, there comes huge question marks as to who is going to be on the team? Who is Lou going to sign? Will he let David Clarkson, Dainius Zubrus, rookie sensation Adam Henrique and the all time leader in points for the Devils in Patrik Elias walk when this season is over? All of these questions will be answered as the season goes on and before the next one starts up, but for now I am VERY happy with the re-signing of Travis.
I am going to go one step further and say that by the end of training camp, Travis will be the new captain of the Devils. That’s right CAPTAIN! He has shown loyalty to the franchise by signing this deal and he should be rewarded. I am not saying he should be rewarded for signing a large contract by any means, but for his hard work and loyalty to his team. If the Devils give the “C” to Bryce Salvador that is just pathetic, and personally I will be livid!! Zajac is the guy you are going to want out on the ice to win the timely face-off. He scores goals, blocks shots, and can be thrown out on the penalty kill and play solid defense. He is also a leader in the locker room.What more could you want in your captain? Why else do you think the Devils gave him Parise’s old locker stall?
In the 2012 NHL Draft the New Jersey Devils selected with the twenty ninth overall pick forward, Stephan Matteau out of the United States developmental program. Fast forward to now and he is currently in training camp with the Devils, less than a year after being drafted.
(Picture of Stephan Matteau in Devils Camp. Credit to @Ledger_NJDevils)
This was a very big surprise to Devil fans, as we thought he was years away from making it to the NHL. What is more surprising is that he has a very good opportunity to make the team this year.
In an interview with Devils head coach Pete Deboer, Deboer praised Matteau saying that “He’s an NHL player, the question is when.” With the season being shortened by the lockout, there are no preseason games to see what Matteau can do without playing in an actual NHL game. But every season there is a window for entry level players to get a shot to make their respective NHL clubs. This season the window is five games. I say take that chance and give the kid a shot. Matteau has not looked out of place according to Deboer and several other Devils. Let him get his feet wet. The worst case scenario is that in the first 5 games he does not perform and they send him back to Blainville-Boisbriand of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League where he has been a stud all season long. The argument can be made that he is not ready and with the shortened season, every game counts. But I challenge those people to give him a chance and who knows, he could be this years Adam Henrique.
Well today was a huge day for rumors for the New Jersey Devils. We had two issues that had the whole fan base guessing what is going to happen next? But in return we got some awesome one hundred percent confirmed news. Not only are we playing on opening night, but it will be against our divisional foe, the New York Islanders. This is a huge upgrade from what was originally reported with the Devils opening up the season in Winnipeg against the Jets. The Devils now do not need to worry about giving up a very vital day of training camp to travel halfway across the continent to open up this season. And this extra day will be very important considering our top scorer from last year in Ilya Kovalchuk may be a day late to training camp.
Reports have been circling around all day the Kovalchuk does not want to leave his KHL team this season and wants to stay in Russia to finish out the season. Not only were the reports saying he wants to stay in St. Petersburg, but the Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Ovechkin, and Evgeni Malkin $30 million EACH to stay in the KHL this season. It would take Kovalchuck exactly four and a half seasons to earn that much in a Devils uniform per capgeek.com. After thoroughly reading through Ilya’s translated statement, he did not say he had intentions of staying in Russia. It was that he has a contractual obligation to play in the NHL that would be tough to get out of. Another red flag that has been thrown up for Devils fans is that he is the only NHL player under contract to be listed on the KHL All Star Game roster. The game is scheduled to take place the Sunday camps are supposed to open up on, meaning Kovalchuk would be late to camp.
Personally I do not have an issue with Kovalchuk playing in the All Star Game. The first day of camp is usually all about seeing what players are in game shape or not. Kovalchuk has been playing, and at a high level may I add, in Russia since the lockout was official. So we know that he is in game shape and ready to go. As long as he is back in time to master the power play that Devils new assistant coach Matt Shaw has been designing all off season, I am okay with him missing the first day.
Another piece of interesting Devils news is that 39 year old right winger Petr Sykora might not be in a Devils sweater this season. Allan Walsh tweeted today that Petr would be playing in the NHL this season. This raised a lot of eyebrows wondering why he did not say he is returning to the Devils. One of the main reasons is that the collective bargaining agreement is still not ratified by the players. Therefore no one is allowed to sign contracts. Speculation started almost immediately as to where else he could end up besides New Jersey. The one team that came up was Washington because of Adam Oates being the newly hired head coach. Personally, I do not think Petr is going anywhere and he will finish his career as a Devil. But if he did end up somewhere else I would not really miss him. Its time to give some younger bodies a shot in the big leagues to see what they can do.
To basically wrap everything up in one sentence, The Devils will have Ilya Kovalchuk and Petr Sykora in their lineup on January 19th when they beat the New York Islanders at the Nassau Colosseum. Hopefully we will see this again to open the season!
Besides the NHL owners unanimously approving a new collective bargaining agreement, a huge news story out of Toronto happened yesterday. The Toronto Maple Leafs fired their General Manager Brian Burke. This sent a giant shockwave throughout the league and many owners and other GM’s did not see this coming at all. Even Maple Leaf employees had no idea this was happening. Days after the new owners of the Maple Leafs acquired the team for approximately $1.3 billion, they show Burke the door and promote Dave Nonis, Burke’s long time protege, to general manager. There is something fishy going on in Toronto and I believe that it has to do something with Roberto Luongo.
There have been trade rumors circling all throughout the off-season that Roberto Luongo would be traded to the Maple Leafs or where he first started out his career in South Beach with the Panthers. But as time went on the Maple Leafs seemed like the more likely destination. What I believe happened was that the owners wanted Burke to make a power move to get Luongo after the CBA was ratified by the players. Burke however wanted to wait it out to see if his value would go down with him backing up Corey Schneider. Another reason could be that Burke wanted to wait until after the shortened season because with the new CBA in place, and a brand new buyout policy that would not effect the Vancouver Canucks salary cap, would use the policy to buy Luongo out of his contract and the Maple Leafs or any team could pick him up for that matter.
Toronto clearly wants results now and they will do it at any cost. Hopefully Nonis can get this Luongo deal done and fast because in a very surprising twist in events the Philadelphia Flyers are lurking in the background. (As Always….)
And for all my New Jersey Devils fans out there i provide you with a link to one of our favorite games against these Maple Leafs.