Sunday, October 10, 2010
Devils already in a roster bind
By Mike Hume
If you thought the Devils had problems after a disastrous second period against the Washington Capitals in Saturday night's loss, they increased exponentially after the fight-ridden 7-2 debacle concluded.
According to the Record's Tom Gulitti, Leblond's salary won't count against the cap as he serves a one-game suspension for instigating a fight in the last five minutes of a game, so the Devils should be able to replace him with an AHL call-up whose cap hit is $525K or less.
If Rolston and Volchenkov can't play, however, they Devils will be reduced to just 16 skaters, 10 forwards and six defensemen, when they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins Monday afternoon.
And all that doesn't even start to address the seven-goal spanking the Devs received Saturday night.
This should be short ...
Despite the lopsided final score, the Devils outshot the Caps 33-29. Ironically, the Devs blitzed the Caps for 17 shots in the second period. Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth was very good all game long and a few key saves in the second probably altered the outcome of the game. The only problem was, at the other end, the Caps scored five goals on only eight shots. So, yeah ...
+ Prize Free Agent Fighter
While GM Lou Lamoriello's heart must have stopped when Ilya Kovalchuk dropped the gloves with Caps D Mike Green, the willingness of the team's top salaried player to stand up for himself should greatly benefit the team's chemistry in the long run.
The Kovalchuk-Green fight/do si do was pretty entertaining. It was a bit of an awkward dance, some footwork lessons could help, but this is the continuance of a feisty early season for Kovalchuk, who mixed it up with Sean Avery in the preseason. As a side note, Green catching Kovalchuk’s left-handed jab/jersey grab was pretty ninja.
Minus - Defense. All of it.
The forwards turned the puck over. The defense got caught flat-footed against the high-flying Alex Ovechkin. Martin Brodeur was not at his best. It was an all-around forgettable effort. But I will point out a silver lining.
The Caps' scoring explosion didn't begin until after Volchenkov was out of the game. Being down your No. 1 D-man against the top-scoring team in the NHL is a pretty sizable handicap, even if you are cycling in seven defensemen.
The Devils vented with a trio of fights in the game's waning minutes, but all of them were even matchups with willing participants on both sides. Leblond, on the other hand, chased down the smallest guy in the Caps' lineup, 5-foot-11 Marcus Johansson, slashed him from behind and dropped the gloves on him before the rookie even knew what was going on.
The fact that it all but guarantees a suspension makes the move even worse. Not his finest moment.