New York Hockey: Anton Volchenkov

Rangers repay favor, continue rolling

April, 21, 2013
Ryan CallahanDebby Wong/USA TODAY Sports Ryan Callahan finished with two goals in the Rangers' 4-1 win over the Devils at the Garden.
A little less than 11 months since the Rangers were bounced from the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs by the Devils, they got to repay the favor and send their division rivals packing.

By dismantling the Devils 4-1, the Rangers officially eliminated New Jersey from playoff contention, and fans at Madison Square Garden relished the opportunity to serenade them on their way out the door.

With a 4-0 lead and nine minutes left in regulation, Rangers fans taunted the Devils, chanting "Sea-son's O-ver!" as the Blueshirts put the finishing touches on their third consecutive win.

More important than playing ouster to the Devils, however, is the fact that the Rangers seem to be on the upswing at exactly the right time.

Outscoring their opponents 18-6 over their past three games, the Rangers roll into the last week of the regular season with a stern grip on eighth place and their confidence the highest it's been all season.

The Rangers remain in eighth place with 52 points and three games left, all against nonplayoff teams.

"I think we're playing our best hockey that we've played all year," captain Ryan Callahan said. "Now's the time to do that, with us battling for a playoff spot."

Callahan led the way with two goals, including one on a tone-setting, physical first shift that ended with him tucking the puck at the left post to bank one in off goaltender Martin Brodeur's right skate just 34 seconds into play.

"[Callahan] scoring a goal the first shift like that really helps get the crowd into it. It got us into it," alternate captain Brad Richards said. "Especially an afternoon game, sometimes the longer they can lull the crowd to sleep, it can work against you. It woke us up quick and got everybody going, and we played a good, solid game."

Working a 2-0 deficit in the second period, the Devils briefly swung momentum with a jolt of energy before Taylor Pyatt halted a personal 26-game goal skid with a critical goal to put the Rangers up 3-0.

Richards, who now has seven points in the past three games, intercepted a pass from Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov and dished off to Pyatt, who scored his first goal since Feb. 26.

"It's been a while," Pyatt said, while donning the team’s MVP Broadway Hat. "To score a big goal in an important game, it feels good."

That goal served to be the turning point of the game, as it seemed to sap the Devils' spirit. New Jersey was on the receiving end of some questionable calls throughout the game, and the second period ended with coach Pete DeBoer livid about a too-many-men penalty on the Rangers that went unnoticed. DeBoer was tossed with a little more than 10 seconds remaining in the game for jawing at officials.

The frustration boiled over for the Devils and provided a stark contrast for a Rangers club that seems to have reclaimed it’s swagger in the waning weeks of the season.

Starved for goals through stretches this season, the Rangers are now getting them in bunches.

Callahan and Richards connected in the third period for a 4-0 lead when Callahan lifted the puck over Brodeur, who was sprawled face first in the crease.

Brodeur was the recipient of taunts and jeers all game, beginning with the goal surrendered to Callahan in the first minute of play.

"It's always different, playing them," Richards said. "It's always nice to beat them, and it's a big win for us. I know they're out now, but that's not why we’re playing. We're playing because we need to stay alive."

Henrik Lundqvist pitched in with 26 saves, though his shutout bid was spoiled with 6:30 remaining in regulation, when Andrei Loktionov's wrist shot from the left circle got the Devils on the board.

Still, Lundqvist has surrendered two goals or fewer in 14 of the past 17 games.

"We're doing a lot of good things," Lundqvist said. "You can tell guys are making great plays right now, and it all starts with confidence."

Salvador, Kovalchuk day-to-day

April, 11, 2013
The New Jersey Devils received some good news Thursday, as it was announced that x-rays on captain Bryce Salvador's wrist turned out negative.

The veteran defenseman, who has been banged up recently, left Wednesday's 5-4 loss to Boston after being hit by a shot from Boston's Zdeno Chara in the second period. He did not return to the game.

According to coach Pete DeBoer, Salvador is day-to-day. That's a relief considering the Devils will be without fellow blue-liner Anton Volchenkov Friday when they host the Senators in a critical match.

Volchenkov earned a four-game suspension for his elbow on Boston's Brad Marchand Wednesday night. The 31-year-old, who was previously suspended for elbowing Carolina's Zach Boychuck back in February 2011, earned a five-minute major and game misconduct on the play. Marchand, who had to be helped off the ice, did not return to the game.

Ilya Kovalchuk, who has been out with a shoulder injury since last month, is also day-to-day, according to DeBoer though his return date remains unclear.

Kovalchuk said he experienced some discomfort when attempting one-timers for the first time in two-and-a-half weeks and sounded non-committal when asked about playing Friday.

"We'll see," he said. "I don't know."

The star winger will likely not be 100% when he comes back, but he said he does not want to take somebody else's spot in the lineup unless he feels he can contribute.

"I just don't want to be a passenger, just sitting on the bench," Kovalchuk said. "Just want to make sure, physically, I feel fine."

Kovalchuk admitted, however, that the team's eight-game winless streak does have an impact on how he feels about coming back.

"Yeah, obviously," he said. "Eight games left and we're four points behind, so it's not a situation where we want to be, but, like I said, I don't want to just go out there because of that. You want to go out there to help the team. If you're going too take somebody's spot that's 100% me that doesn't make any sense."

All throughout the lineup, the floundering Devils are hobbled. Backup netminder Johan Hedberg sat out Wednesday's game with "soreness." According to DeBoer, the team won't know until Friday morning whether Hedberg will be available to back up or whether they will use emergency recall Keith Kinkaid in that spot.

Second-year defenseman Adam Larsson took a hard shot off the right foot Wednesday, but said he is ready to go. Although his foot swelled up considerably Wednesday night, Larsson said he was feeling much better Friday.

"I'm ready to play, so hopefully I'll play tomorrow," he said.

Devils' Volchenkov to have hearing

April, 11, 2013
Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov has a phone hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety for his elbowing hit on Boston's Brad Marchand Wednesday night, a source confirmed to

Volchenkov was assessed a five-minute elbowing major and game misconduct after he delivered an elbow to Marchand's head at 15:11 of the second period of the Devils' 5-4 loss to the Bruins. Marchand went down after the hit and did not return to the game.

With a suspension appearing imminent for Volchenkov, it is very likely the Devils will be down two defensemen when they host the struggling Senators on Friday night. New Jersey, also floundering without a win in the last eight games, lost captain Bryce Salvador to a wrist injury during the game.

According to the Devils, Salvador will be re-evaluated Thursday.

Flyers' Schenn suspended one game

January, 23, 2013
Philadelphia's Brayden Schenn earned a one-game suspension for his charging hit on Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov in the Devils' 3-0 win against the Flyers in Newark on Tuesday night.

No penalty was assessed after Schenn's hit but the league reviewed the play regardless. NHL VP of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan announced the decision Wednesday, his first disciplinary decision of the lockout-shortened season.

Schenn will sit out Thursday's game against the Rangers in Philadelphia.

For a full video explanation of the decision, check out Shanahan's video here.

Rapid Reaction: Kings 2, Devils 1 (OT)

May, 30, 2012

Recap | Box score | Photos

What it means: L.A.'s Anze Kopitar made a pretty move to beat Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur on a breakaway and score the winner, giving the Kings a 2-1 overtime win and a 1-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday night at Prudential Center.

While the Kings racked up another road win, the Devils open yet another series with a loss after a strange game that featured bad ice, weird bounces and a couple of demoralizing missed chances in the third period.

Easy review: Devils fans jeered, but the call to wave off a goal for New Jersey early in the third was the right one. After captain Zach Parise fanned on a chance with an open net, he tried sweeping the puck past Kings netminder Jonathan Quick on a second attempt 3:58 into play. The no-goal was reviewed and ultimately upheld.

Another open net: Mark Fayne will be haunted by a glimmering opportunity missed midway through the third that could've given his team a go-ahead goal. With the game tied, the Devils defenseman shot a bouncing puck wide of an open net.

All tied up: With 1:12 remaining in the second period, the Devils pulled even with Anton Volchenkov's first goal of the 2012 playoffs, originally credited to Devils veteran Patrik Elias. Volchenkov's shot appeared to deflect off Kings defenseman Slava Voynov for the equalizer. Before earning the primary assist on Volchenkov's marker, Elias entered Wednesday's match having been held off the scoresheet in seven of the previous eight contests.

Depth scoring: With both teams boasting impressive offensive depth, the Kings drew first blood with a goal from their fourth line. Kings winger Jordan Nolan forced the puck from Andy Greene behind the net and dished the puck to find Colin Fraser at the right circle for a 1-0 Kings lead at 9:56 of the first period.

Quick-silver: Quick faced only five shots in the first frame and robbed Travis Zajac from the slot at 13:07 on the period's only power play. New Jersey's David Clarkson also missed the net on two high-quality chances.

Slow second: Quick didn't have to do too much work in the second, either. The Devils didn't register a shot on goal until 14:30 minutes into the period, when Parise was credited with one as he drove to the net on a short-handed attempt. The Devils finished the game with 17 shots. According to ESPN Stats and Information, the franchise record for fewest shots in a home playoff game is 14 (Game 5, Eastern Conference quarterfinals in 2007).

Up Next: Game 2, Devils vs. Kings, 8 p.m. Saturday.

Prust facing suspension for Game 4?

May, 20, 2012
As reported Saturday night, Rangers tough guy Brandon Prust will have a hearing Sunday with league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan for his nasty elbow on Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov during the Rangers 3-0 win in Game 3 Saturday.

Although the play went un-penalized, Prust will likely face at least a one-game suspension for the reckless hit that had Volchenkov down on the ice for minutes before returning to the Devils bench.

Volchenkov called the play "dirty" while Devils coach Pete DeBoer went one step further, calling Prust's actions "Head-hunting. Plain and simple."

It does not appear that Devils forward Dainius Zubrus will face any supplementary discipline for an elbow delivered to the head of Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman in the first period, however. Zubrus also went un-penalized and Stralman remained in the game.

DeBoer credits Oates for picking Kovy

December, 31, 2011

Andy Marlin/NHLI/Getty Images Ilya Kovalchuk brought the Devils to their feet with his penalty-shot goal.
NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Peter DeBoer wouldn't take credit for Ilya Kovlachuk's penalty-shot goal in the first period on Saturday afternoon.

"I give [assistant] Adam Oates credit," DeBoer said after the Devils beat the Penguins 3-1 at the Prudential Center. "That was the first name out of his mouth. Adam's scored a lot more points than I ever have, so it would be silly not to take that advice."

With 5:17 left in the first, a Pittsburgh defenseman closed his glove on the puck in the crease. Kovalchuk followed by moving in with speed on the ensuing penalty shot before beating netminder Marc-Andre Fleury five-hole with a quick wrister to give the Devils a 1-0 lead.

It was Kovalchuk's second career penalty shot goal in three attempts. Ironically, it was Fleury who stoned him on the only one he missed back in March 2010.

Kovalchuk didn't know why, but he actually thought about that before the game.

"My plan was to score a goal," Kovalchuk said. "You take what the goalie gives you. I think he was waiting for me to go high glove. I just freezed him a little bit and the five-hole was open. I think he stopped me last year. Now it's one-to-one."

Kovalchuk is tied with teammate Zach Parise for the NHL lead with six shootout goals.

"[Peter] didn't ask me or anything. He just told me I'm going," Kovalchuk said. "It's nice when the coach trusts you, and when you produce, it's even better."

"The thing about Ilya is, he thrives in those types of situations," DeBoer said.

INJURY UPDATE: Defenseman Anton Volchenkov left Saturday's game with a lower body strain.

Volchenkov said he suffered the injury while killing a penalty during the first period. The 29-year-old veteran, who has recorded five assists in 34 games this season, tried to go out for a shift during the second, but couldn't continue.

"We'll know more [Sunday]," DeBoer responded when asked if he through Volchenkov could play in Ottawa on Monday. "We'll see how he feels in the morning."

W2W4: Devils vs. Islanders

January, 17, 2011
It just wouldn’t be a Monday holiday without an afternoon game at Nassau Coliseum, now would it? Here are four things to watch for when the Devils visit the Isles.

Turning the Corner?

Not much has gone right for the Devils this season, but with five points in their last three games, a win Monday would give the team its most successful stretch to date. The Devs are coming off a trio of solid meetings with the Sunshine State teams, beating the Lightning twice before falling to the Panthers in OT. Part of that success is due to the improved play of Martin Brodeur. Since entering in his team’s 2-1 loss at Philadelphia Jan. 8, the goalie has stopped 101 of the 109 shots he’s faced, a .927 save percentage.
That figure is roughly 40 points better than his substandard season mark of .889.

Killed on the PK

The Devils have allowed at least one power-play goal in each of their last four games and a total of eight in their previous seven contests. That will almost certainly be problematic against and Islanders team that’s notched nine PP goals in their last eight games. The Isles have been converting their man-advantage chances at a 39 percent clip over that stretch. If the Devils take a penalty this afternoon, they do so at their own peril.


Who will have the edge: The team incapable of generating shots or the team incapable of preventing them? The Devils have produced an average of 24.8 shots per game over their last eight, while the Islanders have allowed an average or 41 shots against in their past 10 games. Recent history shows the Devils will get the puck to the net tonight though. In the last meeting between these teams the Devils outshot the Islanders 35-14. Of course, the Devs ended up losing that game 5-1, which is almost incomprehensible. In case you were wondering, the Islanders enjoyed a shooting percentage of 35.7 that night.

Tavares Time

The Islanders star has been hot over the past month, notching 19 points in his last 15 games, including a hat trick against the Sabres Saturday. It’s probably not a coincidence that the Islanders are 9-4-2 over that span. Simply put, the 2009 No. 1 pick is the most talented player on the team and he needs to produce when he’s on the ice. He’s done so lately, and against a team that’s allowed an average of 3.11 goals per game, there’s a solid chance he can continue that production Monday

Morning Links

Two quick hits to set the table for today’s matinee.

With James Wisniewski and Dwayne Roloson shipped out of town already, Pierre LeBrun writes that attention now shifts to Matt Moulson, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The plan according to LeBrun though is for the team to try to sign him and trade him only if they can’t lock him down.

Tom Gulitti posts that D Anton Volchenkov will return to the lineup after missing time following the death of his father, Alexei. According to head coach Jacques Lemaire, D Matt Corrente is a little “banged up” and won’t accompany the team to Long Island this afternoon.

Rapid Reaction: Flyers 4, Devils 2

January, 6, 2011

Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: As expected, the best of the East fended off the worst. The Philadelphia Flyers beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 Thursday night at the Prudential Center. The Devils (10-28-2) have now dropped three in a row.

MOOSE VS. BOOSH: In the battle of goaltenders with sweet nicknames yelled by fans when they make a great save, it was Brian Boucher who notched the victory over Johan Hedberg. Boosh made 18 saves, while Hedberg stopped 16 shots. Hedberg was making his second consecutive start as Martin Brodeur looked on from the bench. And it remains to be seen if he'll make a third.

TAKE YOUR HATS BACK: Tough way to lose your hat, Mr. Fan. After Danny Briere's second goal of the game gave the Flyers a 4-2 lead at 11:34 of the third period, someone thought that the goal was going to be credit to Scott Hartnell, who already had two. But it was indeed Briere who cut to the net and beat Hedberg. And instead of a hat trick celebration, it just became some guy throwing his hat on the ice for no reason. Briere (19th and 20th) and Hartnell (11th and 12th) each finished with a pair of tallies. Briere's first proved to be the decisive one as he ripped a one-timer from the high slot by Hedberg at 2:48, five seconds after a Flyers power play had elapsed.

PLAY ON: David Clarkson snapped his 16-game scoring drought by netting his fifth of the season on a breakaway, making it 2-1 Devils at 17:40 of the second period. Andy Greene sailed a perfect pass to Clarkson, who sped in on Boucher. He roofed a shot over Boucher, but despite putting his arms up to celebrate, play continued. Upon further review, Clarkson's shot hit the bar and the goal counted. It was his first tally since Nov. 24.

NOT AGAIN: Once again, the boards decided to be Hedberg's worst enemy. Just 4:14 into the second period, Villie Leino (three assists) dumped the puck in off the end boards. Hedberg left his crease to go play it, but it took an odd carom and deflected right in front to Hartnell, who deposited it into an empty net. The fluke goal tied the game at 1-1.

FAST START: The Devils generated their first shot early and got the game's first goal when Dainus Zubrus was able to redirect Anton Volchenkov's wrister from the right point into the net. The shots in the opening frame were 7-7 -- or six more shots than the Devils got in the first 20 minutes during the first period of their 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.

POWER OUTAGE: Jacques Lemaire took over as interim head coach, the Devils power play has been non-existent. New Jersey entered Thursday night's action one for its last 19 on the man-advantage. And the Devils went 0-for-1 in this one. Yes, make it 1-for-20.

WHERE'S THE C? Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias were wearing their customary "A's," but there was no "C." That's because captain Jamie Langenbrunner has been asked to waive his no-trade clause. Langenbrunner was out of the lineup as GM Lou Lamoriello continues to search for a new home for his right winger. Langenbrunner said before the game that a trade is imminent. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren is in the building and rumors are swirling that Philadelphia has offered a pair of draft picks for Langenbrunner. For the record, the Devils and Flyers have never made a trade with one another.

RECORD-BREAKER: With a secondary assist on Zubrus' goal in the first period, Elias became the all-time leading scorer in the history of the Devils-Flyers rivalry. It was Elias' 65th point. Can you guess who he surpassed? All right, time's up. The answer: his ex-coach, John MacLean, who had 64.

UP NEXT: The Flyers. Again. This time, the two teams will head south to the City of Brotherly love for an afternoon game on Saturday. And it doesn't get any easier from there. The Devils will return home Sunday for a matinee matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

W2W4: Oilers vs. Devils

November, 12, 2010
There is such a thing as a must-win game in November. And for the foundering New Jersey Devils, tonight's contest against the Edmonton Oilers is exactly that.

If the Devils can't upend the upstart Oilers, who lost their previous two games to the Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings by a combined score of 13-3, it's becomes entirely and instantly rational to wonder which NHL teams New Jersey can beat. Here are three keys to watch for in tonight's battle for the league basement.

Consistent Scoring

The Devils put up four goals against Buffalo Wednesday, their second highest total of the season. Tonight they'll face the NHL's worst defensive team, with the porous Oilers allowing a whopping 3.7 goals per game. Jamie Langenbrunner, who scored Wednesday, will sit out tonight and Alexander Vasyunov will join Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk on the top line. But if Mattias Tedenby can again spark the second line, you have to like New Jersey's chances to break out tonight. Especially considering the returns of ...

Welcome back!

With Martin Brodeur and Brian Rolston in the lineup, the Devils get two big pieces back from injury and should enjoy a little confidence boost as a result. Johan Hedberg hadn't exactly been in top form while Brodeur was out. Add in the veteran boost on the blue line the Devs got with the return of Anton Volchenkov two games back and this should be the best defense New Jersey has enjoyed since the season opener ... not that it looked that great against the Dallas Stars, but still ..

What if ...

If the Devils lose tonight, something has to give, right? I mean, I'm no NHL GM, but if you can't beat the league's (other) worst team in the middle of a five-game road trip, how can you expect to succeed during the rest of your schedule without some tinkering? And get a load of the upcoming schedule: at Boston (No. 3 in goals allowed per game), at Toronto (okay, that one's not so threatening), at St. Louis (tied for No. 1 in goals allowed per game) and then home vs. the Caps (No. 1 in goals for per game with 3.56).

I'm not sure what would change, but a loss tonight would easily mark the low point in an abysmal early season. If you legitimately believe that this roster, as it exists right now, is capable of making the playoffs, you have to win this game. Period.

W2W4: Sabres vs. Devils

November, 10, 2010
If not now, when? It's time for the Devils to breakout and the woebegone Buffalo Sabres present a tempting target to take down Wednesday night.

Both teams sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, with the loser entitled to the cellar. Not exactly the kind of start fans in Buffalo and New Jersey expected from the squads that finished second (N.J.) and third (Buffalo) in the conference last season. Here are three keys to watch when these teams battle for the basement/redemption.

Battle of the Backups
Both Martin Brodeur and Ryan Miller will sit out the contest, meaning Johan Hedberg will start again for New Jersey and Jhonas Enroth gets the nod for Buffalo. Hedberg hasn't been sensational in limited action with a GAA over 5, but the Sabres have struggled to put the puck in the net this season, averaging just 2.4 a game. Of course, that number dwarfs the Devils' 1.67 figure, but still it's a little bit of a break for a beleaguered Jersey team.

Countering that good karma is the fact that Hedberg allowed four goals to the Sabres before getting yanked in the second period during his first start of the season.

Enroth earned his first NHL win Saturday when the Sabres topped the skidding Maple Leafs in OT.

Welcome to the Show
As Tom Gulitti points out, top prospect Mattias Tedenby will become the eighth Devil to make his NHL debut this season. Hockey's Future lists Tedenby as the best of the bunch, and will provide some speed on a line with Patrik Elias and Jason Arnott Wednesday. In fact, his HF profile labels Tedenby the most exciting Devils prospect since Zach Parise. Maybe he'll be able to help ease the loss of the fallen leading scorer.

Shoring the Blue Line
With Colin White and Anton Volchenkov in the lineup, Wednesday will mark the first time since Oct. 13 New Jersey hasn't dressed three rookie defensemen. The Devils have allowed 3.20 goals per game this season, a big factor in their wretched early play, but the D has been extremely green to this point. The position is challenging for any rookie to learn, and to try and pick up the nuances under the pressure of a poor start and when the forwards can't keep the puck deep in the opposing zone, well, it's even harder. Expect things to tighten up with the added experience.

Devils D-man still ailing

October, 20, 2010
The Devils will again skate without Anton Volchenkov when they travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens Thursday night. Lou Lamoriello says the team’s second-biggest free-agent acquisition remains “status quo” after seeing a doctor about his sore neck, according to Tom Gulitti.

The injury has lingered since Volchenkov was hit in the face by a shot in the Devils’ game against the Washington Capitals.

Here’s a look at some other Devils news this evening.

Evening Links

W2W4: Devils vs. Sabres

October, 13, 2010
An 0-2-1 start for the Devils has left some wondering what changes will be made to the cap-constrained roster. For now, however, the Devils will carry on shorthanded when they face the Sabres in Buffalo tonight. Here's what to watch for:

Line combos

In terms of changes on the ice, a few Star-Ledger readers liked the way head coach John MacLean tinkered with his lines against the Penguins, moving Ilya Kovalchuk back to left wing and replacing him on the top line with Jamie Langenbrunner.

But the Zach Parise-Travis Zajac-Kovalchuk was back intact at practice on Tuesday, according to Tom Gulitti.

For his part, MacLean says he still has faith in the top line of Kovalchuk-Zajac-Parise. That could change if the combo doesn't produce tonight.

Still short

It looks like the Devils will only have 10 forwards tonight, as Anton Volchenkov will be out for the rest of the week, including Friday’s home game against the Colorado Avalanche, as well as Saturday’s game against the Boston Bruins. Brian Rolston’s time table is also up in the air while the forward undergoes some tests to see if he has a sports hernia. If he does and is placed on long-term IR, that would free up a ton of cap room for the Devils, but they'd still need to clear that space before bringing Rolston back to the lineup. More immediately, the Devs said Monday that fatigue hasn't been a factor in their winless start to the season. We'll see if that stays the case in the third period tonight.

Welcome to the Team

As expected, the Devils used the cap space saved from waiving Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond to sign Adam Mair. He skated with the team in the preseason, but should have a little extra energy after officially inking a deal ...

Hello Again

... and because the Sabres are Mair’s former team. Gulitti writes that both Mair and Henrik Tallinder are looking forward to returning to Buffalo.

Morning Links

Donnie Pucks: Relax Devils fans

October, 12, 2010
I don't know where the Devils will end up this year. Maybe they will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1996 -- or maybe they will lift the Cup. The one thing I will not do is panic after a 0-2-1 start. Why? Just look at the past.
  • 2001-02 -- Started 0-3-1, finished 41-28-9-4 with 95 points
  • 2003-04 -- Started 1-2-2, finished 43-25-12-2 with 100 points
  • 2005-06 -- Started 2-3, finished 46-27-9 with 101 points
  • 2007-08 -- Started 1-3, finished 46-29-7 with 99 points

See what I mean? It's way too early. Now I would still be concerned. Their blue line is very young. Mark Taormina and Alexander Urbom are just kids. Andy Greene, a solid d-man, had to play nearly 25 minutes on Monday with Anton Volchenkov out.

Also John MacLean is a head coach in the NHL for the first time. Can he push the right buttons to get them through the tough times? He says that this is not a crisis, but if it turns into one, can he handle the heat?

Keep an eye on Ilya Kovalchuk. He's got the weight of a whole franchise on his shoulders, will he try and do to much? In 3 games he has just 2 points, no goals and is a minus-3. We saw it in the playoffs last season. He presses. You would too if a team broke the bank to lock you into a contract.

Let's check in on N.J. in about a week or so. All the seasons, listed above saw the Devils turn things around quickly. If the Devils stumble into November, the same way as they started, this could be a long season.

Devils already in a roster bind

October, 10, 2010
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.

Box Score

A broken nose suffered by Anton Volchenkov, a lower body injury to Brian Rolston and a looming suspension for Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond will have the Devils' front office scrambling to address an undermanned roster while salary cap constraints severely limit their options.

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 ...

+ Chances

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.


- 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.

- Leblond

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.