New York Hockey: Matt Corrente

W2W4: Devils vs. Islanders

January, 17, 2011
1/17/11
8:26
AM ET
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.

Shots

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.

W2W4: Devils vs. Bruins

November, 15, 2010
11/15/10
9:01
AM ET
The Devils try to turn their OT win over the Oilers into an honest-to-goodness winning streak Monday night in Boston as the Devils take on the Bruins.

The win over the Oil was a welcome sight, but now the Devils hit a tough patch in their schedule. A three-game roadie also takes them to Toronto and St. Louis this week, and is followed by a visit from the Washington Capitals. The hole New Jersey has put itself in means that the Devils will need to start beating some of the elite teams on the schedule from here on out; just topping the stragglers like Toronto won’t be good enough.

Fortunately for the Devils, the team’s offense has been clicking in the past two contests, with a combined eight goals. With Ilya Kovalchuk back in the goal column, perhaps the Devils are ready to turn the page. Here are three keys to track in Beantown tonight.

Breakout or Fake Out?
Has New Jersey’s goal-scoring finally come to life or were the past two games simply a function of playing two of the league’s worst defensive teams? The Oilers allow a league-high four goals per game, while the Sabres sit at 3.17. The Bru Crew will offer a much stiffer test with the second-best goals-allowed average in the NHL. If the Devils can light the lamp more than three times tonight it will be a great sign that the offense is finally clicking.

The Injury Bug
The Devils will skate without Jamie Langenbrunner who’s still sore after going headfirst into the boards against Buffalo. They’ll also miss Matt Taormina who hurt his ankle in practice over the weekend. The rookie has been one of the Devils’ best defensemen this season, capable of moving the puck out of the defensive zone. Matt Corrente could be ready to go tonight however after sustaining a non-displaced fracture in his left hand.

The blueline has been better but not great. Buffalo worked some prolonged cycles in the New Jersey zone and the Oilers snagged a 3-1 lead before the Devils rallied. Give up a quick goal or two to the Bruins and their staunch D and it could be over early.

Chara vs. Kovalchuk
In the “game within the game” department, it will be interesting to see how the Devils try to get Kovalchuk away from imposing hulk Zdeno Chara. You can expect the blue line behemoth will be matched up on the Devils' top offensive threat every shift, which should produce a very interesting battle between the players as well as the coaches.

Early stats show Kovalchuk not worth it

October, 26, 2010
10/26/10
9:01
AM ET
New head coach John MacLean received the dreaded vote of confidence from GM Lou Lamoriello yesterday, who stated that firing MacLean has not yet crossed his mind.

If Lamoriello isn’t blaming the coach, then it seems to me that the fault must lie with the players. With that in mind I thought we should take a look at some of the Devils’ individual performances via CORSI to see how dismally the Devs are really playing.

(To any advanced metricians out there, please let me know if I’ve screwed something up. After all, I’m an English major who hasn’t had his morning coffee yet.)

All of these stats are courtesy of Gabriel Desjardins at BehindTheNet.ca. You can find the Devils stats I’m referencing here.

Blame Not These Men

According to CORSI, which measures even-strength shots-for minus even-strength shots-against while a player is on the ice, Travis Zajac and Dainius Zubrus have been the team’s best players thus far, posting marks of 15.54 and 14.18 respectively. When they’re off the ice, the team struggles mightily. Relative CORSI measures the difference between a player’s performance when he’s on the ice and the team’s performance when he’s off it. When this pair sits, the Devils foes smile. They’re generating almost nine more shots than New Jersey when Zajac sits on the bench and about 7.5 when Zubrus takes a rest.

Those numbers seem to show that Zubrus is more than earning his time on the top line and deserves to stay there for the time being.

Just below them sits Zach Parise with an 8.52 CORSI rating and a 14.2 relative score. Nothing wrong with that.

Brian Rolston’s CORSI rating appears to be phenomenal (21.49) but keep in mind he’s appeared in just two games this season before going down with an injury.

The Rookie D-men

With little cap space, as well as injuries to Bryce Salvador and Anton Volchenkov, the Devs have had to lean on a trio of rookie blueliners: Matt Corrente, Matt Taormina and, most recently, Oliver Magnan-Grenier. Taormina has performed quite admirably with the increased expectations, with a CORSI rating of 5.12 and a Relative CORSI rating of 9.1, the best among defensemen. Corrente, who’s been on board for four games, has been less impressive (-3.13 CORSI) while Magnan-Grenier has been rather lousy (-8.23) in his three games with the club.

To give this some context, heralded rookie D-man John Carlson of the Washington Capitals currently owns a 12.14 rating, while top vet Chris Pronger, has posted a 33.59 mark. Former Devil Paul Martin sits a little below Pronger with a rating of 18.85.

The disparity between the Devs’ rookie D shows how tough it is to break in three fresh faces at the same time. Almost always, one of that group will be going up against an undesirable matchup.

The $100 Million Man

Ilya Kovalchuk was controversially courted by the Devils and finally won over after much labor and hardship. Thus far, according to CORSI, he hasn’t been worth the investment.

Among Devils who have played more than five games, Kovalchuk has posted the third-worst CORSI rating (-10.20), just ahead of Jason Arnott (-12.30) and Jamie Langenbrunner (-18.07). When these three are off the ice, the Devils have performed far better at generating shots and limiting those against Martin Brodeur.

To hone in a little further on Kovalchuk, consider that fellow Russian NHL stars Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin have CORSI ratings of 13.32 and 14.13 to date.

We’re still only a 10th of the way through the season, so it’s not time to panic yet, but Kovalchuk needs to turn it around to make his contract seem like merely an okay investment. But with all the hurdles the Devils had to clear to ink him, and all of the juggling they’ve had to do to fit his salary under the cap, a statistical performance like this one shows the signing to be nothing short of disastrous in the early going.

W2W4: Avalanche vs. Devils

October, 15, 2010
10/15/10
5:07
PM ET
A few hours from now the Avs visit the Rock to take on the Devils. Here are three quick factors to keep an eye on Friday night.

Welcome to the Party

The Devils replaced their injured players with a trio of call-ups from Albany: forwards Jacob Josefson and Tim Sestito, and D Matt Corrente. Josefson will center the third line, flanked by Dainius Zubrus and David Clarkson. Sestito will join Adam Mair and Rod Pelley on line four, with Corrente paired with Alexander Urbom. At some point the Devils will actually make some kind of move to provide lasting cap relief (really, I swear). This trio will want to make a lasting impression to show they're capable of sticking with the big club when that time comes.

Fire at Will

Colorado (No. 5 in shots per game this season) and New Jersey (No. 10) have put a lot of rubber on the net in the early season and Colorado isn't too strong at stopping shots against. This could turn into an up-and-down game with the two goalies at the center of the action.

The First of Many?

Ilya Kovalchuk got in the goal column Wednesday against Buffalo and New Jersey would love nothing more than for its highest-paid player to get on track. The Money Line (or, if you prefer, the ZIP line) is intact again. The line came out absolutely blazing against the Dallas Stars but since faded. If Kovalchuk and Co. can't get rolling against the Avs, how much longer can head coach John MacLean wait before splitting it up?

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