Stats & Info: New Jersey Devils

Kings at home not an advantage in playoffs

June, 4, 2012
Ed Mulholland/US PresswireThe Kings celebrate after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 2.
The Stanley Cup Final returns to Los Angeles for Game 3 as the Los Angeles Kings look to take a commanding 3-0 lead over the New Jersey Devils.

Kings Keys to the Game
The Kings are back on the west coast after winning the first two games of the series, both in overtime. But home has not been as sweet as the road for the Kings in this postseason.

Both of the Kings losses this season have come at home where they have converted just one of 32 power play opportunities; the Kings are undefeated in 10 road games and have outscored their opponents by 19 goals.

However, Los Angeles does have history on its side. This is the 12th time the road team has won the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final and those teams have gone on to win the Cup on nine of the previous 11 occasions.

The Kings have relied heavily on their defense to advance in these playoffs, having not allowed more than three goals in any of their 16 games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is one shy of the NHL record within one playoff year set by the 2008 Red Wings and matched by the Rangers this year.

They’ll need another strong effort from goalie Jonathan Quick tonight, as the Kings have scored two goals in their last two home games combined. The Kings finished 29th in the NHL in goals per game in the regular season, the third-lowest rate for a Stanley Cup Finalist in the modern era (since 1943-44).

Devils Keys to the Game
Despite back-to-back overtime losses at home to open the series, the Devils are confident heading into Game 3. They have won two straight and four of their last five road games, allowing two goals per game during that span.

However, the Devils have trailed in a series 2-0 twice since the lockout and lost both series. In 2006 they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes and in 2008 they lost to the New York Rangers.

If New Jersey is going to win Game 3, they’ll want to get off to a quick start. The Devils are 8-2 this postseason when they score first and lead all playoff teams with 23 first-period goals. But they have yet score in the first 20 minutes against the Kings.

The Devils also need Martin Brodeur to get back on track. Both of the overtime goals scored by the Kings in Games 1 and 2 came on shots low to his stick side. Brodeur has given up 14 goals to that location in these playoffs, more than any other spot.

Brodeur has never lost three straight Stanley Cup Final games, according to Elias. This is his third two-game losing streak, having previously lost two in a row in 2001 and 2003.

Stat of the Game
This is just the third time in NHL history that the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final have both gone to overtime. It also happened in 1946 between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, and in 1951 between the Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Guaranteed: Down 3-2 a tough spot for N.Y.

May, 25, 2012

Is this déjà vu from the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals? The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils face off tonight in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals with the Devils looking to advance to their fifth Stanley Cup Final.

This series is playing out eerily similar to a previous playoff matchup between these teams in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals. The dates of Games 3-7 from that series are the exact same dates as this season, and this year’s results for those games have gone exactly as they did in 1994.

The teams once again head to New Jersey for a Game 6, with the Rangers trailing 3-2 and needing a win to avoid elimination.

Don’t forget, it was after New York’s Game 5 loss in 1994 that Mark Messier guaranteed a win in Game 6. The Devils jumped out 2-0 in that game before the Rangers scored four unanswered goals, including a hat trick from Messier. Will the Rangers be able to find that same magic again tonight?

So far there have been no Messier-like guarantees from the Rangers locker room and the team is trying to downplay the comparison while maintaining a similar urgency to win.

"We can't put more pressure on ourselves. We always want to win," Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. "You always want to play a desperate game. (But) you don't want to go out there and do too much and be too excited. You need to find a good balance emotionally, and just go out there and try to play as well as you can."

Stats To Know
History is not on the Rangers side as they try to rally and advance to the Stanley Cup Final. The Rangers have won just two of 18 series all-time in which they trailed 3-2. However, one of those comebacks was in 1994 against the Devils and the other was this postseason against the Ottawa Senators.

There is a good chance that the Blueshirts could force a Game 7, though. Henrik Lundqvist is 3-0 with a 1.33 goals against average and .948 save percentage in games in which his team could have been eliminated this postseason.

The key in this game might just be who lights the lamp first. Starting with Game 7 against Ottawa, the Rangers have won all seven games in which they scored the first goal and lost all six games in which their opponent scored first, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Devils have not suffered any early-game jitters in the playoffs, outscoring their opponents 21-9 in the first period, including 6-1 in this series.

The Devils also should feel confident about their chances tonight with Martin Brodeur, one of the greatest netminders in NHL history, looking for his 111th career playoff win (2nd-most all-time). Since being pulled versus the Florida Panthers in Game 3, Brodeur is 5-1 with a .930 save percentage in six home games.
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Josh Hamilton
1. HAMILTON MAKES HISTORY: Josh Hamilton became the 16th player in MLB history to hit four home runs in a single game on Tuesday night in Baltimore. He is the sixth player in American League history to do it, and the first since Carlos Delgado in 2003.

2. VERY RARE OCCASION: This is the first time in major league history that a pitcher has thrown a perfect game and a hitter has hit four home runs in a game in the same season. Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox threw a perfect game earlier this season.

3. ANOTHER RECORD FOR HAMILTON: Hamilton's 18 total bases are an AL record, one shy of Shawn Green's MLB record of 19 in his four-homer game on May 23, 2002. The previous AL record was 16, done eight times.

4. COLLISON HELPS PACERS ADVANCE: The Indiana Pacers advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a win over the Orlando Magic. It is Indiana's first series win since the First Round in 2005 versus the Boston Celtics. FROM ELIAS: Darren Collison (23 assists, one turnover in series) is the first player in 22 years to have at least 20 assists and one or fewer turnovers in a playoff series. John Paxson did it for the Chicago Bulls in 1990.

5. THREE NBA TEAMS STILL FIGHTING: The Pacers were able to advance, but the Los Angeles Lakers, Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers were unable to close out their respective series, as each team lost its Game Five and must play on in the First Round. FROM ELIAS: This is the first time three teams avoided elimination on the same day since April 30, 2003. The Detroit Pistons, New Orleans Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers all won Game Fives on that date - only the Pistons used the momentum to come back to win the series (beat Magic in seven games).

6. DEVILS ADVANCE DESPITE ODD TREND: FROM ELIAS: The New Jersey Devils lost the opener of their conference semifinal series against the Philadelphia Flyers, then won the next four games. Even though Philadelphia scored the first goal in each game, New Jersey is the fourth team in NHL history to win four games in which their opponent scored the first goal in one series. Also, the Devils are the first team to do that in four consecutive games in one series. The other clubs with four such wins one series were the 1956 Detroit Red Wings (vs Toronto Maple Leafs), 1991 Edmonton Oilers (vs Calgary Flames) and 1995 Red Wings (vs Chicago Blackhawks).
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1. LUCK MAKES IT FOUR: The first round of the 2012 NFL Draft was held on Thursday. The Indianapolis Colts selected Andrew Luck with the first overall pick. Luck is the fourth Stanford QB to be picked first overall in the history of the NFL Draft, joining John Elway (1983), Jim Plunkett (1971) and Bobby Garrett (1954). Stanford is the first school to have four QBs drafted first overall and the first school to have four No. 1 picks at any single position.

2. DEVILS MOVE ON: The New Jersey Devils defeated the Florida Panthers in Game 7, 3-2, in double overtime. It marked the fifth time under the current playoff format (since 1993-94), that a Game 7 had multiple overtime periods. Adam Henrique scored the game-winning goal. According to Elias, he is the second rookie to score an overtime goal in a Game 7. The other was Montreal’s Claude Lemieux in 1986 against the Hartford Whalers.

3. RANGERS MOVE ON: The New York Rangers defeated the Ottawa Senators, 2-1, in Game 7. It’s the Blueshirts’ first Game 7 win since the 1994 Stanley Cup Final against the Vancouver Canucks. The Rangers now face the seven-seed Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. In their two previous playoff appearances, the Rangers were eliminated each time by the Capitals.

Kevin Durant
4. DURANT WINS TITLE: Thursday marked the final day of the NBA regular season. Kobe Bryant did not play in the Los Angeles Lakers finale against the Sacramento Kings. As a result, Kevin Durant won the 2011-12 NBA scoring title for the third straight season. At the age of 23, Durant is the youngest player to win three straight scoring titles.

5. HUMBER ROUGHED UP: The Boston Red Sox defeated the Chicago White Sox, 10-3. The game marked the first start for White Sox pitcher Philip Humber since his perfect game last Saturday. Humber allowed a career-high nine earned runs in five innings. According to Elias, Humber became the first pitcher in major-league history to allow as many as nine runs in his first appearance after pitching a perfect game.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories.

1. BRUINS BOUNCED: The Washington Capitals beat the Boston Bruins 2-1 in overtime in Game 7. The Bruins lost when facing elimination for the first time in six games. It is the fourth time in the expansion era (since 1967) that both Stanley Cup finalists from the previous season lost in the quarterfinals the following season. FROM ELIAS: It was the first series in Stanley Cup history in which all seven games were decided by a one-goal margin, and only the second series to go to overtime in Game 7 with the two teams having scored the same number of goals in the series. There are two more Game 7s Thursday (Ottawa Senators at New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils at Florida Panthers).

Kobe Bryant
Kevin Durant
2. KOBE OR KD: Kevin Durant scored 32 points in his final regular-season game. Durant averaged 28.03 PPG this season, 0.17 ahead of Kobe Bryant. Bryant needs 38 points against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday to win the scoring title. Bryant has scored 38 points 152 times in regular-season games in his career, including nine against the Kings. Durant or Bryant will become the eighth player in NBA history to win at least three scoring titles.

3. CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL SET: Bayern Munich advanced to the UEFA Champions League final (tied 3-3 on aggregate; advanced 3-1 on penalty kicks) over Real Madrid. It was the first time that a UEFA Champions League semifinal went to penalty kicks since 2007. Bayern Munich will face Chelsea on May 19 in Munich. They will be the first club since Roma in 1984 to play the European Cup Final in its home stadium.

4. NBA FUTILITY: The Charlotte Bobcats lost for the 22nd straight time on Wednesday. They end the regular season at home against the New York Knicks on Thursday. If the Bobcats lose, they will set the record for the worst winning percentage in a single-season in NBA history (would finish at .106 win pct), passing the 1972-73 76ers (finished at .110). Charlotte is still looking for its first win since March 17.

5. NFL DRAFT: The first round of the NFL Draft begins Thursday at 8 ET on ESPN. QB Andrew Luck and QB Robert Griffin III are expected to be the first two players taken. It would be the fifth time in the Common Draft Era (since 1967), and first since 1999, that quarterbacks were selected first and second overall.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories.

1. ANOTHER GAME 7: The New Jersey Devils stayed alive and forced a Game 7 with their 3-2 OT win against the Florida Panthers. Travis Zajac scored the game-winning goal, his third goal of the series. He only had two goals in the regular season. This is already the third playoff series that has gone to seven games, all in the Eastern Conference. The first of those Game 7s will be played Wednesday as the Boston Bruins host the Washington Capitals, with the Bruins looking to win their sixth straight game when facing elimination.

2. YU GOT IT: Yu Darvish pitched 8 1/3 IP and struck out 10 New York Yankees batters in a 2-0 Texas Rangers win. FROM ELIAS: Since divisional play began in 1969, only two other pitchers have hurled at least eight shutout innings with 10-or-more strikeouts in their first career start against the Yankees: Baltimore’s Bob Milacki on September 28, 1988 and Cleveland’s Bartolo Colon on September 21, 1998. Darvish is also the second Japanese-born starting pitcher to start 3-0 in his MLB career.

3. CHELSEA MOVES ON: Chelsea advanced to the UEFA Champions League Final (3-2 on aggregate) over defending champion Barcelona. Barcelona completed almost 1,200 more passes than Chelsea and took 34 more shots. Chelsea only put four shots on goal in the two games, but three of them went in. They will face the winner of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. That semifinal takes place at 2:45 ET and the final takes place on May 19.

4. ALL THAT JAZZ: The Utah Jazz beat the Phoenix Suns to clinch the final playoff spot. It will be the Jazz’s 1st playoff appearance since the 2009-10 season. All 16 playoff spots have been clinched. Other clinchings on Tuesday included the Chicago Bulls winning the East for the second straight season, and the Los Angeles Lakers winning the Pacific division. It is the 32nd division title for the Lakers, the most of any team.

Metta World Peace
World Peace
5. MISSING METTA: Lakers forward Metta World Peace was suspended seven games (including playoffs) for hitting James Harden in the head with an elbow. It is the second time that World Peace has been suspended as a Laker. He was suspended for one game after smacking J.J. Barea in the face during the playoffs last season. World Peace was averaging 14.1 PPG on 47.3 FG pct in April (both season-highs) after averaging just 6.1 PPG from December to March.
Stats & Info insights into this morning's top sports stories

1. WORKING OVERTIME: The Phoenix Coyotes beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in OT to take a 2-1 series lead. FROM ELIAS: All three games in the Chicago-Phoenix series have been decided in overtime. It’s the fifth series in NHL history in which each of the first three games were decided in overtime. The other four were Boston-Toronto in 1933, the Montreal-Toronto Stanley Cup Final in 1951 in which all five games went to OT, Edmonton-Los Angeles in 1991 and Colorado-Minnesota in 2008.

Jamie Moyer
2. HISTORIC WIN: Jamie Moyer gave up two runs (both unearned) in seven innings to get the win as the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 5-3. Moyer is the oldest pitcher to win a MLB game at 49 years, 151 days old. Jack Quinn was the oldest pitcher to win a MLB game at 49 years, 70 days old on September 13, 1932.

3. PANTHERS COME BACK: FROM ELIAS: The Panthers trailed 3–0 after only 6:16 had been played in Game 3 of their series against the New Jersey Devils but Florida made a goaltending change at that point and Scott Clemmensen blanked his former team the rest of the way while the Panthers rallied for a stunning 4–3 victory. It was only the second time in the last 25 playoff years that an NHL team won a playoff game in which it trailed by three goals in the first seven minutes. The Flames did that in Game 3 of their first-round series against the Sharks in 2008. San Jose scored three goals in the first 3:33 but Calgary came back to win 4-3.

Carmelo Anthony
4. 'MELO GETS HELP: Carmelo Anthony recorded his second career triple-double as the New York Knicks beat the Boston Celtics. Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith and Steve Novak each had 20-point games with Smith and Novak doing so off the bench. FROM ELIAS: The last time an NBA team had a player score 30 points in a triple-double while three of his teammates scored at least 20 points in a non-overtime game was on January 15, 1991 when the Trail Blazers did it in a 132-117 win at Minnesota. Clyde Drexler had the 30-point triple-double while Mark Bryant, Jerome Kersey and Terry Porter all scored at least 20 points.

5. RED SOX HAMMERED: The Texas Rangers hit six home runs on their way to an 18-3 rout of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. FROM ELIAS: It was the 10th time in Red Sox history that they lost a game by 15 or more runs in a game played at Fenway Park, with the last such embarrassment coming on June 19, 2000, when they lost 22-1 to the Yankees.

Road-weary Rangers finally home

October, 27, 2011
The New York Rangers finished their seven-game season-opening road trip with an admirable 3-2-2 record. Because of the renovation ongoing at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers had to wait nearly three weeks until their first home game of the season, which comes tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the first time in franchise history that the Rangers started a season with seven road games in a row before their first game in New York.

Excluding the 1994-95 season, which didn’t begin until January because of a lockout, this will be the latest home opener for the Rangers in terms of calendar year since 1948, when they also played their first home game on October 27.

The 2011-12 Rangers hope that their season doesn’t turn out like that 1948-49 team, which finished 18-31-11 and in last place in the six-team NHL.

Islanders: one line is not enough
The New York Islanders opened the season with three wins in their first four games, but that strong start has been tempered by a three-game losing streak, which included a 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.

The Islanders have really struggled to generate offense in these first few weeks, averaging just 2.00 goals per game (tied for 25th in NHL) and 26.7 shots per game (25th in NHL).

One issue for the Isles is that they aren’t getting much production beyond their first line of John Tavares, P.A. Parenteau and Matt Moulson. The trio has compiled nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points, while the other 16 players on the team have combined for just five goals and 15 points.

Behind The Net is a website with advanced hockey statistics and analysis, and it breaks down player performance in all situations. According to these numbers, the Islanders have nine players who are averaging 0.00 points per 60 minutes in 5-on-5 situations, the most of any NHL team (min. 5 games played).

Kovalchuk: too much time his skates?
Since Ilya Kovalchuk arrived in New Jersey and played his first game with the team on February 5, 2010, the New Jersey Devils have averaged the fewest goals per game in the league at 2.25 and are 27th in shots on goal per game at 28.7.

This season, it appears coach Peter DeBoer is allowing Kovalchuk to try and turn things around himself. Kovalchuk is averaging 26:29 time on ice per game, which is fifth in the league. The next-highest forward is Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks, who is at 23:36, ranked 33rd among all NHL players.

Since time-on-ice numbers became an official statistic in the 2000-01 season, the highest time on ice per game by a forward was Pavel Bure, who averaged 26:52 in 2000-01 for the Florida Panthers. Kovalchuk’s time this season would be the second-highest by a forward in that span.

Drama in New York NHL season finales

April, 9, 2011
New York-area hockey loves drama in its final game of the season. The New York Rangers must get at least one point in their season finale against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday afternoon to keep their playoff hopes alive. Even with a win, the Rangers will need the Carolina Hurricanes to lose to the Lightning to clinch the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

New York hockey fans (maybe not Rangers fans) wouldn't want it any other way.

The Rangers were in this same situation last year. In the season finale, they faced the Philadelphia Flyers with the winner going to the playoffs and the loser staying home for the spring and summer. The game went into a shootout tied at 1-1. In the shootout, the Flyers got goals from Danny Briere and Claude Giroux.

The Rangers got a goal from rookie P.A. Parenteau but needed Olli Jokinen to score to continue the shootout. Brian Boucher robbed Jokinen to seal the win and the berth. All the Flyers ended up doing was taking that momentum to the Stanley Cup Final as a No. 7 seed. Along the way, they came back from a 3-0 series deficit against the Boston Bruins but they lost in Game 6 of the Final on a strange OT goal by Chicago’s Patrick Kane.

In 2007, the New York Islanders needed a win of any kind in their season finale against the Devils in order to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Things started out great as the Islanders took a 2-0 lead in the third period. But John Madden scored with 4:13 left to pull within one. That set up a dramatic finish. With the goalie pulled, Madden scored a goal at the side of the net as time appeared to expire. However, video review showed the puck crossed the line with 0.7 seconds remaining.

Neither team scored in OT, sending the game went to a shootout. There, the Islanders scored twice and were in a position to win in the third round. Backup goalie Wade Dubielewicz would preserve the win with a pokecheck on Sergei Brylin sending the Islanders to the playoffs.

Check out the drama here.

In 1988, the Devils and Rangers were in a fight for the final spot in the Patrick Division playoffs. Earlier in the day the Rangers beat the Quebec Nordiques 3-0 which meant the Devils had to win in Chicago against the Blackhawks to pull into a tie in points. That would give the Devils the tiebreaker because they had more wins (back then there was no shootout and games ended in ties after a five-minute OT).

The Devils were down 3-2 late in the third period when John MacLean scored to tie the game. No one scored after sending the game to overtime. There, MacLean would play hero and score the biggest goal in franchise history as he beat goalie and former ESPN analyst Darren Pang.

Here's the winner.