If you saw the last part of the Devils-Sabres game up at HSBC Arena, then you know what I'm referring to. Oduya crosschecks a Buffalo player into the boards. No call. Madden blatantly takes down a Sabre. Nothing. Brylin knocked into the wall. And it finally was properly called. But the other two fouls weren't. Why not? I think there was also one instance on that Devil power play too where Zajac tripped a Sabre. But oh yeah. Mike Rupp slightly interferes and that's a penalty. Or a phantom hook against any Pen and it's a guaranteed trip to the box. Where's the consistency?
When the FSNY camera zoomed in on Lindy Ruff late, he was stone cold. You could tell how he felt. Not that his team deserved to win. They didn't. The Devils played their grind it out type of hockey, getting in the path of about 100 Buffalo passes and shots. Well, that's what it felt like. And that's why I refuse to put Brodeur on a pedestal the way Chico Resch does. The Devils defensemen are taught better than anyone about how to play the puck. I'll take their system over anyone's. Nobody has more active D in terms of being in the right position and no team has better backchecking forwards. Every bit helps. I don't believe Brodeur would disagree. He would probably smile and chuckle because the future Hall of Fame netminder understands how important that aspect of his team's game has been for over a decade. He's great. We get that and don't need Chico shoving it down our ears every two minutes. But having a smart bunch of players in front of him has never hurt. And that right there is what separates the Devils system from others. It doesn't matter that they don't have Stevens or Niedermayer or even Daneyko. The players may change but the results don't. Isn't it about time Jacques Laperriere got his due?
That system doesn't allow too many breakaways or odd-man rushes. It's one that will once again be a royal pain in the ass to beat this Spring. I hope I'm wrong. I don't want the Devils to win ever. That's how much I despise them. But with that passionate hatred comes respect. Because it's very hard to win in this league and do it as consistently as these guys. To quote Indiana Jones from The Last Crusade, at one point he says, "Nazis. I hate these guys."
That kind of sums up my feelings. But unlike that evil regime which Harrison Ford referenced during that entertaining trilogy, it's a lot easier to respect what the Satans as I like to refer to them have accomplished. Drafting and developing players such as Parise and Zajac, who mean every bit to their playoff aspirations this Spring as Elias and Gomez. In this salary cap era, you better be able to select the right players because you won't be able to keep everybody. The Devils could lose Gomez this summer. But if they do, you know someone will step up and emerge. Why? Because they always do.
Hard Hits: So the Craps got 2 goals at the Isles in their latest loss. Color me unimpressed. Any team that plays goon Donald Brashear significant minutes isn't interested in winning.
I see the Sens were at it again, blowing another third period lead (3-1 this time) before falling to playoff desperate Toronto 4-3 in OT. And hockey extraordinaire Darcy Tucker scored his second for the winner. That's 22 on the season. Imagine if he didn't miss the prior two months. He is a pain in the ass but also is a very good hockey player. He'll mix it up against anyone and also can score big goals. He might be a jerkoff but I'll take him anyday.
With their win, the Leafs moved into an eighth place tie with Carolina with 75 points apiece. By the end of the night, if the Habs don't choke away another one at St. Louis, they could be tied with the Rangers for 10th with 74 points. Don't count on it. The Habs D sucks and their goaltending is even worse.
Seeing Don Cherry wearing a chest protector on HNIC was priceless. Grapes never ceases to amaze us.