Now THAT is what Willis was talkin' 'bout.
I watched this team in person from section 220 last night, and it was the most pisspoor excuse for a hockey team this franchise has displayed all season. With the Penguins in town, they had no excuse for playing the gutless, emotionless way we did. Eric Rasmussen (students of foreshadowing note) was probably our most consistent forward, it was that kind of night. Even Marty had poor stickhandling at times.
This was a great Devil performance. Infused with new blood from Lowell in the persons of returner Rod Pelley and 1st NHL Gamer David Clarkson, they had a spike in their punchbowl tonight, outskating and outdefending the Canes on their way to a 3-2 victory at the Royal Bank of Canada Center in Raleigh, NC, in front of good crowd of 18,279, which is 500 short of a sellout but with Duke and UNC both in action, an impressive showing for hockey in The Triangle.
Scott Gomez scored at :39 of the 1st. Rasmussen, Gomer and Langs combined for some great shifts tonight, leading this team and setting the table for the other 3 lines without the presence of captain Patrik or Mad Dog. Of course, Gomer then on the backcheck loses a rebound after Marty poke checks a Justin Williams chance away and David Tanabe scores his second goal of the season just pinching in and hoping for a rebound.
Gomer giveth, and Gomer taketh away.
Anyway, Marty and John Grahame held the forts for the distance of about 31:54 until Eric Rasmussen found the rebound of a Scott Gomez try and made it 2-1. It was Rass' 3rd goal of the year, and good for him. Every time I go to a game, people wonder why he's on the team. But he works hard, plays his shifts and crashes the net. He chips in when needed and boy did we need it.
Nearly eight minutes later, Zach Parise broke a 4-game goalless spell with a beautiful 1-on-1 move on Grahame after a pretty feed from Travis Zajac to make it 3-1. It was THE ZACH's 28th of the season, a team-leading number, and only Ovechkin,Vanek and Crosby are ahead of him on the NHL's Sophomore goal-scoring list. Zajac moves up to 8th on the rookie scoring list with 34 points, which has got to be a lot more than anyone expected him to have at this point. I'll be honest, I had no clue what to expect of Zajac at the year's start. But boy, talk about another brick in the wall. He has fit in seemlessly and chipped in when he can. A true Devil at a young age already.
Andrew Ladd added one for the WhalerCanes, but even a late scramble could not keep the Devs from winning this one.
Now, here are tonight's Eastern Conference winners and losers
WINNERS: Buffalo, Ottawa, Philly, Boston
LOSERS: Isles, Florida, Carolina, Washington, Atlanta
Here's what things look like
At the top...
1. Sabres - 96 PTS - 12 Games Left
2. Devils - 94 PTS - 11 Games Left
At the Bottom...
7. Isles - 78 PTS - 12 Games Left
8. Canes - 78 PTS - 11 Games Left
9. Leafs - 77 PTS - 12 Games Left
10. Rags - 76 PTS - 12 Games Left
11. Habs - 76 PTS - 11 Games Left
12. Bruins - 73 PTS - 12 Games Left
13. Panthers -71 PTS - 11 Games Left
Tomorrow in the East:
Toronto at Washington
Montreal at Pittsburgh
Rangers at Atlanta
Sabres at Tampa Bay
Enjoy your night everyone.