Saturday, December 15, 2007

Devils host Coyotes in matinee

They're nearly halfway through regulation and only one goal has been scored. Fredrik Sjostrom's sixth 3:22 into the second period has Wayne Gretzky's hard working Phoenix team in front of the first place Devils.

Though the Coyotes (13-16-0) have only 26 points which is tied for last in the league with the Caps and Kings, they have been surprisingly competitive despite a very young roster which includes rookies Peter Mueller, Martin Hanzal and Daniel Carcillo.

Phoenix dropped the first game of this metro area visit the other night 3-2 to the Islanders. So far, they've surprised New Jersey and played a solid middle stanza and continue to lead by one even though backup Mikael Tellqvist got the start to give starter Ilya Bryzgalov a day off to prepare for tomorrow's MSG visit against the Rangers.

Speaking of the Blueshirts, they had a brutal 5-4 overtime loss to the Caps three days ago. Sloppy play was the theme as New York opted to take the easy way out after building a quick two-goal lead on the strength of goals from leading scorer Scott Gomez and Martin Straka.

The Caps outworked Tom Renney's club. When Donald Brashear who won a decision over Colton Orr is netting two primary helpers for goals, it's not a good sign.

Trailing by one in a wild third (four goals), Brendan Shanahan's club leading 11th forced OT to get his team a point they didn't deserve. Washington D Mike Green tallied the winner with over a minute left when Shanny fell down converting a two-on-one for his eighth as the Rangers continued to struggle in the nation's capital.

Henrik Lundqvist who gave up all five is questionable for tomorrow battling the flu. Jaromir Jagr who hasn't missed a game since the lockout (played in all 195) has a stiff back. Don't expect it to keep the team captain out.

Meanwhile, the Devils continue to trail at The Rock by a goal. Coach Brent Sutter used a timeout to wake up his team and they drew a power play but were unable to convert despite a couple of weird chances off the boards.

Phoenix now has a man-advantage. We'll try to update what happens later.

Two interesting developments yesterday:

1.The Flyers re-signed center Mike Richards to a 12-year extension worth a reported $69 million. That averages out to a shade underneath six million-per-year. Certainly the former 2003 first round selection (24th overall) is having a breakout season with already a career best 14 goals plus 21 helpers for 35 points and a plus-nine rating. He has four power play goals, three shorthanded goals, three deciding markers and 32 PIM including a few majors.

There's plenty to like about the budding 22 year-old future Flyers captain's game. Locking up is wise. But any time you commit those kind of years, it's still a risk. We'll just have to follow Richards' career to see how it pans out.

2.With Anaheim defenseman Scott Niedermayer preparing to return, the Ducks made a move Friday dealing away playmaking pivot Andy McDonald to the Blues in exchange for veteran center Doug Weight, Michal Birner and a 2008 seventh round pick. The 30 year-old McDonald was an integral part of Anaheim's first Stanley Cup last June anchoring the top line. He was in the second year of a three-year deal worth $10 million and became expendable due to the development of leading scorer Ryan Getzlaf. Plus with Niedermayer coming back,

GM Brian Burke had to move someone to make room to fit their leader under the cap. McDonald will try to help John Davidson's Blues make the playoffs. He had struggled with 14 points and could fit in better there. Meanwhile, the 36 year-old Weight has 11 points and gets another opportunity to win a Cup. He helped Carolina win one in 2006.

It should be interesting to follow how the players perform after this deal.

The Devils still trail 1-0 after 40 minutes where the Coyotes registered 17 shots in the second. New Jersey has a five-game home win streak on the line and are coming off a 3-1 win at Boston which snapped a two-game skid. They'll need a stronger third to win their second straight and increase their lead in the Atlantic.

No comments:

The Puck Stops Here


Search This Blog