Thursday, January 21, 2010

Brodeur and fresh legs end Devils' losing streak

After Monday afternoon's 4-0 loss to the Islanders where the Devils played as badly as they had all season, coach Jacques Lemaire could have went one of two ways - either acknowledged the taxing schedule and give his team a rest or cracked the whip and let them know this kind of an effort won't be tolerated. In a way he did both, as he gave the team Tuesday off then after the team went through another bleh practice Wednesday, he sent them home. Also, forwards Nick Palmieri and Patrick Davis were called up from Lowell, replacing not only the injured Patrik Elias but also Vladimir Zharkov and Rod Pelley, who missed the game with allegedly minor injuries.

While both rookies injected enthusiasm, Martin Brodeur just kept on rolling in his 27th consecutive start, making 22 saves and recording his seventh shutout of the season in a 2-0 win. Despite a 25-13 edge in shots in the first two periods it took them nearly that long to get one past Tomas Vokoun, and when it came it was one of the young guns - Palmieri - who started the play upice playing with Zach Parise and Travis Zajac. Palmieri made the most of his 12:43 of icetime with five shots on goal, but on this play he found Parise who then passed to Zajac, and Zajac proceeded to beat Vokoun between the legs for his 14th goal of the season at 18:49 of the 2nd. Palmieri had two goals in the Lowell-Hartford game I went to a couple of weeks back so he was on my radar but it's one thing to do it in the AHL, another to have an impact for the Devils.

This won't be much of a recap, since I missed my second straight game - Monday because of work, last night because of a prior engagement with friends, but it doesn't sound like I missed too much action really. Still, I'm glad the Devils went back to their roots for last night and shored up a defense that had been increasingly erratic over the last few weeks. Even if the power play is still 0-for-the decade. Few penalties were called though, three on us and just one on Florida, and the last one of ours was a biggie as Jamie Langenbrunner went to the box with just 83 seconds left, giving the Panthers a virtual 6-on-4 with the net empty. However, the Devils held serve and even tacked onto their lead as the horn blew when Dean McAmmond had a shorthanded empty-netter, with assists from Bryce Salvador and Andy Greene.

Though the Devils played better all around last night, they were playing an offensively challenged team and need to find more goals against better teams coming up. Brian Gionta makes his return to New Jersey tomorrow, along with the notorious Scott Gomez, who's now achieved an improbable feat of being booed by two fanbases in the NY-NJ area. Less than 24 hours after facing Montreal, the Devils return to the scene of the Long Island massacre on Saturday.
Another area of concern is that the Devils only rolled three lines last night, since Illka Pikkaranen and Pierre Luc-Letourneau Leblond have both been awful lately and got less than three minutes of icetime each while Nicklas Bergfors has apparently wound up back in the doghouse with under ten minutes of icetime. With the schedule the way it is, it would be nice to play all four lines again, and maybe that'll happen once Danius Zubrus returns, supposedly early next week.
BoNY Three Stars:
  1. Travis Zajac (goal, +2 and 11/15 in faceoffs)
  2. Martin Brodeur (22 saves, SHO)
  3. Nick Palmieri (assist, +1 with 5 SOG in 12:43)

1 comment:

Derek Felix said...

lol at "held serve." a tennis expression. Perfect since Australian Open is on.

Pikkarainen on waivers.

The Puck Stops Here


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