Devil domination. One team showed for tonight's latest installment of the Battle Of Hudson. Even if it wasn't exactly an A performance from Jacques Lemaire's guys, it was plenty good enough to embarrass the Rangers 6-3 at an energized Prudential Center.
Both clubs entered reeling but only one answered the bell. That would be the better team who's headed to another postseason, improving to 81 points that still trail the Penguins by five for tops in the Atlantic.Even without winning regularly the past month-plus, New Jersey's 14 points clear of the passionless opponent they beat down- responding to a team meeting following the Calgary/Edmonton debacles. Oddly enough, it was the Devils' first home game since 2/12 stretching the Olympic Break. Back home off a disappointing 1-2 road trip, they had to be better. Apparently, John Tortorella never got that message across to his club.
Three times, the Newark hosts went ahead of what was supposed to be a desperate Ranger team trying to stay afloat in the playoff race. Playoffs?!?!?!?!?! Amazingly, the trademark Marty vs Henrik goalie match turned into a goal-fest. Especially for two of the lowest scoring Eastern teams who won't be confused with the Caps or Pens. Rob Niedermayer got it started, steering home a Brian Rolston rebound. Before you blinked, Vinny Prospal finished off a sweet Marian Gaborik dish tying it 57 ticks later. Late in the period, the Devils responded when Bryce Salvador's shot deflected off Olli Jokinen's skate past Henrik Lundqvist, giving them a 2-1 lead into the locker room.
The Blueshirts didn't go away with Erik Christensen converting his sixth 5:01 into the second making it a pair of two's. Following a near Devil miss, Brandon Dubinsky came the other way and then dished to Christensen, who abused Patrik Elias before whistling one high stick side on a flustered Martin Brodeur, who waved his arms at his D. Imagine Lundqvist doing that. Just once, we'd like to see it.
With the game hanging in the balance, a Zach Parise crosscheck 53 seconds later gave the guests a great opportunity to cease control of the match. Instead, they got nothing done. Shortly after, an undisciplined Wade Redden tug on Parise put the home club on the power play. Judging by the look on Redden's face, you'd thought he was innocent. But the $6.5 million Tinman was guilty and paid the price when the aforementioned Parise banged home his Devil best 31st from Dainius Zubrus and Travis Zajac. Once again, the Rangers came back quickly with
With the game knotted a third time, the Devils bounced back thanks to a great shift from captain Jamie Langenbrunner, who neatly deflected home Mike Mottau's shot pass for his 16th at 13:06. On the play, somehow the Ranger fourth line got caught out against the Devil second with both Langenbrunner and an otherwise invisible Ilya Kovalchuk controlling the puck. Eventually, it came to Andy Greene who moved it to an isolated Mottau. With nobody pressuring, he had enough time to find Langenbrunner for a nice redirection goal. Both Mike Del Zotto and Dan Girardi got victimized.
Rolston delivered the backbreaker just 2:13 later. In one of the worst periods they've played, Ryan Callahan made a huge error overpassing to no one. Instead of firing from the right circle on Brodeur which would've been the smart play, his turnover led directly to a 3-on-1 against. Clarkson worked the puck to Niedermayer, who then slipped it to Rolston, whose wrister deflected off Girardi's stick past Lundqvist.
A pumped up Rolston celebrated his 18th congratulated by pleased teammates while a dejected Lundqvist was given the hook for the first time in 29 career starts versus a team he usually owns. Not tonight. Even if the puck went off Girardi, he still should've had it. Granted. The bounces went against him. But that doesn't excuse it nor does it explain Tortorella's decision to put in Alex Auld, humiliating his fuming goalie while both Doc Emrick and Chico Resch were left baffled. In a game your team is supposed to be desperate for, wouldn't it be better to keep Henrik in? Can you imagine what his teammates thought?
With Lundqvist's night done after permitting five goals on 17 shots, Auld came in and did a decent job turning aside nine of 10 the rest of the way. Too little, too late. When the second ended, so did my desire to watch, opting for sushi. If you caught my brief rant in the prior post, you know why. Not much was missed with Zajac putting the finishing touches on a Devl statement with a new career high 21st goal that made it 6-3 with 3:39 left. Zubrus and Parise added helpers.
Afterwards, Tortorella cited his team's inconsistency all season. What about yours? The man is so full of it. All he is is hot air and the balloon's about to burst. The way his players don't play demonstrate that. The look on the franchise's most important player tells you everything. This was supposed to be a team that attacked yet in the first of what amounted to a crucial game, they held back. It's called the trap. He promised a better fourth line...All he ever does is ream players never taking any blame when they lose. As that dreadful character who Heath Ledger's Joker character ticked off, "E-N-O-U-G-H from the Clown!"
Aside from that, remember when Sean Avery labeled Clarkson a "career minor leaguer." Care to retract that statement? I didn't notice Avery the first 40 and doubt it was any different in garbage time. Garbage. A good word to accurately describe the Rangers, who left their own fans furious including a close buddy from our section who messaged me with:
"I actually wasted money for that."
The fat lady's warming up.
BONY 3 Stars:
3rd Star-Mike Mottau, NJD (2 assists, +3 in 22:46)
2nd Star-Jamie Langenbrunner, NJD (16th of season-GW, assist, 4 SOG, +2 in 17:22)
1st Star-Rolston-Niedermayer-Clarkson, NJD (2-3-5, 7 SOG, 5 hits, 2 takeaways, +7 rating)