Having A Devil Of A Time

The Canadiens face New Jersey on Thursday and the season hasn’t
started well for the Devils. They’ve gotten only three of a possible 12
points (one win in overtime, one loss in overtime) and have surrendered
21 goals, tied for the second worst in the league. For all the talk that
they’d assembled two top notch offensive lines, they’ve only scored 10
goals, lowest among Eastern Conference teams.

Ilya Kovalchuk,
whose new
contract
is worth almost as much as Jeff
Vinik reportedly paid for the Tampa Bay Lightning
, leads them with 2
goals and 3 assists. He’s also a minus-3 and he’s not been the
dominant, game-changing force that, for example, Marian
Hossa has been for Chicago
.

The early season experiment of
shifting Kovalchuk to right wing on a line with Travis Zajac and Zach
Parise didn’t work. Most recently, Kovalchuk has been skating in
practice this week, still on the right side, with Patrik Elias on the
left side and 19 year old rookie Jacob Josefson, a 2009 first rounder,
between them.

Zajac and Parise are with Dainius Zubrus. Jason Arnott is between
Jamie Langenbrunner and Rod Pelley, an energetic fourth liner who has
impressed new coach John MacLean. Pelley replaces David Clarkson, who’s a
minus-6 and has been shifted to a line with pesky Tim Sestito centered
by veteran Adam Mair, signed by New Jersey last week.

Some
critics believe
Kovalchuk can’t be as effective as a right winger
as he is on the left side. First-year head coach John MacLean shifted
him back to the left side during the Devils last game against Boston,
with Josefson and Clarkson, but obviously wasn’t happy with what he saw.

Marty Brodeur has had more pucks go through him in five
and
two-thirds games than he normally surrenders in a couple of months. His
save percentage is .887, and that includes a shutout one week ago in
Buffalo, the team’s only victory. He is 38-16-5 all-time against
Montreal with a 1.78 average.

At some point, time will catch up
with Brodeur but it’s not clear if that time has arrived yet. Watching
some of the goals he’s surrendered, it’s clear he’s been facing many
more quality scoring chances than he has in the past. Some of that is
because the Devils under MacLean are not the same defence-first club
they’ve historically been and some is because this team has a lot of new
parts and MacLean is still trying to fit them together and find the
right chemistry.

“Everybody thinks we’re all offense, but you know
what? Our offense
right now is not working,” the 38 year old Brodeur said last week
(quoted by Tom

Gulitti blogging for The Bergen Record). “We have to get it back to

playing a solid defensive game and we’ll get more opportunities
(offensively). I think the past is a good thing to look at because we
know that when we had solid defensive teams we usually had really good
offensive teams. So, we have to get back to playing really smart
hockey.”

Both MacLean and GM Lou Lamoriello have downplayed the
offensive struggles, saying the Devils have been getting chances but
they haven’t finished them. The Devils have averaged 35 shots a game
over the past four outings. But they’ve only scored five goals while
surrendering 10.

After losing to the Bruins 4-1 last
Saturday, MacLean kept the doors of the dressing room closed and
expressed his disappointment in his team’s start. With their six games
played over nine days, they’ve spent the last few days practicing and in the words of

Henrik Tallinder, “maybe try to learn each other more on the ice and
off the ice.”

Tallinder was brought in during the offseason along
with Anton Volchenkov to rebuild the defence corps that lost Paul
Martin and Mike Mottau (although the Devils weren’t interested in
keeping
Mottau). But Volchenkov is currently injured, out indefinitely after a
puck struck his visor and broke his nose, and Bryce Salvador is out with
a concussion.

So, largely because of their salary cap limitations, they’ve played three rookies on defence, Matt
Corrente (who is projected as a top shutdown blueliner), Matt Taormina
(a good, but smallish, puck mover) and Alex Urbom (also a defensive
defenceman). Urbom didn’t work out (he was minus-3 in six games) and was
sent down to AHL Albany this week, replaced by
another rookie, Olivier Magnan-Grenier, who is a physical player with
some mobility limitations.

Rugged veteran Colin White remains a
steady presence on the Devils back end.

Despite their record,
there doesn’t seem to be any panic in New Jersey. They’ve been joking
around, keeping the mood light, even during the hard practices this week
MacLean has put them through.

“I think they understand the
situation,” MacLean said Tuesday. “These two days,
I’ve been very happy with how they’ve practiced. They’ve worked. We have
another one tomorrow and then we have to get ready to play the
Canadiens.”

216 Comments

  1. Gerry_j6j says:

    I’ll always love Kovalev and would be extremly happy to have him back.  If there was a way to get rid of Hamerlik salary wise it would be even.

  2. Gerry_j6j says:

    I’ll always love Kovalev and would be extremly happy to have him back.  If there was a way to get rid of Hamerlik salary wise it would be even.

  3. Bugs says:

    Same age? Didn’t know that.

    In which case, your point wins out unless or until Stalberg has the all-around better year and/or is more valuable to his team than Versteeg.

    Cool?

    Decadently yours, I recline as

    L.Bugs Potter, esq. Minority Owner of the Habbalicious Bubble-Gum Emporium, Proprietor of the Flanneltop Pop Shop, and Beaming Tenant in Mama’s Basement, i.e., Habsbros Central: http://habsbros.blogspot.com

  4. HabFanSince72 says:

    Matt Carkner’s main role seems to be as receiver for Colton Orr’s bombs.

     

  5. SeriousFan09 says:

    Versteeg is a better player, but CHI also pried two prospects that are actually with their organization (Sweatt was sent to TOR but is now with the VAN organization I think) and it let them build depth on their farm. CHI pretty much came out even or better on the trades they had to make to work to the future. CHI will be back to the Cup Finals before Toronto makes any serious run.

    Burke ‘winning’ the Phaneuf trade is like saying Colorado won the Roy trade. Of course he did, because the GM on one side was drunk when he made the deal grabbing guys TOR didn’t want.

     

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu.
    http://habsandhockey.blogspot.com/

  6. andrewberkshire says:

    Everyone needs to be honest about that trade and not just biased Habs fans. Versteeg is the SAME AGE as Stahlberg, and a massively better player. The Leafs won that trade hands down, just like they won the Phaneuf and Giguere trades. Burke isn’t the genius he’s made out to be, but when it comes to trades he seems to always win.

  7. light_n_tasty says:

    I see you’re using fancy math where you include playoff points in the term “season”.  

  8. Bugs says:

    Bergie healed, yes.

    Bergie broken, no.

    Decadently yours, I recline as

    L.Bugs Potter, esq. Minority Owner of the Habbalicious Bubble-Gum Emporium, Proprietor of the Flanneltop Pop Shop, and Beaming Tenant in Mama’s Basement, i.e., Habsbros Central: http://habsbros.blogspot.com

  9. light_n_tasty says:

    Correct, it’s actually $124,694.92 (7,357,000 / 59),

    Not sure whose ass you’re pullin’ your numbers from.

  10. light_n_tasty says:

    You said that Gomez makes $100,000 per point.  That’s not true.  The cap hit is not how much he makes.  He made $8 mil last year.

     

    Not to mention your numbers are wrong no matter how you put it.

  11. light_n_tasty says:

    Your math is wrong…Subban was on a 2-way contract last year

  12. Bugs says:

    Playing with the captain?

    Doubtful.

    Decadently yours, I recline as

    L.Bugs Potter, esq. Minority Owner of the Habbalicious Bubble-Gum Emporium, Proprietor of the Flanneltop Pop Shop, and Beaming Tenant in Mama’s Basement, i.e., Habsbros Central: http://habsbros.blogspot.com

  13. Bugs says:

    Ridiculous.

    Decadently yours, I recline as

    L.Bugs Potter, esq. Minority Owner of the Habbalicious Bubble-Gum Emporium, Proprietor of the Flanneltop Pop Shop, and Beaming Tenant in Mama’s Basement, i.e., Habsbros Central: http://habsbros.blogspot.com

  14. Bugs says:

    Pretty much what I’m sayin.

    When the deal was made this summer, I was shocked the leafers threw Stalberg into the deal. Said as much at the time too.

    That kid can play.

    Decadently yours, I recline as

    L.Bugs Potter, esq. Minority Owner of the Habbalicious Bubble-Gum Emporium, Proprietor of the Flanneltop Pop Shop, and Beaming Tenant in Mama’s Basement, i.e., Habsbros Central: http://habsbros.blogspot.com

  15. Everlasting1 says:

    He left him a lot to shoot thru!

     

    “We don’t see things as they are, but as we are.” – Anais Nin

    Don’t pollute the water.

  16. SeriousFan09 says:

    Not to mention a pair of prospect in DiDomenico and Paradis, neither might not make it but still, steep price to hack at your harm for one asset when your farm wasn’t that solid to begin with.

     

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu.
    http://habsandhockey.blogspot.com/

  17. SeriousFan09 says:

    He’s been soft on SOs this season, Sharp and Kane were his mistakes but Toews… nobody can pick a 5-hole like he does in the shootout.

     

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu.
    http://habsandhockey.blogspot.com/

  18. avatar_58 says:

    Versteeg was a good pickup but I found it odd the leafs let Stalberg go, given they kept going for draft picks and “development” strategies. He seemed to be gunning for a top 6 role. Big price.

  19. avatar_58 says:

    Loo…..wow. He just can’t seem to catch a break

  20. joeybarrie says:

    By applying this monkey math, PK SUBBAN was the worst contract in the league with us paying 437,500 per point…

    There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

  21. joeybarrie says:

    Also wrong.

    There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

  22. joeybarrie says:

    Well, first off your wrong. Secondly, last season Gomez was paid 102,817 per point against our cap. Couldn’t care less how much he is getting paid by a team owned by a company that made 720 million dollars last year.

    Doesnt matter how much they get paid per year. We compete by being under the cap. The only number that matters is the cap hit…

    There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

  23. light_n_tasty says:

    Last year, Gomez was paid $135,593.20 / pt (59 pts, 8 mil)…

  24. SmartDog says:

    Neurotic?  Really?  What makes you say that?  Is it the facial ticks or the shclurry speaking style…. I want to hear him say “I will trade you Jasshhon Shhccpezza for onnnneeee miiillllliooon dollars. 

     

    ———
    Listen to the SmartDog. He knows his poop!

  25. Bugs says:

    If our PK is as good as our PP is bad, then we keep the even keel.

    Food for thought til Marky returns, mates.

    Decadently yours, I recline as

    L.Bugs Potter, esq. Minority Owner of the Habbalicious Bubble-Gum Emporium, Proprietor of the Flanneltop Pop Shop, and Beaming Tenant in Mama’s Basement, i.e., Habsbros Central: http://habsbros.blogspot.com

  26. Bugs says:

    Should I address the childishness of the reply or the childishness of continuously mispelling “your” and “you’re”?

    Either or, you fail at both.

    Grow up, kid.

    Decadently yours, I recline as

    L.Bugs Potter, esq. Minority Owner of the Habbalicious Bubble-Gum Emporium, Proprietor of the Flanneltop Pop Shop, and Beaming Tenant in Mama’s Basement, i.e., Habsbros Central: http://habsbros.blogspot.com

  27. Bugs says:

    Stalberg got his 2nd tonight.

    How many for Versteeg?

    Just askin…

    Decadently yours, I recline as

    L.Bugs Potter, esq. Minority Owner of the Habbalicious Bubble-Gum Emporium, Proprietor of the Flanneltop Pop Shop, and Beaming Tenant in Mama’s Basement, i.e., Habsbros Central: http://habsbros.blogspot.com

  28. joeybarrie says:

    On average per season Gomez currently makes 100,000 for every point he has scored…

    Ovechkin 83,333 per point

    Patrick Sharp 100,000 per point

    Jerome Iginla 98,591 per point

    Lacavalier 108,830 per point

    Gaborik 122,950 per point

    Kessel 105,882 per point

    Vanek 117,098

    Its like a broken record with this GOMEZ CONTRACT SUCKS… blah blah blah… We went to the Conf Finals in a season plagued with injuries and without our best player for half the games… Gomez was a HUGE part of that…

    There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

  29. nightmare_49 says:

     

       The painful truth about the NHL and its pensions – by Allan Maki. (good read).

       http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/the-painful-truth-about-the-nhl-and-its-pensions/article1766100/

      

       That was enough for Walt Poddubny. He figured he had to do something. He was going to tell his story so that the NHL and its players would do more for those who helped the game grow and had stumbled on hard times.

      

       Two months later, the former Toronto Maple Leafs forward and 40-goal scorer went to sleep in a bedroom in his sister’s home. He had split with his wife, couldn’t work because of the pain he endured and needed extensive surgeries. He closed the bedroom door and collapsed. He was likely dead before he hit the covers. (much more)

  30. habs001 says:

    the pp should be much better even without markov….we lose so many draws at the beginning of the pp and that kills 30 seconds…martin does not like a forward on the point and if the first unit does not score it looks like he rather be conservative and put out 2d who most nights will not score

  31. Bill says:

    All will be forgiven indeed.

    Full Breezer 4 Life

  32. pmaraw says:

    well he got the game winner vs pitts, he’s okay in my books.

  33. Habies says:

    Dear heavens— Haven’t seen much pessimism on here lately. Thanks for the reminder of the yin and the yang.

    I expect you’ll be wrong though— we just need to get Eller up to that line and make sure it has zero defensive responsibility.

  34. adamkennelly says:

    Matt Carkner – watch him – he is much much better than OB..might actually have to give something up for him but I’d do it…

  35. samTHEman says:

    hamrlik and darche for campoli and kovalev =)

  36. Chuck says:

    …until he sets up or scores the Stanley Cup-winning goal.  😉

     

    Centre Hice: One fan’s attachment to the Montreal Canadiens

  37. Timo says:

    Murray is neurotic – nothing is guaranteed

  38. ABHabsfan says:

    Regin always looked good to me. He seemed to get a bunch of goals last year, against the Habs anyway. Campoli is a decent d-man who can move the puck and play the PP. And he would likely come quite cheap as I hear Murray doesn’t really like him. (my bro-in-law plays summer hockey with him and fixes his dog) Please no one answer “Kovy” to this open question.

  39. SeriousFan09 says:

    Clouston turned that team around and put them in the playoffs last season despite shaky goaltending and weak offensive depth, his job is safe for a while.

     

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu.
    http://habsandhockey.blogspot.com/

  40. Timo says:

    Khe… how long before Murray cans the coach and goes behind the bench? That will be even more times than Bob Gainey pull the same move. 

  41. Timo says:

    at 8 mil a season Gomez will be a total bust for the rest of his ridiculous contract.

  42. HabFab says:

    Got the old “got to be me” blues.

    Hear you dude!

  43. punkster says:

    MAB comments are allowed as long as they do not outstrip Breeze comments on the all-time HI/O most popular comments list.

  44. DavidKB says:

    What, do you put a sock in your mouth or mittens on your hands?

  45. Chuck says:

    I loooove how he takes Kovy’s chicken sh!t play and makes chicken salad out of it.  :)

    Centre Hice: One fan’s attachment to the Montreal Canadiens

  46. joeybarrie says:

    Did you just say Neil is as productive as Gomez?

    8 seasons Neil has 168 points. Thats 21 points a season…

    Gomez has 732… 73 points a season…

    Wait. Your joking??? You must be. If not, its one of the dumbest things i have ever heard.

    There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

  47. showey47 says:

    My fav. is this one against the flyers.

     

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruxhzZf8Ndk

  48. showey47 says:

    I think nick foligno will also fall into the untouchable category.

  49. Timo says:

    I’d take Neil. He is as productive as say… Gomez but more physical and can fight and hit and play a pretty tough style of hockey. 

  50. Timo says:

    I should be allowed an occasional MAB reference. You have no idea how many times I have to physically restrain myself from making MAB comments.

  51. adamkennelly says:

    with Bryan Murray pushing the panick button in Ottawa – who on that team would you take and for what?  there are obvioulsy some untouchables (maybe 1 in Mike Fisher) but I say everyone else is fair game.

    how huge a mistake was that Gonchar signing??  wow.

     

     

     

     

  52. fbkj says:

    yeah the atlanta goal, i was screaming “HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT”

    unfortunately it was the exact same night this happened

    so… good on nash

    >:(

  53. Everlasting1 says:

    +1

     

    “We don’t see things as they are, but as we are.” – Anais Nin

    Don’t pollute the water.

  54. Everlasting1 says:

    -1

     

    “We don’t see things as they are, but as we are.” – Anais Nin

    Don’t pollute the water.

  55. punkster says:

    I know we don’t have much cap space, I know the unsigned can be a crapshoot. it’s just that the ongoing comments here tend towards a) promoting guys who aren’t ready, b) demoting guys who have the experience we need and c) blaming the coach for everything except the weather. Just wondering wat forwards are sitting out there, working out on their own, knowing they could be a contributor and just waiting for a phone call.

  56. jennifer1984 says:

    die hard Rangers fan…..

    Lee isnt coming back til Game 7. But Texas will take game 6 so Lee can rest up for a Texas/SF match ( i feel SF!)

  57. punkster says:

    I know, that’s what concerns me 😉

  58. HardHabits says:

    Those MAB responses were serious.

  59. punkster says:

    And no MAB jokes? Excellent, thanks!

  60. TomNickle says:

    Does that means Wilson thanked Boogard after their game with the Rangers for not destroying Orr in his first game following a concussion from an Engelland punch to the kisser?

  61. nightmare_49 says:

    Dave – http://www.nhlnumbers.com/freeagents.php   ………………  it’s fairly accurate.

     

     

     

     

      …  in the entry draft in 2003 if we had picked a big center instead of AK46  …………  SK24.

  62. InGy says:

    Thanks for the info, i was not aware of that!

    There was a link i got here back in the preseason. I would love to have that one again.

  63. Say Ash says:

    BTW: Roy’s has three Conn Smythes

  64. punkster says:

    I asked earlier and only got silly MAB responses.

    Anyone got a link to a site listing the available unsigned players?

  65. Danno says:

    Lots of ugly tattoos, but none of them were of the glorious CH. Those are always beautiful.

     

    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”

  66. Say Ash says:

    NHL.com has a free trial going. It’s very good.

  67. Chuck says:

    You watch a compilation like that and it’s not hard to wonder why the Habs drafted him when they did. He’s got size and is willing to throw it around, can skate, and has an incredible release on his wrist shot.

    He’s also got quiet hands… sometimes he doesn’t even look like he’s stickhandling, and–bang!–he’s by his check. Same goes with his shot release.

    Can we get Benny to room with him on the road?

     

    Centre Hice: One fan’s attachment to the Montreal Canadiens

  68. SeriousFan09 says:

    Geez, no hockey for 4 days and everyone’s acting like they’re coming down from mega caffeine highs.

     

    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu.
    http://habsandhockey.blogspot.com/


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