Tag Archives: pandolfo

All-Star Break

Call me quelle stupide but the Devils just embarassed l’habitant du but: Price wasn’t the guardian of the net tonight, he was a regular resident inside the twine. If I still lived in Boston, I’d already be relishing the morning headlines forming puns on the Canadiens nom du plume: Hab A Nice Break. Habbin’ A Streak. Heaven Hab Us, Devils On Top.

So the Devils enter the break in first place, after a 24-hour stint back in second thanks to the Rangers’ scheduling urgency and the Ducks’ inability to convert at the Garden. What can we expect down the stretch?

Will Elias, Parise or someone else break 100 points for the first time in franchise history?

Will the team have a 50 goal scorer, again for the first time?

Can the Devils actually have two of the top ten scorers in the league, during the same season?

Will we see Jay Pandolfo again as time, age and the late season duress catch up with Rolston, Holik or Shanahan?

When Marty is back, will things get even better, and will Sutter finally give Marty the rest and recuperation he needs going into the playoffs?

Elias’ absence from the All-Star Game shows the dangers inherent in starting the process before Election Day and allowing more creative voting than a Florida election. Patrik is the only top-ten forward (statistically) not represented in Montreal this weekend, but as usual he’ll take it in stride and let his stick do the talking until April.

1980 Over My Shoulder

I’ve been looking for a bit of writing inspiration lately — blogging has been slow, I haven’t had the energy or creativity to devote to working on the hockey book, and work has been, well, more than a job. Perhaps it was the rainy day today, or perhaps it was the fact that I got the urge to clean up my office (it happens, usually once every 3 or 4 months). About two years ago I managed to find an autographed 1980 Olympic Men’s Hockey Team jersey, with silver autographs of gold medal winners, all save the late Herb Brooks. There was a fairly large set of them released around the 25th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, and one ended up in my jersey collection. I finally had it framed for my birthday this year (thanks to my mother in law) and it quite simply looks nicer than the motley collection of Devils swag on my “jersey wall.” As much as I like my BC jersey with Gionta’s handwriting, the Jay Pandolfo jersey I won in a raffle, the Patrik Elias jersey with a really funny autograph (before he got serious about signing his name) and a Scott Gomez/Jamie Langenbrunner dueling penmanship sample, they just didn’t “feel” right.

The Talking Heads’ David Byrne once said that art is something you should rotate, something you should like, not permanently mount on your wall as if it’s part of the building. I think jerseys fit that profile even more tightly than paintings or posters; jerseys each tell a story, have a life or a background, give you a snapshot of time and space. Give or take a few years, the Miracle on Ice marked the first third of my life; becoming a father to a son who would later help me rekindle my passion for hockey marked the second third. There’s a nice symmetry in that, and perhaps the backwards looking perspective will get me motivated to work on the next big forward looking projects.

Sometimes you need to change your focus, and that’s what I did in hanging the 1980 sweater over my left shoulder.

Turning Point Redux

Some nights the hockey viewing stars just don’t align, or they aren’t meant to align. I found the Devils-Penguins game on the Vs network here in my California hotel, just as I was getting ready to go out for a company dinner. I saw enough of the second period to develop a fear that the Devils were reverting back to the disorganized play that led to disasters last week against teams not in the Western Conference cellar. As I went into the hotel lobby, Jordan Staal made it 3-1 Penguins, and I mentally checked out.

But thanks to the wonders of NHL Wireless, I continued to get goal by goal updates. An Elias goal to halve the gap; a Clarkson goal to tie it, and then the winner in OT. Getting these updates on the West coast often means I get two or three duplicate messages, but I don’t mind clearing the SMS backlog when the Devils win.

Lots of minor thoughts:

Elias was pissed after his penalty that led to the opening Penguins goal, and he played like someone was threatening his wine collection, manhood or both. I don’t remember seeing him play with that much fire since the Rangers playoff sweep nearly two years ago.

Oduya had a reasonable game, aside from his own penalty. Vishnevski was on for all three Pittsburgh goals, one of which caught him in the shinpad before bouncing by Marty. If you can’t help the goalie, get out of his way.

Perhaps Jay Pandolfo tried to do too much first game back — on the PK, up against a still-tough although Sid-less top Pens line — and he looked a bit out of sorts. He was also on-ice for all three Penguins goals, and didn’t take another shift after last one, with about 15 minutes left in regulation.

NHL.com now has a slick little feature that shows you the player’s name if you hover your mouse over the player number in thegame summary page.

A three-way tie for first is a good thing, especially when it could have been three points to Pittsburgh and two to Philadelphia. One some level, I feel that whatever happened around the 5 minute of the third period was a turning point, definitely in the game, maybe in the back half of the season. There’s just a huge mental advantage to winning a game in which you had to overcome a pair of 2-goal deficits, and the Devils had been on the wrong end of that one multiple times in January. The Devils earned tonight’s win on the basis of hard work. Now if we could only see that spark against the Rangers and Islanders.

It’s Over in the Swamp

Yes, I’m profoundly sad that the Devils season has ended. As many of the Devils said in the press, they had a team that could have gone far in the postseason, and now three seasons in a row have ended with the Devils going no better than 5-5. Could have is the operative phrase, but I’m equally worried about the this team suggestion that somehow this year’s roster is going to change dramatically.

If it changes for the better, I’m all for it. The Devils looked horrible on defense. Turnovers in their own end, lack of a quick break out, and an inability to clear the big guns from Tampa Bay and Ottawa out of the slot. The Devils were clearly out-coached. Not that the Ottawa top line was that much better than New Jersey’s top line, but more than 80% of Ottawa’s goals came from those three guys. Whatever the Madden line was doing to shut them down wasn’t working, and in all honestly, probably wasn’t Madden, Pandolfo and Brylin’s fault. If you keep doing the same things and expect different results, without any other context switches, it’s a sign of insanity. The same thing goes for the attack side; I could count how many shots Ottawwa blocked but it would only emphasize that the Devils attack consisted of throwing the puck toward the net and hoping for a tip-in. Everyone caught on to it after the first few games, and more crisp passing, cycling and quick shots were in order. But see above regarding turnovers.

I’m betting on changes at the blueline. I’m also betting that Lou doesn’t hold on to both of Rafalski and Gomez, and my public opinion is that if that’s the case, Gomez should stay. He had a great playoffs and he scored when needed. There’s chemistry on the EGG line (when healthy) that could promote them into the ranks of Heatley-Alfredsson or Lecavalier-St. Louis in terms of consistent offensive threats. With Brylin on the fourth line for the last game, it’s clear that his stock is falling, so the Devils are short of quality centers. And finally, if Gomez crosses the Hudson to wear a blue shirt, he will be the subject of more fan derision than Bobby Holik. It’s not always about money.

Anybody know a good head coach?

Rather Be In Philadelphia

All due credit to WC Fields, he’d rather be in Philadelphia (as opposed to his final resting place), and I believe most teams in the NHL feel that with the Flyers looking one step out of the grave, they’d rather be visting in Philadelphia as well. So it goes for the Devils tonight, as they venture down the Turnpike, somewhat pumped up (we hope) by a solid 5-2 win over the other half of Pennsylvania’s hockey contingent last night.

What a great game for those of us who were actually there. Never mind the announced attendance of over 13,000; there were probably 8,000 fans in seats. Almost 80% of Section 101, the prime season ticket holder real estate behind the net, was empty. We personally experienced the parking garage last night, and it was somewhere between a visit to the dentist and renewing your license in person at the DMV in degree of difficulty. $12 to be forced to drive up three levels, with way too few stairwells to funnel a happy crowd back after the game? The time is definitely right for a new arena. I’ve had this conversation with Tom Lycan, author of the Star-Ledger’s Devils Due blog, and he captured my thoughts on the new arena pretty succinctly.

Whether you watched from behind the glass of the stands or the glass on your TV, what you saw last night was good puck movement down low, a great reduction in shots from the point that went into a mass of defensive bodies, and one “C”zech guy having a good time. It appears that nearly the whole team got the morning off for good behavior last night, as only Jay Pandolfo worked out seriously during the morning skate at South Mountain. Not a bad way to start the new hockey month.