INSIDE HOCKEY » New Jersey Devils http://insidehockey.com Get Inside! Thu, 31 Jul 2014 21:07:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Curtis Gedig At Devils Rookie Camp For a Team Spot http://insidehockey.com/curtis-gedig-at-devils-rookie-camp-for-a-team-spot http://insidehockey.com/curtis-gedig-at-devils-rookie-camp-for-a-team-spot#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 21:07:41 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=59123

Curtis Gedig is a veteran of Devils’ development camps. Last week the New Jersey draft pick attended the program for his fifth year.

“It’s just different because I’m not going back to school, I’m trying to play professionally now,” Gedig said. “I haven’t found [it] a huge eye opener to me like it was my first two, three years.

“I’m here to make the team this time.”

The British Columbia native attended after finishing his four-year career at Ohio State, where he appeared in 133 games.

“It was for my development. I also had a leadership role that I wanted to try out for the first time in my career,” Gedig said. “The coaching was great, I feel like I didn’t need to move on [and] I could use another year of development. So I stayed for four years.”

At 6-foot-3, Gedig was one of the bigger defensemen at the annual prospect camp. He grew bigger because of conditioning at Ohio State.

“Coming in I was probably 10 pounds lighter than I am no, so just getting those Olympic lifts,” Gedig said. “Working with those trainers really helped me develop as a hockey player on the ice.”

Before joining the Buckeyes, Gedig spent two seasons playing junior hockey in the BCHL.

As a senior captain, Gedig helped the Buckeyes to a Big Ten championship game appearance. Ohio State first defeated Michigan State and upset Minnesota for a trip to the Big Ten final.

Despite leading the game, Ohio State lost 5-4 in overtime to the Badgers.

While a Buckeye, Gedig said he worked on his defensive positioning and being more vocal.

“I really needed to work on that coming into school and I had really good defensive coaches to work with me there,” Gedig said.

The 22-year-old said his best chance at making the team lies within working hard.

“Just control things I can control and just do my thing,” Gedig said.

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Faust Benefitted From College Conditioning http://insidehockey.com/faust-benefitted-from-college-conditioning http://insidehockey.com/faust-benefitted-from-college-conditioning#comments Sat, 19 Jul 2014 18:36:54 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=59111

Before New Jersey draft pick Joe Faust started playing college hockey, he tried to condition himself off the ice.

But it wasn’t easy.

“I tried to do things away from the rink to improve myself,” Faust said. “I’d never worked religiously with one person seven days a week.

“To have that in college and when you come out here too, it really helps a lot. It’s something that’s really important if you want to play your game today, to keep yourself in shape year-round.

“I enjoy doing that and I feel like that’s really helped me to become a better player.”

At Wisconsin, Faust worked with the Badgers’ strength and conditioning coach, Jim Snider. As he grew off the ice, Faust also improved on the ice. The 22-year-old said he improved his skating and defensive positioning.

“In the amount of ice time that you get, you improve pretty much all aspects of your game,” Faust said. “Your skill set, your hands and shooting [and] passing. I think we really improved in a lot of different areas.”

Faust, named to the WCHA All-Academic Team twice and the Big Ten All-Academic Team, stayed with the Badgers for all four years to get his degree.

“I felt like that was just the right way to go about my development,” Faust said.

“Talking with the Devils, we felt that was the best thing for me to do was to stay. I’m glad I did, I certainly enjoyed my time there. I felt like I learned a lot on and off the ice and matured. It was a good experience.”

During his four-year stint with Wisconsin, Faust helped the Badgers claim two league titles, including the inaugural Big Ten championship. Last season, the Badgers also recorded a program-high 17 wins at the Kohl Center.

Faust finished his Badger career with 136 games played. The Bloomington, Minn., native recorded a career-high 14 points in his senior season.

Faust’s previous career high at Wisconsin had been five points.

The Devils drafted Faust in the fourth round in 2010, after the several seasons Faust spent playing high school hockey in Minnesota.

The 22-year-old, who’s attended New Jersey’s development camp in the past, said this year he’s focusing on what he needs to bring to the team.

“The coaches shared some experiences they had from playing pro, and the biggest thing I’ve learned was how to set yourself apart and how to focus on what you can bring to a team,” Faust said.

“It’s a message that you probably hear in the back of your head, but to hear it again here at this camp, it’s something that meant a lot to me.”

For Faust, that’s focusing on hard work and defensive-zone play.

“Being able to shut down the opponent and hopefully get the puck back, force some turnovers and get the puck moving up ice is definitely part of my game,” Faust said.

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Coleman Returns To Miami For Unfinished Business http://insidehockey.com/coleman-returns-to-miami-for-unfinished-business http://insidehockey.com/coleman-returns-to-miami-for-unfinished-business#comments Sat, 19 Jul 2014 13:37:37 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=59110

Blake Coleman sat at his stall with a pack of ice on his right arm on Wednesday. A scrimmage at Devils’ development camp had finished, and Coleman had attempted a spin-o-rama goal in the shootout.

In a few months, Coleman will still be wearing red, but it won’t be New Jersey red.

The 5-foot-11 forward will return to Miami for his senior season.

He’s coming back to help them win a championship.

“We had a good run there at the end of last season, pretty much everybody’s coming back on our team,” Coleman said.

Miami struggled during the season, compiling a 12-19-3 record into the NCHC playoffs. The RedHawks were underdogs in the first-round series agains St. Cloud State, the No. 1 team in the conference, and Miami needed to win the NCHC to make the NCAA tournament.

The RedHawks won the next three games, including an OT victory over St. Cloud State, to make the NCHC Championship game. With a tournament berth on the line, the RedHawks faced Denver in Minneapolis, Minn.

Miami lost 4-3.

“I think we have a little bit of a bad taste from how it ended last year,” Coleman said.

The Plano, Texas native missed 11 games with an upper-body injury last season. Miami went 2-8-1 in his absence.

“It’s another year away from the injury, so that heals up fully,” Coleman said. “It’s another year to get stronger and gain some more patience with the puck.

“The game’s starting to slow down at the college level for me and I’m expecting the same thing to continue as I go into senior year.”

In his return from injury on Feb. 21, Coleman scored two goals — including the game winner. It was one of four multi-goal games he recorded over the next six games, and one of five multi-point games over the next 10 games. Coleman finished the stretch with 12 points over the final 10 games.

“It was exciting, but it was my teammates picking me up. they made it easy for me and everybody elevated their game,” Coleman said. “We had that good taste and we got that run and then it ended so abruptly that everybody kind of wants to pick up where we left off.”

Along with Coleman, Austin Czarnik and Riley Barber will also return for the coming season with Miami. Czarnik and Barber recorded 47 and 44 points respectively, good for first and second on the team.

Coleman’s 28 points ranked fourth on the team. The forward appeared in 27 games, giving him a team lead of seven points per game.

Over his career with the RedHawks, Coleman has appeared in 106 games and amassed 70 points.

“I’m pretty close to getting my degree,” Coleman said.

“From talking to the guys in the summer and with New Jersey it was the best fit and the best option to go back for next year.”

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Colgate Trio Gains Experience At Devils Development Camp http://insidehockey.com/colgate-trio-gains-experience-at-devils-development-camp http://insidehockey.com/colgate-trio-gains-experience-at-devils-development-camp#comments Sat, 19 Jul 2014 13:34:49 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=59108

On Wednesday night at Devils’ development camp, Raider Charlie Finn left his room for a few minutes. When Finn returned, he found he was locked out.

“It was more by accident. He went to go check the schedule and get some food,” Colgate’s Ryan Johnston said.

Johnston heard a few knocks on the door, but assumed someone was knocking on fellow Raider Darcy Murphy’s door.

“I just sat there and listened to it for about a couple minutes and then I realized, oh, someone must actually be at the door,” Johnston said, laughing.

“As soon as I open up the door, he opens up his mouth and he’s like, ‘What the heck man?’ So it was unintentional but it was funny.”

Johnston, Murphy and Finn roomed together during the week-long camp. For Finn, it was a chance to spend some of his summer with his teammates, who he doesn’t see during the off months. Finn hails from North Vancouver, while most of his Colgate teammates are from the East Coast.

“It’s like we never left Colgate,” Finn said. “We give each other a hard time, there’s a few pranks here and there. … But it’s all in good fun.”

The Canadian trio received invites for New Jersey’s development camp this summer.

Murphy and Johnston, part of Colgate’s seven-member rising junior class, have played together for two years in maroon and white. Murphy is a forward, while Johnston is one of two Colgate junior defensemen.

“On the ice you know where they are,” Johnston said. “[Knowing] the outlet options and the routes [Darcy] takes helps. Charlie, [I know] the way that he plays the puck.

“It just makes it a little more easier and more comfortable here. There’s a lot of good guys and there’s a lot of talented people around, especially the coaching staff, so it relieves some of the tension.”

Finn is using the camp to take tips on positioning. He started last season splitting starts with senior Eric Mihalik before taking over the starting job. Finn recorded a 16-8-4 record with Colgate in his freshman campaign.

He spent three years in the OJHL and was named the league’s best goalkeeper twice. Last season, the 21-year-old was named to the ECAC All-Rookie Team.

“[I’m] trying to stay as aggressive as possible on the shooter,” Finn said. “And I’m trying to gain the ground as fast as possible, rather than slowly come out and challenge them. Get there quickly and set and then follow them back.”

Murphy, who was a forward on Colgate’s second line last season, said he paid attention to hitting pucks of the glass and not turning the puck over.

“It’s a great experience,” Murphy said. “You’ve got a lot of tips from the coaches, who are great, and you’re just able to take a lot away from it that normally you wouldn’t experience.”

The forward, who had a chance to show his skills in drills and shootouts, led the OJHL in goals in 2011-12.

During the week, the three players participated in various drills and scrimmages.

Johnston, one of Colgate’s underclassmen defensemen last season, said he’s trying to apply what he sees from everyone else at this camp. The Sudbury, Ontario, native was named the CCHL Defenseman of the Year and playoff MVP in 2012.

“As you grow up through each league, you see everyone’s skills improving,” Johnston said. “Now there isn’t anyone who can’t really skate anymore. There are some better skaters and better shots, but everyone’s an all-around player.”

Murphy, Finn and Johnston are three of several Raiders who’ve attended development camps this summer. Twins Tyson and Tylor Spink attended Red Wings camp with linemate Kyle Baun.

Colgate captain Spiro Goulakos was invited to Rangers camp and rising junior Mike Borkowski received an invite to Vancouver and Chicago’s camps. Sophomores Tim Harrison and Jake Kulevich also participated in prospect camps, with the Flames and Sharks, respectively.

“It’ll help to see different teaching styles and how different teams play, whether it’s the offensive [or] defensive,” Johnston said. ”There’s three people from my team [who] went to Detroit camp, so they’re very controlled, don’t give up the puck, whereas other teams are more run and gun.”

Last season, the Raiders finished 20-14-5 and appeared in the ECAC title game. Colgate compiled a 14-5-3 record in the second half, propelling the Raiders to an NCAA tournament appearance.

Six of the players invited to development camps are members of Colgate’s rising junior class.

“It’s a testament to the young talent we have on our team,” Finn said.

“[It] really gets me excited for the season coming up, and I think everyone feels the same way. We’re really excited to make a push for a championship and hopefully prove that we’ve gotten better than last year and that we’re working towards something.”

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Jagr Returns to the Devils http://insidehockey.com/jagr-returns-to-the-devils http://insidehockey.com/jagr-returns-to-the-devils#comments Fri, 02 May 2014 11:41:24 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=58547

In a move very uncharacteristic of Jaromir Jagr’s free agency period in recent years past, he quickly re-signed with the New Jersey Devils on the same day the NHL announced that he was a nominee for the Masterton trophy.

Why the move to re-sign so quickly?

“I think both sides wanted to do it quickly,” Jagr said in a conference call with the media on Wednesday. “Lou wanted to do it because he wanted to know what direction he wanted to go.”

“No reason to change the club. I was happy.”

He said that it was likely that if he had revisited free agency there would have been other teams offering up more money than the Devils were offering to him, but he decided to stay in New Jersey.

“If I’m happy somewhere…there’s no reason to change it,” he said.

Jagr believes the Devils are a true contender for the Stanley Cup, despite not winning a spot in the playoff race this year. He said he always thought the Devils were contenders.

His reaction to discovering he was nominated for the Masterton trophy? He didn’t know what it was.

The Masterton trophy is awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. In a nutshell, that is the definition of “Jaromir Jagr.” He is that player. He played in all 82 games this season with no signs of wear. He just kept getting better and better as the season went along.

He led the club in assists (43), points (67), game-winning goals (6), and +/- (+16). He did all of this at the age of 42, as one of the oldest current active members in the NHL. He came in second in goal scoring (24) with Adam Henrique scoring only one more goal (25) than him. He outshot his teammates, shooting the puck at the net 231 times. Michael Ryder came in second with 166 shots on net.

The meaning of the Masterton, a trophy voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, represents who Jagr is. While Jagr was not familiar with the award, after the media explained what it was, he said it meant a lot coming from the writers because “They’re very picky.”

“In my opinion, I love the sport. I just follow the love for the sport.”

Dominic Moore (New York Rangers) and Manny Malhotra (Carolina Hurricanes) are both up for the Masterton.

Moore took some time off in the spring of 2012 when his wife, Katie, was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer. She died in January 2013. He set up the Katie Moore Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping patients and families with rare cancers through research, advocacy and community. After taking some time off from playing, he returned to the NHL this season to resume his career.

Malhotra suffered a serious eye injury, but instead of letting it end his career, he signed a professional tryout agreement with the Charlotte Checkers last fall and then signed as a free agent with the Carolina Hurricanes four weeks later.

While the latter two candidates suffered serious setbacks in their life and then came back to play hockey, Jagr’s nomination solely lies in the fact of who he is at this stage in the game. He never quit. He just keeps getting better and better.

Of all teams, why did he choose the Devils? “It’s small things together,” he said. “I’m happy. I play the best hockey when I’m happy.”

What also helps is that he likes the Devils’ system. “I thought our system allowed us to compete and beat anybody. If we followed the system we had a chance every night…the system gave me the confidence to go out there and win games.”

Going into next season, his biggest goal he is setting for himself is to score more goals. While he led the team in goal scoring throughout the majority of the season, Henrique got the edge on him at the end of the season.

With an instrumental piece put into place for the Devils, the next question centers around Martin Brodeur. Will he return?

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Brodeur: Is This the End? http://insidehockey.com/brodeur-is-this-the-end http://insidehockey.com/brodeur-is-this-the-end#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 19:09:25 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=58196

It was the end of the season for the Devils: no playoff run; Chico Resch’s retirement from the Devils telecast; and Martin Brodeur’s final game as a New Jersey Devil for the umpteenth time.  Or was it?

In the 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins during the Devils’ final game of the season, there was no video montage celebrating Brodeur’s final game.  Fans and media thinking this might be Brodeur’s final game as a Devil flooded Prudential Center.  Fans chanted “Mar-ty,” “Marty’s Better,” and “Thank You, Marty” throughout the game.  Even Resch received a few “Thank You, Chico” chants as the Devils honored him during his final game in the broadcast booth.

“It was a special night,” Dainius Zubrus said of the game.  “It was nice to see the fans acknowledge that and see that.  Every time they start cheering for Marty, you feel like [you want to] join the party, start to get up and bang the boards.  He’s Marty.”

At the end, after the team saluted the fans, Patrik Elias pushed Brodeur out to center ice as the team lined up next to the bench to give the most winningest goaltender in the history of the NHL a final stick tap.

“We just wanted him to get out there and take a moment and maybe have a moment for himself with the fans,” Zubrus said.  “It was nice.”

“It meant a lot,” Brodeur said of the fan reaction.  “The relationship between the fans and I have been great through the years.  I think them, showing their appreciation, it was really appreciated for me and my family and my friends.  We’re all in the same boat a little bit.  It was definitely a nice little ovation at the end.

“Emotionally, it was pretty hard.  These people are my family.

“I feel bad.  People are so into it.  It’s kind of emotionally…it’s not easy.  I was kind of happy to just be able to step out and kind of be with my own people a little bit.  It was really appreciated the way the fans reacted.”

But if Brodeur was leaving the Devils or retiring…no one knows.  Not even Mr. Brodeur himself.  He spent ten minutes standing up on a podium trying to answer the media’s questions on what he planned on doing.

How much will his family influence his decision?

“A lot,” he said.  “I think it’s important.  These decisions are important.  What you want to do and what they’re willing to do also, to see where our futures will be, I’ll have a good conversation with everyone that is any concern.”

He said that not being able to play much this season was the worst part of the season.  He appeared in 39 games this season, while Cory Schneider appeared in 45 games.

“It was difficult,” he said.  “Again, I think, in the position the coaching staff was in, with having two goalies who were number one, it just doesn’t work.  It didn’t work in Vancouver.  It didn’t work here too good.  We didn’t make the playoffs.  I think it’s important that when you have one good goalie, you give him the bulk of the work.  [Schneider] will get that for now.”

Leaving the Devils will not be an easy decision for Brodeur.

“It was a little emotional.  These things are hard.  I spent all of my life here.  A lot of the fans that are out there know me.  They think they know me by my name, I feel they know me.  They’ve been calling my name for 20 years.  Every time they stop me and they talk to me.  They’re great.  For me, to see their kids grow also, it kind of means a lot. It’s something that’s a relationship that an athlete has with the people that supports them.  It was definitely fun, but it was a little emotional.

“It’s a good possibility that if opportunities come in a different way…but I might not, too…depending on what I’m able to find out in free agency and what I’m ready to do, not many things, but there are possibilities for me.  That’s what will take a lot of sitting down and thinking about it.  It might be my last game as a Devil, that’s for sure.

“I’m going to take the first few weeks off and after that, I’ll get in contact with the people that I trust and that I want to make a decision with.  Trust me, Lou [Lamoriello] is going to be the guy that I’m calling.”

When it comes to making a decision on which team he will sign with (if he returns for another year), it all depends on the number of games he’ll be playing.

“I think a ballpark of the amount of games I’ll be able to play.  That’s the bottom line.  I don’t want to prepare myself like I did this summer and get ready for a great season and then sit on the bench.  But if I’m ready for 30 games next year in an organization, and the Devils can’t give me that, that’s going to be something that will probably make my decision easier or harder.”

“The region I want to go I would usually like to have the sun that’s more than four months a year.  There’s a lot of places, but it’s something for me.

“Just the thought of playing against the Devils kills me.  That’s one of the things that bothers me the most.”

As far as what he’ll do in free agency, he plans on taking some time before making a decision.

“I’ve done it two years ago.  It’s pretty interesting.  It makes you feel good.  Hopefully, it will make me feel good this summer.”

When he heads to eventual retirement, wouldn’t it be better to retire as a New Jersey Devil?

“Yeah,” he said.  “I think [I’ll take] everything under consideration when it’s time to make a decision.  But I’ve thought about different things throughout my career and now it’s going to be time to think about me a little bit.”

What about his future working in the front office for the Devils?

“That’s something that always interests me, but I don’t think I’m ready at all for this.  I’m just still in the game.  These guys that are getting these jobs played a lot of hockey just like I did.  I think our backgrounds are similar, but they’re a lot older than me.  It takes time to be able to get to that status.  It’s something that’s interested me.  I’ll definitely pay my dues to maybe get that eventually.”

As of now, retirement isn’t weighing heavily on his mind.  He feels he can still play.

“My mind is good.  The kids enjoy watching me play.  I’m having a lot of fun doing it.  If the body holds up, might as well, because when I say it’s got to be over, it’s got to be over.  We’ll see when that day will come.  It could be sooner or later.  You never know.”

How will the free agency period play out in his mind?

“It’s not out of the question that the Devils will be in the running for me to come back.  I haven’t talked to Lou about it at all, what he wants to do as far as backing up for [Schneider].  Then again, if I am mentally ready to do that job [as backup], I’m going to look for the Devils a little bit.  Right now, I’m keeping everything open. We’ll see.  I’ll talk to [Lou] and see what he thinks is best for the organization.  It’s not about me anymore.  I’m free.  He’s not stuck with me anymore.”

“If I sign somewhere as a backup, it’s not just to barely make the playoffs.  It’s going to be a team to contend to win the Stanley Cup.”

For his team, he is the world to them.

“We definitely wanted to get a win for Marty,” Dainius Zubrus said.  “I think we started the game good.  The second period wasn’t the way we wanted to [play].  Before the third, we all talked about it and we mentioned a few more times that we forget all we have and get a win for Marty.  It was nice for him to get off the ice the way he did.”

Many of Zubrus’ favorite moments as a Devil have nothing to do with his personal victories, it all has to do with Brodeur’s special moments, including his 552nd win.  Brodeur means a lot to him.

“The way he carries himself in the locker room,” Zubrus said of what Marty means to him.  “The way he is with all the teammates and all the young guys coming in, he’s one of the better teammates I’ve had.  Honestly, I still hope we get to see him.  Hopefully, he’ll decide to keep playing and maybe he’ll be here.

“If he’s not here, he’ll be really missed.  I hope he is [here].”

“There’s few moments in my career that I remember,” Zubrus said.  “This is one of the moments I’ll remember, even though it has nothing to do with me.  It’s nice to be part of it.”

NOTES

Lou Lamoriello announced during the final game that Peter DeBoer will return next season as head coach.

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Photo Gallery: Bruins @ Devils (04/12/14) http://insidehockey.com/photo-gallery-bruins-devils-041214 http://insidehockey.com/photo-gallery-bruins-devils-041214#comments Sun, 13 Apr 2014 21:55:17 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=58150

In Albany, New York, in a shootout between the Albany Devils and  Providence Bruins, the Devils’ Joe Whitney netted the winning goal as the Devils defeated the Bruins by a score of 2-1.  The “3 Stars of the game were #3 ALB Joe Whitney, #2 PRO Niklas Svedberg, #1 ALB Harri Pesonen. Photos taken by Steve Rusyn for Inside Hockey.

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Do the Devils Have a Chance? http://insidehockey.com/do-the-devils-have-a-chance http://insidehockey.com/do-the-devils-have-a-chance#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 17:10:06 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=58074

With only three games remaining and a possible six points on the line, the Devils are getting very close to elimination from a playoff run. Do they have what it takes to sneak in at the last moment?

If the Devils were able to do it in 1995, weaseling their way into a playoff spot by season end, then there is a chance they can do it again. But unlike the Devils of 1995, this team doesn’t have the numbers to prove they could make it to the end and win. What number is that? Their +/- statistic.

While many believe this statistic is overrated, it tells a lot about a team and how they are doing overall.

It starts with the coaching staff. The coaches layout the strategy and the plays for each line. Each line goes out to execute each play. Each line is made up of individual players.

If a player has a high negative +/- statistic, you first look to see if it’s the player. Then you look at the line…does the line have a similar high negative +/- statistic? If so, what is the coaching staff doing about correcting that issue?

Wikipedia defines ‘plus-minus’ as such:

“While a player’s plus?minus statistic is calculated for each game played, it tends to provide a more meaningful measure over a full season. The statistic is directly affected by overall team performance, influenced by both the offensive and defensive performance of the team as a whole.

“The plus?minus is mainly used to examine the performance of defenders and forwards who play a defensive role, while offensive forwards are more often measured by their scoring statistics (goals and assists).”

For the Devils, playing a defensive role is very important no matter what your position is. While goals/assists are important for forwards, their defensive play is just as important.

Take for instance the Michael Ryder/Ryane Clowe line. This season, their line came under scrutiny prior to the trade deadline. Their +/- statistic was the worst on the entire team. Most of the goals against were generated from their line. There are three aspects as to what went wrong. 1) Each individual on that line was not working defensively. 2) The line was not performing the way it should. Perhaps the focus was too much on the need for Ryder to produce goals and he failed to also focus on his defense. Perhaps Clowe and Ryder needed to be split up to allow a more defensive minded forward to play on their line so that Ryder could focus on scoring goals. Or maybe Ryder needs to focus on becoming more defensive minded in his play. 3) The coaching staff waited too long to correct the issue.

One of the results to this poorly played line was Andrei Loktionov being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Tuomo Ruutu during the trade deadline. This was the Devils’ first attempt at correcting the ailing line. Clowe was later placed on the first line with Jaromir Jagr and Travis Zajac for awhile and generated positive numbers.

With Clowe producing better and Ryder still struggling, this change in the line also begins to single out the problem.

When Ilya Kovalchuk first arrived in New Jersey, he was a lot like Ryder and focused on scoring goals. He learned while he was in New Jersey how important defense was to his game. It may have brought down the number of goals he could score, but he became a better player on the ice as he changed his game to be more productive for the team, not just for himself as an individual.

The team, in the end, is more important than the individual.

The +/- statistic can help breakdown what is going right and what is going wrong. The statistic is more than just a number.

When it comes to the Stanley Cup Finals, that statistic is more than just a number. Ends up it tells how a team could perform in the Finals. In the history of the recording of the +/- statistic in the NHL, there has never been an instance where a team that recorded a negative +/- statistic at season end would go on to win the Stanley Cup.

Here are all of the instances that a team entered into the Stanley Cup Finals with a negative +/- statistic (since its inception during the 1967-1968 season) and the result:

2012: LAK +26, NJD -63. LAK WON
2006: CAR +41, EDM -43. CAR WON
2003: NJD +224, ANA -38. NJD WON
2002: DET +184, CAR -49. DET WON
1998: DET +179, WAS -16. DET WON
1996: COL +325, FLA -1. COL WON
1991: PIT +89, MIN -65. PIT WON
1968: MTL +256, STL -73. MTL WON

Each time a team with a negative +/- statistic at season end entered into the Stanley Cup Finals, they lost. There has never been a team in the history of the NHL that has won when they entered the contest with a negative +/- statistic.

That being said, if the Devils were to somehow find themselves in the Stanley Cup Finals again, with their current -66 rating, they will not win the coveted prize. If they did, it would be the first time in the history of the NHL (and the recording of the statistic) that it happened.

If you take into account what exactly this statistic measures, it measures the overall performance of the team. It’s not just about goals for and against. It tells how effective a coach’s play is. It tells how effective a line is. It tells what the individual player needs to work on. It tells more about the team’s overall season and what everyone needs to work on going forward.

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Agostino Returns Home as NHLer http://insidehockey.com/agostino-returns-home-as-nhler http://insidehockey.com/agostino-returns-home-as-nhler#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 17:07:43 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=58070

NEWARK, N.J. – New Jersey native Kenny Agostino skates to Calgary’s bench after the National Anthem. He grabs his water bottle, takes a sip, sprinkles some water on his back and takes a few more drinks before putting it back on the bench.

He skates across Calgary’s zone towards the penalty boxes, stretching his arms and his legs. Agostino has skated on the ice at The Rock before, several times as a Delbarton hockey player winning state championships and again with Yale.

But this Monday night is different. This Monday night marks Agostino’s sixth NHL game.

With 1:34 minutes left in the second period, TJ Brodie creates a turnover in Calgary’s defensive end. He brings the puck up the ice and slips it to Agostino as the Flames cross into New Jersey’s zone. Agostino creates some space for a lone shot in front of Cory Schneider.

Schneider makes the save, and Agostino’s momentum propels him softly into the boards. But just before Agostino took the shot, Jon Merrill swung his stick at Agostino, giving Calgary a power play.

The Flames scored the only goal of the game on that power play.

Five months ago, Agostino was in the same Prudential Center near the visiting locker room, but he was putting on his gear for reigning National Champion Yale’s season opener.

“You don’t ever really think that far in advance,” Agostino says with a smile after a 1-0 Flames win. “But it was a dream to someday hopefully play an NHL game in this place.

“It was fun.”

***

The Flanders, N.J., native grew up a Rangers fan. He played for Delbarton hockey for three years, where he skated at the Prudential Center and won three non-public state championships. While with Delbarton, Agostino finished with 261 points.

“It’s very special,” Agostino says. “This is ice that I’m a little familiar on, playing my state championship games here and the [Liberty Hockey Invitational] tournament earlier this year.”

As a member of the Yale Bulldogs, Agostino was a part of a team that won the National Championship in 2013. After the win, he elected to stay with Yale for another season. He finished his career with 132 points, which ranks ninth all-time in Yale history.

Watching Agostino were Bruce Shatel, his former Delbarton coach, as well as Yale’s bench boss Keith Alain.

“It was a thrill for all of us to see Kenny playing against the Devils,” Shatel said. “He played a lot of minutes and he played very well.”

In his first NHL game at the Prudential Center, Agostino finished with 11:54 ice time, two shots, one hit and one block.

The forward signed an Entry Level Contract with Calgary on March 17, after his senior season with Yale ended. He joined the team and played his first game on March 21. He scored his first goal on April 4 against Florida.

“I’m just learning every day how to be a pro, on and off the ice, taking care of your body,” Agostino says. “Every rep in practice matters and of course every shift in every game matters. You never know what shifts going to be a big one and you just got to capitalize on your opportunities.”

***

Agostino darts in and out of the visiting locker room at The Rock, putting together his gear before Calgary’s flight takes off. He smiles and pauses to talk to reporters about playing an NHL game at home.

“There were a lot of people, too many to count,” Agostino says. “I’m lucky to have that many friends and family come cheer for me.”

When Agostino skated out for warmups, a group from Yale sat behind the net in Calgary’s end. They wore Flames shirts with Agostino’s name and number on the back, and cheered when he took his first shot on net.

“A couple have texted me pictures of them,” Agostino says. “I thought that was awesome.”

Both of Agostino’s brothers were at the game, and they caught up with one of Agostino’s former Delbarton hockey teammates and current Princeton hockey defensemen Tommy Davis during the second intermission. They were talking right out

Another one of Agostino’s former Delbarton teammates, Princeton netminder Colton Phinney, was also at The Rock — where he won state championships with Agostino and Davis.

“It’s special when you get to play in your home state in front of close friends and family,” Agostino says.

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Depleted Devils Fall Short Against Flames http://insidehockey.com/depleted-devils-fall-short-against-flames http://insidehockey.com/depleted-devils-fall-short-against-flames#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 16:51:38 +0000 http://insidehockey.com/?p=58068

NEWARK, N.J. – It was another injury-depleted night for the Devils.

Once again the Devils dressed 11 defensemen and had Eric Gelinas play left wing. Once again the Devils were without Patrick Elias, Adam Henrique and Jacob Josefson.

But after winning two games in a row with a depleted team, this time the Devils couldn’t find a win as their season winds down, falling to Calgary 1-0 on Monday night.

In the first period, it appeared as if the Devils took the 1-0 lead. The goal horn went off, but the referees immediately waved Ryan Carter’s attempt off. Although it appeared Carter, who initially kicked the puck with his skate, knocked the puck in with his stick, the referees ruled it a no goal.

“They looked at carefully, I can’t argue with the decision on the call,” Peter DeBoer told reporters after the game. “I mean I thought it was inconclusive so the call on the ice stands.”

The Devils controlled the puck for most of the game, finishing with 31 shots. New Jersey allowed 22, but gave up the game’s only goal to Mark Giordano 23 seconds into the third period.

Schneider finished with a few key saves, including a stop on New Jersey native Kenny Agostino, who was alone in front of the goalkeeper.

“It’s tough to give that one up starting the third period and put us behind,” Schneider said. “But again we just couldn’t find a way to get that one.”

For two periods of scoreless play, Karri Ramo stopped everything New Jersey tossed his way. He benefitted from some luck, as a few times New Jersey couldn’t capitalize on any scoring chances.

“It wasn’t for effort or even execution,” DeBoer said. “We generated probably twice as many opportunities as they did. We didn’t stick it in the back of the net and it’s a common theme. When you don’t score easily like we haven’t all year, you’re at the mercy of games like this. Your margin of error’s very small.”

With Elias, Henrique and Josefson out, Travis Zajac logged 23:17 minutes, Jaromir Jagr finished with 22:36 and Dainius Zubrus recorded 21:10.

In the first period, it appeared Ryan Carter scored. Carter had kicked the puck, but he seemed to redirect the puck into the net with his stick. After a review, the referees ruled no goal.

The Devils came close to scoring in the second as well, when the puck deflected off Calgary’s Chris Butler. It rolled along the goal line until Kris Russell cleared the puck.

In the third period after they were trailing 1-0 Carter had a backhand chance around 17 minutes but hit the side of the net.

“I think that kind of sums up our year,” Carter said. “Sometimes you outwork teams and you don’t get the result you want and that’s the tough reality of it.”

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