How nice of Jacques Lemaire to come back to the Devils and bring them back to respectability by choking the life out of hockey. He also is proving that Mmmmaaaarrrrtttyyy's numbers were all inflated as Johan Hedberg had a Brodeur-esque 16 saves in a 1-0 shutout of the Rangers.
In typical Devil hockey, it was painful to watch and stiflingly effective.
Sure there were no Daneykos, Stevens or Niedermayers out there for New Jersey but the 'new' NHL just brings the trapping defenders back a few feet. Seeing as the Rangers have plenty of trouble on their own making it to the blue line - much less getting over it - this game was a slam dunk for the Devs. Lemaire has a system that works and Tortorella has ... well, nothing. The clueless coach simply had no counter to the Hall of Famer, he just kept throwing the same ineffective guys over the boards again and again and again. Awful.
Some quick notes, as I'm hitting up the three outdoor games in Hartford tomorrow:
*The team needed to grind out a goal or two and yet their grinders - Boyle, Prust and Avery - all saw less than 15 minutes of ice time. Meanwhile Arty was pushed around all night - one time being the giveaway that resulted in the lone goal - and he played 19.
*Arty choked up the puck and it bounced right past Marc Staal, who was clearly playing on fumes after being ran ragged by the Kings on Thursday. Seeing as Torts either didn't see that or ignored it, it just proves that Sather needs to spend to bring in a veteran defender that the coach trusts to help eat up some ice time - you know Hobey and MDZ can't do it. Someone get Staal some fluids; he played a half hour against LA and another 28 minutes tonight and the Flyers are a day and a half away.
*If Christensen doesn't miss that mostly empty net in the first period, perhaps we would have seen a better game. But Mr. Softie blew it and we didn't. When you have him, Wolski, Arty and MZA all being tossed around, how do you not rely heavily on the tough guys? Mind boggling.
*Marian Gaborik vs. Ilya Kovalchuk ... one was dynamic and the other was Marian Gaborik.
*Poor Mike Sauer got called for the iffy penalty in the second period. Boyle didn't approve and bumped the rookie after the whistle. It was amusing but it did show that there is a leadership corps and accountability inside the room.
*Three hours before game-time, the cheapest seats for the game on StubHub were $92 a pop. The cheapest seat for Jersey's next home game, vs Tampa was $6. Their game against Ottawa on March 8th? $2.60. Yeah, so all of those morons who came out to yell 'Rangers Suck' aren't real fans.
*Dainius Zubrus seems to play his best hockey against the Rangers, doesn't he?
*PHW Three Stars
3-Henrik Lundqvist - 27 saves.
2-Johan Hedberg - 16 saves.
1-Ilya Kovalchuk - one goal.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Hank - The King came through again, giving the Rangers a chance to win despite being under siege for much of the night.
2-Kovy - No 100 million dollar jokes on this night, that's for sure. He kept his temper in check and was the all-world talent he could be.
1-Lemaire - He brought the system back and has the iron hand to make his players abide by it.