Friday, December 07, 2007

Friday Roundup/Gamenight: Caps @ Devils

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Two players skate onto a rink. Player A has 3 goals, 12 assists, 8 PIMs, 78 shots on goal and a minus-1 rating on the year. Player B has 5 goals, 10 assists, 8 PIMs, 32 shots on goal and an even rating on the year. They've each played 27 games, their first 27 for new teams. If Player A is considered a disappointment who is not yet living up to the expectations that come with his $2.5 million per year, what would you call the $3.4 million per year Dainius Zubrus, err, Player B?

What would Zubie do? Apparently not all that much.

Despite a lack of production from their big free agent acquisition, the Devils are appropriately on fire, winning eight straight games and racing towards the top of the Atlantic Division after a dreadful (for them) start. How are they doing it? Goaltending (of course), but also strong special teams and an offense that's been rejuvenated by the return to the lineup of now-captain Jamie Langenbrunner (11 points in ten games). During the winning streak, the Devs are out-scoring opponents by two goals per game (3.5 to 1.5), have connected on 23.5% of their power plays and have killed off 90% of opponents' extra man advantages.

And then there's Zach Parise and his 32 points. Indulge me this moment to cry over spilled milk and what nearly might have been, would you? Thanks. Let's take a quick look back at the middle of the first round of the 2003 Entry Draft:

Each of the guys flanking Eric Fehr has 126 career points. Fehr? Three. Ouch.

Speaking of injuries, the Caps will play tonight without Chris Clark, Boyd Gordon and now Michael Nylander. That's the team's top right wing, top defensive forward (and faceoff guy) and top center. Sweet. Oh, and the three goals Alex Ovechkin has scored in his career against the Devils is the fewest he has potted against any Eastern Conference opponent other than Montreal (against whom he has scored twice; AO also has just three against Pitt and Boston).

All that said, it's time for Alex Semin to start filling the net. Having most of this week off, number twenty-eight has had a chance to both shake off the rust and get healthy. No excuses. Step it up. And bring Viktor Kozlov with you.

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

The organization's injury woes aren't limited to the NHL, as Chris Bourque is Hershey's latest injury (Josef Boumedienne, Dean Arsene and, of course, Fehr are already on the shelf), sidelined with "concussion-like symptoms." That's potentially worrisome for a guy who missed eight games in 2005-06 after suffering a concussion and being "unconscious for 45 seconds while he was carried off on a stretcher."... With the Caps likely to recall someone from Hershey today (could Ben Clymer return to D.C. or will the Motzko Motzko Man era resume?), the Bears have called up Owen Fussey (but hopefully not his acne) from ECHL Columbia.... The hockey world's most famous mullet will be in attendance for tonight's game.... Prior to tonight's game, the Devils will honor Scott Stevens' Hall of Fame induction. It's nice of them to wait until the Caps came to town to do so - or is it just being done now to rub it in our faces? Hmmm.... If you're dying to know what former Cap Yogi Svejkovsky's up to these days, click here....Finally, some Caps trivia: three players have scored 200 goals in a Caps jersey. The first two are easy (Peter Bondra and Mike Gartner). Name the third (hint #1: he scored his 200th for the Caps 14 years ago tonight; hint #2: it's not Svejkovsky). Click here for the answer.

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Nik Antropov (3G, including the game-winner, 3 SOG, 4 hits, 2 blocked shots)
  • Ross: Anze Kopitar (4 points)
  • Norris: Tom Preissing (2G, including the game-winner A)
  • Vezina: Johan Holmqvist (W, 23 saves on 24 shots against)
  • Richard: Nik Antropov (3G)
  • Calder: Kyle Chipchura (G, 2 SOG, 62% faceoffs won)
  • Aiken: Jocelyn Thibault (L, 4 goals allowed on 14 shots against in just one period of work)



1) Has to be the only team that sustains MORE injuries when they have a long lay-off. 5 days no games and they have more guys on hurt than before. Gabby must really have some tough practices.

Jan said...

Hey, J. -- Time for another Eric Fehr Update. Any news? Or better, any good news?


ted said...

Would it be poetic justice (in a warped way) if Melrose actually got mugged during his tour of Newark?

As for the injuries...time to see if our depth has improved from last year. Not that it would take much.

the deuce said...

I'm going to have to disagree with you on the first part of your post, J.P. I was no big Zubrus fan when he was here -- He was frustrating to watch around the net and would miss a lot of wide open chances AO set him up for. That being said, he was MUCH better than Kozlov at digging pucks out of the corners, MUCH stronger than Kozlov on the puck, MUCH better at faceoffs than Kozlov, and MUCH better defensively than Kozlov. Is he a million dollars a year better? I don't know. It's not my money. But I'd take Zubie over Kozlov anyday. Plus Kozlov sucks.


1) Zubrus- Absence makes the heart grow fonder. He's not worth the $$ either in DC or Newark.

jkrdevil said...

As a Devils fan who has seen both Kozlov and Zubrus on the team I would take Zubrus in a heart beat even for 1 million more. There is a big difference between the 2 Kozlov is one of the laziest players in the league and Zubrus is not. While Zubrus is a streaky scorer and doesn't always find the score sheet he is at least doing the little things like generating a forecheck and is responsible in his own end. Zubrus isn't an afraid player like Kozlov.

Zubrus hasn't put up the stats the Devils have liked but it hasn't reached the point that it got with Kozlov where he was basically a healthy scratch every game. Kozlov has a lot of talent but it seems he has no interest in applying it in the NHL.

b.orr4 said...

I'm not a big gambler but tonight's game is definitely one I would put some money on. You've got arguably the league's hottest team going against the league's weakest. As a result, the money line is huge. But this has all the making of a trap game for NJ. Just based on records, the Devils have to go into this game pretty confident. In fact, I'd say they've already put the two points in the bank and are looking forward to their game against the Rangers on Sunday. Seeing that the Caps are missing Nylander and Clark only makes them more over-confident. But the Caps have a bunch of intangibles going for them. They've got a new coach they're trying to impress, they've finally had a chance to learn his system (which the Devils haven't been able to pre-scout), they're well rested and, I believe, really confident that they're about to turn their season around. Frankly, I think this is one of those games where the Caps come out early and build a 2-3 goal lead and then coast home.

JP said...

Hey, look again guys - nowhere did I say that Kozlov is better than Zubie. He's not. All I said was that Zubrus is having a disappointing year so far. He is.

I agree with The Deuce that Zubie's much better in the corners, more responsible and protects the puck better (though I'd point out that Kozlov has the better faceoff percentage of the two in two of the past four seasons, including this one). I agree with jkrdevil that Kozlov looks disinterested far too often.

Both, in my book, are disappointing. At least Kozlov will be off the team (and books) quicker.

Shayne said...

Hey JP,

haven't checked in in a while, but I figured I would considering your boys are playing mine tonight.

I was surprised to see that Marty was going to get his 11th start in a row. no offense, but a last place team with a new coach and a number of injuries has weekes written all over it.

As for a trap game, the devils can't win them all, but with the devils playing solid hockey (& fresh off of their comeback from a 3 goal 1st period deficit on Wed), and the caps missing some key players, I just don't see it happening.

I'll be in section 227, row 6 wearing a white Maclean jersey if anyone wants to stop up and buy me a beer (JP will reimburse you, since he owes me one from last year when the devils finished higher than he caps).

JP said...

Good thing I didn't bet a beer for each point difference in the standings...