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  1. Don't forget to check out this article and the rest of the publications from Below the Goal Line! NHL Game Updates: Vegas Golden Knights @ Colorado Avalanche, With a win, the Golden Knights would capture a playoff berth. It was Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog who would deny them of that with his lone shootout goal. In a potential first round playoff match-up, Colorado was victorious in this one 2-1 (SO). Calgary Flames @ San Jose Sharks, The ice-cold Calgary Flames lose 5-1 to the red-hot San Jose Sharks. Evander Kane has 12 points in 12 games since joining the Sharks, who have now won seven in a row. Detroit Red Wings @ Toronto Maple Leafs, If you didn't see the magic of William Nylander and Auston Matthews, you should here. It was Nazem Kadri who scored at 12:34 of the third to provide the difference in a 4-3 win for the Leafs. Washington Capitals @ Montreal Canadiens, Caps center Nicklas Backstrom had four assists to help Washington to a 6-2 lead early in the third period. The Habs would get two back, but could not complete the comeback. Washington wins 6-4. Carolina Hurricanes @ Ottawa Senators, The problem for the 'Canes is the teams in front of them keep winning. Sitting nine points out of a playoff spot, they need to almost win out, and get a lot of help against the New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers. They took care of the first part of that formula by winning 5-2 tonight. Arizona Coyotes @ Florida Panthers, Devils fans were excited when the Coyotes jumped out to the 2-0 lead through two periods. Florida would roar back with four in the third to win 4-2. Florida still sits three points back of New Jersey (see below), but still hold two games in hand over the Devils. Chicago Blackhawks @ New York Islanders, The Islanders are officially eliminated from the playoff race thanks to a 3-1 loss to Chicago. All eyes turn to the John Tavares sweepstakes now. Buffalo Sabres @ New York Rangers, The Rangers win a game between two non-playoff teams 5-1. St. Louis Blues @ Columbus Blue Jackets, The Blues continue to push for the playoffs after playing some poor hockey near the trade deadline. I wrote the Blues off earlier, but Jake Allen has been solid since then, winning 2-1 again tonight. The Blues jump back into the final Wild Card spot in the West. Nashville Predators @ Minnesota Wild, The flat Predators have already secured a playoff spot. The Wild inch closer to doing the same with the 4-1 win. Los Angeles Kings @ Edmonton Oilers, Connor McDavid scored twice to improve to 96 points this season, taking over the scoring lead from Nikita Kucherov of the Lightning. His second of the game, the 38th of his campaign, pushed the Oilers over the Kings, who fell out of a Wild Card spot with the loss. Tampa Bay Lightning v New Jersey Devils: Assuming the New Jersey Devils get a little bit of help keeping the Florida Panthers down, this was a possible first-round playoff preview against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Devils sit in the final Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference, while the Lightning look like the top team in the East. Unfortunately for the Devils, they will need a little bit of help to stave off the Panthers, who sit three points behind for their playoff spot. Florida also has two games in hand over the Devils, so without any help, the Panthers could pass the Devils by simply winning those two extra games left to play. All the Devils can do is gather points for themselves. Lately, it has been goalie Keith Kinkaid that has been picking up the wins for New Jersey. He was excellent again in this one, stopping 35 of 36 shots. Kinkaid kept the Lightning off the board through the first two periods, but goals by rookie Nico Hischier and Kyle Palmieri propelled Kinkaid and the Devils to the 2-1 win. The Lightning, who have already clinched a playoff spot, played a decent game, but were unable to solve Kinkaid until it was too late. Tampa Bay has been criticized for their lack-luster play lately, were strong in this one. Devils rookie Nico Hischier gives New Jersey the lead in the first when he taps in a rebound of a shot from the point. Kyle Palmieri makes it 2-0 at 10:59 of the second when skates into the slot and fires a puck past the Lightning goaltender. Andrei Vasilevskiy is that Tampa Bay goaltender. He has had a strong year, leading the NHL in wins with 42. Vasilevskiy was strong in this game, turning aside 31 and keeping the Lightning in the game. It was Tampa's high-flying offense that failed to show up in this one. Although they had a lot of chances and shots, the Lightning could only muster one goal, an Ondrej Palat tally in the third period. The Devils, who have now won two in a row, pick up the two points from the visiting Lightning in this one. They are now just two points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the first Wild Card spot. Thanks for joining us. Please subscribe for email updates of future posts on the right side of the page (or after the entire article on your mobile devices). Don't forget to check us out on Twitter and Facebook!
  2. INSIDE EDGE HOCKEY NEWS – RADIO SHOW | EPISODE 7 Flames Fallout, New Taylor Hall, and Season Ticket Drives The Inside Edge Hockey News Brad Burud discusses the struggles this year in Calgary. Will the Flames make big off-season moves if they fail to make the playoffs. Why is Taylor Hall thriving in New Jersey? How would Regina do with a season ticket drive? PODCAST LISTEN
  3. PODCAST - THE INSTIGATOR - Episode 8 Alex Burrows of the Ottawa Senators jumped New Jersey Devils star forward Taylor Hall after Hall laid Burrows out with a legal check. While on top of Hall, Burrows proceeded to knee Hall in the head multiple times. It is another black eye on the league, and I am not sure why the league or its players put up with cowards like Burrows.
  4. The New Jersey Devils haven’t made the playoffs since the 2011-12 when they fell to the Los Angeles King in six games and there seems to be a simple reason for that. The Devils have been absent from the post-season the last two seasons and why is that, it could simply be because they no longer have star left winger Zach Parise. It’s hard to put so much on one player and of course one player doesn’t make a team, but you have to at least consider the numbers. Here is a list of the years when Parise played and how the Devils finished in the standings (The first number is how they finished in the NHL, the second is how they finished in the Eastern Conference: Year-----------------Place in the League------------Place in the Eastern Conference 2006-07----------------------7th --------------------------------------------2nd 2007-08 ----------------------6th --------------------------------------------4th 2008-09 ----------------------5th --------------------------------------------3rd 2009-10 ----------------------6th --------------------------------------------2nd 2010-11 ----------------------23rd -------------------------------------------11th 2011-12 -----------------------9th --------------------------------------------6th Since the 2011-12 season the Devils have finished 10th and 12th in the Eastern Conference without the Minneapolis, MN native. The success the team had with Parise in the lineup is kind of incredible, never finishing lower than sixth in the eastern conference. “Yea, but what about in 2010-11?” Well this is what makes the argument even more concrete; during the 2010-11 season Parise was limited to just 13 games after suffering a devastating knee injury. In that year Martin Brodeur also missed 13 games of the season with an injury, but in doing so Johan Hedberg filled in and he ultimately finished the season with a higher winning percentage, goals against average, and save percentage with half the amount of starts as Brodeur, who still started 59 times. So, once again the loss of Parise seems like the key factor. What has also plagued the Devils the last few years is that they have had one of the worst shootout records in the league. This season they are 1-4 in the skills competition, last season the Devils didn’t win a single shootout, and the year prior to that the team had a shootout winning percentage of 22 per cent. Once again, you can’t put that all on the shoulders of the 5-foot-11, 197 pounder, can you? Well Parise is currently tied for the most shootout goals since the shootout was introduced back in the 2004-05 season. Parise has taken the second most shootouts all-time only one behind Alex Ovechkin and Minnesota teammate Mikko Koivu with 85 attempts. The Devils all-time have the seventh most shootout wins and are tied for first with the most games in which they’ve gone to a shootout with 109. The Devils have a career winning percentage of 52 per cent. Since Parise has left, the Devils have a 3-24 record in the shootout, a winning percent of just 11.1 per cent. Prior to Parise leaving, the Devils were 45-25 in the post-overtime shenanigans (dating back to 2006-07, Parise’s first year with the Devils), a winning percentage of 64 per cent. In fact Parise actually has much worse shootout numbers since he left for the Wild. In three years with the Wild he has gone 8-for-22, a success rate of 36 per cent, while with the Devils he went 29-for-43, capitalizing on 67 per cent of his attempts. Then straight up Parise had 410 points in 502 games with New Jersey good enough for a very respectable 0.81 points per game. During his seven years with the team that drafted him in the first round in 2003, he recorded 51 powerplay goals was a plus-57, and the former team captain. He was twice named the team MVP and during his time also amassed 37 game-winning goals, speaking to just how important he was with the team. What really stings is knowing last year New Jersey missed the playoffs by just five points, giving up 13 points in the shootout while in 2012-13 they missed out by seven points; points that could have been attained if they had gone perfect in the shootout. Parise was always a big part of the Devils during his seven seasons with the team, but as the Devils sit 12th in the East one really starts to see just how important he really was. Follow me on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman
  5. Heading into next season there is a lot of things to be excited about. For one we will see a full 82 game schedule, we will see a new realignment and new playoff structure, and we will also a lot of teams that have had a face-lift. However, as Michael Jackson proved, getting a face-lift doesn't mean you’re going to look better. One example of this, this upcoming season will be the New Jersey Devils. Now for the Devils this face-lift is a couple years in the making. Ever since they fell to the L.A. Kings in the 2012 Stanley Cup finals they have lost big pieces of their team and unfortunately for them it doesn't look like they have been able to fill in these gaps. During the 2012 off-season the Devils lost captain and superstar Zach Parise to the Minnesota Wild and now this off-season with the abrupt loss of Russian sniper Ilya Kovalchuck the Devils are without their two top point producers from the 2012 season. The Devils have now also lost David Clarkson to free agency as he signed with the Maple Leafs, so the question is who will pick up the slack. The Devils did make some noise bringing in veteran and future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr, but Jagr has already made it public that this will likely be his last season in the NHL. So, will he have enough gas in the tank to fill the hole left by Kovalchuck? The Devils also brought in tough guy Ryan Clowe, likely in an effort to bring a player in who shared a similar style of play to that of Clarkson, while also adding Michael Ryder. Ryder came off as season where he put up great numbers at the beginning of the season playing in Dallas, but fell apart after being traded back to Montreal in exchange for Eric Cole. These names are all huge question marks and anything could go. Jagr, like Ryder, was putting up great numbers in Dallas, but after coming over to Boston seemed to disappear. Despite making it to the Cup Final with the Bruins, Jagr’s contributions were not a big reason for the team’s success. Jagr is in no doubt one of the most talented and offensively gifted players to ever play the game, but is at the end of his career so his level of production is not anything like it was in the past. To expect anything upwards of 50 points from the Czech winger might be a tall order for the 41 year old. However, although these signings do help the Devils the fact of the matter is that they do not replace what they lost. Kovalchuck is a former Rocket Richard winner and 50 goal scorer, something that Clowe and Ryder cannot provide. Then there is David Clarkson, who put up higher numbers than both Ryder and Clowe this past season as well. The Devils did bring back Patrick Elias, Danius Zubrus, and their best defenseman, Marek Zidlicky. The problem again is that Elias and Zubrus are on the back end of their careers and their best years are likely behind them so big things are likely not going to come from these two. Elias did lead the Devils with 36 points in 48 games last season which isn't awful, but it was only good enough for 45th most in the league. If the Devils want to achieve great success they are going to need someone to compete for league high numbers as after the few names mentioned above the Devils production falls drastically. The Devils biggest move however was probably the acquisition of goaltender Cory Schneider, which on the Devil’s end was a great pick up. This deal was a steal for the Devils, especially considering they only gave up their 1st round pick in this past draft (who turned out to be Bo Horvat). The thing is that goaltending was never the Devil’s problem as Brodeur, despite not putting up incredible stats, has been a rock for the team and Johan Hedberg has been arguably the best backup goalie in the league. The move to acquire Schneider was one obviously looking into the future, as it has become quite clear that Brodeur’s years in the NHL are coming to an end. Even with that said, unless Brodeur plays monumentally bad or gets hurt don’t expect the future Hall of Famer to spend his final years sitting on the bench, he’ll still be the teams go to guy between the pipes. The Devils do have some prospects that are starting to emerge such as Adam Henrique, Adam Larsson, and Ryan Carter. However, these young guns are still maturing and likely aren't ready to take the team by the reigns just yet. The Devils could very well surprise and make a push for a playoff position this year, but when it comes down to it, the team is stocked full of players who seem to be either past their prime or haven’t hit it yet which could be a huge problem for them. So, unless players such as Jagr, Elias, Clowe, and Ryder can bring back their glory days and the likes of Henrique and Larsson can show that they are ready to take their game to the next step the Devils might be in for a long season. Follow me on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman
  6. Usually when trades are made, each team tries to give the other team something of value – something they want – if only to be able to make a deal with that team again. But in reality, your team is trying to rob the other team blind — kind of like what happened to the Atlanta Thrashers when they traded the best player of their short-lived franchise’s life to New Jersey for a less-than stellar package of players and draft picks. Sure, draft picks can be very valuable, but they are only valuable if your team’s scouting staff does their homework and knows how to work the draft to get what their franchise needs. This is something that the Thrashers franchise rarely ever did, at least not enough to build a winning franchise. The argument can be made that even the player New Jersey selected with the draft pick they received in the deal (Jon Merrill) is already or will be better than the combination of all of the assets that the Thrashers received. In other words, Atlanta got fleeced in this deal! The deal: On February 4, 2010 Ilya Kovalchuk is traded from the Atlanta Thrashers with Anssi Salmela and a 2nd round pick in the 2010 draft (Jon Merrill) to the New Jersey Devils for Johnny Oduya, Nicklas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier, a 1st round pick in the 2010 draft (Kevin Hayes) and a 2nd round pick in the 2010 draft (Justin Holl). Since joining the Devils, Kovalchuk hasn’t reached elite sniper status like he did in Atlanta, but he has been very productive despite the perception of so-called experts in the industry and was a key cog (even with a wrecked back) in their run to the Finals last spring before the succumbed to the Los Angeles Kings. In 185 regular season games with New Jersey, he has put up 170 points (78 goals) and contributed 25 points (10 goals) in 28 playoff games. With Zach Parise’s summer departure, Kovalchuk is now the face of the franchise along with Martin Brodeur and Patrik Elias as the foundations. Despite what some may believe or tell you, Kovalchuk does make other players around him better. Look at the amount of money Marc Savard made after his stint in Atlanta alongside Kovy. Imagine what Adam Henrique’s career will become if he is centering Kovalchuk for the next 6-8 years, especially after Henrique came from out of nowhere last season and finished as a Calder Trophy finalist. Currently still enrolled at the University of Michigan, Merrill is projected to join the Devils organization in the next year or two and will be a building block on the blueline with Adam Larsson for years to come. Here’s what New Jersey’s top-6 defenseman could look in the not too distant future: Merrill, Larsson, Mark Fayne, Anton Volchenkov, Brandon Burlon and Alexander Urbom or Andy Greene. Anssi Salmela left the Devils organization after the 2010-11 season and is currently in the KHL with Omsk Avangard. For the Thrashers – or Winnipeg Jets as we now call them – I’m assuming that Patrice Cormier was the centerpiece of the deal for them and that they wouldn’t have made the deal without him included. To say Cormier has struggled since the deal went down would be an understatement; the 54th overall selection in the 2008 has only skated on NHL ice for 30 games – with a grand total of two points: one goal and one assist. He is currently with St. John’s in the AHL and at best would be a checking line center if he ever makes it back to the NHL. Johnny Oduya was a very serviceable defenseman with the Devils, and he has done the same things since departing New Jersey. He played a solid season and a half with Atlanta/Winnipeg and was dealt to Chicago at last year’s trade deadline. He wasn’t too shabby in the Windy City either, posting three points in six playoff games against Phoenix in first round for the ‘Hawks. Niclas Bergfors showed flashes of brilliance with the Devils, but far too often he vanished for weeks upon weeks without making a dent in the score sheet. He lasted a total of 79 games with Atlanta before the Thrashers traded him with Pat Rissmiller to the Florida Panthers for Radek Dvorak and a 5th round pick in the 2011 draft (Sean Kuraly). For the last two seasons he has continued to do not too much with Cherepovets Severstal in the KHL. The two picks Atlanta got in the Kovalchuk deal (Justin Holl & Kevin Hayes) were actually turned into some nice assets, well at least one nice one. The rights to Holl and Hayes were traded from Atlanta along with Marty Reasoner, Joey Crabb, and Jeremy Morin to Chicago for Brent Sopel, Ben Eager, Akim Aliu and Dustin Byfuglien. So to summarize, the Devils added Kovalchuk (the NHL’s leading goal scorer since 2002-03 with 377) and Merrill to their roster and the Jets/Thrashers added Cormier and Byfuglien. Sounds like a fair deal to me! Oh, and there’s also Kuraly who just started his first collegiate season at Miami University (Ohio); who knows, maybe he transforms from a nobody to a somebody. Dan Rice can be reached via Twitter: @DRdiabloTHW or via email: drdiablo321@yahoo.com Read More from Dan Rice Here Visit The Hockey Writers
  7. Tonight the Sabres will invade Newark trying to pick up a W on this awful road trip. I personally have turned my attention to watching prospects more instead of doing personal scouting of other teams potential trade bait. With the Sabres now being in 28th place in the NHL they are in line for a lottery pick. I have my eye on Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko. A top 3 pick could be just what the Sabres need. It also does not involve blowing up your team. However there's still 34 games left before we get to that point. So tonight the Sabres take their first steps towards the lottery. Some good news on the injury front came in today. Ehrhoff and Regher will return to the lineup resulting in big Joe Finley being sent to Rochester and Weber or Gragnani heading to the press box. I don't care which one of the Weber or Gragnani are pulled off the ice. As long as the one that isn't pulled right now is pulled when McNabb is ready to go after the break. Tyler Ennis will not play tonight, but will play in Montreal after the break. Gaustad is still out and will be back after the break as well. Thus resulting in a fully healthy team. Also resulting in probably zero more inspiration as long as #9, #21, and #22 are still wearing blue and gold. Ryan Miller will be in goal tonight. He took a shot to the collarbone today from Marc Andre Gragnani in the pre game skate. Ironic twist seeing that Gragnani never shoots in games, perhaps Miller wasn't expecting the shot as well. I don't even know what to say about this team that is interesting. Lets see how Ehrhoff is in his first game back I guess. Expected Lineup: Vanek-Hecht-Pominville Gerbe-Roy-Stafford Adam-Leino-Boyes McCormick-Ellis-Kaleta Myers-Sekera Ehrhoff-Regher Leopold-Weber Miller (Enroth) Prediction: Devils games are always sleepers. I expect no different here 2-1 NJ
  8. The Sabres and Devils meet tonight in Newark with 2 very imporant points on the line. The Sabres can pull into a tie of 7th and the Devils can pull away from 9 the spot a few points. NJ comes off a 4-2 loss to the Canes on Monday and the Sabres are coming off a 4-2 win against the Caps. NJ will get a boost tonight with the return of young D stud Adam Larsson. He missed the last two games after he returned to Sweeden to attend his grandmothers funeral. Former Sabre Henrik Tallinder will sit again tonight dealing with back spams. NJ will put future hall of famer Martin Broudeur in goal tonight and the Sabres will counter with Ryan Miller. Miller missed the last meeting between these two in Buffalo, the Devils chased Enroth in a 5-3 win. On the injury front for Buffalo the news continues to be good, Nathan Gerbe has been cleared for contact and I expect him to play either Friday or more likely Saturday. Tyler Ennis and Myers practiced today both of them look to target a return next week against the Oilers or in Raleigh. The Sabres are again in a big 9 game stretch starting tonight (@NJ @WAS vs OTT vs EDM @CAR vs WIN @TOR vs TOR @NYI). I expect the Sabres to be able to win most of those games anything other than 12-14 points in this stretch would be unacceptable. Baring any further injuries they should be healthy outside of Leino for these 9 games. No excuses. Expected Lineup: Vanek-Hecht-Pommer Boyes-Roy-Stafford Kassian-Gaustad-Kaleta Adam-Ellis-McCormick Ehrhoff-McNabb Regher-Sekera Leopold-Weber Miller (Enroth) Prediction- I anticipate a defensive lock down battle between these two teams. Can't say this often this season, but the Sabres defense has looked better as of late. 3-2 Sabres

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