Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the New York Times,
The Devils played their first three home playoff games before a total of nearly 6,300 empty seats, but goaltender Martin Brodeur could have sworn Continental Arena was packed to the rafters.
“I think the towels made it,” Brodeur said with a smile Tuesday, referring to the white towels given to fans to spin over their heads in the playoffs. “It fills up the empty seats.”...
The Devils, who open their second-round series at home Thursday night against Ottawa, have yet to sell out this season at 19,040-seat Continental Arena — a 26-year-old building with the all the charm of a warehouse. The Devils say they play hard no matter what, but the empty seats start conversations.
“It’s brought up,” center Scott Gomez said. “It’s something that’s definitely noticed. How can you not notice it?”
from the AP via the Akron Beacon Journal,
The New Jersey Devils apparently are getting rugged defenseman Colin White back for the second round of the playoffs against the Ottawa Senators.
The concern now is Devils captain Patrik Elias.
Elias missed his second straight practice with a cold on Wednesday, sparking concern that the left wing on the Devils’ top line might not be available for Game 1 at the Continental Airlines Arena on Thursday night.
from the NY Post,
“We’ve been through all situations and we’ve had success both ways and had disappointments both ways,” the coach/GM said after practice yesterday, when the Devils prepared for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals tomorrow against Ottawa at the Meadowlands. “To say there’s a formula [for success isn’t true].”
He acknowledged, “This is the best for us. This is a better set of circumstances.”
His players agreed. They believe the difficulty they had dispatching seventh-seeded Tampa Bay in six games bodes well for their postseason future.
A year ago, after overwhelming the Rangers in a four-game sweep, the Devils dropped their second-round series with Carolina in five games.
Lou Lamoriello and Zach Parise took part in an NHL tele-conference today-
Q. Lou, looking at the Ottawa Senators, obviously they’re a very different team from the Lightning. What do you see that you’re going to need to do differently as a team in order to succeed in this series?
LOU LAMORIELLO: There’s no question they’re a different team. They’re a deep team. They skate four lines, six defensemen. We’ll get more of our players certainly involved. As you know, the Tampa series, their bench is a lot shorter because of the matching that we do, and we are a matching team. So we see a lot of different players getting more ice time.
from the NY Post,
“I’m sure the Senators feel this is their year. Every year I’ve been in this league, they’ve been right there,” John Madden said after the Devils advanced to the second round with their 3-2 Game 6 victory over the Lightning here yesterday.
“Their depth is going to be a big challenge,” Martin Brodeur said after becoming the second-winningest goalie in NHL history with his 93rd victory.
The Devils, however, showed that they’ll present the old tenacity that is their trademark, the spirit of the bulldog that should be their alternate emblem.
The Hockey News comments on yesterday’s action…
•I’d imagine the Lightning’s loss will mean one of their big three (Richards, Martin St-Louis, Vincent Lecavalier) will be on the move this summer. Tampa GM Jay Feaster can’t go into the 2007-08 season so top-heavy in payroll and he needs to improve his defense.
•I don’t buy the theory that older teams tend to wear down during overtime or late in a series. The Red Wings looked young and strong throughout the overtime of Game 6, the seventh-plus period of hockey they played in about 33 hours. A younger Calgary team looked wasted at times. Durability is all about conditioning and drive, not age.
from the Tampa Tribune,
We knew at some point in the series that [Brodeur] was going to stand on his head and he played very well,” Lightning captain Tim Taylor said. “That’s why he is who he is.”
And on this night, Brodeur had to be the Brodeur the Devils have relied upon so many times in the past. The Lightning showed no effects of an emotional overtime loss two nights earlier and showed up to play.
Tampa Bay was the better team on the ice for most of the game, limiting the Devils to 14 shots, a franchise record low allowed by Tampa Bay in a playoff game and a New Jersey record for fewest shots at home in a postseason game….
Lightning coach John Tortorella said he liked they way his team played, but failed to elaborate on his point. When pushed on the issue, he traded expletives with a reporter from the New York Post while being broadcast live on Canadian television station CBC.
added 3:43pm, To see the Tortorella interview, go here...
from Karen Crouse of the New York Times,
Lecavalier, who usually plays alongside Martin St. Louis, another scary scoring threat, has four of the Lightning’s nine goals and 15 of its 70 shots. He is hard to knock off the puck and even harder to read when he has the room to pass or shoot.
“I think he’s getting different looks that I’m not really used to,” Brodeur said. “I think he comes in and he’s looking at you, picking corners. That makes it a little harder for me to be aggressive. I don’t know what he’s doing.”
“Vinny’s one of the best,” Brodeur said, “so I’ve got to stay back and be patient.”
from the NY Post,
The Devils sought him in 2001, stifled him in 2003, and sweat him now. Shutting down Vincent Lecavalier is their first task in the first round.
“He’s got everything,” Martin Brodeur said. “He has the size and he doesn’t shy away from anything. He has the green light to try anything he wants.
“We’re going to have to play him hard and get him off his game. We can’t give him space or let him skate. We have to make him start and stop all game long, get him as tired as we can. We can’t let them swing, because it plays into their game.”
from David Kolb of MSG Network,
Pitted against the #7 Tampa Bay Lightning, the #2 Devils appear to be the overwhelming favorites.
The Bolts have had serious goaltending issues all year. Season-long toggling between Johan Holmqvist and Marc Denis has yet to yield a true #1 net-minder.
Despite the lopsided edge the Devils own in net, the Lightning could be an extremely dangerous club, and a stiff challenge in the postseason’s first round.
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