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Crusin' on the Island

The scoreboard said it was 3-1 for the Devils and the shot totals ended up 36-33 for the Devils, but anyone who saw the game would tell you that this game had one team play well in it for a majority of the time.  For a different perspective, IPB covered the game as well and repeat their dislikement of Bobby Holik, Scott Clemmensen, and Brendan Shanahan.  But they, like all Devils fans probably did, rather enjoyed tonight's performance.

And why not? For the first two periods of the game, the Devils spent much of the time pinning the Islanders back in their own end.  Even when killing the game's first penalty, Zach Parise found it fit to strike hard on the forecheck, picking the puck away from Yann Danis behind the net.  Danis stretched out to deny Parise his wraparound goal; only for the puck to fall to flying Travis Zajac, who potted in the game's first goal.  A very bizarre shorthanded attempt.  And the Devils would go on to nearly spring John Madden on a breakaway right after the kill.  What's more, during a later penalty kill of a Zubrus' hold, the Devils were able to put even more shots on net than the Islanders' power play!

From then on, the momentum was all on New Jersey's side until the third period.  Shift after shift of offense.  The Islanders would put shots on Clemmensen, but not many of them were what you'd call scoring chances.  Most of what the home team could do was to intervene in the last second or hope the Devils would have some bad luck on the ice. Between the two, it's the only way one could explain that the first period ended 1-0 and the second ended 3-0.   Either way, the first period alone showed a more fluid, more dangerous attack than what the Devils did in the entire game against Columbus!

In that second period, Zach Parise put home a rebound on the Devils' only power play of the night; the rebound coming from a Jamie Langenbrunner shot that capped a very good flowing move.  I will now dub his goals as the result of the Parise Goal Scoring Machine.  Crashing the net, putting home rebounds, following up on loose pucks, taking blazing shots, shootouts, Zach just does them all!  And now he's the fourth leading goal scorer in the league.  David Clarkson (a.k.a. Randy McKay Ver. 2.0) added to the total with a blazing shot from the sideboards.  But again, were the Islanders' defense not as fortunate as they were, the Devils could have made it a much more embarrassing score!   I mean, the possession and the way the Devils just kept swarming into the Islanders' zone was so often, I can't even remember the last time the Devils were this dominant on the puck.

In the third period, the game became more interesting in that the Islanders decided to show up and play a little hockey.  Sad to say, the Devils definitely slowed down in this period.  Not that they took the period off, but they weren't as dominating on the puck.  The Islanders were able to pull off some more dangerous shots and finally got a break.  Radek Martinek's shot was blocked by Clemmensen's leg, but because the shot was so hard and the leg pad was angled as such, it went right to Clemmensen's right.  Blake Comeau was right there and poor Clemmensen had no chance. No shutout for him, but he had a solid outing tonight.  Nevertheless, the Islanders never really built on that Comeau goal and so the game ended as such.

Speaking of solid outings, Travis Zajac was getting things done in both ends. His backchecking was purposeful and his advances on offense were fruitful. While a lot of the forwards performed much better tonight than they did in Columbus, Zajac, I felt, was the best one on the ice. The Devils broadcast noted that he has as many goals now as he did all of last season - 14.  If that isn't a sign of his progression, I don't know what is.  And the scary thing is, he could have had more with a little more luck and a little less stickchecking by an Islander.  As an aside, as I'm looking at the stat sheet, here's a fun little surprise: Bobby Holik with 11:12 of ice time and four shots on goal.  Pretty good for fourth line duty!  A good indicator of how the attack was doing across all lines, I'd say.

As far as a not so fun little surprise go, the Devils officially got out hit 31 to 8.  I'm skeptical of that if only because the Devils were able to keep a lot of their possession by hitting an Islander to ensure the puck doesn't go past him or leaving it open for a Devil to take it. 

Ah, well, the score is the most important stat anyhow. I would have liked the Devils to have been a little more lethal with their finishing, but there's not a whole lot to complain about.  They fly into Long Island after a tough, physical game with Columbus, and they came out with a mostly dominating effort.  Not for all 60 minutes and not to keep the Islanders from shooting a whole lot, but I think it's clear from those who saw the game in motion.  OK, it helped that the Islanders played nonthreatning hockey for the first forty minutes.  Regardless, the Devils took advantage of that - considering how they did against the last statistically awful defending team they played, that's pretty good.   My concerns were for naught, and the Devils cruise to a win.