Four of the six goals the New Jersey Devils scored this afternoon were on the power play. This is the second time this season where the Devils put up four with a man advantage. The first time was necessary as the Devils needed to come back to take a win from Boston. Today, it was simply to punish the New York Islanders. The Isles played feisty and fell into undisciplined play over and over. By the game's end, they took 14 total penalties. The Devils made them pay. They went four-for-eight with a man advantage in a 6-1 blowout.
Like most blow outs, it was fun for the team piling up the goals. Scoring by it's nature is usually exciting. It does feel a bit strange to witness the Devils - one of the least prolific scoring teams in the league - light the lamp eleven times in two games. They just didn't keep scoring goals, but they kept swarming the Islanders throughout the second and third periods. The official box score has the shots favoring the Devils at 11-3 and 16-6, in those respective periods. It felt a lot more lopsided than that. Of course, conceding five power plays will make it seem that way. Overall, great job by the Devils for not letting up and giving the Isles a chance to get back in the game.
Believe it or not, this was actually a competitive game in the first period. Adam Henrique scored off a scramble in front five minutes into the game - the first of four power play goals - but the Isles looked like they were ready to equalize as the period went on. The Devils were disorganized on defense. They conceded a few odd-man rushes due to players getting caught in bad positions. Cal Clutterbuck had a shorthanded chance. As two Devils converged on the puck carrier, the Islander left open nearly got the puck a few times. It was loose hockey, to summarize it in a phrase. Martin Brodeur had to be very good in the first period and he was. At 1-0, the Isles were playing like a team down 1-0. They were pushing the game, they picked their spots (namely, the Devils' fourth line), and they didn't back down.
However, the game simply got away from them in the second. Jaromir Jagr became the latest 700th goal scorer in NHL history when he powered into the slot and had a low shot re-directed in off a skate. Ten seconds after Colin McDonald went to the box for roughing, Ryane Clowe slammed in a feed from Henrique to the top-left corner. The Isles had a little life when Kyle Okposo re-directed a re-directed shot past Brodeur. But that "shot" at 6:14, it would be the Isles' last for the period until 11:58 when Clutterbuck put one on target. That one was the Isles' third and final one for the period. Between that, Mike Halmo got two for interference when he slashed a stick out of Jacob Josefson's hands and Marek Zidlicky rocketed a great pass by Jagr through Nabokov for the team's third power play goal. Minutes after Clutterbuck's shot, Andrei Loktionov laid off a puck perfectly for Mark Fayne to slam a slap shot from distance past Nabokov. The Devils simply dominated. Okposo's deflection goal was just a bump in the road for the bulldozer the Devils' drove.
Anders Nilsson replaced Nabokov in net, but the Devils kept swarming. The Isles technically got six shots on net, but none really jump out as really difficult ones for Brodeur to stop. The neutral zone was still open for the Devils. Travis Hamonic spent more time being mad at the Devils than doing anything on defense. The other defenders were there just to be there. There could have been many more goals. The Isles handed them further opportunities to do so. Hamonic tried to fight Ryan Carter only without any response; handing the Devils a rare 7 minute power play to close out the third. As if you needed further evidence the game was just being played out, Eric Boulton was a part of that penalty kill. He got tagged for a cross-check, so the game would close out 5-on-3 if the Devils didn't score. The Devils did thanks to Eric Gelinas unleashing The Truth. Outside of Hamonic's madness, the third seemed quiet except for all of those times Nilsson had to make some tough stops. Again, 16 shots by the Devils.
Like Thursday's win over Columbus, the Devils faithful got to enjoy the end of the game feeling fully confident that the Devils would get the win. For a second straight game, there are a lot of positives and very little to really be concerned about. Will the good times keep on rolling? The Devils will play San Jose tomorrow and then Detroit home-and-away around the trade deadline. So I wouldn't expect the the Devils to put up 3+ goals on 30+ shots so easily. I certainly would not expect the power play to be so hot against some stronger defensive teams. For today, we can enjoy the brilliance and praise the power play properly punishing a team for a change.
The Opposition Opinion: Dominik has this recap about what happened from the Isles perspective at Lighthouse Hockey.
The Game Highlights: Six goals! Including a historic one for Jagr! You better believe you should watch this highlight video from NHL.com.
700: Jagr's 700th regular season goal turned out to be the game winner. It gave the Devils breathing room at the time. It held up as the difference maker. Because it's such a rare milestone moment to witness - Jagr's only the
eighth seventh player to do it - it deserves a goal breakdown. I will put one up on Monday.
Oh, and Jagr tied Marcel Dionne in all-time regular season assists. His awesome cross-ice feed to Zidlicky for his power play goal was his 1,040th career assist. If you must know, Jagr was excellent as usual with four shots out of six attempts and strong in possession. Congratulations to the legendary winger for hitting both marks in a winning effort.
Dominance in Possession: If you really want the territorial story of the game, then check out the Fenwick graph in the Extra Skater game stats. Over all situations, the Devils out-attempted the Isles 60-40. In 5-on-5 play, the Devils were up 39-28. This is just further evidence of a rout. Normally, a team down a few goals will out-attempt their opposition. They have a score to make up. When they aren't able to do so, then the leading team is usually holding it down well. The Devils obviously took it a step further: they added to their lead.
Further Evidence of Dominance: The Devils out-shot the Isles 22-12 at evens and 12-4 on power plays. They only got out shot 1-3 shorthanded. Mind you, the Isles had three power plays of their own. I'm still grinning about this as I type this.
Killing It: Take a bow, Michael Ryder, Ryane Clowe, and Andrei Loktionov. These three were dynamite this afternoon. In 5-on-5 play, they were on the ice for only one shot against. Together, they were on the ice for at least ten. In all situations, they combined for nine shots with six by Ryder. The trio made their mark on the scoresheet. Clowe had a PPG; Ryder had a hand in Henrique's goal (and if Henrique didn't hit the camera with his shot, Ryder put the puck into the net); and Loktionov directly set up Fayne's goal. The only real errors by them were the one puck Ryder mishandled at the point that led to a Clutterbuck shorthanded breakaway and a delay of game call taken by Loktionov. Those can be overlooked because this line was absolutely a joy to watch today. The Isles had no answer for them. None.
Killed: On the small list of "What Didn't Go Well for New Jersey" today, the fourth line got hammered in the first period. Stephen Gionta, Jacob Josefson, and Ryan Carter struggled a lot against the depth of the Isles' roster. Todd Cordell actually had their counts after the first: Gionta and Josefson were each at at 1-8, Carter at 0-7. At least Josefson got tripped up by Casey Cizikas, which resulted in Henrique's goal. The trio did a little better as the game went on. Josefson drew another call that led to a PPG and had a shot on net. All three were effective on the PK. But they still finished well below 50% in terms of attempts thanks to that miserable first period. They were not good.
Hamonic Mad: Anyone know why Travis Hamonic was mad? Why did he go after Carter? The broadcast showed that Carter hit Andrew MacDonald, which didn't appear to be all that foul. Certainly not enough to go after the guy as he was about to go onto his own bench. Again, he got 27 minutes for his actions and perhaps further discipline. Good job.
Zidlicky Rad: Among the Devils defenders, I was real impressed by Zidlicky today. While he had his usual issues with positioning in the first period, he was a force going forward. He put up five shots on net out of nine total attempts, he helped drive a lot of play forward, and he managed not to take a penalty in a game filled with them. His power play goal was also crucial as it completely undercut any faint hopes of an Isles comeback after Okposo's goal. He did quite well and I'd be interested to see his passing counts by Ryan.
The Truth Unleashed: While it was a consolation goal, it was great to see Gelinas blast a puck in. I liked him better today than on Thursday even if possession wasn't as favorable. Gelinas was actually making good passes on offense. He had two shots compared to one. He picked up a secondary assist on Clowe's power play goal. He even gave someone a souvenir by accident when part of his stick sailed into the crowd after a shot attempt in the dying minutes of the game. he only real criticism I have of him was how he backed off from Okposo, which helped lead to that one goal against.
How'd Bernier Do: I felt Steve Bernier was just OK. He's clearly not a long-term fit alongside Henrique and Patrik Elias. He did come close to scoring again and had three shots, so there's that.
Last Start?: If this was Martin Brodeur's last game as a New Jersey Devil, then he picked a fine way to end it. He had a very good game in net. He made several important stops in the first period. The one shot that got through him was a deflection by an uncovered Okposo right in front of the goalie. (Ask Eric Gelinas why he was uncovered, by the by.) He nearly had a Hedberg moment or two but it happened when the Isles couldn't keep the puck on their sticks for more than a second at a time, it seemed. I was concerned at how he would perform given he hasn't played since he got wrecked by Our Hated Rivals at Yankee Stadium and that he has awful numbers over his whole season. Today, he put my concerns to rest. I thank him for that.
I still think he doesn't go anywhere.
P.S. Can We Play You Every Shift?: I love Andrew MacDonald on the other team. I loved him playing 19:30 today. Garth Snow, if you deal him, then please keep him within the division. Thanks.
Your Take: The Devils blew out the Islanders with the power play performing out of their mind. Which of the goals were your favorite? Who impressed you the most? Who could have done better? Can the Devils' offense keep producing like this? Well, we probably know the answer to that. But isn't this so much better than close games, hoping one bounce doesn't change the result? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this win in the comments.
Thanks to everyone who commented in the Gamethread and followed @InLouWeTrust on Twitter. Thank you for reading.