By Anthony Di Paolo
The Devils earned a much needed win on Saturday night, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-0. If there is anything that the Devils can count on, it is the fact that their seasoned veterans are leading the way.
Martin Brodeur was dominant, posting a 33 save shutout. Despite the absence of Steven Stamkos (broken tibia), the Lightning were able to generate plenty of scoring chances lead by Martin St. Louis and Nate Thompson. They were able to generate 14 shots on goal in the second period, with the best shot coming from Martin St. Louis just above the hash marks.
Brodeur flashed the leather like he has always done throughout his illustrious career. When asked about that second period, he stated, “Teams do that to us, and it’s nice to weather the storm a bit.”
The Devils then caught a break when Eric Gelinas made a long outlet pass to Damien Brunner, who went straight up the middle of the ice, going backhand-forehand on Lindback, giving them a 1-0 lead. That was his seventh of the season, and his third in as many games. Pete DeBoer mentioned on behalf of Brunner, “He looks like the player we saw at training camp. Moving his feet, attacking holes…defensively he’s been good, allowing him to play more, and it’s rewarding him on the score sheet.”
The big story, however, was the chemistry that Jaromir Jagr and Dainus Zubrus displayed in the third period, allowing the Devils to score twice in a span of 2:52. Zubrus scored both goals with Jagr getting the primary assists. The first goal started from a good forecheck, and ended with Jagr sneaking a pass from behind the net onto the stick of Zubrus for the easy tap-in. The second goal came off a rebound from a shot by Jagr, with Zubrus banking the puck off the pad of Lindback.
When asked about the chemistry between him and Jagr, he said, “We read off each other, and that’s a big part.” He also talked about their ability to play well on the forecheck together when they don’t have the puck. He said, “The first goal was a good example.”
While Brodeur, Zubrus, and Jagr took the game by storm, one player who may have been overlooked was Reid Boucher. Early in the game, he hit the post on a shot from the top of the circle. Although he did not register a shot on goal, he seemed confident with the puck and developed some good plays. On the defensive end, he broke up a dangerous pass similar to the way Crosby did on him the night before.
DeBoer was pleased with his performance, saying, “I like how he’s playing defensively, he’s making it easy for me to put him on the ice…Every night, he makes four or five plays that not a lot guys can make.” With that said, it will be interesting to see how much longer he will stay on the roster before being sent down to Albany.
This was the first of a three game home-stand, as the Devils faceoff against Ottawa on Wednesday, and will host the Ducks on Friday night. The Devils have been playing better at the Prudential Center, and if they win both games, they head into Washington with a .500 record.
Devils get a huge win, set focus on Ottawa next
By Anthony Di Paolo