Brodeur Tries To Stop The Devils Bleeding

New Jersey Devils Slumping

Neil Becker

29sports.com

No one is pushing the panic button in New Jersey as the Devils have unexpectantly slumped in losing four straight games. 

The Devils have gone into an offensive funk of late as they have scored only six goals during this current skid which includes a 2-1 setback to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday which snapped their franchise best 11 connsecutive game winning streak.  

Future Hall of fame netminder Martin Brodeur will be in net on Monday night when the Devils play the new York Rangers at Madison Square Gardens. Brodeur who became the all- time winningest goalie on March 17 has struggled with a 1-3-1 record and a very average 3.22 GAA since obtaining the record.

Even though the Devils have clinched a post season birth there has to be some concern in the organization as they have recently been passed by the Washington Capitals for second spot in the ultra competitve Eastern Conference. 

The last time New Jersey dropped four in a row was back in November when Brodeur was sidelined with major elbow surgery.

Meanwhile New York continues to be life and death just to make the playoffs. They have currently lost two straight on the road and three of their past four as they sit in seventh spot just one point ahead of Montreal. The good news for tonight is that the Rangers have recently dominated at home in winning five of their past six games. Overall they have a 23-11-4 record at Madison Square Gardens.

Tonight will also be the first encounter of Rangers super pest Sean Avery and Brodeur since they made headlines last spring in the playoffs. At that time Avery who started the season with the Dallas Stars stood in the Devils crease with is back to the action and tried to break Brodeur’s concentration by waiving his hands in the goalies face.

Senators Playoff Hopes Not Looking Good

Senators In Tampa Bay

Neil Becker

29sports.com

Any faint aspirations of  playoff hockey in Ottawa next month took a major blow on Saturday night when the Senators who are left with no margin of error lost 6-3 to the Atlanta Thrashers.

Having made the post season for 11 straight seasons, the Senators who were in the Stanley Cup finals two years ago have an impressive 15-5-2 record from February 7-March 22, but they have not been able to overcome what was a horrible first few months.

Riding high on a five game winning streak, the Senators who were talking about the possibility of still sneaking into the playoffs lost that swagger when they dropped their contest in Carolina against the Hurricanes on Wednesday. Ottawa who have to virtually run the table by winning their remaining games to entertain any thoughts of post season play followed up the Hurricanes game with a flat 6-3 Saturday night loss against the Thrashers.

“We played a decent first period, made good goals,” Spezza who scored twice against Atlanta said. “We had a horrible second period, and they just outplayed us after that.” 

Heading into Sunday nights game Ottawa is still alive but barely as they are a whopping 12 points out of a playoff spot with only 8 games remaining.

One area that has killed Ottawa this season is their road record which is a disappointing 12-20-4 with one game against the Eastern Conference leading Boston Bruins remaining on their current six game road trip.  If there is any ray of hope heading into Tampa Bay it’s that the Senators have taken two out of three games against them this season.

The Lightning who have been eliminated from the playoff picture have lost six of their past seven home games.

Joey MacDonald Shines Against Red Wings

Joey MacDonald Beats The Red Wings

Neil Becker

29sports.com

Without question New York Islanders Joey MacDonalds stellar performance against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Friday night was the feel good story around the NHL.

This 29 year-old who ironically enough played his first NHL game wth the Detroit Red Wings made his 62nd NHL start something to remember as he turned aside 42 shots in what was a 2-0 win against Detroit.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said MacDonald who last played on March 10. “No better thing than to get your first shutout in the building of the team you used to play for.”

Coming into Detroit with the worst record in the league, the Islanders snapped an ugly three game losing streak as they got goals from Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey in a game that was really all about MacDonald.  What made this shutout so special was that MacDonald who was especially busy in the second and third periods became the first goalie in Islanders club history to record a shutout in Detroit since hall of famer Billy Smith on January 22, 1981.

“That was one of the best games by a goalie I’ve ever seen,” Bailey said. “He won the game for us.”

Columbus Makes A Bold Statement Against Calgary

Columbus Blue Jackets Beat Flames

Neil Becker

29sports.com

In what is looking more and more to be a potential first round matchup the Columbus Blue Jackets showed the Calgary Flames on Thursday night that they are indeed a team to be taken seriously.

On the verge of participating in post season play for the first time in franchise history, Columbus who currently occupy sixth spot with 85 points in the Western Conference were led by rookie goaltender Steve Mason who recorded his league leading 10th shutout.

“We have a pretty good idea that if we’re in the playoffs this is a team we could be playing, so we wanted to have a good effort,” said Mason who made 33 saves. “We definitely came forward with it that’s for sure.”

Leading the way for Columbus on this evening was Rick Nash who had a career night with four assists and Kristian Huselius who used to be a Calgary Flame also had four assists in what was a fight filled 5-0 Blue Jackets victory.

“It shows what we have to do to beat a team like that,” Nash said. “They’re obviously a great team. We know they didn’t play their best, but I thought we had a great game and we played our best.”

Playing in the Blue Jackets favour was the fact that the Flames played the night before in Pittsburgh where they lost 2-0. The Flames have now lost two in a row but according to coach Mike Keenan no one is pushing the panic button.

“We showed some elements of frustration and lack of discipline in certain areas, particularly when it wasn’t going our way,” Keenan said.

Calgary who are still in great shape with 90 points and third in the West came out flat and quickly found themselves trailing 4-0 in the second period. Columbus who are peaking at the right time with a record of 7-1-1 in their past nine games got goals from Manny Malhotra, Jason Williams, Raffi Torres and R.J. Umberger and managed to chase Flames starting goalie Mikka Kiprusoff to the bench.

“They were good,” Calgary captain Jarome Iginla said. “Husselius had a great game and so did Nash. Their line was controlling things all night, creating momentum for them. They were good and our game isn’t where it needs to be right now.”

Boudreau Shows Frustration Towards Media

Boudreau Getting Sick Of Talk Surrounding Ovechkin’s Goal Celebration

Neil Becker

29sports.com

Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau couldn’t hide his frustration when asked  about whether he was worried about the Tampa Bay Lightning planning retribution in Friday nights game against Washington star Alex Ovechkin.

A week ago in Tampa, Ovechkin who is known for his high energy  angered Lightning coach Rick Tocchet along with several of his players after they all thought he went over the line in showing disrespect while celebrating his 50th goal.  At the time Boudreau who said that he would have a heart to heart talk with his star, expressed his opinion in so many words to the media that the incident is over and that it’s time to move on.

“You guys coming from Toronto to find out an answer on retribution where there should be no retribution at all,” said Boudreau. “He scored his 50th goal in a zero-zero game. It wasn’t 8-0 where he made a mockery. If Tampa scores a couple of goals and wants to do a celebration, got for it. We have talked to everybody we can talk about. It’s a done deal as far as I’m concerned.”

Ovechkin who on Tuesday showed frsutration when a reporter asked him  about his controversial goal celebration expressed his opinion that he isn’t worried about any retribution but that he will be ready if anything happens.

“If somebody wants to hit me, with pleasure, I’m always ready,” Ovechkin whose Capitals are in great shape to win their second Southeast title said. “I don’t care what’s going to happen. I’m ready for everything. I think it’s going to be a normal hockey game.”

Even Tocchet has softened his stance since coming down on Ovechkin after his little celebration.

“It’s kind of blown out of proportion,” Tocchet said. “The only thing I was upset about was that he did it by our crease, in front of the goalie.”

Even though Ovechkin and Boudreau think it was overblown and that it’s in the past, this wil still be a much anticipated Friday night game.

“Washington’s got our number and we’ve got to see if we can win a game,” said Tocchet. “They’ve spanked us pretty good this year.”

Carey Price Stands Out In Canadiens Win

Carey Price Has Solid Game Against Thrashers

Neil Becker

29sports.com

 Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price was his typical modest self on Tuesday night after  he played his best game since January in backstopping his team team to a much needed 6-3 victory against the Atlanta Thrashers.  

A huge concern in Montreal ever since they started their rapid decent in late January has been the  play of their 21 year-old starting goalie Price who has struggled badly since returning from an ankle injury. Price who enjoyed a solid rookie last year that saw him win 24 games, raised some recent concerns after allowing 3 or more goals in 15 of his last 19 games. The million dollar question in Montreal was whether Price should sit on the bench for awhile or perhaps go down to the American Hockey League and get his confidence back with the Bulldogs.

With Montreal barely holding onto the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and very much needing a win in Tuesday’s game against the Thrashers, coach and general manager Bob Gainey decided to give Price the start and it turned out to be the right decision.

“He made good saves for us in the first half of the game when the score was within a goal,” said Gainey about Price who turned aside nine of 10 first period shots. “I just felt he looked calmer, he looked more like he was going to play his game.”

Price got a standing ovation in the second period when with his team leading 3-2, he made a game saving glove save on the Thrashers most dangerous sniper Ilya Kovalchuk.

“I just closed my eyes and it went in my glove,” said Price. “I carried on from there.”

Canadiens veteran captain Saku Koivu who had a goal in this game pin- pointed that save as the turning point for Montreal who exploded for three goals in the game’s second half to pull away with the crucial victory.

“Throughout the game there are a lot of plays you can look at as a turning point, either a big hit or a block shot or the goalie makes a big save this that one,” Koivu said. “Instead of giving the momentun to their team he kept it on our side and gave us a second chance to take that two-goal lead.”

There is no dount that Price will be abck in net on Thursday when the Canadiens host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Gerber Earns Himself A Three Game Suspension

Gerber Suspended

Neil Becker

29sports.com

Don’t tell newly acquired Toronto Maple Leafs goaltener Martin Gerber that these last eight games are meaningless for the rebuilding Toronto Maple Leafs.

Gerber who was claimed by the Leafs off waivers back on March 4 has for the most part been solid for a team that is currently rebuilding and will miss the playoffs. Even though there isn’t much to play for at this point, that didn’t stop Gerber from losing his temper and getting thrown out of Tuesday nights game after the Washington Capitals tied the game with less than a minute left in regulation.

The usually mild mannered Gerber who has put together an impressive 4-3 record with a 2.89 GAA since coming to Toronto lost it when Caps forward Brooks Laich pushed the goalie into the net along with the puck. Whe referee Mike Leggo allowed the tying goal to stand Gerber sprinted towards Leggo and bumped him. After arguing Gerber shot the puck towards him.

“I’m sorry for me, for losing my cool there,” said Gerber. “I got shoved in the net. That’s why (the puck) went it. I was upset, shot the puck against the boards and after that he tossed me out for I don’t know what. I shouldn’t have done it. That’s obvious. But there’s not much you can do now.”

In making contact with an official, Gerber broke rule 41 that states any player will be given a three game suspension for making contact with an official.

Replacing Gerber was backup Curtis Joseph who stoned the Capitals during overtime and the shootout in what was a 3-2 Leafs victory.