Handsome Devils

Ahead of Thursday’s road game with the Yotes,  Brian gets us up to speed. And he knows his team. We’re starting to wonder if he works, let alone leaves the house. We think he just sits in front of several flat screens, mainlining CenterIce and MSG, and that his interview with Ken Daneyko, was just a ruse. Brian is bent on replacing Mr. Devil.

“Yes.” “Exactly.” “More of that please.”  These are things Coach Pete DeBoer likely said during and after the Devils’ impressive 3-0 win in Los Angeles Tuesday night.

DeBoer did some line juggling in advance of this game and, despite only getting goals from one line, all four lines played very well in shutting out the Kings.   The Devils were outshot in the game (31-23), but had more than twice the scoring chances (SBNation has it at 17-7).

Zach Parise

This is the kind of sixty-minute effort that was lacking in the early going last season (really, all of last season). 

There were never more than two or three shifts in a row where the Devils were outplayed or outworked.  They had their forecheck going for a good portion of the night, creating second chances for each other and disrupting the Kings’ ability to get their offense started. 

Sure, they didn’t score, but the Parise-centering-Kovalchuk experiment looked very good last night.  They had lots of chances, lots of quality passing between the two and Parise more than held his own on faceoffs.

Given that, something has to be done about Palmieri.  His play was bad enough when he was wasting the services of one of the two best players on the team. 

Now that Parise’s been added to the line, he’s dragging down both of the Devils’ best players (and probably two of the top fifteen forwards in the league). 

His hands are awful; he consistently loses possession when the puck is passed to him.  It’s disturbing to see a team start the cycle so well, only to have Palmieri fail to keep it going. 

He’s not an intimidating presence, and it’s not as though Kovy or Parise are the types to be pushed around on the ice and require a large body with them anyway.  I’m loathe to move Zubrus away from Elias, but maybe move somebody like Tedenby up? 

Mattias Tedenby

Tedenby has proven he’s capable of working in traffic, and he’s definitely fast enough to keep up with the other two.  We shall see. 

I expect something to change on that line soon, and I’m trusting DeBoer will do the right thing.  He hasn’t let me down yet.
Moose Hedberg had a strong game, bouncing back from a subpar outing in Pittsburgh over the weekend.  He didn’t face many tough shots, but he stopped them all and did a good job controlling his rebounds.

The Devils continue their road trip on Thursday in Phoenix.  The Coyotes (3-3-2, 4th in Pacific), have dropped their last three home games, including an eight-round shootout loss to the Stars last night.

Some Other Thoughts:

Interesting to see that Andy Greene (2A, +3) had his best game of the season in his first game paired with Mark Fayne.  His old partner, rookie Adam Larsson, was paired with fellow Swede Henrik Tallinder.  My guess is that the new pairings stick for some time (assuming Larsson isn’t returned to juniors after his ninth game). 

Zubrus

Dainus Zubrus (2G, +3) is clearly happy to be playing on a line with Patrik Elias again.  Even taking a Simon Gagne shot to the face in the first period wasn’t enough to sour his game.  

I don’t think he missed a shift and was voted the game’s #1 star.  Nice comeback.  Very nice games for Elias (1G 1A +3) and Sykora (2A +3), too.  Sykora overcame an illness that made him miss the morning skate.

Henrique

Adam Henrique played like he belongs in the NHL last night.  Centering a line with Clarkson and Tedenby, he played very strong game, especially considering the strength of the Kings’ blue line and centers. 

He had several strong plays on the puck, and could easily have had a goal.

The Devils attempted an awful lot of wraparounds in the game, particularly in the first two periods.  I don’t know if it was just that the opportunities were more readily available or if it was something they picked up off a scouting report about the Kings or Bernier, but it seemed a touch out of character.  I liked it, caused a lot of disruption in front of the net.

The Kings are no doubt happy to be done with the Devils for the year.  They’re 0-1-1 against the Devs, but 5-1-0 against everyone else.  Is there a more fun name to say in hockey than “Anze Kopitar”?  Must be nice to be the Kings’ PA announcer.

If we’ve told you once, we’ve told you sixty-eleven times, follow Brian on Twitter: @trot71

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