The Devils Bedevil the Experts – With the third best record in the East, even spending some time in 1st, the Devils are surprising many except for me. New Jersey was picked by most experts to finish 3rd at best and in some cases in 4th place behind even the Rangers, why I have no idea.

The Devils will always be competitive with a healthy Martin Brodeur, that’s a given. Offensively Zach Parise is a budding star. Travis Zajac started to come into his own last year and he is continuing his progression this year. Jamie Langenbrunner, when healthy, provides a nice veteran presence. Former 1st round pick of the 2005 draft Niclas Bergfors has finally been given ample playing time this year and he is starting to deliver. Veteran Patrick Elias is always dangerous as a goal scorer when healthy.

The Devils defense is pretty blue collared these days. Gone are the days of the headline grabbing defenseman like Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer. The defense these days are led by guys like Johnny Oduya, Bryce Salvador, Colin White and Andy Greene. The Devils D is so blue collar only one defenseman on the Devils is on the Top 50 highest paid defenseman list. That one guy would be Paul Martin, he checks in at number 38, who is currently injured.

The Devils hope to avenge their surprising 1st round exit last year to Carolina. They should definitely make the playoffs again this year. If they do, it will be their 13th in a row. Only the Detroit Red Wings have a higher current streak at 18 seasons. They should also contend for the division title with Penguins, especially if the Flyers continue to struggle.

Goalie Spotlight

Jonathan Quick – Los Angeles Kings

Jonathan Quick is an emerging goalie for the emerging Los Angeles Kings. While not in the elite goalie class, in a few seasons Quick’s might be mentioned with the Brodeurs of the hockey world. Quick is also one of the taller goalies in the league measuring 6 foot 1.

The USA born Quick was a standout goalie at his high school prep school in Connecticut. After high school, Quick decided to play at the University of Massachusetts were he lead the team to its first ever NCAA hockey tournament appearance. The Minutemen beat Clarkson but then lost to Maine. Quick was drafted by the Kings in the 2005 draft as the 72nd pick overall.

In the 2007-08 season Quick played in the ECHL, AHL and NHL. He was most successful playing in the AHL for the Kings affiliate Manchester Monarchs. He only played 3 games in the NHL that year posting a 3.58 GAA and a .855 SV%, not sterling numbers by any means. In the following season Quick started out the year playing at Manchester, but was called up to play for the Kings in December and remained up for the rest of the year posting 21 wins to 18 losses, a 2.48 GAA and a .914 SV%. In certain stretches he played spectacularly prompting the Kings to name him the starting netminder for the 09-10 season.

So far Quick’s numbers this year are a little worse than last years (2.60 GAA and .904 SV%) and he has yet to post a shutout. The Kings other options for goalies include Jonathan Bernier and Erik Ersberg. However, both goalies have been somewhat disappointing, Ersberg more so. Quick should be the number one goalie for the foreseeable future. Considering this is only his 2nd season and he is only 23, he has tremendous upside. The Kings hope to make the playoffs with Quick for the first time since the 2001-02 season.

Fights of the Week

Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.

Boris Valabik vs. Rick Rypien

Everyone’s favorite fighter Rick Rypien is back. I really like the way he does the little things in a fight and systematically beats you.

Brian McGrattan vs. David Koci

The ninth billionth fight between these two, err wait the 7th time. The other 6 times were in the AHL.

Daniel Carcillo vs. Craig Adams

Three fights in the battle of Pennsylvania including 1 fight that literally lasted a minute with no punches. I liked this one for the intensity but Carcillo dominated.

Jean-Francois Jacques vs. B.J. Crombeen

Okay fight on the long side that had its moments. BTW I don’t think you can have a more French name than Jean-Francois Jacques.

Goat of the Week

None this week

Shot of the Week

Bobby Ryan – Anaheim Ducks

Ryan was able to maintain his handle on the puck and shoot it in after he had his leg hooked by Kris Russell.

Things I like

1. Newly called up Dan Sexton has a 3 game goal streak going and has the given the Ducks new scoring life. He’s is quite fast too. With him on one side and Bobby Ryan on the other, they make for one of the speediest wing tandems in the league.

2. Los Angeles has quietly crept up to tie for the top spot in the west. They are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and even beat the Sharks in that stretch. They did all of this despite their top scorer Anze Kopitar not doing much.

3. Tuukka Rask doesn’t play much for Boston, but when he fills in for Tim Thomas he really delivers, with his 1.97GAA and .932 SV%.

Things I don’t

1. The Southeast Division’s bottom feeding teams. The Lightning, Hurricanes and Panthers have a combined 6 wins in their last 30 games yikes. If it wasn’t for the Thrashers we could probably already crown the Capitals.

2. Jonas Hiller has been pretty disappointing this year after his phenomenal campaign last year. If he continues to play as he is, it will create problems for the Ducks who will then more than likely let him walk and keep Jean-Sebastien Giguere and his heavy salary.

3. The Flyers losing Ray Emery for about 6 weeks. Not much has gone right for the Flyers this season and this doesn’t help. Emery started out playing well but in 4 of his last 5 starts his save percentage was below .840, not good.

4. Speaking of the Flyers, I discussed their struggles last week, they seem to be struggling even more. They made a lot of changes to specifically compete with the Penguins and in their latest measuring stick game against the Penguins they lost 6-1. That now makes two losses against the Pens this year, though the first loss was more competitive. They get another shot at the Penguins this Thursday at home.

Stat Line of the Week

12/11/09  Oilers 5 vs. Blues 3

Skater

TOI

G

A

+/-

SOG

PIM

D. Penner

19:54

1

3

+4

2

0

Dustin Penner was on the ice for 4 of the Oilers 5 goals and he had a hand in all 4 of those goals. He racked up a goal (unassisted) and 3 assists for the night.

Did You Know?

The first NHL entry draft was in 1963. The first 20 years 1963 to 1982, a Canadian was taken with the top pick. Brian Lawton from the USA was the first non-Canadian picked. Of the 47 drafts only five number 1 picks weren’t from North America. Russia has two of those five. The USA has had six players taken and Canada has had 36.

Numbers, Numbers

0 – Number of overtime losses for Vancouver, still.

6-10-2 – St. Louis’s home record

8-2-3 – St. Louis’s road record

29 – Goal differential of the Capitals, 1st in the East

4 – Goal differential of the Kings, tied for 1st in the West

This Week in Hockey History

Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.

December 10, 1992    Quebec’s Mats Sundin extended his team-record point scoring streak to 30 games in the Nordiques’ 5-4 win at Los Angeles. Sundin scored 21 goals, 25 assists for a total of 46 points during the 30 game streak.

December 11, 1977    Tom Bladon set an NHL record for most points in a game by a defenseman. His 8 points (4 goals & 4 assists) led Philadelphia to an 11-1 win over the Cleveland Barons. Bladon also set a record by going +10.

December 11, 2000    Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux officially announced that he was coming out of retirement to return to playing for the Penguins.

December 12, 1971    Chicago’s Bobby Hull became the fifth player in NHL history to score 1,000 career points. His milestone point was an assist in his 909th game, a 5-3 Black Hawks’ win over the Minnesota North Stars.

December 13, 1987    Calgary’s Joe Nieuwendyk became the first NHL rookie since Cully Wilson (Toronto 1919-20) to score four goals twice in his first season, in a 7-1 Flames in at Buffalo.

December 14, 2000    Rob Blake scored his first career hat trick and added two assists for his first five-point game in the Kings 5-5 tie against the visiting New York Rangers.

December 15, 1988    Mario Lemieux had a goal and four assists in Pittsburgh’s 8-2 win over the Islanders to become the Penguins’ all-time leader in career assists, breaking the old mark of 349 set by Syl Apps. It came in Lemieux’s 321st NHL game.

Rankings

The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.

Top 5

1. Los Angeles
2. New Jersey
3. Pittsburgh
4. Washington
5. Buffalo

Bottom 5

30. Carolina
29. Philadelphia
28. Columbus
27. Tampa Bay
26. Florida

Anaheim Ducks Watch

The Ducks have points in the last 5 games now. Unfortunately 3 of those were overtime losses in games they could have and should have won. So because they are only gaining 1 point, and since the teams they lose to are in the same conference, they really don’t gain much.

So tell me if you heard this before, the Ducks take a 2 goal lead into the 3rd period and manage to lose anyway. Of course you have and the Ducks manage to do it again to the Red Wings. It’s a shame because they really owned the first 2 periods of play. Of course when you take 10 penalties it’s hard to win games. Some of the calls were typical lame calls by the ref, like the Parros interference and some of the holding calls, but that’s life. Sexton scored again and with his emergence the Ducks now have three players (Perry, Ryan, Sexton) that look like they just graduated from high school. They are all shy and quiet in post game interviews too. The Red Wings won it in overtime.

The Ducks jumped out to a 2 goal lead against the Blue Jackets and this time changed it up a bit and instead of giving up a goal in the 3rd, they give it up in the last minute of the 2nd period. However, the Ducks actually gave up none in the 3rd and scored one themselves. Sexton scored again to up his goal streak to 3 games in a row. The Selanne injury seems like a blessing in disguise now. If he never would have went down, Sexton would never have been called up. Lupul is still injured too. I think when Selanne gets back he should go on the top line with Perry and Getzlaf. Ryan and Sexton should stay together with Koivu.

Alex Mueller

Author: Alex Mueller

Alex Mueller graduated from Temple University with a minor in journalism over a decade ago. He’s been writing about NHL hockey, on and off, since the Fall of 2009. He’s written for Pucking Awesome, the Checking Line and now Hockey Recaps. He played goalie at San Diego Ice Arena. His first novel, Bobby Sterling vs Truth, is available on Amazon now.

Alex MuellerWeekly RecapsAnaheim Ducks,Andy Greene,Anze Kopitar,B.J. Crombeen,Bobby Ryan,Boris Valabik,Brian Lawton,Brian McGrattan,Colin White,Craig Adams,Dan Sexton,Daniel Carcillo,David Koci,Detroit Red Wings,Dustin Penner,Jamie Langenbrunner,Jean-Francois Jacques,Jean-Sebastien Giguere,Jonas Hiller,Jonathan Bernier,Jonathan Quick,Los Angeles Kings,Mario Lemieux,Martin Brodeur,New Jersey Devils,New York Rangers,Niclas Bergfors,Paul Martin,Philadelphia Flyers,Pittsburgh Penguins,Ray Emery,Recap,Rick Rypien,Scott Niedermayer,St Louis Blues,Tim Thomas,Travis Zajac,Tuukka Rask,Zach Parise
The Devils Bedevil the Experts – With the third best record in the East, even spending some time in 1st, the Devils are surprising many except for me. New Jersey was picked by most experts to finish 3rd at best and in some cases in 4th place behind even...