Ilya Kovalchuk, Jason Arnott, Mark Fayne, Henrik Tallinder

Ilya Kovalchuk helps Jacques Lemaire win game #600 in overtime over Toronto

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If ever there was a more proper way for Devils coach Jacques Lemaire to win his 600th game, doing so in a rather uneventful 2-1 overtime win over Toronto made for as appropriate of a statement as any. Making things even more ironic was seeing high-powered scorer Ilya Kovalchuk net the game-winner in the extra session helping the Devils to their third straight win and helping the team improve to 11-1-2 in their last 14 games.

Lemaire is famous for making his mark with the Devils during the mid-90s winning a Stanley Cup in 1995 courtesy of the infamous neutral zone trap. With the Devils playing a much more aggressive forecheck these days and an offense-stifling brand of hockey is giving Devils fans a reason to be excited again while their opponents are having flashbacks to a darker era. For Lemaire, however, the effort he’s putting in with these Devils in pulling them out of the basement and making some fans get hopeful for a run at the playoffs it might be his best coaching job to date.

Johan Hedberg led the way in goal for New Jersey while Martin Brodeur is out stopping 31 of 32 shots. James Reimer proved to be the hard luck loser for the Leafs in stopping 37 shots. Dainius Zubrus also scored for New Jersey while Nikolai Kulemin got Toronto’s lone goal thanks to a great set up by Phil Kessel.

With the win, the Devils are 13 points behind Carolina for the eighth seed in the East. It’s a long way to catch up for them, but with Carolina fighting inconsistency, Atlanta stumbling badly, and teams like Florida and Buffalo trying to keep pace the possibility of making the playoffs, as slim as it seems, still exists for the Devils. When they’re playing as tough as they are now and with Lemaire at the helm, you have to wonder why can’t the Devils make the playoffs. Mathematically is seems nearly improbable, but funnier things have happened.

Sens demote former first-rounder Puempel

Matt Puempel
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Looks like Matt Puempel won’t be making the leap after all.

Puempel, the subject of Ottawa’s “looking to make the leap” profile during our Team of the Day series, has been sent down to AHL Binghamton one day prior to the Sens’ opener against Buffalo.

Puempel, taken by Ottawa in the first round (24th overall) at the ’11 draft, made his big-league debut last season and looked as though he’d stick around — only to suffer a high ankle sprain after 13 games, and miss the rest of the season.

The 22-year-old came into this year’s camp looking to secure a full-time position at the big league level, but was beaten out by Shane Prince for the final forward spot on the roster.

To be fair, contract status probably played a role. Prince would’ve had to clear waivers to get down to Bingo, whereas Puempel didn’t.

A former 30-goal scorer in the American League, Puempel is expected to get another look with Ottawa this season.

Report: Torres won’t appeal 41-game suspension


Sounds like Raffi Torres is accepting his punishment.

Per Sportsnet, Torres won’t appeal his 41-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.

The report comes just days after the NHL’s Department of Player Safety levied one of the longest disciplinary rulings in league history, citing both the severity of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ lengthy history of suspensions, fines and warnings.

There was some thought, however, that Torres would try to challenge the ruling.


He does have a history of success in that department. In 2012,Torres successfully appealed his suspension for a headshot on Chicago’s Marian Hossa, and had his punishment reduced from 25 games to 21.

Torres also isn’t considered a “repeat offender” under the current collective bargaining agreement, as his last suspension came in 2013.

Of course, part of that clean record is due to the fact he hasn’t played much. Torres has largely been sidelined by injury for the last two seasons, missing all of last year with knee problems.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman delved further into the repeat offender thing in his latest 30 Thoughts column:

If you read the relevant sections of the CBA, the league takes the position that the repeat offender status is only applicable to fines. Repeaters are fined on a per-game basis, non-repeaters on a per-day basis. (The former is more expensive, because there are fewer games than days in an NHL season.) However, if you go to Section 18.2, among the factors taken into account are, “the status of the offender and, specifically, whether the Player has a history of being subject to Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct.”

So, in the NHL’s view, a player’s history is relevant, even if longer than 18 months ago.

Should the report prove accurate and Torres doesn’t appeal, he will be eligible to return to action on Jan. 14, when the Sharks take on the Oilers.