When people talk about the Devils’ aggressive forecheck, most of the discussion involves the forwards. After all, the forwards are the ones chasing down pucks and turning them over.
But New Jersey captain Zach Parise knows the importance of an active defense to the style his team plays.
“That’s so important,” he said today. “It’s hard when your ‘D’ aren’t allowed to pinch and when your ‘D’ aren’t allowed to get involved, because you’re playing 3-on-5 all night. That’s too hard. It makes the game too hard and it makes scoring too hard. Once our ‘D’ started to be allowed to jump into the play and get involved in the offense, it opened some things up for everybody.
“It opens up second opportunities. You’re allowed to get more offensive zone time. They’ve done a great job in the playoffs keeping pucks alive, keeping cycles going and really hemming teams in their own zone. From a forward’s standpoint, it’s kind of a relief to get those ‘D’ men involved. It just makes life a lot easier.”
One defenseman in particular Parise says has helped is Marek Zidlicky. The Devils acquired the underutilized 35-year-old from Minnesota in February, sending defenseman Kurtis Foster and forwards Nick Palmieri and Stephane Veilleux to the Wild in return.
“[Zidlicky’s] skating ability, his patience with the puck has really helped us out a lot up front and kept plays alive,” said Parise. “He makes a great first outlet pass. That was a really good acquisition for us that really gave us a new attack and a new dynamic that we were somewhat lacking.”
Sometimes an angry Evgeni Malkin means a stray power play or two for his opponents, but it’s usually not the best idea to make him angry.
Giving a player that big and talented extra motivation just seems like a bad idea, right?
Joel Ward experienced that phenomenon on Tuesday, as Malkin responded to a blow from Ward with the goal you can see above.
This continues a red-hot streak for Malkin. Tonight’s goal and assist (and counting?) stretches his scoring streak to four games, each with at least one goal.
Malkin came into Tuesday with 10 points in his last six games as well, so … yeah, no. 71 is feeling it right now.
You know what they say: “What a difference a game makes.”
Even in the 82-game marathon that an NHL regular season is, that can be true.
Ryan Suter admitted he went too far with comments during tough times, yet there he was on Tuesday night, grinning ear-to-ear after scoring the 2-1 goal that ended up being the game-winner.
Heck, people were even joking about things. The healing powers of winning, right?
As of this writing, this win places Minnesota in the last wild card spot, and they’re close to elbowing in on the Chicago Blackhawks (who own a standings point advantage, but have played two more games so far in 2015-16).
Jeremy Roenick labels this 2-1 win as a “team win” for Minnesota, and it showed on that 2-1 goal, as the Wild showed off some picture-perfect passing and a willingness to crash the net for rebounds.
Let’s face it, though; Devan Dubnyk deserves plenty of credit, too.
It won’t be easy in the Central Division, and things may get heated again. Still, this is the sort of win that may just help Minnesota build up some confidence.
When you’re talking about bright sides, most people believe that they boil down to the light at the end of the tunnel for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a little success in the present while waiting for that bright future, though.
The Flyers are providing at least a burst of sunshine lately, as Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators gives them … (drum roll) their first three-game winning streak of this season.
Even in recent darker moments, Philly’s been pretty impressive on offense, so Flyers fans are likely relieved to see a relative offensive outburst.
Sure, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns – Radko Gudas might have gotten himself into some trouble, for instance – yet this is still a nice sign of life for a team expected to finish in the draft lottery.
If that fails … hey, the future may require shades.
Here’s an understatement: things haven’t gone very well for Dougie Hamilton early in his first season with the Calgary Flames.
(It must feel like the opposite of Tyler Seguin in Dallas for Boston Bruins fans, but feel free to disagree in the comments.)
You could look at Hamilton’s meager offensive stats and break down his disappointing work through a very of “fancy” and traditional metrics …
… Or you could just fire up a projector and show this own-goal on a loop.
Update: Did Hamilton picture all the negative headlines and harness that energy for a greater good? He scored the game-tying goal as Calgary upset Dallas 4-3 via a shootout.