Ilya Kovalchuk

Could the Devils become the second team since the lockout to win it all after falling just short?


It’s extremely hard for any defending Stanley Cup champions to repeat, but it’s just as difficult for the the club that fell just short to bounce back in the following campaign. They suffer from the same short summer that the winners have, minus the euphoria that comes with victory.

Since the lockout, the Edmonton Oilers are the only team to outright miss the playoffs after losing in the finals during their previous campaign, but only one team managed to redeem themselves after falling just short one year prior.

That would of course be the 2008-09 Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins. They got off to a rough start in their comeback campaign, but they got hot after head coach Michel Therrien was replaced with Dan Bylsma and never cooled down.

The Penguins’ story might offer hope for the Devils in more ways than one. After all, Pittsburgh in 2008 had a particularly rough summer too.

Pittsburgh, in its early stages of what has been an ongoing saga to find elite wingers to work with superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, acquired Marian Hossa during the 2007-08 campaign. However, their attempt to re-sign him as an unrestricted free agent that summer failed. Instead Hossa, along with their backup goaltender Ty Conklin, decided to leave Pittsburgh in favor of the team that had just beat them in the Stanley Cup finals: the Detroit Red Wings.

The New Jersey Devils will also be looking to win just a couple more postseason games in 2012-13 despite the loss of an elite player in Zach Parise.

Naturally, the circumstances are different. For one thing, Hossa’s stint with the Penguins was brief while the Devils are losing their team captain and a man they drafted nearly a decade ago. However, like the Cup-winning Penguins, the Devils have a wealth of talent beyond the player they lost.

The New Jersey Devils are clearly worse off without Parise, but they still have Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias, Adam Henrique, David Clarkson, and Travis Zajac to give them a pretty solid offensive core. Their power-play might also get a boost from Adam Larsson, who might take a step forward in his sophomore season, and a full campaign with Marek Zidlicky. Their goaltending is a significant wild card, but even at his age, it’s hard to ever dismiss Martin Brodeur.

I wouldn’t call the Devils’ Stanley Cup favorites going into the playoffs, but they certainly look like a team that can get through the massive blow of Parise signing with the Minnesota Wild.

Lucic: If I wanted to hurt Couture, ‘I would have hurt him’


Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.

Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.

This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.

“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”

While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”

And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.

Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.

In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.

Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks

Torres apologizes to Silfverberg and Sharks


A statement from Raffi Torres:

“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”

A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:

“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”

Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.