Cory Schneider

It’s New Jersey Devils day on PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The New Jersey Devils.

The New Jersey Devils made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2012, but there were some major concerns going into the 2013 campaign. Not the least of which was their aging goaltending duo of Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg, who turned 41 and 40 respectively in May.

On top of that, they lost forward Zach Parise to the Minnesota Wild in the summer of 2012 and Adam Henrique was still a question mark despite a standout rookie season.

At first none of that seemed to faze them as they got off to a 8-1-3 start. However, New Jersey struggled offensively and began a gradual decline that turned into a free fall when Ilya Kovalchuk suffered a shoulder injury. Kovalchuk missed 11 straight games and the Devils lost 10 of them — a fact which carries even greater weight now.

The Devils bounced back when the Russian superstar rejoined them, but it was too late. New Jersey finished with 48 points in 48 games, putting them seven shy of the playoffs.

Offseason recap

Oh boy.

Their summer did start out on a positive note. The longstanding question of who would take over for Brodeur was answered when they acquired goaltender Cory Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for the ninth selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft (Bo Horvat).

They also managed to re-sign Patrik Elias to a three-year, $16.5 million deal and while the Devils lost David Clarkson, they attempted to replace his offense and grit with free agents Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder.

Then Ilya Kovalchuk “retired” so he could head to the KHL. The move sent shock waves through the hockey world and while getting out of that 15-year, $100 million contract might actually be beneficial in the long-term, it certainly leaves a huge gap in their offense right now. They couldn’t replace Kovalchuk, but they did get some help by signing Jaromir Jagr.

As if their summer wasn’t eventful enough, Joshua Harris and David Blitzer purchased the New Jersey Devils from former owner Jeff Vanderbeek. Harris and Blitzer both work for private equity firms and each own a stake in the Philadelphia 76ers.

Related:

Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.