New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur blocks a shot by the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013, in Newark, N.J. The Devils won 2-1. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Devils ends first half with strong run


Expectations were about as low as they could be for the New Jersey Devils after Ilya Kovalchuk left them and their 0-4-3 start to the campaign did nothing to change people’s minds.

Lately though, they’ve managed to turn things around. With their 2-1 victory over Pittsburgh this afternoon, the Devils are now 5-1-2 in their last eight games. They also only lost two contests by more than a single goal in the month of December.

“We’re doing a good job staying in games and getting points,” Martin Brodeur said, according to the Star-Ledger. “And, as of late, winning games also. For sure omce in a while we’re going to have off games. When you do, it’s how you respond.

“Early on we didn’t respond very well to some of the adversity. We seem to be a little more fit for it now.”

They still have a lot of work to do with half their season now in the books. Their offense is still a weakness and they’ve been relying heavily on Jaromir Jagr, 41, to lead the charge. If he slows down as the season wears on, they could be in serious trouble.

Devils fans also have to hold their breath as they await for news about forward Patrik Elias, who left Tuesday’s contest due to an injury. Devils coach Pete DeBoer said that he would have an update tomorrow.

At the same time, the Devils have the benefit of playing in the Metropolitan Division. If they were in the Western Conference, they’d have a daunting uphill climb ahead of them from their current 17-6-8 record. As it is, they’re tied with the Flyers in terms of points for third place in their division, although Philadelphia has played in two fewer contests.

In other words, with half the season left, the Devils still have plenty to play for.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.