‘Devils in the Details’
By Sean Hartnett
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Legendary Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur surrendered four goals on eight shots in the first period of Thursday’s preseason game against the New York Islanders.
“Lots of goals, not many shots,” Brodeur said of his first period performance against the Isles. “Not the way you’d like to start the preseason. I kind of came back in the second and felt a little better — less shots, less breakdowns.”
The blame shouldn’t be placed entirely on Brodeur’s 41-year-old shoulders. His defensemen deserve equal culpability for the Devils’ hellish 4-1 deficit heading into the first intermission. New Jersey’s blue liners were often caught up ice and committed frequent turnovers that led to 2-on-1 chances for the Islanders.
Head coach Pete DeBoer wasn’t assigning blame to Brodeur following the Devils’ 5-3 defeat.
“We turned the puck over and every time we turned it over it ended up in our net,” DeBoer said. “Rather than individuals, our team mindset wasn’t where it needed to be. We’re not that team. We’re not a team that turns the puck over.”
Brodeur was left helpless on the Devils’ third goal against. Defenseman Marek Zidlicky attempted to clear the puck, only to see the puck trickle off Islanders’ forward Josh Bailey and past Brodeur.
“It’s going to happen in the season also when you’re going to have periods like that,” Brodeur said. “It’s just most of the times you don’t get back in the net. When you do, you’ve got to try to kind of stop the bleeding a little bit and try to make saves and try to shake it off as much as you can.”
Brodeur saved nine of 13 shots before being replaced by Scott Wedgewood when the third period began. Wedgewood surrendered one goal on four shots against.
DeBoer has already named Brodeur New Jersey’s opening night starter ahead of their October 3 regular season opener in Pittsburgh. That doesn’t mean Cory Schneider isn’t capable of stealing away the job from Brodeur in the long run.
IT WILL BE TOUGH, BUT SCHNEIDER WILL WRESTLE NO. 1 JOB FROM BRODEUR
Obviously, one poor preseason performance isn’t worth making a commotion over. Brodeur has three Stanley Cup rings to his name, four Vezina Trophies in his collection and has represented the Devils in the NHL All-Star Game on 10 occasions. He holds nearly every goaltending record imaginable outside of Patrick Roy’s playoff wins and playoff games played records.
It will be a monumental task for Schneider to overtake Brodeur as the clear-cut No. 1 goalie, though Brodeur knows he will eventually have to hand over the reins to the 27-year-old Schneider.
“I think for the future of the organization, it’s the best move,” Brodeur said at the 2013 NHL Draft. “Cory is one of the top five goalies in my mind in the NHL. I’m not going to play forever, I know that.”
During training camp, DeBoer referred to Brodeur and Schneider as ‘1-A’ and ‘1-B’ goalies.
DeBoer will not rush to a quick decision. He’ll let the two battle one another throughout preseason — and into the early weeks of the regular season.
You get the feeling that Schneider is primed to relegated Brodeur to backup duty at some point during the regular season.
Schneider has posted superior numbers in comparison to Brodeur over the past three seasons in Vancouver.
His save percentages over that stretch of .929, .937 and .927 better Brodeur’s .903, .908, .901. Schneider’s goals against averages have been pretty microscopic over the past three years with the Canucks — 2.23, 1.96 and 2.11.
Seeing Brodeur wearing a baseball cap at the end of the bench might be a tough pill for Devils fans to swallow — but it will be necessary once Schneider emerges as the Devils’ unquestionable number one netminder.
RYDER IMPRESSES IN PRESEASON DEBUT
There was one Devil who stood out positively despite the 5-3 defeat. Winger Michael Ryder was signed by the Devils this summer to supply offensive and creativity following Ilya Kovalchuk’s defection to the KHL.
Wearing Kovalchuk’s old number 17, Ryder gave Devils fans a glimpse of what he’s all about. Ryder is excellent anticipating the play and finding open patches of ice. While Ryder tallied one assist on Thursday night, he is a renowned 30-goal sniper.
DeBoer was pleased with Ryder’s contributions and liked what he was seeing from the 33-year-old.
“I thought Michael was one of our brighter spots,” DeBoer said. “I thought he had a good game. He made some plays and created some offense. It was good to get him in his first game and I liked some of the things he did.”
Brodeur came away impressed by the vision that Ryder showed throughout the game.
“He’s kind of crafty,” Brodeur said. “He’s a goal scorer, but he proved today that he’s able to pass the puck too. He made some really nice passes, saucer passes, and he’s pretty hard on the puck. He keeps the puck alive on the power play. We always played against him and he was always a threat, so it’s kind of nice to have him on our side.”
CLOWE’S INJURY DOESN’T APPEAR SERIOUS
Winger Ryane Clowe left Thursday’s game in the first period due to what the Devils determined to be a “lower body injury.”
DeBoer wasn’t very concerned by the injury, referring to it as a “charley horse type injury” during his postgame press conference.
“I don’t believe it’s serious, no,” DeBoer said.
DEVILS TRIM ROSTER BY 21
The Devils cut their training camp roster by 21 players. On Friday, the Devils assigned 15 players to Albany of the AHL and sent six players back to their respective junior teams.
To Albany: Reid Boucher, Harri Pesonen, Riley Boychuk, Darcy Zajac, Joe Whitney, Ben Thomson, Chris McKelvie, David Wohlbeg, Mike Hoeffel, Seth Helgeson, Roman Hrabarenka, Reese Scarlett, Dan Kelly, Corbin McPherson and Maxime Clermont.
To Juniors: Anthony Brodeur (Gatineau – QMJHL), Myles Bell (Kelowna – WHL), Ryan Kujawinski (Kingston – OHL), Remy Giftopoulos (Windsor – OHL), Ben Johnson (Windsor – OHL) and Graham Black (Swift Current – WHL).
Follow Sean on Twitter @HartnettHockey.
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