The Devils would like to retain defenseman Peter Harrold, who will be unrestricted. Lamoriello also said he'll address Alexei Ponikarovksy after dealing with Patrik Elias, Dainius Zubrus, David Clarkson and Marek Zidlicky.
This is a series of posts on the Devils' pending free agents (restricted and unrestricted). We'll cover their strengths and weaknesses and end up with a final verdict on whether we think the Devils should re-sign the player. There will also be a poll at the end of each post so you guys can weigh in with your thoughts.
Position: Left Wing
On May 3...
2001- New Jersey is soundly dismantled in game 4 by the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 at Air Canada Centre, evening the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals at 2 games apiece.
Tags: Alexei Ponikarovsky, New Jersey Devils, Notes, Philadelphia Flyers, Scott Niedermayer, Tie Domi
When: 7:30 p.m. ET; Pregame show at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
Tags: ADAM HENRIQUE, Alexei Ponikarovsky, DAINIUS ZUBRUS, DAVID CLARKSON, Gameday, JACOB JOSEFSON, James Neal, Marek Zidlicky, New Jersey Devils, PATRIK ELIAS, Paul Martin, Sidney Crosby, Steve Sullivan
Did the Devils play an A-plus game? No. I'd argue they played a couple better overall games during the 10-game winless streak. But the important thing is the streak is over and the Devils are back in the win column thanks to a few superlative efforts. It likely won't get the Devils back in the playoff chase, but a couple wins over the last 10 days would be important for their confidence heading into the offseason. Some thoughts...
It's over: Everyone can breathe a big sign of relief. The winless streak is finally over and it didn't even take Ilya Kovalchuk returning to finally stop it. Of course, like I said above, this wasn't a perfect game. They struggled to put pucks on net in the first and had difficulty finishing in the second before Ryan Carter snapped one of Ilya Bryzgalov's shoulder. But the important thing was the Devils kept working in two very important areas: the neutral zone and below the Flyers' goal line. The Devils did a good job in long stretches of stopping the Flyers at the blue line and both of the Devils even-strength goals came as a result of their work in the neutral zone. As for the forecheck, it was strong almost all night long. The Devils generated a ton of chances off their pressure below the goal line and it eventually wore down Philly's defense. While the Devils aren't talented enough to out-skill teams, they are dedicated and strong enough to out-work them. It's a long shot, but wins like this are the kind of victories that send a team to length winning streaks. The Devils worked their way past an inferior opponent to a streak-busting victory and were rewarded after several games in which they played well but didn't win.
Tags: ADAM HENRIQUE, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Devils, Devs, Flyers, HENRIK TALLINDER, JACOB JOSEFSON, Martin Brodeur, Marty Brodeur, New Jersey Devils, Pete DeBoer, Philadelphia Flyers, Philly, Editorial Aside, Postgame Thoughts, Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta, Steve Bernier
Once again Pete DeBoer is shuffling multiple bodies in and out of the lineup. It's a trick he's tried multiple times this season to varying effect. There's been games where the "trick" has sparked the club or seen a player skate like his ass is on fire, but that's usually just a one- or two-game fix. Mostly, it's been a short-term, half-torn, blood-stained bandaid over a gaping wound. They Devils have been searching for a left wing on the first line all season. They've been trying to find six reliable defensemen (despite having eight on the roster) all season. They've looked for reliable third- and fourth-line wingers while trying to find anybody with a 20-goal scoring touch (Hello, Matt D'Agostini). None of it works. This is all very "deck chairs on the Titanic" rather than trying to find a combination that works. If there were one, DeBoer would've found it by now.
Tags: Adam Larsson, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Devils, Devs, HENRIK TALLINDER, JACOB JOSEFSON, Lineup Changes, Matt D'Agostini, New Jersey Devils, Pete DeBoer
We finally found out on which line and with whom he'll be playing.
Tags: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Andrei Loktionov, DAINIUS ZUBRUS, DAVID CLARKSON, Ilya Kovalchuk, Lineup Changes, New Jersey Devils, PATRIK ELIAS, Steve Sullivan, Travis Zajack
The phrase "well, at least they got a point" is starting to mean something very different for these Devils. Tonight, it was more about the point not earned, much like last night's loss to the Lightning. As the playoffs approach (very quickly, might I add), it's becoming apparent that qualifying for the postseason isn't as much of a sure thing as previously thought. Some thoughts...
Points on the table: In the spirit of Schoolboy Q's "Hands on the Wheel," the Devils are really starting to temp fate here. They should have come away from this two-game trip with at least three points, but instead blew leads in the final 30 seconds both games. Tonight was a game that saw them play physical and play well for the most part and they were rewarded for it with two goals that came as a result of that work. The problem wasn't that the Devils took their foot off the gas. No, the Devils I think played too fast in the final minute. There's a reason why Pete DeBoer called a timeout with the Panthers' net empty. He wanted to the Devils to play calm, relaxed and smart, but instead they ended up running around in their own zone, chasing the puck and the Panthers were able to capitalize. As Steve Politi pointed out on Twitter after the game, the Devils have left at least eight to 10 points on the table this year, which is in direct opposition to the way they closed out games last season. Will those extra points come back to haunt them? It's too early to say. I still think they'll make the playoffs, but it could be a matter of seeding hurting the Devils in the first round. With the bottom of the East so tightly packed together, it's starting to look like six, seven and eight will be separated by two to four points -- points the Devils keep giving away.
Tags: Alexei Ponikarovsky, DAINIUS ZUBRUS, DAVID CLARKSON, Devils, Devs, Florida Panthers, HENRIK TALLINDER, Martin Brodeur, Marty Brodeur, New Jersey Devils, Panthers, Pete DeBoer, Editorial Aside, Postgame Thoughts
Ponikarovsky has one goal and five points in 17 games since being acquired via trade from the Jets.
Tags: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Devils, Devs, New Jersey Devils, Notes
Also, it looks like Martin Brodeur will start the first half of this Florida back-to-back set.
We guessed earlier that Salvador and Gionta were likely going to play, while Ponikarovsky seems like more of a wild card. The players themselves had pretty much the same sentiment.
Tags: Alexei Ponikarovsky, BRYCE SALVADOR, Devils, Devs, Injury Report, Injury Update, New Jersey Devils, Stephen Gionta
And then there was this...
Tags: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Andrei Loktionov, BRYCE SALVADOR, Buzz, DAINIUS ZUBRUS, Devils, Devs, HENRIK TALLINDER, Ilya Kovalchuk, Lou Lamoriello, New Jersey Devils, PATRIK ELIAS, Pete DeBoer
Tags: Alexei Ponikarovsky, DAINIUS ZUBRUS, Devils, Devs, Injury Report, Lou Lamoriello, New Jersey Devils
How long we talkin' here?!: Lou Lamoriello is notorious for his half answers and dodgy "day to day" injury tactics. That was no different for Kovy, who apparently has a shoulder injury but no one will say what exactly is wrong within said shoulder. Also, according to Lou, Kovy could miss two weeks or less than two weeks or possibly three weeks or maybe even four weeks. The Devils even waited seven hours after announcing the timeline to actually place Kovy on injured reserve, guaranteeing he'd miss at least seven full days. The Devils didn't even want you to definitvely know he'd miss that much time! The problem with all of this double-talk and ridiculous injury gamesmanship is that it gets old real fast. How fast? Well, keep in mind that Martin Brodeur was day to day with a minor back issue until he was on IR for a month with a pinched nerve that almost required surgery. Of course, there's also the Henrik Tallinder case and his "minor" lower-body injury that has now kept him out since March 7. And there's Dainius Zubrus, whose "minor" upper-body injury turned into wrist surgery that was only supposed to keep him out four to six weeks. Oh, wait, it's been six weeks already? And Zubrus isn't even practicing? You don't say.
Tags: Alexei Ponikarovsky, DAINIUS ZUBRUS, Emptying The Bag, Ilya Kovalchuk, Lou Lamoriello, Matt D'Agostini, Pete DeBoer, Editorial Aside, TRAVIS ZAJAC
The Devils didn't make a corresponding move, meaning they now have an empty spot on the roster. Henrik Tallinder will likely be activated at some point this week and Alexei Ponikarovsky, who was retroactively put on IR today, is eligible to be activated Wednesday.
We suspected the Devils might wait to IR Kovy until they got results of the MRI, which he was undergoing at the time of Lou Lamoriello's presser earlier this afternoon -- not that we're likely to find out the results of that test. We'll have an overall piece on the impact of Kovy's injury on the Devils as a whole and their possible trade deadline plans tomorrow.
The Devils recalled left wing Harri Pesonen from AHL Albany to take Ponikarovsky's place on the roster.
Tags: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Devils, Devs, Harri Pesonen, New Jersey Devils, News
That's a little more detail than we got earlier, although not much more than we already knew considering the timing of everything. It's hard to take the Devils' "day-to-day" diagnoses seriously considering their history -- Henrik Tallinder being the latest example. While Poni hasn't exactly lit it up (one goal, five points in 12 games) since rejoining the Devils via trade, he is a key part of Pete DeBoer's nightly lineup, especially with Dainius Zubrus sidelined and Stefan Matteau in junior. Expect to see Adam Henrique at left wing on the first line tomorrow night with Zajac centering Elias and Clarkson and the CBGB line reunited for a whole game. The fourth line is still a bit of a mystery although I don't expect much out of them regardless of whichever combination DeBoer chooses to throw out there. The Devils can survive a brief time without Poni, but it's just another example of small losses adding up a bigger problem.
As for his status for tomorrow's game against Carolina, Tom Gulitti makes a fair point after DeBoer played the "I don't know" card again.
I'm sure many Devils fans are happy to see the return of the CBGB line, although all of this was necessitated by the injuries to Ponikarovsky and Dainius Zubrus. Once those two return, unless the Devils want Adam Henrique, Travis Zajac or Loktionov to center the fourth line (they don't), then I wouldn't expect that line to appear except for certain points when DeBoer maybe wants to give the whole team a spark. Also, DeBoer really dislikes using Henrique on the wing and only uses him there when he has to. Assuming Poni isn't seriously hurt, I'd expect him to return to that spot until Zubrus is healthy, at which point all bets are off in terms of line combos. We'll have to see how serious the injury to Ponikarovsky is later today once DeBoer addresses the media. If he's out for tomorrow's game, I'd be willing to bet these are the lines we'll see against Carolina.
I don't want to react too much before knowing what we're dealing with, but safe to say, the Devils can hardly afford another injury to a top-nine forward. We'll see what the Devils have to say tomorrow.
We'll start with the most recently injured, Loktionov, who has one of those wonderful "undisclosed" injuries.
Tags: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Andrei Loktionov, DAINIUS ZUBRUS, Devils, Devs, Harri Pesonen, HENRIK TALLINDER, Ilya Kovalchuk, Injury Report, Krys Barch, New Jersey Devils
We haven't seen those top two line combos since the first games following the Ponikarovsky trade. But wait! There's changes afoot on the back end, too.
Tags: Adam Larsson, Alexei Ponikarovsky, ANTON VOLCHENKOV, Devils, Devs, HENRIK TALLINDER, Ilya Kovalchuk, Lineup Changes, MARK FAYNE, New Jersey Devils, Pete Harrold, TRAVIS ZAJAC
They Devils are so frighteningly shallow up front they're one injury away from struggling to ice 12 NHL forwards.
Don't believe me? It's true. With both Carter and Zubrus on the shelf, both Stefan Matteau and Krys Barch are in the lineup tonight and there is no extra forward. Seriously. Since the Devils continue to carry eight defensemen, Carter is the 13th forward. If any of the top 12 get hurt tonight, either Carter would have to go on injured reserve or one of the defensemen will have to go.
Tags: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Analysis, DAINIUS ZUBRUS, Devils, Devs, JACOB JOSEFSON, Krys Barch, Lou Lamoriello, New Jersey Devils, Pete DeBoer, Editorial Aside, Ryan Carter, Stefan Matteau
The (no) adjustment bureau: They say familiarity breeds contempt, but in this case, it creates a lack of waiting time. One of the advantages of Ponikarovsky is the Devils don?t have to spend time teaching him the system or waiting for him to get adjusted to new surroundings or hoping he finds chemistry with his teammates. This is all old news for Poni and the Devils, who already have a limited amount of time as it is in the shortened season. For that reason, I would in no way be surprised if he picked up exactly where he left off last season, when he had seven goals and 18 points in 33 games for New Jersey. Will he score on that pace? Probably not, but with this Devils team, any additional offensive input is a bonus, especially when it comes from the first line left wing.
FLLW: I?ve written multiple times about the way station that has been the left side of the Devils? top forward line. I even have a hastily created acronym for it. But the truth is that even Dainius Zubrus wasn?t producing enough offensively to merit his place on the top line. I like the idea of Poni skating there because he brings the size and physicality that Zubrus brought, but perhaps with a better offensive touch. With Ilya Kovalchuk shooting almost every puck he gets his hand on, a big body like Ponikarovsky could be very useful in the front of the net to help clean up the rebounds. Plus, it allows the Devils to play guys like Ryan Carter and Stefan Matteau on the third and fourth lines, respectively, where their minutes won?t balloon too much and where they?re far more comfortable as players.
Tags: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Analysis, DAINIUS ZUBRUS, Devils, Devs, Emptying The Bag, Krys Barch, New Jersey Devils, Editorial Aside, Stefan Matteau
This isn't all that surprising -- all you have to do is look at the players that have rotated through that spot thus far this season to understand the decision. DeBoer has tried Stefan Matteau, Ryan Carter, Bobby Butler, Jacob Josefson, Adam Henrique and Dainius Zubrus at first line left wing. Outside of Zubrus, Matteau has gotten the longest look there, but mostly for five or six shifts a game max. In a post I'll (hopefully) get to later today, I'll go deeper into the benefits on the Poni trade, but this is chief among them. I don't know if he'll spent the entire game there, especially if the Devils get off to a poor start again, but I imagine he'll get a pretty long look.
Tags: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Devils, Devs, Krys Barch, Lineup Changes, lineup changes, New Jersey Devils, Stefan Matteau
And the fact that Ponikarovsky is expected to be in the lineup tomorrow against Philly.
Tags: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Devils, Devs, Lineup Changes, lineup changes, Martin Brodeur, Marty Brodeur, New Jersey Devils
So why bring Ponikarovsky back? You mean besides the gaping hole at left wing on the first and fourth lines? Kidding.