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Mave’s Saves: Devils vs. Washington Preview

RECORDS: DEVILS:, 2-0; WASHINGTON, 0-3

THEME: Are Peter DeBoer‘s skaters for real?

PLUS: As a group the club has jelled must faster than anyone had imagined. The defense, led by new captain Bryce Salvador, has been so effective that prize sophomore Adam Larsson has not cracked the lineup. Martin Brodeur — still only 40 — has performed nobly. Travis Zajac has been outstanding among the forwards. Ilya Kovalchuk has meshed well and delivered a spectacular penalty shot goal against Ilya Bryzgalov en route to the win over Philadelphia. David Clarkson is quickly become a leader and scoring force.

EVEN: The “New” Crash Line — Stephen GiontaSteve BernierRyan Carter — has not dominated as it did last Spring. Better forechecking would help. Essential defenseman Henrik Tallinder appears to be in mint condition. For now, at least, Zach Parise’s absence has not hurt the club. Harmony exists up and down the line.

MINUS: The power play isn’t where it should be. So far it’s one-for-seven. Tinkering will have to be the order of the night. Remember, last year’s power play guru, Adam Oates, is now head coach of the Capitals.

CHALLENGE: Washington is winless and no doubt will be champing at the bit for a win. At this point overconfidence should not be an issue. What really matters is whether Brodeur can maintain the standard he set in his first two games. Stopping Alex Ovechkin’s mighty shot — or, better still, preventing him from shooting — is an automatic. The Caps will be playing desperate hockey; Devs have to match the intensity; or even top it.

FAN COMMENT: From Jim Charshafian of Saddle River, New Jersey: “The trademark that took this team to the Stanley Cup Final last Spring — hard work from every member of the team — has emerged. And that’s good news!”

THREE KEYS TO STOPPING WASHINGTON: 

1. Score the first goal: Since the Capitals haven’t won a game they’ll get further demoralized. By putting pressure on them the chances are that they’ll grip their sticks even tighter.

2. Keep Ovechkin from shooting. If that fails, block his shots. If that fails, it’s all up to Marty.

3. Get to their goalie, Braden Holtby — or Michal Neuvirth. So far Holtby has not been as sharp as he was in the playoffs last year.

FOUR MATCHUPS TO WATCH: 

1. Devils penalty-killers vs. the Capitals power play.

2. Holtby-Neuvirth vs. Brodeur

3. Bryce Salvador vs. Alex Ovechkin

4. Mike Green vs. Ilya Kovalchuk

MAVEN’S RAVIN’: A win for New Jersey — putting them at 3-0 — would be a significant step forward while the club bides time for the return of promising Adam Henrique. Pushing the Caps further down while the reel under a new coach and new system would be ideal. But it all comes down to how really real were the first two wins. Who knows; Brodeur may actually be pulling off The Miracle of Age 40-41!

Mave’s Saves: Devils at Pittsburgh

THEME: Staying “undefeated” PLUS: After six games, New Jersey still has not lost a game in regulation time. The three extra-session points were garnered in overtime (two losses) and a lost shootout. The return of sophomore Adam Henrique was better than expected. He played nearly 15 minutes and scored a magnificent game-tying goal late in […]

Mave’s Saves: Devils at Montreal Preview

RECORDS: Devils, 3-0-0; Canadiens: 2-1-0. THEME: Stay “North” in the standings; send the Habs “South.” PLUS: Martin Brodeur remans undefeated after three games and has been stellar in the trio of wins. More often than not, Mister Goalie wins in his hometown. MINUS: Even in winning their games the Devils have started too slow for […]

Mave’s Saves: Devils at Bruins Preview

RECORDS: DEVILS, 3-0-1; BRUINS, 4-0-1 THEME: THE LEADERS HAVE TO LEAD — IN THE FIRST PERIOD, TOO: PLUS: David Clarkson continues to impress with a hustling, productive game and looks like a leader along with Patrik Elias who delivered handsomely against Montreal. Martin Brodeur‘s splendid angle-cutting in the final minute of regulation, forced Rene Bourque […]

Mave’s Saves: Devils at Islanders

THEME: SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE RECORDS: ISLANDERS, 4-2-1; DEVILS, 3-1-2 PLUSES: Both teams remain above the .500 mark. The two teams are tied for first in the Atlantic Division, each with seven games played. MINUSES: Devils have slipped in their past two games — overtime loss to Islanders and 5-1 Saturday night defeat at Pittsburgh. The […]