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Devils v. Jets on Oscar Sunday

Devils v. Jets on Oscar Sunday

By: Greg Vitucci

After an embarrassing lost to the Washington Capitals on Saturday the New Jersey Devils had a chance to bounce back on Sunday hosting the Winnipeg Jets. Not just any Sunday, Oscar Sunday, this means… award themed jokes.

Everything seemed great as a packed Prudential Center looked forward to a Sunday afternoon hockey game. Until tragedy struck when all-timer, old-timer goaltender Martin Brodeur came up lame during warm up. Injuries like this can be expected of a 40 year old goalie on a back to back. The only problem being, Brodeur didn’t play the previous night in Washington.  Apparently, “Sitting on the bench the whole game” was too much for the big man to handle. So New Jersey would have to man up and try to get two points against Winnipeg with backup, backstop Johan Hedburg.

I may poke fun at Martin Brodeur from time to time for being fat, old, and washed up, (which he certainly is) but I’m certainly not stupid. I am very aware of how fantastic he was and for the most part still is. I’ve seen his brilliance firsthand probably more than 100 times. His glove hand was so fast, that a punch from that hand could decapitate a spineless Gary Bettman  easily. (ED. NOTE: The views expressed herein about the various forms of murder of Gary Bettman and all the joy that would lead to, are solely those of Greg Vitucci and not necessarily a declining first ballot Hall of Famer is an exceptionally easy target (especially as a Rangers fan). Also, the guy’s marriage crumbled because of, what was it again… oh right he slept with his also married sister in law. For a guy who doesn’t have a cool nickname like, “The Dominator” or “The Great One” I’m really disappointed “Uncle Daddy” didn’t catch on.

The Jets were also was on the tail end of a back to back, coming off a very demoralizing lost to Philadelphia, Saturday afternoon.  Scoring 2:30 into the game the Jets were off to a solid start. Blake Wheeler starts the breakout on the left side and takes the puck virtually end to end. Wheeler pulls up just short of the icing line and finds a trailing Zach Bogosian coming through the slot, for an easy goal. Wheeler had drawn three defenders like moths to a flame leaving plenty of open ice for Bogosian to finish.  1-0 Jets.

New Jersey would tie the game and at one goal apiece at about the halfway point in the first period. Mark Fayne makes the underrated outlet pass from behind his own net that sets up the entire play. Fayne’s pass is merely tipped by David Clarkson and caroms off the boards, to Patrick Elias. Elias scooped up the puck coming through the neutral zone creating an odd man rush. He delivers a smooth backhand pass to Travis Zajac, who delivers a twisted wrister (wrist shot) past a sliding Ondrej Pavelec. Fayne puts the whole play together and stupid Clarkson gets the secondary assist.

The Devils would take the lead 2-1 at 17:10 into the game when their third line gets a blue collared goal that trickles past Pavelec. Steve Bernier cashes in with a tip in goal with assists earned by Andrei Loktionov and Alexie Ponikarovsky. They also earned the “Worst Pair of Names for Line-Mates Ever” award.

The second period starts slow and sloppy as the toll of both teams playing two games in about 28 hours begins to be noticeable.  Until 13:01 into the period when Winnipeg would tie the game with a power play goal by Grant Clitsome. Who wins the, “Best Name Ever” award.  Maybe if his name was “Grand Clitsome” but it isn’t, unfortunately.  Excuse me I have to go change my fantasy hockey team name.

The Devils penalty kill gets way too spread out and Clitsome is the forgotten man on the other side of the ice. He waltzes in untouched, on the left side, and delivers a wrist shot past Hedburg. Hedburg got a piece of the puck with his glove but obviously not enough. You have to wonder if Uncle Daddy Marty was in goal, would the puck have ended up in the net?

At 17:48 into the second period Evander Kane of Winnipeg would deflect a pass on the defensive end and then split the Devils defenseman in a footrace. Hedburg darts out of the goal mouth with a belly flop of a poke check 8 feet in front on the net. Kane easily evades the aging goalie, giving his team a 3-2 lead. I don’t think Brodeur would have chosen that particular tactic for defending the breakaway.

Hedburg again is the goat on the final Jets goal when he turns the puck over deep in his own end. Handling the puck in the trapezoid behind the net he makes a lazy pass to Marek Zidlicky who had two Jets surrounding him.  The Jets easily take the puck away and captain Andrew Ladd sticks a slap shot past the glove of Hedburg with just 13:14 remaining in the game. Again you have to wonder if Brodeur would have made that pass. Marty certainly deserves the award for, “Best Puck Handling as a Goalie, Ever.

(I might beat up Johan Hedburg in this article but actually he deserves a lot of credit. The man is 39 years old in his own right. Also he probably hasn’t started two games in a row in years, let alone two days in a row. Look at me defending two Devils in one day.) (ED. NOTE: I am prepared for the end of days, which is certainly coming)

Time would expire with the score 4 to 2 in favor of the Jets. By the end of the game New Jersey looked exhausted. Fortunately for them they have a few days off until facing these same Jets Thursday in Winnipeg. The Jets will play the Rangers Tuesday night in New York, with both teams scrambling to stay relevant in the playoff hunt.



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