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6 Out of 6 Ain't Bad

Brian Deakyne, staff writer

The New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins have faced off six times this season, the now-normal amount played by division foes in the heart of the "new NHL."

In those six games, three have been played at the Prudential Center in Newark, three at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh. New Jersey has won all six.

In the heat of the race for this Atlantic Division crown, a title that the Devils have hung proudly in the rafters five of the last six seasons, twelve points means more than anything in the world.

But why is it that the Penguins, defending Stanley Cup champions, have such a difficult time against the New Jersey Devils?

Despite the newly-revised edition of the NHL rulebook that allows for an offense-first style to dominate, New Jersey still controls games with their defensive style of play.

Constantly, especially in last night's bout, pucks were deflected away from danger, not only by the Devils defense but goaltender Martin Brodeur as well.

As many of the aspects of a hockey game that the new NHL rules can affect, strong defense is not one of them.

But what is it with the Devils' defense that separates them from other defensemen across the league?

It's not as if they have star-studded defensemen who are all-stars year in and year out. Colin White and Mike Mottau, along with Andy Greene and Paul Martin aren't exactly your prototypical 'top-of-the-line' defensemen.

What they do have, however, are the defensemen afore listed that are veterans of the game and know there roles on this team. White and Mottau know they are the 'big-bodied' defensemen whereas Green and Martin are much more capable to carry the puck and make strong outlet passes.

More than anything, however, they have defensive-minded forwards, a long-time trademark of the New Jersey Devils. Despite the departures of John Madden and Brian Gionta, there are still veterans such as Jay Pandolfo and Dean McCammond who play a major role in the team's defense as they are constantly on the backcheck.

There's no better example or successful stride of a true 'defensive offense' than a successful penalty kill.

Last night, seconds after Travis Zajac was stoned by Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fluery shorthanded, Patrik Elias beat Fleury on a second breakaway of the kill and giving the Devils the early 2-1 lead in the first period.

For a team who displays two of the best scorers in the NHL in Sidney Crosby and Evengi Malkin, the Penguins could learn a lesson or two from the Devils and understand that good offense, still, comes from good defense.

If they don't wish to believe it, they might want to take a look at the head-to-head records.

2 comments:

  1. written very well, your best yet... but, I have not read the word "afore" in a sports column before.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Absolutely,they are partners.Offense and defense which contributes a lot in every game like on ice hockey.It needs to be strong in both side to get the goal.

    ReplyDelete