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David Puddy

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Posts posted by David Puddy

  1. Devils close to being latest NHL dynasty

    By Chris Stevenson

    Special to ESPN.com

    They are named after a legendary demonic son of an 18th century witch.

    They live in the shadows of The Big Apple and play in a swamp. It is a place called East Rutherford, a place where the natural terrain seems to be pavement -- parking lots, interstates and off-ramps, a small, grey patch of what is an extraordinarily green and otherwise pleasant state.

    Patrik Elias is the only holdover from the Devils' "A Line" of him, Jason Arnott and Petr Sykora.

    It seems an unlikely home of a Stanley Cup dynasty in the making.

    They don't have the history of the Montreal Canadiens, the New York Islanders' Hall of Famers, or the style, speed and talent of the Edmonton Oilers. Their home doesn't even have a quaint nickname like that of its current rival for greatness, Hockeytown USA.

    The New Jersey Devils will start their third Stanley Cup Final in four years Tuesday night against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Along with the Detroit Red Wings, they are the only team to make it to four Stanley Cup Finals since the end of the last true dynasty, that of the Edmonton Oilers in 1990.

    With a win over the Mighty Ducks, the Devils would lay claim to their third Stanley Cup in nine years, matching the Wings as the teams with the most Cups since the demise of the Oilers' glory days.

    That is about as close as get to a dynasty in today's NHL.

    The Devils won Cups in 1995 and 2000 and lost another when they dropped a seven-game series to the Ray Bourque-led Colorado Avalanche in 2001.

    They have had five different coaches since 1995, but they keep coming back to play in June.

    There is one constant off the ice, general manager Lou Lamoriello. Nothing escapes his eyes and ears. He is always there, up in the stands in practice, patrolling the hallways outside the Devils' dressing room before games.

    He just might be the most controlling executive in pro sports, routinely whipping out his bosses' checkbooks to pay fines he incurs for keeping his players away from the media.

    Lamoriello had the Devils fly home from Ottawa between Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern final, incurring a fine -- rumored to be $10,000 -- from the league. It doesn't seem to matter who is behind the bench or who is on the ice; the Devils keep winning.

    They do it with defense.

    "I don't think their play has changed from coach to coach; it pretty much has always been the same type of hockey," said Senators general manager John Muckler, a long-time acquaintance of Lamoriello's.

    "Lou has always been that way. He was the coach at Providence College, and I was the coach of the Providence Reds. He was the rink manager, too, and I used to sit in his office for hours and talk about hockey. He's been a good friend for a long time. He's always been a defense-first and offense-second kind of guy and the coaches he's hired over the years have always been strong in that area."

    The Devils' style of play is a reflection of Lamoriello -- controlled, wary, rigid in its standards.

    It is the style of choice for all the teams that made up this year's final four.

    Coaches and players have come and gone. The Devils no longer have the "A Line" of Jason Arnott, Petr Sykora and Patrik Elias which powered them to the Cup in 2000.

    Only Elias remains from that top line as Lamoriello has not been reluctant to revamp and retool his lineup. He has turned his back on other key performers who became too pricey for the Devils' budget, like Bill Guerin, Alexander Mogilny, Vladimir Malakhov and Bobby Holik.

    They move along and the Devils keep winning. They have been replaced with younger, hungry players like John Madden, Brian Rafalski and Colin White.

    There have been constants in the dressing room. Defensemen Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko and goaltender Martin Brodeur are the longest-serving Devils and have come to embody what the Devils are all about.

    "There have always been good people here," said Stevens. "There have been character people in the dressing room who get along really well. I think that's biggest reason why we've had the success we've had. Lou has done a good job of picking character people."

    A lot of the Devils' success begins and ends with Brodeur.

    Approaching dynasty status without a dominating goaltender is a difficult thing to do. The Wings have managed to have three different goaltenders win their three Cups since 1990, but the hallmark of the great dynasties has been having a dominating goaltender of his time in goal: Jacques Plante for the Habs of the '50s; Ken Dryden for Montreal in the '70s; Billy Smith for the New York Islanders in the early '80s; and Grant Fuhr for the Edmonton Oilers in the latter part of the '80s.

    Brodeur is on track to surpass Patrick Roy -- some might say he already has -- as the NHL's current money goaltender.

    "This team is based on the team concept. There's not really anybody (among the forwards) who is going to go out and put a show on for you. I think there's a superstar on our team ,and he's the goaltender," said Devils coach Pat Burns. "I think he's the most valuable player in my books.

    "Scotty Stevens is the old master that glues all this together. He leads by example. He goes out there day and day out, practices, never says anything. He's just one of those rangy veterans that every team should have."

    The Devils' nucleus is getting old, and this might be the end of the line for Daneyko and Stevens. Daneyko has been a healthy scratch for the first time in these playoffs, and Stevens said the other day he has a year, maybe two, left.

    "We've been lucky that we've put ourselves in this position often, to get this opportunity," said Brodeur. "But at some point, it's going to stop. That's why we have to take hold of this situation. It might never come back."

    Don't count on that.

    The Devils seem to find a way.

  2. The subtitle didn't make much sense. Sorry if it confused you.

    The portions extending above the knee no longer protect the body when you go down in the butterfly. They stick out and cover the five hole. The five hole is a hole. It is not a part of the body. Anyway, the goalie's pants protect the thighs. Not the pads.

    Have you been watching any other series this year? There have been two game-changing no-goal calls because someone jarred the net a tiny bit. The only thing that matters in hockey are GOALS. When someone scores, it should count. The moorings are so short now that when the net's not totally off, it doesn't affect whether or not that puck would've been in unless the puck hits or comes very close to hitting the post. They should either give the officials (the guys in the review booth) a little discretion to say whether or not it would've been a goal had the net been totally on, or write the rule in such a way that allows good goals to count.

  3. Yeah, that's two guys. And in recent years, the only guys to have numbers up there were Richer, Mogilny, and Gilmour. Those guys only got those numbers because they were established and wore those numbers with their previous team.

  4. What I was saying was that they should review that rule so when a net is an inch off above the ice and the goal goes in the center of the net, it should count.

    The only regulation on the size of goalie pads is on the width, so guys like Giguere can have huge portions of pad that extend up above their knees to cover the five hole on the butterfly. The size of equipment is getting out of hand, and they need to make more specific rules to keep it from getting too crazy.

    It's all there in what I wrote.

  5. I can't believe I forgot that one. I agree with NJay. Ottawa fans are whining about the officiating on their board, about non-calls (funny, since, to paraphrase Alfie, "those kinds of things shouldn't be called in the playoffs", but that's another story), but I believe the only truly BAD calls in the playoffs are ones that directly and incorrectly allow/deny goals, and specifically REVIEWABLE plays that affect goals. Offsides, skates in the crease, those types of things. If they want to speed up the game, they have to build in some sort of safeguard from letting that happen. Instead of the next faceoff, how about, "until 90 [60, 120, whatever] seconds have run off the game clock or the next faceoff, whichever is longer".

  6. My suggestions:

    1. No-goal when the net is off. Either the officials need to be given some discretion to count obvious goals, or the rule needs to be rewritten to count goals that don't go in off the posts or something like that.

    2. Limit the length of goal pads. Goalie equipment is starting to get out of hand. When you have pads that extend up to the middle of your thigh, it completely takes away the five hole in the butterfly. With the push towards more specific rules, I'm surprised the goal equipment rule is still for the most part completely vague. The bulk of the rule says, "With the exception of skates and stick, all the equipment worn by the goalkeeper must be constructed solely for the purpose of protecting the head or body, and he must not wear any garment or use any contrivance which would give him undue assistance in keeping goal." I'd say pads that extend high above the knee break this rule, since the pads are designed to protect the shin and knee, and the pants are designed to protect the thigh. (This is the Giggy rule.)

  7. Yeah, Giggy's pads extend farther above the knee than Marty's. I can't tell whether or not the width is much different, though.

    Officially, there's only a restriction on the width of the pad, not the length. Rule 21 (b) from the NHL Rulebook states:

    The leg guards worn by goalkeepers shall not exceed twelve inches (12") in extreme width when on the leg of the player. No attachments such as plastic puck foils are permitted. Calf protectors must follow the contuor [sic] of the calf and ankle and can have a thickness of no greater than one-and-a-half inches (1 1/2").

    So, unless Giggy's pads are wider than 12", they're perfectly legal.

  8. If I don't get to a game, that money is going towards the authentic jersey I've been wanting for years and years. My replica jersey (which I was wearing when they won the cup in '95) is size small!

  9. So now all the fairweather fans and suits actually care about the team, ey? Looks like I will have to talk to my parents and see if any of their friends have tickets we could use.

  10. Is there any chance of getting last-minute walkup tickets like in the previous series? Will there be scalpers selling at face value?

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