I realize the lull between the Devils/Rangers ending and Devils/Kings starting has been an attempt by the NHL to not only let the players get some much needed rest (and fancy hamburgers on RT 3 in Clifton, NJ) but also to get us fans ready for life without hockey. I’ll be okay for the summer because I have baseball, but I don’t know what the rest of you will be doing. Send me a comment to tell me what you do during the long haul of no hockey (acceptable answers do include: “I pray for Patrick Kane’s liver”).
Anyway, as a blog that started mostly out a love affair with the New Jersey Devils’ D and boredom with no place to put my thoughts, this has been a pretty awesome last couple of months and I’ve made quite a few new internet friends through it. I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen in the Devils/Kings series but I think we all know what I really wish will happen in my heart of hearts.
(as found thanks to Puck Daddy)
And finally, let’s hear it for “No-name D” (thanks as always to the best Devils reporter ever, Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice)
It began as an inside joke, but it’s worked out pretty well so far, so the Devils are running with it – all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Defenseman Bryce Salvador was getting ready to do an interview on the NHL Network earlier in the playoffs and heard NHL Live analyst E.J. Hradek say the Devils have a “No-name defense.”
Salvador, the leader of the Devils’ defense, took a bit of offense.
“So, I just kind of called him out about it,” Salvador said.
Salvador took it step further by taking one of the water bottles that sits on the bench during practices and games and writing, “No name D” on it instead of a player’s number.
“We have our little special concoction in the water bottle,” Salvador said. “It’s kind of an inside joke.”
The defensemen have rallied around the idea that they are defense corps without a big name, but still capable of playing well enough for the team to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.
Salvador, of course, has done his part with his strong defensive play and some surprising offense. His 11 points (three goals, eight assists) rank second among defensemen in the playoffs after he had no goals and nine assists during the regular season.
“He’s the one guy who could turn it on to someone,” defenseman Mark Fayne said of Salvador. “It’s pretty funny. I think there’s a little pride in there where don’t really have any marquee names and to make it this far and have a solid corps, it’s a good accomplishment.”
It is true that the Devils have no big names on their defense. Their three Stanley Cup teams had Hall of Famer Scott Stevens and future Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer along with career Devil Ken Daneyko. Those three have their numbers retired by the Devils for a reason.
This group – Salvador, Fayne, Andy Greene, Marek Zidlicky, Anton Volchenkov, Peter Harrold, Adam Larsson and Henrik Tallinder – is making it’s own way, though, and doing it pretty well.
“You can’t win without defense and I’ve got to thank you guys. You probably fueled the fire there with calling them the ‘no-name defense’,” goaltender Martin Brodeur said. “These guys have a water bottle with ‘no-name defense’ written on it, so they’re pumped about that. I think they took it personally and they really wanted to show everybody that they can compete with the top players and I think they did a great job along these playoff series to play well and it’s all to their credit. It definitely helps with Sal not having a goal all regular season and being second in scoring (among defensemen).”
It’s been a special run for Salvador, 36, after he missed all of last season with a cochlear (inner-ear) concussion. Playing in the Stanley Cup Finals was the furthest thing from his mind a year ago at this time when he just started working out in Minnesota with captain Zach Parise, who missed most of last season after having knee surgery.
“I think it’s coming up more and more now because of where are and where I was a year ago,” Salvador said. “It’s one of those things where, obviously, it’s a great feeling. Zach and I have been joking about it that if somebody would have told us last year in May when we were both starting to work out that we’d still be playing a year later, we both would have said, ‘We’re just worried about training camp right now.’
“It’s a great feeling to be here from where we were a year ago.”