Devils' Fayne looking for a shot at redemption

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Devils' Fayne looking for a shot at redemption

NEWARK, NJ Devils defenseman Mark Fayne is well-known around hockey circles in New England, so there were plenty of disappointed faces watching Game 1 of the Cup Finals when Fayne missed his chance at a game-winning goal in the third period.

The entire Prudential Center crowd groaned, knowing another prime scoring chance might not present itself. Fayne's shot sailed wide as he never really got enough wood on the erratic puck to put it on net.

The puck was wobbling and the ice at the humid Prudential Center was nothing short of brutal, but the former Nobles and Greenough defenseman still pulled a Glen Wesley on a wide-open rebound shot.

For a kid that was born in Nashua, New Hampshire and grew up playing in select hockey teams all across New England, Fayne knows exactly what that is and knows that its not a good thing at all.

When you envision playing in the Stanley Cup Finals, thats definitely not the moment that youre dreaming about, admitted Fayne. The good thing is that weve got plenty of chances to redeem ourselves.

That left things undecided into overtime, and Anze Kopitar sealed the deal for the Kings with his sweet overtime goal to give Los Angeles a 1-0 lead in the series. Fayne wasnt the only Devils player to whiff on a scoring chance David Clarkson had one off the post and another high-and-wide but he admitted that he was dwelling on it immediately after the loss.

Yeah, you just gotta put it behind you," said Fayne, who starred as a defenseman at Providence College. It's one of those things that it's tough to deal with right now, but once you go to bed you've got to forget about it.

Fayne and the rest of his New Jersey Devils admit that the big stage of the Stanley Cup Finals got to them, and they know they need to be better if they hope to even the series with the Kings headed back to Los Angeles.

That starts with generating a much greater forecheck than the timid, half-hearted attack that took the ice on Wednesday night. If players like Fayne and Clarkson can bury their chances against a Conn Smythe candidate like Jonathan Quick, that would help, too.

Thats what you have to do, said Devils head coach Peter DeBoer. LA bottles teams up through the neutral zone. Weve got to do more of that. They stand you up, take away your time and space. You have to get in behind them. You have to have good support. We need more of that.

Weve got to do more. I think we made it too easy on Quick. We had some opportunities. But we didnt do enough to make it tough on him.

They also need to shoot the puck more. New Jersey had their chances that went by the boards, but those missed open nets are magnified when there are only a few handfuls of shots and even fewer legitimate scoring chances.

If Fayne and the Devils cant muster more than 18 shots on net in a game and rely on bouncing pucks off Los Angeles defenseman for their goals, then it could be a very quick series indeed.

Bruins power play looking for some upgrade answers

Bruins power play looking for some upgrade answers

BOSTON - It would appear things can’t continue the way they are for the Bruins' power play. 

After a disastrous first period helped dig them a hole in a 4-2 loss to the lowly Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night, there was some pretty serious soul-searching going with a man-advantage that has been both toothless and mistake-prone on far too many nights. 

In the Colorado loss a couple of early power-play possessions, one that was completely ineffectual with zero meaningful possession or shots on net and then a second that turned into a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal, dropped the B’s into a hole they couldn’t climb out of. The shorthanded sequence was particularly damning with a desperate Torey Krug diving to keep a puck in the offensive zone, and then watching helpless as MacKinnon beat him to the loose puck and then took off down the ice behind the last line of B’s defense. 

Krug placed the blame on himself for the high-risk play at the offensive blue line, but it’s hard to wholly blame somebody that was using hustle to try and make something happen offensively. 

“I thought they were tired, and if I could keep it in then we keep them hemmed in and get them running around. At the end of the day, it’s a 50-50 play, but maybe early in my career, I learn that now and probably won’t do it anymore. Sometimes you’ve got to go through those things to learn,” said Krug. “It’s just one of those plays I thought instinctively I could get there and keep him hemmed in, and you could even tell when he went in on the breakaway that he was tired.

So, if I keep that in and we keep them hemmed in, hopefully we get a couple chances. But we’ve got to be better, some of our better players on our team, and we’ve got to take the onus on ourselves to start capitalizing on opportunities and changing the game for our team.”

Nobody is going to reasonably suggest that a dangerous power-play guy like Krug be removed from the special-teams unit, but clearly something needs to change. The Bruins are tied for 25th in the NHL on the power play with a 14.1 percent success rate, and they can’t blame lack of opportunities because they’re middle of the road when it comes to power-play chances this season. 

Only the Flyers, Stars and Blackhawks have allowed more shorthanded goals than the Bruins (four) in 28 games played as well, so the Black and Gold essentially aren’t playing good defense or offense on the power play this year. Krug saie that it’s a mindset thing and that the Bruins need to get back to the confident, energetic way they attacked penalty kills last season. 

“We want to make plays, we want to help our team. It’s not like we’re out there not trying to make plays or anything, but we just have to be better,” said Krug. “We’ve got to have better focus, crisper passes, making quick plays to the net and making things happen. I feel like right now we might just be standing there, [just kind of] static, just hoping that things are going to happen and we’re not making them happen. 

“So, we’ve got to change our mindset, and like I said, those guys on that unit are the guys that will go to work and make sure we’re better next time for our team.”

But it goes beyond simple approach. The Bruins lost their second-leading PP goal-scorer last season when Loui Eriksson signed with the Vancouver Canucks. Other top unit PP performers like David Krejci,  Krug and Ryan Spooner haven’t been as good this season. Still, perhaps the biggest reason is the all-around offensive disappearance of Patrice Bergeron, who had 12 goals and 13 assists on the PP last season for a team-best 25 power-play points. This season, Bergeron has one goal and two points on the PP in 25 games and has been neutralized by opposing penalty kills from his “bumper” position roving up and down the slot. 

The Bruins are determined to ride things out with Bergeron both five-on-five and on the PP, and rightfully so, given his quality, productive body of work with the Bruins. He’s Boston’s best player and you don’t ever go away from those guys. 

But Bergeron has been ordinary for the Bruins on the PP after being extraordinary last season, and not much is going to change with the B’s man advantage unless No. 37 begins to find the range, confidence and short-term quick burst that’s needed for the B’s power play to flow through him like a well-oiled scoring machine. A greater impact by David Backes on the net-front power play could help and an uptick in PP production from Krug, Krejci and Spooner would obviously be welcome for the Black and Gold. 

But the Bruins power play is designed to play off Bergeron’s many qualities and strengths when he’s at his best, and a big part of the B’s troubles and Bergeron’s troubles are linked together because No. 37 has been less than his best in a season that’s been challenging for him from the very beginning. 
 

Friday, Dec. 9: John Scott calls it quits

Friday, Dec. 9: John Scott calls it quits

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while digging the Spider-Man trailer that dropped last night. 

*John Scott has finally called it a day and announced his retirement, and apparently there’s a book of his memoirs also coming out too. I’m predicting it’s not headed for the New York Times best seller list. 

*Winter Olympics participation and the CBA negotiations for the NHL are starting to merge into giant issue.  

*Connor McDavid calls the Flyers' Brandon Manning classless for telling him on the ice that he purposefully tried to hurt him last season. Some players might also take issue with McDavid making public what another player said to him on the ice. That’s kind of a no-no for most hockey players and breaks an unwritten rule that McDavid might think he’s above given his star status. This whole thing isn’t a good look for anybody. 

*Kevin Stevens pleads guilty to federal drug charges in what’s become a pretty sad situation for the former NHL star. 

*New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is beginning to raise questions with his play, and his massive price tag. 

*Youngsters Zach Weresnki and Dylan Larkin took similar paths to the NHL, and are both considered part of the talented young generation full of hockey stars. 

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri has Carey Price taking a nutty on Kyle Palmieri after the player crashed into his crease last night. Price is being celebrated for sticking up for himself, but if another goalie did that to a Habs player at the Bell Centre, there would already be a warrant out for his arrest. Play it both ways, Montreal!  

*For something completely different: here’s the aforementioned new Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer that looks pretty darn good.