Devils And DeBoer Pick Up First Win, Kovalchuk Raises Money For Lokomotiv Families

Nick Palmieri congratulates Johan Hedberg after the Devils' first win of the season over the 'Canes (Image courtesy Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger)

(Sorry about the lack of a game recap for the Devils’ win over the Hurricanes.  However, I still have the opportunity to discuss this game, so I will do so here.)

Monday afternoon, in a rare weekday matinee (holidays sometimes draw these), the Devils beat the Hurricanes with their first four goals of the young season.  Johan Hedberg was strong in net for the ‘Devs, stopping 24 of 26 shots and outdueling Cam Ward for the victory.  After a back-and-forth first two periods, Ilya Kovalchuk lit the lamp at 6:06 in the third off of his own rebound; this lead would be held (we all know a little something about 3-2 leads against Carolina…), and the game would eventually be clinched on an empty-net goal by Zach Parise, his second of the day.

While there is still plenty of room for improvement after the first two games of the season, the Devils received a much improved performance from their skaters collectively on Monday.  There were still giveaways (one of which led to a game-tying Chad LaRose goal in the 2nd period) that need to be cut down on, but this was still improved from Saturday’s highly disappointing opener.  Offensively, the Devils had much more going for them; Mark Fayne scored after a very poor outing against the Flyers, and the Tedenby-Zubrus-Clarkson line DeBoer went with for this game generated plenty of chances as well.

Sure, this was just one win of many the Devils will need to pick up in order to have a shot at a playoff berth.  However, after the horrible effort in front of a sold-out crowd on Saturday night, this was a win that the team really needed for success at the start of this season.  I am not sure if I (and I am sure many others) could have felt worse about an opening game than I did about that Flyers’ game; to see the Devils respond with a win over another (although to a much lesser extent) rival was very important for my confidence as a fan.  Hopefully, the players and coaches received a similar boost.

And, obviously, this was the first win for new head coach Peter DeBoer, and one he did deserve.  The move to start Hedberg (although I did question it at first) eventually paid off, and his line shuffling did as well, as the second and third lines had much more of an impact in that game.  Hopefully, DeBoer is able to find the right combinations for the long-term in this season; his doing so in just the second game of the year has to be a positive sign.

On a completely different topic, I am sure all of us hockey fans still often reflect on the tragic accident involving the KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.  44 people lost their lives (with just one crew member, Alexander Sizov, surviving the crash, and in good condition at the moment), and the entire hockey world was devastated.  While this accident has taken a backseat to the start of the NHL season, it is important that we all continue to keep the affected families in our thoughts.

The reason I am bringing this up is because one of our own has decided to take action.  After attending the memorial service in Russia last month, Ilya Kovalchuk has involved himself with charitable efforts to raise money for these families through pictures and gear he has autographed and is giving to those willing to donate money to this great cause.  Thanks to Tom Gulitti of Fire and Ice (I know I have been referencing him a lot recently), I was able to find out how to make a donation.  After emailing PuckAgency, LLC, about doing this, I received the following response:

Thank you for your interest in donating to the KHL Yaroslavl Family Fund.
The response has been overwhelming!
The entire hockey community was saddened on September 7th when the
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team perished in a tragic plane crash. While the
members of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Hockey Club are no longer with us, they
will not be forgotten.

Your donation will help in the aide of families of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
team.

Donations are accepted by check and should be written out to the

“KHL Yaroslavl Family Fund”

and sent to:

PuckAgency LLC
C/O the KHL Yaroslavl Family Fund
555 Pleasantville Road
North Building, Suite 210
Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510
United States

Please include your name and mailing address with your donation.

Any individual who makes a donation of $17.00 USD or more will receive an
8″x10″ autographed photo of NHL All-Star Ilya Kovalchuk. The first 71
donations of $71.00 or above will receive an autographed & personalized
Ilya Kovalchuk player t-shirt. Said photo & t-shirt are only eligible to
individuals within the United States and Canada and will be mailed 5-10
business days after the donation is received.

-PuckAgency, LLC
555 Pleasantville Road
North Building, Suite 210
Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510

I would encourage everyone to involve themselves with this great cause, and donate what you feel you can.  The extra incentive should be enough to motivate many to do so, and it is really great to see a player like Kovy do something like this.

-Drew

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