For Devils, crashing the party means crashing the net


For Devils, crashing the party means crashing the net

NEWARK, N.J. Devils forward Patrik Elias made contact with Jonathan Quick as he skated by him in Game 4. A few seconds later, he was putting a puck past the Los Angeles goaltender, who wasnt too happy about the contact.

A brush-by, a love tap, a graze. Whatever you want to call it, it got to Quick. And not long after that, the Devils got a puck past Quick.

And it was a reminder that, in facing another elimination game on Saturday, the Devils need to find a way to get to Quick any way they can.

The Devils two goals against Quick on Wednesday equaled what they got against him in the first three games combined (yes, Ilya Kovalchuks late Game 4 goal was an empty netter). Theyll need more of that a lot more if they want to extend this series another game.

We just have to do whatever it takes to score goals, Kovalchuk said Friday. You cant beat that guy without traffic; you have to be in his face all the time, for sure.

Thats the general rule for just about every goaltender: theyll stop what they see. But with Quick, even when he doesnt see all of it hes got a pretty good chance of stopping it. Still, putting any degree of difficulty on shots Quick sees has to help.

The Devils havent gotten to him nearly enough in this series that goes physically, but especially mentally. When they did on Wednesday, they got results.

We have to create room in the offensive zone. One way of doing that is bringing defensemen to the goalie, Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said. Weve been talking about that. Drive a lot of guys to the net, bring a lot of people so it creates more room. I think its important for us to get a little more offensive success. It created a big goal for us at the time. Im sure were going to have to do a lot more of that.

Nobody likes their personal space invaded. That probably goes double for goaltenders. The Devils got too close for Quicks comfort when they took the opening 1-0 lead in Game 4. If the Devils want to put more pressure on the Kings in this series, they need more pressure on their goaltender.

We need to get more goals like the Elias goal. I think weve had people in those positions, we just havent stuck them in, Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. Thats constantly something that has to get better for us. This guy is a great goalie. The more people, the more bodies, the more pucks around the net, the more were going to get rewarded.

Fire’s younger players a mixed bag in 2016


Fire’s younger players a mixed bag in 2016

When Joey Calistri subbed on for Arturo Alvarez in the 81st minute of the Chicago Fire's 3-2 loss at Toronto on Sunday it was the first time the rookie homegrown player had seen the field in over a month.

The nine-minute appearance was also more time than he'd seen in a league game in July, August, September and October combined. Calistri played 10 of the Fire's first 13 league matches totaling 333 minutes. In the final 21 matches of the year he made four appearances totaling 15 minutes.

Because Calistri's substitution was the third and final sub for the Fire, it also signified that fellow homegrown players Patrick Doody and Drew Conner would not play in 2016. Both made the list of available substitutes in Toronto, but did not get the call to sub into the match.

This offseason the Fire got younger with first-round draft picks Brandon Vincent (22 years old) and Jonathan Campbell (23), second-rounder Alex Morrell (22), homegrowns Calistri and Conner (both 22) and international players Rodrigo Ramos (21), Khaly Thiam (22) and David Arshakyan (22) joining the team. Some of the players like Vincent and Campbell were major contributors in 2016 and could be a significant part of the team in the future. Meanwhile, the Fire's four homegrown players, 19-year-old second-year pro Collin Fernandez in addition to Calistri, Conner and Doody, combined for two starts. Fernandez made two substitute appearances for a total of eight minutes.

Campbell played in 33 of the Fire’s 34 matches, starting 30 of them at center back, and was in the early running for Rookie of the Year before Jordan Morris, Keegan Rosenberry and Jack Harrison solidfied themselves as the top three in that race. Vincent finished with 24 starts and 26 appearances at left back and was named to the MLS All-Star team. Those two, along with Johan Kappelhof, could potentially form the core of the team’s defense next year.

Another young defender, Ramos, showed flashes of being a dangerous attacking right back and made 16 starts. However, the Brazilian seemed to fall out of favor with Paunovic in the final two months of the season and the Fire will have to pick up the option on his loan to make him a permanent member of the team.

A pair of younger international players, Arshakyan and Thiam, saw semi-regular playing time down the stretch after joining during the season, but neither made a big impression. Thiam, like Ramos, joined on loan so his future remains up in the air. Arshakyan joined the team in August and both Arshakyan and Paunovic have said he is still settling in.

General manager Nelson Rodriguez has talked about trying to form a core of players to build around for years to come. Campbell and Vincent showed the potential to be valuable parts of such a core, but for many of the Fire's younger players, 2016 was a season of missed, or a lack of, opportunities.

Indians announce starting rotation for World Series vs. Cubs

Indians announce starting rotation for World Series vs. Cubs

The Cleveland Indians announced their starting pitchers for the first three games of the World Series against the Cubs.

To no one's surprise, Corey Kluber will get the start for Game 1 on Tuesday. Kluber has been the team's best starter all season. In three starts this postseason, he is 2-1 with a 0.98 ERA and 20 strikeouts.

Trevor Bauer and Josh Timlin will get the nod for Games 2 and 3. Bauer has only made two starts this October, but his last one in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Toronto Blue Jayes was cut short after 21 pitches due to a finger injury.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

After those three, the order has yet to be determined.

Indians manager Terry Francona did say to Zack Meisel of that Kluber "could be an option" to start Game 4 on three days rest, which he did in the ALCS.