"This game [playing the trap] is not anymore the nicest game. It used to be great. Not as much now. It's still good, though.">>Jacques Lemaire, on discouraging his team from resorting to the 1-2-2 that
he used to kill 1990s hockey and make small children cry everywhere
Ah, the trap. Lemaire says: Homey don't play that no more. You wouldn't know it from watching his teams play (more on that in the video), but Lemaire can actually be tremendously entertaining when talking hockey. His press conferences are sometimes hilarious. He's a brilliant hockey mind who doesn't pretend everything is a state secret, so you can learn a little something from the man.
So as much as I loathe the form of hockey Lemaire is associated with, he was just taking advantage of the lax rule enforcement of the 1990s, which was in part fueled by competitive parity concerns in the age of expansion. The game gave Lemaire an opening, and he took it. That's a coach's job. Devils fans will tell you winning, at any cost, is paramount; I'll tell you it's serene to know I never sold my hockey soul.
Of course, tonight the Devils debut a very trap-friendly player Rob "oh, that" Niedermayer, who doesn't have much time to get up to speed for the season. But every team needs those.
Meanwhile, in the final preseason game of 2009 (have mercy!), Martin Brodeur is expected to get the full game for the Devils (full Devils lineup is also at that link). The Devils still have six cuts to make, so tonight's game could have relevance to the final jobs available in Newark.
For the Isles, Dwayne Roloson will be in net after missing his start in Kansas City thanks to a Trent Hunter shot to the neck. The Islanders bubble players clearly are looking to make one last impression, but Scott Gordon says he essentially has his mind made up for this season's opening roster; tonight's just a chance to make waves or cement a positive impression.
While Kyle Okposo practiced with no restrictions yesterday, prudence keeps him out of the lineup tonight -- and hopefully for the home opener, considering the Islanders then have four days before game 2 in Ottawa, and this young star's future cranial health is far, far more important than a 2009 regular season game.
When the full lineup is available, we'll update this post. But tonight's non-bubble player story might be Sean Bergenheim's return, which is scheduled to be on a line with John Tavares and Matt Moulson. Can they create sweet music together? Can Moulson keep his scoring run going?
Beyond that, there are no points at stake tonight. Thank Bossy that's the last time we say that in 2009.
Some video fun:
The issue of the moment, Okposo discuses his health:
Brendan Shanahan is "not a back seat guy":
Jacques Lemaire defies my praise, and gives an interview as dry as an old Wild game: