Monday, April 7
April 7, 7:31 PM ET
Madden's defensive skills to be tested again
WEST ORANGE, N.J. -- Wherever Joe Thornton goes in the
Boston Bruins' first-round playoff series with New Jersey, expect
John Madden of the Devils to be right there with him.
That's nothing new for Madden. Shadowing the opposition's top
player has been his job for years. It just gets magnified in the
playoffs, especially when the player he's assigned to guard is a
Madden will be severely tested in the best-of-seven series that
opens Wednesday night in East Rutherford, N.J.
Thornton finished third in the league with 36 goals and 65
assists. In the process, he became the Bruins' first 100-point
scorer since Adam Oates in 1993-94.
''There is nothing lacking in his game,'' Devils defenseman Ken
Daneyko said of Thornton. ''We're not going to keep him off the
board, but we have to limit him. He can win a series by himself
because he makes everyone around him that much better if he is on
top of his game.''
The 23-year-old Thornton scored three goals in four
regular-season games against the Devils, but didn't have a shot on
net in the two games played in Boston.
Madden had a goal and two assists against Boston this season,
but isn't making too much of that. The playoffs are another season
in which he and linemates Jay Pandolfo and Turner Stevenson will
have to outplay Thornton, Glen Murray (44 goals, 48 assists) and
Mike Knuble (30 goals, 29 assists).
''They're really good,'' Madden said of Thornton's line. ''They
move the puck well inside the zone and at least one of them seems
to be in shooting position all the time, stick on the ice and ready
to let it go.''
Madden, who won the Selke Award as the league's top defensive
forward two years ago, isn't one to goof off much.
''Mads is very quick, he dogs the pucks, and gets in your
face,'' Daneyko said. ''He can be a pest and get under the skin of
the other star players.
''He is a smart hockey player. He knows what has to be done. The
biggest factor is he works hard and takes pride in stopping the
other team's best player.''
Right wings Brian Gionta played with Madden and Pandolfo for a
couple of games this season, and he said Madden is very focused.
''He knows where to be defensively and what you are trying to
do,'' Gionta said. ''He is quick. He has a lot of skills, so he can
react and jump on the plays. His hockey sense is great.''
If there is a disadvantage, it's Thornton's size. The 6-foot-4,
225-pounder is five inches taller than Madden and 35 pounds
''I think the biggest thing you don't sense is how strong he
is,'' Madden said. ''He is young, but he is a strong man. When he
puts his arm on you and cuts in, you feel it. You don't get that
sense just watching him. It looks like he does everything so easy
but it's because he is so strong.''
Goaltender Martin Brodeur said the Devils need more than defense
to beat the Bruins. They played great defense against Carolina in
the opening round of the playoffs last season and were eliminated
in six games.
''We played those six games and allowed nine goals,'' Brodeur
said. ''That should have been enough to at least get us a seventh
game. It didn't happen for us. We played pretty good. We just ran
into a hot goalie, or goalies, because they used two of them.''
|2002-2003 SEASON STATISTICS|