by pcoffey on 11/21/13 at 10:37 AM ET
Sure, Teemu Selanne was nailed for a double minor for high sticking Andy Greene when it was actually the stick of New Jersey's Marek Zidlicky that did the damage. New Jersey scored twice with the man advantage. And sure, the winning goal in Wednesday's 4-3 overtime decision over the Anaheim Ducks caromed off the Ducks' Corey Perry, but the Devils are more than willing to accept the two points and move on.
“We’ll take it,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “We had a bunch of those go against us in the first 10 games of the season and I think all those kind of breaks even themselves out. I think we knew that when we were going through the tough period and we got a couple tonight.”
Finally, New Jersey is at the .500 mark -- or the NHL equivalent of such -- at 8-8-5. It was a long time coming for the Devils, who had a big hole to climb from after a debilitating 1-5-4 start to the season. But the Devils, who have much of their game now under control, aside from an offense that still sputters too much, were happy to nail a couple lucky breaks and send Anaheim to its first home loss of the season.
“I’ll take them any way,” Travis Zajac, credited with the winning goal, told Gulitti. “That was one of the luckiest goals I’ve ever scored, but I’ll take those any day of the week.”
For the Devils, the win also marked their first win in extra time this season. New Jersey is now only 1-5 when games are extended beyond 60 minutes.
But for now, with another road game coming against the Los Angeles Kings Thursday night, the Devils will look at some positive breaks, and positive numbers.
Since the crummy start to the season, New Jersey is 7-3-1 in its last 11 games and 5-1-1 in its last seven. This is what Devils fans have grown accustomed to over the years, not the dreadful play that accompanied the start of the season. The win in Anaheim also emphasized how the Devils have rebounded on the road. New Jersey is 4-1-1 in its last six away games after going 0-5-2 to start the season away from home.
“We didn’t talk about that as a specific goal, but you look at the standings in our division and you’ve got to keep putting points in the bank in order to keep up and stay within striking distance of one of those spots,” DeBoer said of his team's goal embarking on the current three game trip.
Since getting on track, the Devils have seen their goaltending stabilize, as Martin Brodeur has returned to form after a bad start, winning his last five starts and seven of his last eight. Cory Schneider also has played very well, but hasn't been as fortunate in the win column as New Jersey's offensive outages seem to come in his starts. But the team also has gotten its defensive game together, so the Devils are becoming hard to play against.
Now, if the offense ...
First the good. Jaromir Jagr, all 41 years of him, has been playing terrific hockey. He has eight goals and nine assists in 21 games this season. More good news for the Devils has been the return of Patrik Elias from injury. He assisted on three of New Jersey's four goals in the win over Anaheim and has three goals and seve assists in 13 games.
Still, the Devils aren't getting a lot out of the other forwards signed during the summer. Rostislav Olesz already is out of the organization after flunking his tryout with the team. He was assigned to the AHL and now has left to return to Europe. Ryane Clowe continued to recover from a reported concussion, so he has yet to become a regular contributor.
Former Red Wing Damien Brunner has only four goals and three assists in 20 games, while Michael Ryder has just five goals and two assists in 21 games. Holdovers like Zajac, three goals, five assists in 19 games, and Adam Henrique, five goals, three assists in 21 games also has struggled. Dainius Zubrus also has struggled with just three goals and five assists in 21 games.
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