by David Pavlak on 09/24/11 at 11:05 AM ET
Even though the Devils fell to the Rangers in the waning minutes, there were many positives signs to take out of this game.
The play of Adam Larsson, Adam Henrique, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jacob Josefson and the rest of the Devils left a sign of things to come on the ice. The play was physical, quick and made the Devils look like a really impressive hockey team. Unfortunately, the Rangers came back with a good gang of guys tonight on the ice at The Rock, and were able to snag the victory with time winding down in the third.
Larsson recorded two assists tonight, and was a strong presence on the ice all game. He laid off a perfect pass from the point to Kovalchuk who slapped home a one-timer in the second period on a five on three powerplay. The goal tied the game at 3-3.
To think he is not NHL ready would be a horrible analysis on the young star. He has looked great in the past two games, and will only continue to grow into his role as the number one defenseman on the Devils. There are still other skilled players in the Devils lineup like Henrik Tallinder and Anton Volchenkov, but Larsson will be the most well known defenseman on the time this year due to the media attention. He is certainly living up to the hype that surrounds him.
Adam Henrique opened the scoring in the first period with a nifty fake pass back hand shot over the glove of Rangers goalie Martin Biron. The offense from Henrique may be to little to late though as Josefson looks to be the front runner for the vacant center position. I personally like Josefson a little bit more over Henrique. There will be a day and a season when Henrique gets his shot. This may just not be the one. I can ultimately see him returning to the Devils if they face a long term injury during the year.
Kovalchuk, as previously mentioned had a strong game. He tied the score at three in the second period, and missed out on an opportunity for the game winning goal in the third period when the Devils were called for a goaltender interference penalty after Kovalchuk tipped in a Larsson slap-pass. He immediately went after the referee expressing his disapproval of the call. He played well on a line with Josefson and looked good when paired with Larsson at the point during the 5 on 3.
Josefson had a much better game then the previous night when they faced the Rangers in Albany. Josefson scored in the second period along with Kovalchuk. The two of them brought life into the Devils and helped them surge back to get this game back to even. I was a little critical of Kovalchuk and Josefson the previous game against the Rangers, but they showed why they will be starting for the Devils this year. Both are highly skilled players with a tremendous upside. Hopefully there will be no sputtering out of the gate for the Devils this year, and they will be a regular eastern conference contender.
Martin Brodeur looked average tonight. The third period goal to Brendan Bell looked soft. Who knows if Brodeur was actually able to see the puck when it came in or not, but overall the goal looked like one he would want back. The pucks that come from high on the point with no traffic or deflections in front of him are nine times out of ten either caught or waffleboarded away. This one got by him though, and the Rangers were able to walk away with the victory.
Petr Sykora continues to get his name on the stat sheet, this time with an assist on the Kovalchuk goal in the second period. If I had to venture a guess, I say he has certainly made this Devils roster. He deserves it as well. He has worked hard all throughout training camp to stay relevant and show head coach Peter DeBoer that he belongs on this team. With his continued effort, I would give Sykora the nod for a spot on this roster. Lets hope DeBoer sees it the same way.
The intensity in the third period was a promising sign. No longer are the Devils the team that is being steamrolled on the ice. The third period was full of big hits and open ice checks that went both ways, and made the final few minutes very exciting to watch. Hopefully the Devils will continue to bang the bodies this year, and will once again be a force to be reckoned with.
Through these past couple games against the Rangers, I would give the Devils a grade of a A-.
Overall, the offense looks fairly good. Parise will eventually find his true form when he consistently gets going on the ice. The Josefson-Kovalchuk pairing looks to be playing out well. Sykora should be a cheap offensive addition that the Devils will be able to cash in on. Defensively speaking, Larsson looks as if he is going to be the star they were looking for. Salmela also looks like he could add depth to the defensive pairings as well. As always, Marty is Marty between the pipes, and with him there, the Devils usually don’t have to worry too much.
Tell me what you think about these past few games. How would you evaluate the Devils, and what grade would you give them?
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I am an all around NHL fan. I love to watch Atlantic Division, and root for the Philadelphia Flyers. Just because I cheer for the Flyers, doesn’t mean I don’t keep up with the other teams in the division, specifically the New Jersey Devils. Devils Advocate will provide you with the most important Devils news, filled with my opinion about the selected topic.
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