When breaking down the keys to second half success for the New Jersey Devils, I noted how the club would need more production from number 14 in 2014. At the time, Adam Henrique had nine goals and nine assists for 18 points. Henrique was just revving up then and now the Rico Rocket appears to be soaring to new heights and possibly 30 goals.
Perhaps he was motivated by the recent Canadian Olympic victory, with his sight set on PyeongChang in 2018. Whatever the case, Henrique has the hot hand in seemingly every situation of late. His recent play has Henrique atop the Devils’ leader board in goals (23), power-play goals (7), short-handed goals (3) and shooting percentage (19.2%). That’s two goals away from his professional high in 2010-11, when Henrique netted 25 goals for the AHL Albany Devils.
Henrique’s hot hand has coincided with the Devils’ success of late. Henrique has a goal in each of his past six games, racking up nine goals and two assists during that six-game point streak. Since the end of the Olympic break, Henrique has three multiple goal games, including two apiece in consecutive contests against the Detroit Red Wings and Carolina Hurricanes. During that stretch, New Jersey is 4-2. Most of that play earned Henrique the NHL’s second star of the week, ending March 2.
Although Michael Ryder hasn’t been lighting the lamp with regularity of late, one has to believe that Ryane Clowe plays a huge role in creating space for Henrique to work his magic. Clowe has 66 hits through 33 contests.
Known for his clutch heroics, since his arrival on the NHL scene, Henrique hasn’t just been compiling these points either. At the start of the streak, against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Henrique got it done on special teams. It was Henrique’s power play goal in the first period, which would stand up as the eventual winner and his shorty in the second frame, which would serve as the back breaker.
In a 6-1 rout of the New York Islanders, Henrique’s first period backhand marker with the extra attacker, ignited the Devils onslaught.
Even in a losing effort against the San Jose Sharks, Henrique got the Devils on the board in the second period and registered a secondary helper on Patrik Elias’ goal, later in the frame. Speaking of starring in a losing effort, Henrique’s first goal (again in the second stanza) put the Devils in front 3-2, before Detroit piled on from there.
Conversely, Henrique sparked the Devils in the prior contest between the two clubs, setting the tone by scoring just 27 seconds into the first period against Detroit.
Then against Carolina, Henrique sizzled once again with his play on special teams and his wicked backhand shot, all on full display. Off a smooth feed from Clowe, Henrique seemingly stopped on a dime and roofed a backhander by Anton Khudobin, giving the Devils a 3-1 edge in the second period. Minutes later, Henrique was right back at it, this time on the penalty kill. Off a drop pass from Elias, Henrique whipped a wrist shot past Khudobin and increased the Devils advantage to 4-1. That goal was also good enough to place Henrique second in the NHL with three shorthanded markers.
Defenceman Anton Volchenkov may have the “A-Train” moniker but the Devils will enjoy rising on Rico’s Rocket just the same.
Michael Gwizdala covers the New York Islanders for The Hockey Writers. Michael is also an Associate Producer at WNYT NewsChannel 13. Additionally, Michael was once a Media Relations intern for the AHL Albany River Rats. Michael is a graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.