You can call it grit, you can call it determination, heck, you can call it flat-out lucky, but what the New Jersey Devils are doing, is stealing points from the opposition. It was only two seasons ago where the Devils lost every shootout of the season, I know, it was rough times, but the point is that the Devils missed the playoffs that year by five points. If they had won half of those shootouts then they would have made the playoffs, but that’s old news. The new story is the way this team just doesn’t give up. It’s inspiring, and it’s become a philosophy that everyone in the organization is rallying around.
Clutch Players Being Clutch
The Devils don’t have a lot of skill, we get that, but sometimes it’s not about how much skill you have. It’s the way that the Devils are using their skill that matters. Take Mike Cammalleri for example; here’s a guy who averaging over one point-per-game with 10 goals and 18 assists over 26 games. Last year Cammalleri posted 42 points in 68 games, which is a little less than what he’s doing now, but he’s scoring goals when they need it most. That’s what Cammalleri was signed to do though, to score goals and make plays, like what he did last night to help steal another point for the Devils.
It’s not just Cammalleri, as they already have three players who have hit 10 goals so far, which include Adam Henrique, who is becoming an All-Star game worthy, and Kyle Palmieri. Last season the Devils had seven players who scored at least ten goals, but only Cammalleri surpassed 20, finishing with 27. This year is just a totally different dynamic, even when the opposition scores it feels like they still have a chance to tie it up.
Points mean everything in the NHL, and coaches will do whatever they can to get them, but the Devils tenacity with their never say die isn’t something that can be taught. It’s a mentality that only increases as you keep defying the odds. However, getting down, and needing to come back isn’t something that can become a common theme because it will come back to bite you eventually. The numbers aren’t in the favor of teams that trail coming into the third period, but there’s a belief that they can comeback from any deficit. That’s always a good thing, but if the Devils want to make the playoffs, they have to earn points, not steal them.
Devils Depth Needs Improvement
Speaking of which, the Devils aren’t actually in the playoffs at the moment, as they sit tied with Boston with 29 points, while being one point behind both Pittsburgh, and their next opponent, the Florida Panthers. If New Jersey wants to stay in the playoff picture, then they will need to get more production from their bottom-six. That also includes scoring against teams other than the Carolina Hurricanes.
During that game Jacob Josefson finally got his first goal, and Stephen Gionta scored his first goal in what was a dominating performance. Too me, I don’t really count that because I want to see these guys make plays against better teams. Josefson got moved up to the second line in the wake of Travis Zajac being injured, which shows that this teams needs a competent third line center.
Sometimes I can’t tell which line is the third line, and which line is the fourth because they both don’t really do much. Jordin Tootoo and Bobby Farnham I would think is the fourth line because of the way they play, that’s fine then, but can you really justify to me that the combination of Stefan Matteau, Sergey Kalinin, and Tyler Kennedy is a third line? Matteau has played very well in the couple of games he’s been back in the lineup, and so has Kennedy in spots, but there’s so much fluctuation in their bottom six that only Farnham and Tootoo have specific roles.
The Devils are front loaded and everyone knows that, but seeing the Devils top-six play as well as they is leaving something to be desired from everyone else.
New Jersey is in a strange situation. They are right in the middle of the pack, which at first glance is already ahead of where we thought they would be at this point of the season, and now with all this point stealing, they are creating an identity that we wouldn’t see for another few years if they just tanked for a high draft pick.
Is it great that they are getting points and keeping themselves in the race? Yes, but just don’t be too disappointed if they slowly fall out of the race. The NHL’s a long season, and while stealing a point are two now and then is nice, it’s the teams that are consistently good that make it to the dance.
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