Some could argue the 2016-17 New Jersey Devils are “The Godfather: Part III” of hockey teams. “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.” In the midst of their mandatory five-day break, the Devils appear to be rejuvenated.
Keying their resurgence are a few pivotal players from a season ago. They are a pair of 30-goal scorers and an All-Star goalie; all are suddenly waking up in 2017. Those three are Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri and Cory Schneider.
He can be streaky and yes he can score in bunches. When the Devils’ center is on, he’s difficult to stop. The Brantford, Ontario, native has been heating up in recent contests.
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) February 7, 2017
Jumping up the charts, Henrique leads the club with 15 tallies and ranks third with 31 points. This is the type of production the Devils expected out of “Rico,” and he appears to be hitting his stride.
In his past five contests, “Rico” has been revving up the offense. In this time frame, Henrique has registered a point in each contest and a goal in four out of five games. The seventh-year forward has recorded seven points, two power-play tallies, one short-handed marker, a game-winning goal and even a birthday goal for good measure.
Likewise, the former St. Peter’s Prep star is stepping up his game. One may recall an early season scrap last year between Palmieri and the New York Rangers, which sparked the Devils to their first victory. In a Jan. 26 tilt against the Washington Capitals, a Palmieri donnybrook seemed to have the same effect on the club.
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) February 1, 2017
More important is “Palms'” impact on the score sheet. The Devils right winger now ranks second on the squad with 14 tallies and 32 points.
During his past five contests, Palmieri has posted three goals and four points. Like Henrique, he has helped special-teams play with a goal on the power play and short-handed.
After notching seven tallies in the 2016 portion of the schedule, the second-year Devils forward has equaled the total with seven more markers. This, as the team has 28 contests left on the 2017 part of the docket.
Chalk it up to more rest or a change in personnel on defense, but Schneider looks sharper in the second half. In three of his past five outings, he’s allowed fewer than two goals.
That's two solid games in a row. Trending upwards. pic.twitter.com/MQ6QtkDWFq
— Dan Rice (@DRdiabloTHW) February 7, 2017
Through 14 contests since the start of the new year, the Marblehead, Massachusetts, native has allowed two goals or fewer in eight of those games.
In an albeit small sample size, the Devils’ top goalie has posted his best numbers since October, sporting a 1.99 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage.
Can They Keep It up?
Using last season as a parameter, Henrique netted 14 of his 30 markers in the final 32 contests, including eight in March.
In his final 32 games, Palmieri potted 10 of his 30 goals and March was his highest-point month with 14 in 15 games.
As for Schneider, his second half was a bit more shaky and plagued by injury but he did rebound in April with a 1.68 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage in three games.
If these three amigos finish strong, the Devils could find themselves knocking on the door toward the end of the season.
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.