Devils Get Back On Track
It was a rebounding week for the Devils following a week where they had three overtime losses, and one regulation loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Devils responded this week by rattling off four straight wins, three of which came against Atlantic division rivals.
The Devils started the week off beating the New York Islanders in Nassau 3-0. It was Johan Hedberg’s second start of the season in goal, and he didn’t disappoint earning his first shutout of the season. New Jersey’s penalty killing unit was superb going a perfect 7-7, and their offense pressured the Islanders all night with 27 shots on goal.
On Tuesday night against the New York Rangers, Center Adam Henrique started the scoring in the first period. Henrique had the last goal against the Rangers last year in the Eastern Conference Finals, and he didn’t waste any time this year to continue his torment of the Rangers. Veteran Martin Brodeur returned to the net and played outstanding considering the only goal let up was in the 3rd period, and the Rangers had four power plays in the first period alone. Young Star David Clarkson, had the two other goals and an assist for the Devils as the home crowd in the Rock watched their team cruise to an early season victory over the rival Rangers 3-1.
New Jersey continued their winning ways on Thursday at the Rock against Tampa Bay. Long time Devil Patrik Elias led the offense with one goal and two assists as the Devils topped the Lightning 4-2. The red and black took advantage of the power play going 2-4 on their chances.
The week ended on an extremely high note for New Jersey as they cooled off the red hot Pittsburgh Penguins. Coming into the game the Penguins were riding a five game win streak, with one of the five coming against the Devils. New Jersey mounted 28 shots against Marc Andre Fleury and put three past him culminating in a 3-1 victory. Penguins star, Sidney Crosby, was completely shut down by the Devils defense led by Andy Greene. The win avenged a 5-1 regulation loss to the Penguins and propelled the Devils into first place in the division.
The Devils have continued to enjoy the comforts of home this season as they were 3-0 this week and are 5-1 on the season. At the end of the day on Saturday the Devils sit at 7-1-3 and atop the Eastern Conference. Even though it is still early in this young season, every win in this lockout shortened season is critical, and a good start this year goes a long way. If the Devils can consistently get great play from their penalty kill unit, and Brodeur and Hedberg, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them in the Stanley Cup Finals again this year.