The well-oiled machine that is Jersey’s Team is humming with familiar proficiency. The curiosity is how this surprised some hockey “experts” which thought that there would be twenty teams better than the New Jersey Devils this season.
This week at The Rock, questions regarding individuals, special teams, and the fans have been answered. Will Adam Henrique and David Clarkson be able to continue last season’s stellar performances? Will Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg be the backbone that gives the team a chance to win? Will the power play be potent? Will the penalty kill hold firm? Will the fans come back?
We found out on Tuesday night when the rags visited Newark for the first time since May 25, 2012. None of the answers lack clarity. As soon as Henrique returned from his hand injury he provided fellow sophomore Adam Larsson and rookie Stefan Matteau a perfect example of getting involved and making an impact as his timing for scoring huge goals hasn’t skipped a beat. David Clarkson’s incredible season is simply continuing as he is burying pucks again at a phenomenal rate. Martin Brodeur continues to make a fool of every pessimist’s forecast by being the best goaltender in the building every night. Johan Hedberg’s brilliant two starts remind us of his immeasurable value to the squad. The Devils have struck three times on the power play this week and have killed 19 straight penalties.The first four home games have been sellouts and the fifth hosted 14,802 fans.
As a team, the New Jersey Devils have picked up points in nine out of ten games and are within striking distance of the Eastern Conference lead. That brings us to this weekend. The team that got away with the only regulation time win against the Devils this season and are slightly ahead in the division and conference are the Pittsburgh Penguins. This weekend will feature a home-and-home series with The Rock hosting the 1:00PM matinee on Saturday and the return leg in Pittsburgh at 7:30PM on Sunday. Pittsburgh usually enjoys a great rivalry with Washington DC featuring Alex Ovechkin versus Sidney Crosby and Pennsylvania state-rival Philadelphia, however these two teams are not up to the task this season and Pittsburgh was vacant of a worthy rival until now. The New Jersey Devils will be part of an NHL highlight battle for the top spot. It’s back to the business of cranking up the engine and letting it roar as usual. The perplexity is how ESPN and The Hockey News had ranked the Devils 21st and 22nd respectively at the start of the season. Absolutely astonishing.