The Devils have gotten points in eight of the 11 games that the team has played since the new year. And it has happened despite the fact that both veteran defensemen John Moore and Andy Greene have been out of the lineup for almost all of that time. So, what has changed since the disastrous New Year’s eve afternoon 6-2 loss to Washington?
It certainly does not mean that New Jersey has dominated play against all or most of the opponents, but the team has found a way to either win outright or to be tied at the end of regulation during almost all of their games. And in the game against the very skilled Montreal on Friday, it was a questionable five minute boarding call against New Jersey’s Karl Stollery that led to two Canadiens’ power play goals and a 3-1 victory.
What has changed is that effort and discipline have been on display during almost all the games. Head Coach John Hynes challenged his team at the end of December and they have responded. The defense has been excellent, particularly since the road trip to Western Canada and Minnesota that began 10 days ago. And although the offense has often started the game slowly, and the opposition has dominated early on, it does not last, as the Devils come into themselves.
Two goals were enough to beat both Calgary and Vancouver, and when needed (like in Philadelphia on Saturday or against the Wild three days before), the team has the ability to score four.
The big test however is coming later this week, on Thursday, when Washington comes to town.
But let’s take a quick look at who is hot and who is not, as we move into the all-star break.
Keith Kinkaid–Since January 13th, Kinkaid has a save percentage of 94.7%, winning two out of the three games in which he has appeared. The game he lost was against Montreal, where he faced a five minute major and gave up two goals.
Taylor Hall–who is riding a six game point streak (two goals, four assists) since January 12th. His two goals were both game winners in Vancouver and Calgary.
Miles Wood–young, with high energy, great on the forecheck, and willing to stick up for teammates, Wood added to his value by scoring two goals against Phillie on Saturday.
Adam Henrique–With only four points in 11 games since the new year, Henrique has not been very offensively productive.
Vernon Fiddler–At 36, Fiddler is definitely at the tail end of his career, but no one expected that he would just have three points in 36 games this far into the season. Fiddler brings experience and defensive play to the bottom lines, but the Devils could really use a little more from him.