Hello everyone and welcome to another addition Masala Monday. The last time I talked to you guys, our beloved New Jersey Devils were in a 3-2 series hole against the Florida Panthers. Well they came back strong and now are playing the Philadelphia Flyers in round 2 (but you guys all know that). I predicted that the players who were listed as spicy/stale would have an impact against Florida and indeed they did, sending us to round 2. Let’s take a look at how some players have stood out to me from Games 6 & 7 vs. Florida and Game 1 vs. Philadelphia.
Travis Zajac – Without a doubt Zajac deserves a spot here. After missing a majority of the season, Zajac came back strong and in these playoffs, he’s been the go-to guy. Devils fans will always remember him for that Game 6 overtime goal at The Rock that tied the series against Florida at 3. Though he didn’t score in Game 7, his presence was a force to be reckoned with. In Game 1 at Philadelphia in the 2nd period, Zajac swooped in and shot a puck that just trickled over the goal line past Ilya Bryzgalov. That goal tied the game at 2 and even though the Devils lost, Zajac’s team leading 4 goals and 7 points (add 3 assists) gives New Jersey the confidence they need to rebound and silence those critics.
Zach Parise – Captain Zach has been consistent throughout the playoffs. Of course, if you’re the captain of the team, you gotta be consistent. Otherwise, how do you expect the team to be consistent? Parise showed strong leadership through his selfless play in New Jersey’s comeback against Florida. In Game 1 at Philadelphia, Parise added a goal to give the Devils a 1-0 advantage. I just hoped we could’ve held that but the past is behind us. Parise has 3 goals and 3 assists (6 points) and if the Devils want to avoid the embarrassment from losing to the Flyers again, those numbers will have to (and I think they will) go up.
Adam Henrique – I didn’t put him here last time because I didn’t see much from him in the first 5 games against Florida. I’m amazed at what he did after. He created several chances in Game 6 and ultimately I thought that he would have something to say in Game 7. You gotta think he did more than just that! Opening the scoring AND closing the scoring…in double overtime?! Please, how can you not put him in the spicy category? Look for Henrique to play a pivotal role in New Jersey’s quest for glory.
The Devils 4th Line – How much can we say about these guys? Coach DeBoer trusts them beyond limits. We’ve seen this line of Steve Bernier-Ryan Carter-Stephen Gionta being matched with some of the top lines that both Florida and Philadelphia have to offer. In addition, they’ve fared well against them. I was truly impressed to see Gionta in particular, forecheck the way he did against the Briere line in Philly. He’s showing shades of his brother for sure. The 4th line currently has the most even strength goals for the Devils with 5.
Ilya Kovalchuk – Why Kovy why? I love this guy a lot and I look up to him in several ways. However, you can’t tell me that he’s suffering from an “injury” but then not know what it is. If there’s any injury, it’s a lack of heart. I remember NHL on NBC analyst Keith Jones ripping on Alex Radulov for his lazy play(http://bit.ly/Km7TVd). While Radulov was actually healthy, I’m sure Jones would’ve had an ample amount to say about Kovalchuk and his performance in these playoffs. He doesn’t seem that fast as of late and that Game 1 performance was just awful. I HOPE he can rebound but if he doesn’t, we need other guys to step up to the plate. Otherwise, we might as well just lock up our Devils gear until next October and trust me, I REALLY don’t want to do that.
Anton Volchenkov/Peter Harrold – What’s up with these guys? I haven’t seen a single amount of effort taken by these guys. Maybe a little bit by Volchenkov but they both make careless plays. In the case of Florida, it’s okay because they’re not as difficult a team compared to the Flyers. If there’s one thing we know about Philadelphia’s pro hockey team, it’s that they’re like crocodiles waiting for their prey to be just close enough for the kill. In this case the prey is the play of Volchenkov and Harrold and I seriously think it’s time to bench one of them and oh I don’t know…FREE LARSSON?!
Alex Ponikarovsky – Come on how does this guy even move up on the first line? If it’s because him and Kovalchuk speak the same language, that’s a big mistake because Ponikarovsky hasn’t done squat in the playoffs and I certainly don’t believe appeasing him to the first line will do any better for the team. Hockey is a team sport and Poni’s move to the first line will do more harm than good. That’s just my take though. He’s more effective on the 3rd line.
As a team? I actually would say the Devils are quite SPICY! Yes they had a big setback in the 4-3 OT loss to Philly. So what? Do we all not remember how they came back against Florida in style? Also do we not realize that the mental block we have had against the Flyers has most likely been destroyed? The Devils are back and if you don’t believe so, do share your views. Once again, I encourage your them! You all can send me your views/criticisms via commenting or via tweeting.
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