Over the past couple of weeks the Devils have acquired some young talent and are beginning to get back some key players from injury. With the season quickly coming and going because of the lockout, its time to ramp things up for a New Jersey Devils playoff push.
The New Jersey Devils (14-11-6) are currently sitting at 7th in the Eastern Conference with 34 points. With critical games coming up against some quality opponents, the Devils should begin to ramp up their lineups and push full steam ahead into the playoffs.
The following are my recommended lines going forth for the New Jersey Devils:
Line 1: Andrei Loktionov – Travis Zajac – Ilya Kovalchuk
With Travis Zajac struggling to produce offensively, Ilya Kovalchuk will certainly receive most of the attention and open the ice up for Travis Zajac to get more shots on net and get back to scoring.
Andrei Loktionov has certainly turned into a key element for the Devils since being acquired from LA earlier in the year. He has been really surprising and I look for him to keep producing and hopefully get more playing time as the year goes on.
Ilya Kovalchuk, well.. what can you say about Ilya Kovalchuk. He does it all on the ice. He is the deadliest sniper in the game for a reason and just makes everyone around him better. He has superb passing skills and has an excellent hockey IQ. Although Ilya has become more of a passer this year, he needs to just be the old Ilya Kovalchuk and take the shots when they come to him.
Line 2: Patrik Elias – Adam Henrique – David Clarkson
This line has the capability to do big things IF David Clarkson starts scoring like he was early on in the year. Patrik Elias continues to impress and put together a pretty good year in the shortened lockout year. He has gotten a decent amount of goals but continues to dish the puck out and help others get open to score. With him on the same line as David Clarkson, Patrik Elias will certainly look to get Clarkson the puck and help him get back to the David Clarkson of last year that scored 30 goals. With Adam Henrique coming into his sophomore season, he has a lot to prove in New Jersey. He is obviously able to score goals, but as every player in New Jersey, there needs to be consistency in his game. He doesn't lack skill that's for sure and he will certainly be around for a long time in NHL.
Line 3: Alexei Ponikarovsky – Matt D'Agostini – Dainius Zubrus
Here's what I like about this line. They aren't a line a that's going to blow you away in terms of lighting up the scoresheet on a nightly basis, but they all are definitely have the ability to score. Dainius Zubrus is a player who brings energy and toughness to any line that he plays on and when you play like that, you will get good scoring chances.
Matt D'Agostini is going to be coming to a new environment where the fans of New Jersey are expecting a winning team year in and year out. Being on a third line where expectations of producing are low, could give a good chance to find his role in New Jersey and mesh together with the rest of the team. He has plenty of upside and good potential in New Jersey and look for him to get a lot of time once he gets settled into the system.
It may also seem odd having a right winger playing in a center spot, but granted that there are no other available options at center, he has no other option. I think he as well as Zubrus and Ponikarovsky could make a good sneaky contributing line.
Alexei Ponikarovsky is the type of player that if he is on your team, you love him. If he isn't, than you hate him. He has the same perks as Dainius Zubrus. He is a highly physical player and can contribute the occasional offense.
We are going to need to give this line some time together as Dainius and Alexei are both going to be returning from injuries and Matt D'Agostini coming over in a trade from St. Louis. When they are able to figure out eachother's strenghts and weaknesses this line is going to be a highly underrated.
Line 4: Ryan Carter – Stephen Gionta – Steven Bernier
Who in New Jersey doesn't love this line together? This line is by far the most enthusiastic and energized line that the New Jersey Devils have. This line is fully capable of swinging momentum in a single shift by their hard work and determination which rubs off on all the New Jersey Devils players. This line is capable of scoring and isn't afraid to play the physical aspect of hockey. I don't like when this line is split up because it lead to the success of New Jersey in the postseason and it continues to produce this year for them. It wouldn't make sense to fix something that isn't broke, right?
Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images
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