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The Zach Parise at center experiment lasted a grand total of three games. Peter DeBoer elected to move rookie C Adam Henrique up to the top line and keeping the Sykora-Elias-Zubrus line together. This week also kicked off with the return of Marty Brodeur. Ultimately, the Devils picked up four out of a possible six points.
The Devils continued their lackluster defensive play against the opposition’s top line against Toronto. The Kessel-Grabovski-Lupul line terrorized the Devils, accounting for 3 of the 5 goals. It was a defensive effort that had Devils legendary defenseman and studio analyst Ken Daneyko beside himself. The Devils played right into the Maple Leafs’ strengths, which is fire-wagon, up and down, transitional hockey. Marty allowed an uncharacteristic five goals, including a pretty soft third goal. The Devils continued to create an abundance of scoring chances but just aren’t converting them into goals with any regularity.
There are no bigger games for the Devils than Devils-Flyers—not even Devils-Rangers. Round two of this season’s installment went to the Devils. Clarkson moved back down to the third line and immediately made a huge impact. He scored the game-tying goal in the third period off a terrific takeaway and pass from Elias. The Devils played more disciplined defensively and blitzed a Flyers team clearly hurting defensively without their ace and captain, Chris Pronger. The Flyers were very sloppy passing from their own zone and the Devils forced a lot of turnovers and peppered the Flyers goal.
It wouldn’t be a Devils game without some controversy: there were many questionable calls throughout the game. The most glaring one being Danny Briere’s shootout goal that was allowed to stand even though it appeared that he came to a complete stop before going around Hedberg. It was irrelevant in the end because Elias buried the game winner but it could have huge implications throughout the league in future shootouts.
The Devils scratched and clawed to a 3-2 overtime victory against Jets. With Kovalchuk out, the Devils knew they needed to get offense from their youngsters. C Adam Henrique answered the bell, scoring twice on breakaways, and the second coming in overtime to give the Devils the victory. Twice, Parise passes found Henrique all alone with only the goaltending to beat, and twice he beat the Jets netminder. His speed and skill was on full display. On the first goal, he out-skated two Jets and gave Jets G Ondrej Pavelec a fake before lifting a backhand into the roof of the net. On the second goal he noticed Pavelec, having already been beaten by a Henrique fake, was unwilling to challenge him so he just blasted a wrist shot past Pavelec.
G Martin Brodeur picked up his first victory of the season. He looked a lot more comfortable against the Jets than previously against the Leafs. His lateral movement was excellent, as well as his rebound control. It’s far from vintage Marty but it’s still a work in progress.
LW Zach Parise: The Devils’ captain, back at his normal position, turned in an impressive week. He scored a goal and dished out two assists including a very nifty cross ice pass to Henrique on the overtime game-winning goal against Winnipeg. He also scored in the shootout against the Flyers.
C Patrik Elias: A point in each game, two goals, the game-tying assist in the Flyers, and the shootout winning goal as well. Whenever he decides to hang up his skates his number will be hanging alongside Stevens, Daneyko, and (the soon to be) Niedermayer.
C Adam Henrique: Five points in a week of many firsts, first NHL goal, first multi-goal game, first game-winning goal, and first overtime winning goal. Peter DeBoer threw him onto the top line and he’s rewarding his coach with brilliant play.