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Although the Devils loss to the red-hot defending Stanley Cup Champion Bruins, they really played them tough. This wasn’t like their two other losses this month, Toronto and Washington. They just simply got beat by a better team. They were three minutes away from snatching a point when LW Benoit Pouilot set a miscued puck past G Johan Hedberg.
It was one of those games where if you were a neutral fan or you just love offense, this was the game for you. From the midway point of the second period on the ice was wide open, rush after rush from both teams. There were many positives from this game. The Devils finally were able to score a power play goal. Hedberg, although he took the loss, really played terrific, as always, in net. And lastly, the Parise line is starting to buzz offensively. RW Palmieri, in place of RW Kovalchuk, scored two goals playing on the top line. In the end the Bruins were just too much for the Devils.
The loss of star G Ryan Miller is obviously huge for the Buffalo Sabres. The Devils really sent a message early on, scoring a wonderful shorthanded goal just over two minutes into the game. They followed the goal three minutes later with a power play goal courtesy of Ilya Kovalchuk. Welcome back Kolvy. The game was never in doubt. The Devils put a comprehensive beating on the Sabres, winning 5-3.
The once struggling power play of the Devils is suddenly on fire. They scored two more power play goals against the Lightning, giving them four in three games. The first goal of the game was scored by RW Zubrus towards the end of a Lightning power play. It will officially go down as an even strength goal but the puck hit the back of the net just as the power play expired, so for me it’s more like a shorthanded goal than even strength. The Lightning made things interesting midway through the third when they scored back-to-back goals in the span of a minute and a half to make it 3-2. The Devils hung on and eventually got a fourth on a misplay by G Roloson that resulted in a C Carter goal.
The key to the Devils success has been the power play, not only are they starting to convert their opportunities, they’ve also killed 11 of 12 power plays during the week. In fact, Zach Parise’s shorthanded goal neutralizes the goal allowed. They have scored as many goals as they have allowed (1-1) with a man disadvantage this week. The Devils lead the NHL in killing power plays, at almost 93%. They’ve allowed a league low five goals on the power play.
A shorthanded goal, two assists, and terrific two-way hockey, it’s hard to watch a Devils game and not notice that Zach is consistently one of the best players on the ice. He may not be scoring goals but they will come. He is one of the game’s premier forwards. I have a feeling this is the beginning of a hot streak for Zach.
Two more goals and an assist, eight goals and ten assist in 18 games. He is the model of consistent high quality play. At 35 he’s logging the most ice-time of anyone not named Ilya on the Devils.
He scored a goal in each of the three games, throw in an assist for good measure. His offensive game is expanded beyond the Devils’ wildest dreams. He’s second on the team with seven goals, and leads the team in penalty minutes. He’s really the only enforcer who suits up for the Devils every game. He’s simply irreplaceable to the Devils right now.