After a dismal start to the season (I know, only two games, but they were dismal!), the Devils took a trip down south to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals.
Apparently it was just the Rock that caused the Devils to play poorly.
The Devils have come away with winning all three games away, making their record 3-2-0.
It’s actually a refreshing sight – last year the Devils had a habit of starting a game really well and then dropping the second and third periods giving their opponent ample time and opportunity to come back, and 9 out of 10 times they did.
Now, it’s the complete opposite, where the Devils end the first period down, and come back to get the win.
To be fair, looking at Monday’s game against the Washington Capitals, the Devils actually played a whole 60 minutes against them, and fought hard the entire game. Washington, as always, has a tough team to beat thanks to star Alexander Ovechkin. He’s one of those "always dangerous" players that make you cringe when they have the puck. But the Devils had a complete new style against them – they were taking pucks away from them, intercepting dangerous passes, and even getting some great offensive opportunities.
Who were these guys?
I give most of the credit to David Clarkson. Clarkson was rumored to be the breakout player for the team – the guy who was going to just have the year that represents his career.
As we’ve seen in the past, one season or handful of seasons does not a player make, e.g. Brian Gionta, John Madden, etc. Nevertheless, it appears as if he’s going to have an awesome season. He’s already had a point a game streak running for 4 games, he’s tough, physical, can park himself in front of the opponents net (a la Brian Gionta style), and he fights.
What more could you want in a player?
In fact, in Monday’s game against the Capitals, he had a fight near the end of the first when the Devils went down 2-0, and scored the game tying goal forcing overtime.
Don’t be afraid to say this, either, the acquisition of Rob Niedermayer has not been in vain. He is as visible on the ice as Jamie Langenbrunner and Zach Parise. If you get a chance to go to a game, watch him. He’s in the right places at the right times and is experienced enough not to get himself in trouble easily.
As much as I may criticize, the Devils actually have some good offensive strength it appears. Just looking at some of the core player, Rob Niedermayer, Jamie Langenbrunner, Zach Parise, David Clarkson and Patrik Elias are all strong players. Plus you have support from longstanding veterans like Jay Pandolfo, who is also showing signs of having a great season, that make the Devils almost impressive to watch.
It would be nice to see the Devils sure up their defense a little more. Someone who can make the Stevens-esk type hit or the Ken Daneyko-ish type grittiness, would be a welcome addition. However, Johnny Oduya seems to be coming along at a slow but steady pace, and Paul Martin still seems to be the anchor of their defense. Colin White is also solid in his position but doesn’t seem to be as tough as he once was.
As for Martin Brodeur, he, appears to be playing much better, as he predicted. But he’s still given up goals that you sometimes question. Nevertheless, he’s been stronger in net and has given the Devils two wins via shootouts.