NHL Playoffs: Bryce Salvador Providing Unexpected Offense for New Jersey Devils

Carl StoffersCorrespondent IIMay 22, 2012

Bryce Salvador has provided unexpected offense for New Jersey during the playoffs
Bryce Salvador has provided unexpected offense for New Jersey during the playoffsBruce Bennett/Getty Images

For the first several minutes of the New Jersey Devils' Game 4 matchup with the New York Rangers on Monday night, a feeling of dreaded deja vu was slowly building.

Just like in Game 1 and Game 3, the Devils were controlling the tempo through tough forechecking and aggressive defense, creating multiple scoring opportunities. Just like in those previous games, though, Ranger goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was stopping everything thrown his way.

“I thought we put some pressure on early, and it looked like it was going to be more of the same from the night before,” DeBoer said in the post game press conference. “We got some quality chances early, couldn’t get one by him."

Suddenly, at 8:10 of the first period, defenseman Bryce Salvador wristed a shot from the left point past Lundqvist to give the Devils a 1-0 lead. It was a huge lift for New Jersey, and a spark that ignited their offense.

Salvador, always known as a "defensive defenseman", played in all 82 regular season games for the Devils this season and scored exactly zero goals while notching nine assists. He has now registered three goals and seven assists in 16 playoff games this postseason.

In fact, heading in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs, Salvador hadn't scored a goal in over two calendar years (he missed the 2010-11 campaign with concussion issues). So what's behind the offensive explosion, and should he be considered an "offensive defenseman" now?

"I know I lit it up when I was, I think 10 years old," Salvador said after the Devils Game 4 win. "The reality of it is, the points are great, but I think what's important is the wins. If we're not winning, no one's going to remember how many points you have."

Salvador went on to explain the strategy the Devils are using to try to overcome the Rangers extensive shot-blocking efforts.

"The strategy is to get the puck on the net," he said. "The goal is just trying to get it past the first forward. Slap shots just aren't going to get through, so if you can try and get past the first forward, and hopefully there's going to be a tip or deflection, and maybe something will go in."

As for  how or why his offensive production has skyrocketed, Salvador didn't want to speculate.

"Everybody's getting rewarded for sticking to the system," he said. "Right now, maybe the puck, my pucks have eyes on them and I'll run with it while I can."