Peter Harrold Helps Devils Defense with Offense from Blue Line

Roman Uschak@@RomanUschakCorrespondent IMarch 23, 2013

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 16: Peter Harrold #10 of the New Jersey Devils (R) celebrates his powerplay goal at 3:54 of the second period against the Montreal Canadiens along with Ilya Kovalchuk #17 (L) at the Prudential Center on March 16, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

This Peter Harrold guy isn’t so bad.

The New Jersey Devils (finally) brought Harrold up from Albany (AHL) prior to a game with Buffalo on March 7, and so far it’s looked like a good move for the parent club. Harrold scored his second goal in three games, this one off a rebound to give the Devils a 3-0 lead, in Thursday night’s 4-1 win at Carolina.

The victory, coupled with the New York Rangers’ loss to Florida, vaulted New Jersey back into the Stanley Cup playoff picture. The Devils are now in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with just 17 games remaining in the abbreviated regular season, two points ahead of both the Hurricanes and the Rangers.

Harrold spent the majority of the 2012-13 professional campaign in Albany, where he tallied five goals and 21 assists for 26 points to go with 36 penalty minutes in 61 games prior to his most recent recall. He had an assist in Tuesday’s loss to the Rangers, but was also on ice for all three opposing goals, including Rick Nash's second-period game-winner, making him minus-five for the year. That needs improvement, but Devils top-scoring defenseman Marek Zidlicky is a minus-six for the season.

Harrold still scored his first goal as a Devil in a 2-1 loss to Montreal on March 16. He had gone pointless with the Devils earlier this season in game against Pittsburgh in February and was shipped back to the minors.The 29-year-old native of Kirtland Hills, Ohio, also took a puck to the visor against the Canadiens, but suffered no permanent physical damage before returning to that contest.

“The swelling has gone down now,” he said at the Fire & Ice blog. “My helmet fits again.”

Harrold has been a pretty good fit for the Devils since joining New Jersey in 2011. The 6'0" tall, 195-pound blueliner had four assists in 17 playoff games last spring as the Devils came within two wins of their fourth Stanley Cup crown.

He played four years at Boston College (2002-06), where was a collegiate teammate of current Devils forward Stephen Gionta, and helped the Eagles to the 2006 NCAA Championship game. He hit the post with less than two seconds left in a 2-1 Wisconsin win in Milwaukee in his final college contest.

Harrold then skated parts of five seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, who ironically then topped the Devils in last year’s Stanley Cup Final. He also spent two full seasons with the Kings' top affiliate in Manchester (AHL), where he collected 14-63 (77 points in 111 regular-season outings).

Although he’s currently sporting that minus-five rating to go with his three points, Harrold is generating some much-needed offense from the blue line, and has recorded 16 shots on goal in the eight games he’s played since his recall earlier this month. He's also doled out 14 hits, so that plus/minus figure could come down now that Devils' top goaltender (and goal scorer) Martin Brodeur is back after missing 13 games.

“He’s solid,” head coach Peter DeBoer said of Harrold during last year's playoffs. “He’s come in after playing in the minors the entire year and really given us some solid minutes back there. He’s good defensively, he can skate the puck out of trouble, he can add on the offensive side of the puck."

The hope now is that he can keep doing it the rest of this year on a team that could sorely use it as it seeks to secure a playoff spot—and maybe another run at the Cup.