New Jersey Devils: What Have We Learned After 10 Games?

JerseySenior Analyst INovember 1, 2008

Injuries, injuries, injuries. To date, six Devils have gotten hurt, beginning with scoring threat Brian Rolston, and most recently Hall-of-Fame goalie Martin Brodeur, with captain Jamie Langenbrunner, among others, along the way. Six injuries in just 10 games? Someone's been poisoning the Kool-Aid.

The Devils can SCORE? Three five-goal games already—and ALL after the Rolston injury. Zach Parise has been amazing, scoring in six straight games (nine goals overall). Considering how weak the Devils' offense had been before Rolston got hurt, it seems almost as if Rolston had been impeding the offense—but that's silly.

I think that Rolston will, of course, help out when he returns, and that the sudden outburst of scoring is more a result of the team clicking than his absence. Somehow, this team has managed to find the net, and that's always been their Achillies' heel. If this keeps up, we could be in for an excellent season.

Where's the D? Sure, Brodeur has a few shutouts, and the D put forth a superb effort against Pittsburgh, but the team is 23rd in the league on the penalty kill and recently gave up five goals to Toronto, blowing two leads along the way.

They also allowed four goals to the Rangers. The D hasn't been awful all year, but they do need to regroup. The most recent game against Atlanta was a solid defensive effort, especially with Brodeur leaving in the middle, but it was still only Atlanta.

We still can't beat the Rangers. It's only one game, but the Devils continued last year's awful trend of not beating their crosstown rivals. After years of dominance, New Jersey swooned last year against the Rangers, winning only one against them all year.

Now, the Devils need to find their old swagger against a team missing Sean Avery, a thorn in the Devils' side every time the teams met. They play again this week; let's hope the tide turns.

Speaking of the Rangers, their schedule is frontloaded. Again. Not exactly a Devils comment, but a general NHL observation. Every year, it seems the Rangers are multiple games ahead of everyone else on the schedule, and this year is no exception. They've already played 14 games, compared to the Devils' 10. That's insane.

By the way, I still contend this team is overrated, and their fast start is a fluke. Do you really think Aaron Voros is going to keep it up all season? Nik Zherdev has looked good so far, but we always knew he had talent—let's just see if he can keep his head in the game.

When Markus Naslund begins to break down, Wade Redden begins coughing up pucks, and the Rangers realize how much they miss Jaromir Jagr, their wins will begin to decrease. That said, Henrik Lundqvist is legit, and as long as he's healthy, this team is playoff-caliber.

Dainius Zubrus has arrived! Two goals, four assists, and a plus-three rating is nothing special, but fairly decent. Still, that's better than Zubrus was last year. But it's not just those numbers that have stood out for Zubrus this year. He's looked very, very good, getting all over the ice, hustling, and doing all the right things. He's not supposed to score a ton, but to be a presence on the ice, the kind of guy who can crash the net, lay a hit if needed, and maybe pop one in the net if the time is right.

He's doing his job, which is finally nice to see. Also surprising is Andy Greene, at least until his recent injury. He's looked much better than last year, when he was utterly lost.

Still no Brendan Shanahan. With all the injuries, you'd think the Devils would turn to this former star for some veteran help. Well, he's unsigned, and I don't think he's arriving any time soon. The team has been weathering the storm with rookies, and there's no need to pay for an aging fill-in.

Kevin Weekes gets to play! Okay, it was caused by an injury to Marty, otherwise he probably wouldn't be seen until January. But it's nice to get this guy off the bench, and if he makes the best of his playing time, maybe he'll earn Brodeur a little more rest. Hopefully, though, he won't spend much time as the team's primary goalie.

Here's to 72 more great games from the New Jersey Devils, passing the Rangers, and winning the Stanley Cup! I hope. Now, can our players come back, please?