From the drop of the puck, you could see the Devils were going to the far better team in last nights game against the depleted Islanders. Out hustling, controlling the puck and winning the board battles all night the Devils showed they wanted the puck more than the Islanders did all night.
Throughout the night, the Devils forced turnovers and had room and space to make plays and move the puck freely. The first goal of the night came off a forced turnover by Parise, as he easily took the puck away from goalie Yann Danis behind the net and centered it to Travis Zajac for his 14th goal of the year.
Zajac has been the Devils best player on this road trip, posting 4G-3A-7pts and a plus-6 rating on the current road trip. In his third season with the Devils, Zajac has found a comfort zone and with 37 games remaining his 35 points are already one more than last year's totals of 34 points (14G-20A).
Scott Clemmensen reappeared in goal last night and stopped 32 of 33 shots, but was not tested by the Islanders all night, as the Devils controlled the play the entire night. Clemmensen played better than he had in previous games and controlled his rebounds, which had one of his big problems of late.
Now with Monday's game in Nashville, Coach Sutter has a choice to make in goal. Clemmensen has been the stand-in #1 goalie, but of late Weekes has stepped up his play and been the better of the two goalies. Sutter, still believes he needs both goalies to hold the fort and play well to be successful and I suspect that both goalies play one more game each before the All-Star break coming up next weekend.
Monday's game in Nashville will probably bring another choice for Coach Sutter as Brendan Shanahan is expected to make his season debut. With four lines playing well during this road trip, it will be hard decision for Sutter and will be hard to break up the continuity that these lines have started to gain over the past few games.
Tomorrow I will be looking at all the players who may come out and why they should and why they should not come out of the line-up.
- The Devils only having two power-plays in the past two games can be alarming, but they scored on both opportunities.
- The Devils speciality team struggled early, but have slowly moved up the chains. The power-play ranks 14th in league, up from the mid 20's early in the year. The penalty-kill ranks 13th up from a low ranking of 26th.
- Petr Vrana, who started the season with the Devils had his season ended with a broken leg in an AHL game.
- Devils top prospect Matt Halischuk, who was thought to be out for the year with a knee injury, returned in Friday's 5-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phantoms. He scored a goal which gives him 6 goals in 10 games this season at Lowell.