A finalist for the Calder Trophy which is awarded to the league’s best rookie, Henrique’s year this season can best be described as forgettable. In 40 games for the Devils, the 23-year-old Canadian netted 11 goals and five assists. Henrique along with the rest of the scoring challenged offense was only able to register one goal in the last five games down this do or die stretch.
Unfortunately for Henrique and his teammates, everyone’s inability to score cost the team another postseason appearance. The Devils will miss the playoffs for the second time in three years following a 13 year string where the club qualified every season. They would appear in four Stanley Cup Finals and bring Lord Stanley to the Garden State three times during that streak.
It is not unusual or unheard of for a sizzling rookie to struggle the following campaign. As a matter of fact it is quite common. It is the dreaded sophomore slump which Henrique now knows of first hand and it has taken its toll on his confidence.
“Any time you go through a tough stretch, eventually it weighs on you,” Henrique explained in an interview with Tom Gulitti on his Fire and Ice Blog. “You start thinking about it more. You start maybe gripping the stick a little bit more in certain areas. I still feel like I was getting opportunities at times. I just wasn’t putting them in. I’m obviously not getting on the score sheet.”
Henrique started the shortened season by missing the first five games with a thumb injury he suffered while playing with the Devils AHL affiliate in Albany during the lockout. For the former third round draft pick that scored two overtime winners in last year’s playoffs, starting summer vacation early is a huge letdown. However, so was his play this year.
After starting the season on a tear with four goals and two assists in his first seven games back on the ice, Henrique became streaky, going through periodic pointless stretches.
Yet, that type of struggle plagued the rest of the team as well, and they will have plenty of time to figure out why before training camp opens in September. While a lot of finger pointing may go on following the team’s failure, the biggest culprit was the offense which failed to show up for most of the games in the crucial second half of the season.