The headline may be a little deceiving, but the New Jersey Devils honestly looked good offensively last night.
Some of the questions coming in were if the Devils were going to be able to get any chances at all. The team honestly could have had three goals easily if not for some back luck or bad execution. There was a shot in the first period on a mostly empty net that should have been scored. Marek Zidlicki seemed to freeze based on the amount of space that he was given on the next wide open net. That led to a shot/pass that went way wide of the net. Then there was Marc-Andre Fleury‘s behind the back save on Travis Zajac that would have most likely bounced in the net.
The team actually outshot the Pittsburgh Penguins on the game 27 to 21. They seemed like they could even be the better team in the second and third periods. You have to give credit where credit is due; Fleury was fabulous on this night. The calls for him to leave the team have nothing to do with his performance in the regular season, and people tend to forget that. He stopped chances by most of the Devils, including a penalty shot by Adam Henrique. The Devils had their chances but just couldn’t get a bounce and faced a goaltender on his game.
The biggest positive to take out of this game was the play of Damien Brunner. He looks like a man possessed out there. He had eight shots, and two of them could have easily been goals. One was one of the prettiest wrap-arounds I have ever seen, but Fleury was in the perfect position. Another was a rebound shot that just couldn’t find the back of the net. Brunner was creating his own chances, something that every Devils fan loves to see.
Jaromir Jagr was shaking off some rust after missing the entire preseason, and Patrik Elias was in the same boat. Henrique looks much better than he did at the end of last season. New additions Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder had some chances of their own. The fourth line did their usual CBGB things. The defense was very involved in getting shots to the net as they actually accounted for ten shots on goal. If those shots can turn into deflections or rebounds, then the scoring will pick up immensely. There was a lot to be excited about from this game.
Remember Devils fans, this is a team that is playing with each other for the first time. The first month could be rough. Once the chemistry comes together this is going to be a scary team to deal with. With Cory Schneider and Martin Brodeur as their one-two punch in net, they could do real damage in net. Point of the story, be patient with this team. They will be good this season once they find their legs. They have much more talent than they are given credit for.