New Jersey Devils coach Pete DeBoer finally has a good dilemma to deal with this season.
The Devils played their best offensive game on Saturday without possibly their two best offensive players. Damien Brunner (upper body soreness) and Patrik Elias (flu) both missed the first win of the season for their team. They are two of the top three point leaders on the team with Jaromir Jagr. They were replaced with Andrei Loktionov and Rostislav Olesz.
This would look like bad news for the Devils on paper, but it ended up being the best offensive night of the season. Nine players appeared on the score sheet against the New York Rangers, which included two assists apiece for Jagr and Marek Zidlicky. Loktionov scored a goal replacing Elias to start the game off in the first period, and Olesz made a beautiful pass to Adam Henrique for the second goal of the game. Michael Ryder added a power play goal, and Travis Zajac added an insurance goal to make the final score 4-0 Devils.
The problem now is Brunner and Elias are dealing with very short term injuries. Who do you sit when the two replacements played great? Of course, you put Brunner and Elias in as soon as you can, but do you now sit Jacob Josefson and Stephen Gionta? Do you still sit Loktionov and Olesz?
The issue is something you want with this team. The offense was built to play games like they did on Saturday, and they can’t rely on two or three players to carry the entire offense. There is no Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin on this team anymore, and they can put four lines out there that can score.
Hopefully, the first win will give this team the confidence to continue this kind of offensive output. The talent is there, they just needed this kind of execution. They take their momentum into their next game with new division rival Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday. Time will tell if they can continue this momentum against the reigning Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky.