5 New Jersey Devils Players Who Need To Step Up For Rest Of Season
5 New Jersey Devils Players Who Need To Step Up
It has been rough for much of the season for most of the team. Players they were expecting a lot from did not give them what they were expecting. Certain players have been very good with no help, however. Damien Brunner has been much better than any Devils fan could have expected, and Jaromir Jagr showed that at 41 years old he still has plenty to give a team. Marek Zidlicky is playing better than he ever has since he was traded to New Jersey, and Patrik Elias and Dainius Zubrus have been very good with the chemistry they have obtained over years.
Beyond them, there have been some serious holes in this team. There are five players who desperately need to make a turnaround. Some of them started the process against the Rangers, while others are still working on it. If they can turn it around, then they could be serious contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Luckily for the Devils, the Metropolitan Division has been nothing to get excited over. The team is only one point out of a four seed, which depending on what the Atlantic Division does could give them a playoff spot. Peter DeBoer and the Devils have a very good chance to go from the last team in the NHL to win a game to a team to be reckoned with. If they could get these five players going, this will be a scary team.
Nick Villano is the New Jersey Devils writer for Rant Sports. He also contributed to the site's NFL and MLB content. You can follow him on Twitter here.
5. Anton Volchenkov
In those first few games, it seemed like every goal against the Devils was on a breakaway of some kind. The defense seemed to hold their opponent when they were set up in their zone, but they could not stop the big play. Anton Volchenkov has been the biggest culprit for mistakes so far. Between him and Adam Larsson, the defense has severely underperformed. He seems to be on his stomach on the ice way too often. He played by far his best game of the season on Saturday, and he gave some hope that maybe he could turn his career with the Devils around. That would be a delightful surprise.
4. Adam Henrique
Adam Henrique signed a big six-year contract prior to this season, and it seems like he has been in a slump ever since. With the losses of David Clarkson, Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise, there was an expectation that Henrique could help replace their production after a stellar rookie campaign. He needs to play to his worth and to his contract because he has the talent to become a star player. If he can get some chemistry with a line with Michael Ryder, then that could be a serious scoring line no matter who else you put with them. The Devils need him to play better than three points in eight games.
3. Travis Zajac
Prior to last season, Travis Zajac signed the first max years deal in the NHL post-lockout. Since then, he has not played to that kind of moniker. He has scored one goal this season in their loss to the Ottawa Senators. He hasn't had a positive plus/minus since 2009-10, and he seems like he has been in serious decline even though he is only 28 years old. He needs to find the Zajac from five years ago somehow. He needs to get back to the 20 goals, 40 assists per year kind of production. If he doesn't, he could look like the worst contract in the NHL.
2. Ryane Clowe
This signing was one that seemed like a bust before he even hit the ice, and it isn't starting off well. In six games, Ryane Clowe has one point. He has an assist and is a -5 plus/minus. He may be the biggest disappointment on this team at this point, and now he is dealing with a head injury after the elbow he took against the Winnepeg Jets. When he comes back he needs to step up for this team to show the fans that he didn't just come there for the money. This fan base doesn't expect a lot from all their players, but they do need to see that their players aren't just here for the money. He needs to prove that.
1. Martin Brodeur
In four games, Martin Brodeur looks like he needed to play those preseason games more than anyone thought. He had a short preseason due to the death of his father and it seems to have affected him so far this season. He has a .865 save percentage, which would rank him 40th out of 42 goalies in the league so far. He blew a three to nothing lead in the third period against the Calgary Flames, but he is obviously much better than that. He needs to become the Brodeur from early last season. Cory Schneider is hitting his stride after a shutout against the Rangers, and Brodeur needs to play the kind of game that makes DeBoer have a hard decision to make every night.