Watching the game on Saturday night one thing stood out; Anton Volchenkov was having his best game in possibly two seasons.
Volchenkov has been absolutely awful this season and was just as bad last year. As one of the players who helped bring this team to the Stanley Cup Finals, watching his decline has been very frustrating. He seems lost at times and is not usually in the right position. Against the New York Rangers he was 100 times better.
He was getting down to block shots against big shooters. He seemed like he was in the right position for most of the game. The 10-year veteran showed that he was at least worthy of being on the ice on that night.
If there was one player that all New Jersey Devils fans could get rid of, a good percentage would point to Volchenkov. He is still signed to the team through the 2015-16 season for more than $4 million per year, but he is playing on the third line of defense. There are days he doesn’t seem like he can skate very fast anymore. He is currently keeping Jon Merrill and Eric Gellinas in the minors and Adam Larsson in the press box. He is holding this team back when he plays like he has for most of this season.
On Saturday, he was an important cog into why the Devils won that game. He played with Peter Harrold, who has had a very good season in his own right. They played very well in front of Cory Schneider to get him his first shutout as a Devil.
If Volchenkov can play that way for the rest of the season, then it will give this team a boost that nobody expected to get. It could really help put this team’s defense to where it was expected to be prior to the season.