Patrik Elias has been one of the most consistent players in the NHL for a long time.
He is actually underrated as a superstar, not often being named with the likes Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin or even Eric Staal. He is on pace to have the same career as Daniel Alfredsson, who is often more highly regarded among hockey fans than Elias.
The fact is, he has been carrying offensively inept teams for a long time. He was once the top-line forward on the highest scoring offense in the league. He has, for the most part, been able to stay on the ice. He is not given credit for his defense. He has two Stanley Cup rings as the best offensive player on the team. His career plus/minus is +193, which is better than such greats as Steve Yzerman, Scott Niedermayer and Brendan Shanahan, among many others.
The point of all this is that Elias has been a key contributor for most of his career with the New Jersey Devils. This year is no different. The Devils have been offensively inept, and they may need Elias more than ever. The team has failed to score for seven straight periods, and he wasn’t on the ice for six of them.
He is currently third on the team in points even though he missed four games. Whether that is a sign of the team or of Elias’ skill is beyond the point — he is important to this team if they are going to turn it around.
The season is starting to slip away from this team. They need this guy to start a winning streak that they desperately need. Before getting hurt, he was on a four-game points streak. When he comes back, he will be on the Devils’ best line with Andrei Loktionov and team points leader Jaromir Jagr. The team needs them to continue to play like a first line, and hopefully that will make the rest of the team better in regards to production.
The Devils are not “done”. They have some sort of heartbeat left. They are at their lowest right now, but Elias and Travis Zajac were not on the ice for the past two games after their two-game winning streak. If they can come back and get this team going, then they can play with most teams. They have the goaltending and the defense to compete. They just need to get the offense going. That is going to have to fall on a returning Elias.