It seems that for two years now the New Jersey Devils are doing their best to overcome injuries. Last season, it was Martin Brodeur and Ilya Kovalchuk who were on the injury list. It was well documented as the largest losing streak that the Devils went through when those guys went down.
This season doesn’t seem to be going as bad as last year. The injuries, however, seem to be piling just as much.
We will start with the longest standing injury on this season, Ryane Clowe. He was brought in on the biggest contract the Devils signed this offseason at five years and $24.25 million. He looked like a clear replacement for the departing David Clarkson, who signed a bigger contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He struggled mightily to start the season. He was kept without a goal and with only one assist in his first six games. He was brought in to get dirty goals and to stand in front of the net. Nearly $5 million doesn’t buy what it used to. He has been out with a concussion since October 13 and just finally started skating again this week.
Bryce Salvador missed the game on October 24 with a death in his family. He has yet to see the ice since. In one of the more bizarre injuries, Salvador is now said to be dealing with a non-displaced fracture in his foot. He was supposed to miss as many as 10 days. That was 42 days ago. There is no sign of returning for the team’s captain.
Also hurt on the defensive side is third-year standout Adam Larsson. He was predicted to have a season of the ages this year, but injuries and ineffectiveness have hurt those chances. It was unfortunate that the injury came when it did because he seemed to be playing much better since he was paired up with fellow young gun Eric Gelinas. He suffered a lower body injury in the game against the San Jose Sharks when he was drilled into the boards.
They are also currently missing fourth liners Stephen Gionta and Ryan Carter with lower body injuries. There isn’t much news on either as to when they could come back.
Now you could add one of the more surprising Devils to the injury list, Marek Zidlicky. He has a good chance of missing the next game with an upper-body injury, even though he has said he feels better from the original injury. With how some of this season’s injuries have happened, you always have to proceed with caution.
These don’t even include players who have since returned from injury like Cory Schneider, Patrik Elias, Anton Volchenkov and Jon Merrill. They have done everything they can to keep their heads above water in the Metropolitan Division. They have had numerous players step up in the wake of all these injuries. Cam Janssen has been 10 times more than anyone could have expected. Going from a goon who could only fight and hit to a guy who has as many goals as Andrei Loktionov and Steve Bernier. Tim Sestito has been good in the four games he was given. Gelinas could be argued to be the best defenseman on the Devils since he was brought up 22 games ago. Reid Boucher has shown that he could be a very good player, even though he has shown signs of being green.
NHL teams are going to deal with injuries; it is part of the game. The Devils have done what is expected when they happened and that is kept themselves from falling too far in the standings. They need a few guys back, which will happen sooner rather than later. Then they could go on a nice run to cement their place in this division.