The New Jersey Devils came out of the Olympic break with a lot of work to do. They were seventh in the Metropolitan Division and could not muster an offense for goaltender Cory Schneider.
The game on Thursday was hopefully a sign of things to come for the rest of the season. The Devils beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2. They had a huge game from nearly every line. The only player who had a minus on the board was Jaromir Jagr (which surprised me). The team went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill and 2-for-3 on their powerplay. They scored a goal every possible way except a penalty shot. For those wondering the other four ways, it is an even strength goal, a powerplay goal, a short-handed goal and an empty net goal.
Adam Henrique may have been the best player on the ice tonight. He had his first multi-goal game of the season. He was great on both the powerplay and the penalty kill. He even won 75 percent of his faceoffs, which is something he struggled with during the first part of the season. He was the guy that the Blue Jackets did not want on the ice.
Patrik Elias also had a great night. He had two assists and put in the empty-net goal. This is coming off the birth of his child only a day ago. This also comes off of an Olympics trip where he missed a few games with sickness. Getting him at full strength is a major step forward for the Devils.
Jagr gave the Devils a reason to keep him in red and black. He scored a bank goal off of the leg of Sergei Bobrovsky from almost behind the net. His intelligence and ice prowess give him that many more reasons why he can be the leader of this Devils team. He scored his 699th career goal when he did that, and 700 looks to be just around the corner.
Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill awarded coach Pete DeBoer for putting them both in the lineup by getting an assist apiece. This was the surprising move when they had to sit Anton Volchenkov to get both rookies in the lineup.
The question of where this offense was before the break is moot right now. The Devils have to focus on what they can do from here on out. They are now in a tie with the Blue Jackets for fifth place. With the Philadelphia Flyers loss, they are only three points out of a guaranteed playoff spot. The Devils have plenty to fight for.
Nick Villano is the New Jersey Devils writer for Rant Sports. He also adds to the site’s NFL, MLB and NBA content. You can follow him on Twitter here.