Hello everyone and welcome to the first real issue of Masala Monday. We all know (or we should if you’re a true Devils fan) that our ever so beloved New Jersey Devils are on the brink of elimination. They trail the Florida Panthers 3-2 in the series but, I feel confident that they have enough left in the tank for a comeback. Let’s look at who’s stood out to me, both negatively and positively through these first 5 games.
Travis Zajac – Yes indeed, Zajac belongs up here. In fact, he deserves to be up here because he leads the Devils in the playoffs with 4 points (2 goals and 2 assists). He also shows the poise that a star should so come playoff time. I feel that he will have a major impact on the Devils’ overall performance come Games 6 and 7.
Zach Parise – Parise ranks just behind Zajac in points with 3 (2 goals and 1 assist). But he is a -1 at the moment. So, then why is his masala rating up in the spicy range? Through observation, I’ve seen that Parise wants to play and create as many chances as he can. You even saw him score 30 seconds into game 3 and scored the double deflection in game 5. He’s certainly pumped despite the setbacks, in my opinion. In addition, he is the captain. In the long run, his words and actions will serve to determine the Devils’ fate this playoff year.
Bryce Salvador – Salvador, you might say, is an interesting choice because we haven’t paid much attention to him. However, if you look at what happened to him last season combined with his age, it’s quite remarkable to see him turnaround and provide himself to the Devils as a reliable defenseman. He has 3 assists and a +3 rating so far and there is a good chance that he will make a difference in these remaining couple of games.
The Devils 4th line – How often do you see this?! Please correct me if I’m wrong but I’m quite certain that New Jersey has one of the best 4th lines in the playoffs right about now. Though you could make a case for St. Louis’ 4th line, this Devils 4th line has been tremendous and reliable when the Devils needed them. Ryan Carter (1 goal, 1 point), Stephen Gionta (1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points), Steve Bernier (1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points). That line has combined for 5 points and has a total +5 rating. When given the pitfalls that have plagued the Devils in this series, you got to give this line some props.
Anton Volchenkov – Must I really explain? You’ve got to feel bad for this guy. Coming into these playoffs he was supposed to be one of our best defensemen. He has an even plus differential but it feels like minus infinity because poor Volchenkov has been on the ice for the majority of Florida’s goals. Don’t forget some of those turnovers too. Perhaps it’s time to free Larsson?
Petr Sykora – I love Sykky to be honest. He had a great comeback year and I really thought he would carry that into the playoffs. Instead, he seems like an oddball because though he’s even in the +/- rating, he hasn’t done squat. No goals, no assists… no points. He’s the only Devils forward to not have recorded a point. Maybe he will in Game 6 who knows. But come on dude, the 4th liners have more than you.
Marty Brodeur – This was tough… I’ve been a fan of Marty ever since I was a toddler. However, I just haven’t seen the consistency that I hoped for. Yes we all know he broke Patrick Roy’s shutout record after Game 4. But take a look at the series as a whole. In Game 1 he barely held on, in Game 2 he blew it early, and in Game 3 he blew it late. That itself brought him down his masala rating to a stale. Now, after Game 4, I thought maybe “ehh… maybe he’s back in form now”. Not so fast though, because Game 5 was his nightmare. The way he left his post and left his net wide open for Scottie Upshall was irresponsible. As I said in my Game 5 recap article, Marty cannot afford to make that mistake come playoff time! His blunder isn’t the only factor that lost New Jersey’s Game 5 chances. However, it was certainly an important one which Devils fans won’t forget if they can’t win the series.
The Devils as a team? It’s fair to put them at MILD. But it’s at a point where they could turn stale. Seriously the inconsistency needs to stop. They’re at mild because I can see them scoring goals and holding their ground during tense moments. Many teams in other games haven’t been able to do that (i.e.: the Coyotes). I’m confident that the New Jersey Devils can and will get the job done. If you have any doubts, just take a quick scroll down and look at our fellow writer Scott Robb’s thoughts on why the Devils can make it. Those are 10 very insightful points and I completely agree with them.
Once again, these are just my views. You all can send me your views/criticisms via commenting or via tweeting. In fact, I encourage it!
For all the latest Devils news, follow us on twitter: @RWTDblog, @Rvaidya33, @RealScottRobb, and @DEVIN88MATTERA and you can like us on our Facebook page! So long for now – I’m Raj Vaidya, and hopefully this spice wasn’t too hot to handle!