Many of us Devils fans may have been happy after Saturday, after seeing the Devils outplay and beat the two of the best teams in the league: The Rangers and the Penguins. However, it's more of a conflicting happiness, as reports have it that top defensman Paul Martin (forearm) and Jay Pandolfo (shoulder) may miss some time, and hopefully not alot. However, if those two end up missing time, there could be problems. More after the Jump
Martin is probably one of the most important players on the team. During a stretch in mid November last season, he missed 6 games, and the Devils went 1-3-1 in that stretch. Keep in mind, the Devils didn't have Martin Brodeur, Brian Rolston and John Madden (if i recall correctly) at that point, all were dealing with injuries. He ended up missing another 4 games, where the Devils were 2-2-0. The two games the Devils won were against the Sharks and the Lightning, while the other two were against the Panthers and the Last Place Islanders. As important as he is for the Defense, he's actually quite important for the offense: The Devils were shut out in 3 of the 8 games where Martin didn't play.
As for Pandolfo, he's been playing like the Jay Pandolfo we all know and love. In a period in mid January, Pandolfo was benched for a while. The Devils went 7-2-0 in that span, including a 5 game winning streak. He didn't play for another 6 games in March, and the Devils went 5-1-0, and missed another 3 games and the Devils were 0-2-1, pushing the Devils record up to 12-5-1.
Now the question is, who's going to get it the worst? The Defensemen that need to step up in Martin's abscence or the Forwards who need to play for Pandolfo. Lets take a look at a few culprits
Johnny Oduya: He's played with Martin before, and has been struggling recently. If Martin misses a significant amount of time, he's most likely the guy who's going to be under the gun, especially with his new contract. He's gotta go and start playing like he did last year, and possibly improve on his career highs. Oduya will get some time on the power play now
Andy Greene: He`s been used with confidence by Lemaire, and has been one of the reasons for the early success of the team. He showed promise early last season as well before he broke his hand. He`s done what Lemaire wanted, and he may even move up to the top Power play unit.
Brian Rolston: He`s played effectively against the other team`s top forwards, but he`s not going to be able to put up the same numbers he did in Minnesota. As for now, he`s going to have to deal with eating up alot more minutes on special teams, namely the penalty kill. He may even play on the top power play unit, though i personally don`t like the 5 forward power play.
Dainus Zubrus: Zubes has played effectively, and he might be the solution for Pandolfo. He`s got the tools to be a good defensive forward, he`s just gotta take less penalties if he`s going to fill in for Pando
Patrik Elias: Technically he`s not active at the moment, but when he returns, it will be a godsend. John has made points about how good a defensive forward he is and everyone knows his offensive talents. Adding Elias back into the mix gives the power play some more pop, and gives a reliable defender on the penalty kill. However for now, we`ve all gotta deal with the fact Elias isn`t going to be back for maybe a few more weeks.
As for now, we`ve all gotta hope that Martin and Pandolfo are Okay. Feel free to discuss or point out anything I missed out.
Oh, and GO DEVILS!