It's a fun time to be a New Jersey Devils fan. It is very early in the season and the Sabres were the worst team in the league last year, but four wins in a row and 9 out of a possible 10 points in the last five games feels good. Lets get to the game recap.
The first period was sluggish for both units with very little offense generated. The Sabers got on the board first with a power play goal from Tyler Ennis on a blast from the top of the left circle that beat Cory Schneider, who looked a little deep in his net and perhaps wasn't ready for the shot, over his left shoulder. Adam Henrique knocked in a goal mouth rebound in the final minute of the period to even things up.
Buffalo again opened the scoring in the second period with what was technically an even strength goal by Ryan O'Reilly, but was a rebound goal as a penalty expired. From that point on the Devils seemed to take control of the game. Mike Cammalleri tied it up once again off of an assist on a great individual effort from Sergey Kalinin. Later in the second period, David Schlemko (yes THAT David Schlemko) put the Devils up two goals on a nice finish from an even nicer set up by Henriuqe and Cammy.
The third period was pretty quiet but we got our first look at Jack Eichel who scored a cupcake goal in the final minute of play. Overall its a win against one of the weaker opponents in the league, but its a game that the Devils seemed to play like they knew that they were the better team. After a three point night I am sure Henrique will be wearing that awful hard hat tonight.
The Opposition's Opinion: You can find the Buffalo recap here.
The Game Highlights: From NHL.com here are the game's highlights.
The Offense: Don't look now but the Devils have a bona fide scoring line. We all knew from last year that Cammy can bury the biscuit when presented the opportunity, but Henrique is on a point per game pace and the well traveled Lee Stempniak has fit right in on our top unit. All three guys are not afraid to take on defenders and the bounces are going their way right now. They carried the load offensively today but there were contributions from a few other forwards tonight.
I am not one to brag, but I am pretty sure the resurgence of Travis Zajac is almost entirely due to my scathing reviewof his early season performance. He didn't put up any points tonight, but skated hard, make some good plays and generated a few good scoring chances. I like him much more as a second line center than trying to be a first line center.
Sergey Kalinin had what I thought was his break out performance of the season. His assist on the Devil's second goal was a big turning point in the game and outside of that he had several very strong shifts and fore-checked hard all game.
The Defense: I love that John Hynes dressed Eric Gelinas for tonight's game. We all know he had a couple rough plays last game, and he obviously knew that as well, but putting him back out there lets him know that he can play his game and try to make plays offensively because that is what he is best at. Its nice to see a real top line offense unit to compliment our defensive top par of Andy Greene and Adam Larsson, They are both studs and I said it after the Ranger game, but Larson looks so strong and almost mean at certain points. I love it.
I am starting to wonder if Steve Cangialosi is related to Schlemko. he has gone out of his way to praise the defensemen in almost every game this year, and while tonight's game was probably the best Schlemko has played as a Devil, he is nothing more that Peter Harrold 2.0. Sure he scored, but that ended a 42 game goal drought.
The Goalie: Schnieder has been letting in a few more goals than normal in the last couple of games, but he is still making a ton of huge saves and keeping the team in close games. I played goalie growing up and I also have the vision of an 85 year old, so for me positioning was everything. Cory's greatest strength is his positioning and he is one of the best in the world at being exactly where he is supposed to and making some of the tough saves seem easy.
Special Teams: Adam Larson took a questionable penalty, which led to Ken Daneyko utter the words "And there's David Schelemko and Eric Genilas on the penalty kill." I nearly pooped myself but the Devils got through it and although the PK essentially gave up 2 goals tonight, the unit looked good pretty overall. It was nice to see Larson rewarded with some power play time, as he continues to morph into a top defenseman in the league.
X-Factor: One reason this team might be streaking right now is the change in the facial hair rule. With Lou no longer in charge some of the players are growing different kinds of beards and scruff. Guys like Henrique, Larson and Josefson are all sporting some form facial hair, and all playing well. Looking good leads to feeling good leads to playing good?
Your Take: What can we call the Cammy-Henrique-Stempniak line? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this win in the comments. Thanks to everyone who commented in the Gamethread, followed @AATJerseyBlog on Twitter, and you for reading this recap.