The 2016-17 hockey season is off to a successful start so far for our New Jersey Devils; through 12 games, they sport a 6-3-3 record with 15 points being good enough to have them in a wildcard spot. With any NHL team there will be good moments and bad moments as well as players that meet/exceed or under-perform based on what was expected prior to the season commencing. Today we look at the Devils 2016-17 hits and misses so far.
I know he’s now tied with 2 other players after Tuesday night’s game, but did anyone expect Damon Severson to be leading our Devils in points at the start of this season? I’ve already written an article about Sevs and his strong start, so I won’t bore everyone to death by going into a ton of detail, but I will say his production and his defensive prowess have been excellent to start this campaign.
The only argument people could possibly try to have against Taylor Hall being a bright spot is that he’s not a point per game or better; while he has been twice in his career so far, the fact that he’s got 9 points (5 goals and 4 assists) in 12 games with a team that is mostly allergic to offense is pretty amazing. He’s found some nice chemistry alongside Travis Zajac on the top line, and the team has been successful so far as a result.
Speaking of Zajac, he’s the third player tied for the team lead with 4 goals and 5 assists ; he was also predicted to be a whipping boy and demoted to the third line by this point by many Devils fans, so Zajac is far exceeded expectations. Is this production sustainable? Probably not, but if Travis continues at a 40-50 point pace while contributing elite defense, he will not only be worth his contract, but also one of this team’s most valuable players.
Was there any doubt he would make the list? Outside of maybe one bad game, Cory has looked his usual all-star self and his .928 Save Percentage backs up that claim. If Cory can stay healthy and continue to perform at this pace, the Devils will be fighting for a postseason spot all year long.
Adam has always been a streaky player in the league, but this season has just been one long dry streak for him. Henriqe is tied for 7th on the team in points with 4 (2 goals and 2 assists) but he has looked like a passenger on the ice rather than the leader that he appeared to be at many points last season. Should the Devils hope to sustain their early season success, they’ll need Rico to wake up and relatively soon.
Palmieri has been a couple of shades better than Rico so far this season if only because he at least looks as though he always has a pulse while he’s on the ice. Aside from that, it’s much of the same; Palms is 6th on the team in scoring, but only has a paltry 5 points (2 goals and 3 assists) after signing a new contract over the summer. For someone who led our team in points last season, while contributing 30 goals, Kyle really needs to get going.
A second Devil that I’ve already discussed in an individual article in past weeks is Mike Cammalleri; if you take away his hat trick game against the Carolina Hurricanes, Cam winds up having no goals in 11 other games and would drop from a tie for 4th in team scoring into a tie for 9th. For someone who is being paid solely to provide offense for this team, that’s just not good enough. Hopefully Cam’s game on Sunday is a sign of good things to come for him and a return to normalcy and the goal scorer that we know.
Yet another Devil that I’ve (kind of) written about already this season is Ben Lovejoy. I understand how much time he logs on the ice, but he’s honestly not doing a good job out there. He fails the eye test at every mark, and has made some boneheaded, baffling plays that have resulted in goals for our opposition. I understand the hesitance of some fans to try some of our younger players in Lovejoy’s role, but honestly I’d rather have a youngster making the same mistakes that Ben is making, because the younger player at least has a chance to learn from those mistakes and improve upon their game.
There are probably a couple of other hits and misses that I did not discuss here (John Moore and Kyle Quincey probably could have had a blurb each as well) but I didn’t want to list the entire team here as I want to hear who your Devils hits and misses are so far. Do you agree with the hits list? Do you agree with the misses list? Are there any other players you think are deserving of recognition at this early juncture? Leave any and all comments below and thank you as always for reading!