The New Jersey Devils announced yesterday that the team’s top right winger, Kyle Palmieri, will miss 4-6 weeks after sustaining a broken foot on Monday against the Minnesota Wild. While Travis Zajac recently returned from his offseason injury, it seems as though for every player New Jersey gets back, at least one other goes down in return.
Right now, the team is without Palms for at least a month, Mirco Mueller for 10-12 weeks and Marcus Johansson for who knows how long. An already weak right side and back end are both weaker without those players; I know MoJo has played mostly LW, but I think he’d be tried on the right if healthy right now due to it being a lineup weakness and Palms being out. The Devils have been much improved this season due to their depth, but we’re losing players at positions where testing said depth may not work out so well.
The team has been doing well enough so far coping with injuries and having replacements come in; scoring mostly by committee has been helping as well. But what happens if we lose Brian Gibbons (who thought he’d be the first to double digit goals this season?) for an extended period of time? What happens if another big name like Taylor Hall or Andy Greene goes down for an extended period of time? Worse yet, what happens if a few of these names go down at the same time?
Injuries are part of any sport, and you have to take the good with the bad. Right now, the Devils are dealing with the bad scenario, as they have two Top-6 players out for at least a month; however, on the plus side, it hasn’t affected the team’s ability to compete and to keep winning games...at least not up until this point. The other part of the plus side is that it shows that just one year can make a world of difference for a team’s depth. Anyone want to fathom how we would have looked last season minus Zajac? For the few games he missed, the results were not pretty; this season, it still wasn’t pretty in the faceoff circle, but others were able to absorb Travis’ minutes and help the team win some games.
That improved depth is why I think that injuries may not be the kiss of death that they would have been for the past five or so seasons. Ray Shero has done an admirable job rebuilding the team’s youth, and while their is still some work that can be done, things certainly look more promising than they did just a few short years ago. We’re no longer a Hall or Palmieri injury away from a lottery ball season; players of that caliber certainly hurt, but we actually have capable guys in the lineup that can contribute and in many cases, slide up and down the lineup to aid the team attacking and scoring. It’s a refreshing change and takes me back to the good old days when the Devils were at their best.
As it is Thanksgiving here in the United States today, we Devils fans should be thankful for the fact that injuries can be overcome now. We should be thankful that the team continues to play well and win despite missing a number of key contributors; imagine the current team with Palms and MoJo in as well. It will be a nice issue to have in terms of who is sitting in the press box when the team gets back to full strength.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on the Devils and their injury situation this year; is it something that New Jersey can continue to overcome due to their newfound depth? Are they one big injury on defense (or maybe even offense) away from this being another lost season? Leave any and all comments below.
From all of us here at AAtJ, we hope you all have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!