Good morning Devils fans! I’m not going to go into a long, drawn-out intro today, as again we do have a much longer piece coming later. Without further ado, your Ten Thursday Thoughts:
1.) The Goose is Loose
I know we tend to use that phrase a lot (it just seems to roll off the tongue)), but with six assists in his last five games, Gusev is looking more like the player the Devils thought they were acquiring this summer. His 15 assists are good for first on the team, and for a player whose KHL stats indicated that he was more of a playmaker, the fact that he’s starting to make plays is a welcome sight.
2.) Coleman Churning Along
Blake Coleman has quietly had himself a nice season on a team whose record is anything but. With 11 goals and eight assists through 36 games, Coleman is on pace to break his career highs (again) for goals, assists and points. Blake continues to be a great piece for the Devils; now if only he could take a few less penalties.
3.) John Hayden
Hayden gave everyone a feel-good moment the other night, with not only his first goal as a Devil, but also against his old team. The only thing making it better was as Amanda Stein tweeted, that his 82 year old grandfather was in attendance to watch him. Congrats to Hayden, that’s a memory to keep for a lifetime!
4.) Goaltending Guessing Game
The Devils saw a strong outing from Gilles Senn in his first ever NHL game despite Columbus adding two empty net goals to run the score up to 5-1. I’d like to see the team give him another chance prior to Louis Domingue being actived from IR. He’s earned that much and it’d be nice to get another early look at if he can be an important piece going forward or not. Regardless, in the end, Senn should still go back to Binghamton so that his development stays on course.
5.) Confidence Coaching
While Alain Nasreddine hasn’t done a bad job since taking over behind the bench (I can’t believe I just typed that) I still think the Devils need new coaching after this season. The players’ confidence under John Hynes looked shot by the time he was finally let go, and I think the alarming point totals from some of our younger players should indicate that we need someone to not only aid their growth, but also to reestablish their mental state after the job our previous head coach did.
6.) Kyle Palmieri and the 30 Goal Season
Provided that he does not miss any extended time (fingers crossed) this season, Palms is currently on pace to score 32 goals. If he scores 30, it would be only the second such season in his career, and anything over 30 would be a new career high. I think the total here just shows us how integral Kyle is to this team, as we know the Devils don’t exactly have a plethora of snipers. The team should honestly be looking to re-sign him, as while they have a lot of talented young players, no one is putting pucks in the net like Palms.
7.) Tracking Travis
42 more games will mark 1,000 in the career of Travis Zajac; personally, having watched him from the start of his career until now, I’m selfishly hoping that he hits the mark this season and if he doesn’t miss a game (I’m just jinxing players now, aren’t I?) it would come in late March. The game in question? Saturday the 28th against the Second Rate Rivals; if Travis misses one game, the next day is another home contest against Carolina. Let’s keep this one on the radar Devils fans, as even though Zajac is having a down season, he’s been a great soldier for a long time and deserves all the fan adulation possible when game 1,000 comes.
8.) One More Go for Greene?
Speaking of 1,000 games, the Devils could see another player hit that mark should Andy Greene be re-signed for next season. While I know his best days are behind him, he’s still better and more effective than some other left side defenders, and could serve as a good one season stop-gap. If that becomes the case, we could see the only pair of Devils left from the last Cup run both hit 1,000 games. This one is really a coin toss, but I’d rather see an aging Greene come back than Mirco Mueller be on this team again.
9.) Shout-Out to Damon Severson...
...for his gorgeous goal against Chicago. Oh, and also for not being the worst +/- on the team; while I’m not a big proponent of the stat, there are a number of fans who rag on Severson for his +/- number. On a team full of minuses this season, Sevs sits somewhat towards the worst with a -9, tied with the much less offensively inclined Mueller. The dubious honor of worst is shared by Miles Wood and Pavel Zacha (-14 each) with P.K. Subban (-13), Wayne Simmonds (-12), and Will Butcher (-11) rounding out the “top” five. For those who believe in +/-, those four defenders there make Greene’s zero look that much more impressive.
10.) McLeod Sent Down
Michael McLeod was returned to Binghamton after the Chicago game, and I honestly am not sure as to why. I know there’s players coming off IR, I know there’s limited roster spots, but with the guy looking good in an NHL lineup, using him as a casualty of the “numbers game” was a poor choice. Hopefully when the team is healthy, McLeod gets another look and the team waives/sends down one of the many underperforming players on this roster. McLeod has taken some flack for his slow development, but if he can become any type of contributor, it’s better than some of what we’re icing now.
In the comments section below please leave any thought, feelings or comments you may have about any number of the thoughts above. Thank you as always for reading!