Sherman Abrams was on my mind while I started writing today’s piece about our New Jersey Devils, however I wanted to talk again about some good things happening for this team. The year has been negative enough, and with the Devils still possessing a bottom-3 NHL record (by virtue of an extra game played over Edmonton) there are still many like Mr. Abrams who would like to see the Devils continue to fall to gain as many lottery balls as possible. Rather than focus on how to lose more games, today we look at some stories surrounding the team that give some hope for the near future.
#900 for #19 on 90’s Night
Not sure if you should try saying that three times fast or not, but Travis Zajac played his 900th NHL game against Pittsburgh on Tuesday. While the result was less than desirable (except if you’re Sherman Abrams), Trav recorded his 35th point of the season and 496th of his career during the game. He’s looking at two more milestones shortly: 500 points and 1000 games.
The former he will more than likely hit this season (and let’s hope it’s during a home game) while the latter could be achieved as early as next season if he doesn’t suffer any injuries that require him to miss a chunk of games between now and then. While Zajac has taken some flack over the years from fans, I think it’s impressive when any player makes it to as many games as he has, especially while averaging over a point every other game and playing elite defense against the top players on other teams night in and night out. Congrats on #900 Zajac, and hopefully there’s a few more memories left to be made.
Jesper Bratt had the worst luck to start off this season as we all remember. His return was a breath of fresh air into a stale lineup, however it wasn’t the fireball Bratt from the start of last season that we initially saw, but more of an in between where he started last season and where he finished. The consistency was nice, but the Devils needed more point production from a player that they seemingly expect to fill an important offensive role going forward.
He has always appeared to have some chemistry with Marcus Johansson and since they’ve been reunited (mostly due to necessity from injury) they have each made each other look better on the ice. Bratt’s 20 points in his first 36 games was respectable, but now he’s added 10 more in his last 10 games; Johansson has 8 in that span of 10 games as well, and 10 in his last 11. With the chemistry between the two Swedes, as well as the overall lack of Top-6 forward talent in New Jersey, and the way these two improve each other, I think it is going to take an offer that heavily favors New Jersey to see MoJo traded on or before Monday.
Cautious for Cory
Cory Schneider will more than likely start tonight when the Devils face off with the Ottawa Senators. He has posted his first two wins in a long time in back to back contests now, with the first coming in a relief role and a come from behind victory. Over those two games, he has stopped 49 of the 50 shots he faces, and the one that got by him, he had zero chance on.
Cory’s marked improvement over the past pair of games is cause for hope; perhaps his early season struggles were related to nagging injuries and now he is returning to the form that we all know and that Jersey’s Team needs. The caution here comes from the two prior starts against Chicago and Minnesota where he posted save percentages under .900. Even more confusingly, he had an amazing game against the Islanders prior to those games. Tonight should help us to determine if Consistent Cory is back or if his starts will continue to be a mixed bag.
Jersey’s Own Kenny Agostino!
Agostino came over as a waiver pick-up from Montreal, and through five games as a Devil, he has a pair of assists. While these stats aren’t going to blow anyone away, he hasn’t been bad value for a free pickup. The Devils need more players contributing up and down the lineup, so if Agostino plays his way into a permanent Bottom-6 role, that’s a win-win.
What do you think regarding these Devils stories; do you see Zajac hitting 500 points this season and/or 1000 games next year? How do you feel about the play of Bratt and Johansson together? Has it been good enough to merit keeping MoJo? Do you foresee another strong Schneider start? What of Agostino; does he have a future here? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!