A look at some New Jersey players - both current and former - as well as "Saint Kid"...
The Devils in the Details
The New Jersey Devils average only 2.52 goals for per game. That’s third worst in the Eastern Conference. Only the Islanders (2.35) and Rangers (2.39) are worse. I guess it’s a good thing that the Devils have the best goals against average in the Conference Good fantasy GM’s will troll for useful fantasy players, even near the swamp. Here are three Devils and their details:
After recording only 20 points in his first 35 games, Patrik Elias was written off by many poolies. Since the beginning of January, he has scored 15 points in 15 games including ten points in his last seven games. Elias is on pace for 55 points and 273 shots on goal. His seven game winning goals are second only to Alex Ovechkin’s eight. Expecting 25 to 30 points in his 28 remaining games is not unrealistic.
2008 has been a good year for Travis Zajac, at least so far. He has 13 points in 16 games. Zajac scored eleven points in January, four more than Zach Parise. Zajac is currently on pace for 18 goals and the same 42 points he had last season. He is averaging the sixth most ice time amongst Devil’s forwards. I am not convinced that he will finish the season at his January pace, but he’s worth keeping an eye on.
Johnny Oduya has scored eight points in his last eight games. Sure he had that big four point game in the 7-3 win against the Flyers, but he’s also had points in five of those eight games. From October to December, Oduya had only five points in 31 contests. Since the start of 2008, he’s scored 11 points in 16 games. A big part of his improved production is increased power play time. In his last five games, Oduya has received first unit power play minutes.
Oduya played one season in the QMJHL, where he scored 68 points in 68 games, recorded a plus-22 and racked up an incredible 259 penalty minutes. The now 26-year-old defenseman was drafted by Washington in the seventh round of the 2001 entry draft. He spent four years in Sweden and then signed as a free agent with New Jersey in 2006. Oduya sports a nice plus-14 on the season, but don’t expect a great amount of penalty minutes from him this year. While he recorded mega penalty minutes in his one year in the Q and averaged over 140 penalty minutes in his four years in Sweden, last year Oduya recorded 61 minutes and is on pace for about the same this season.
The Devils play eight of their next eleven games at home. It’s just the schedule balancing out. Remember the nine game road trip the Devils endured to start the season while finishing touches were being put on their new home ice?
The Devil that Got Away
It’s ironic that ex-Devil Scott Gomez, who was so eager to leave New Jersey in search of a less restrictive offence, ends up on a team that is worse offensively than the Devils. After an ugly October, Gomez has been very consistent. Prior to last night’s contest, he had been held off the score sheet only nine times in the previous 45 games. In those 45 games, he’s scored at an 89 point pace. Gomez is a good bet to hit 80 points this season.
After the Fall of Saint Sid
In the absence of Sid the Kid, several Pens have stepped up to fill the void. Of course everyone expected Malkin to lead the way offensively and he hasn’t disappointed, scoring 14 points in the eight games Crosby’s missed.
Gonchar, Sykora and Malone have all recorded nine points in the same eight games Crosby has been out. It doesn’t seem to matter who is in the lineup, Gonchar just keeps on scoring. He’s scored 15 points in his last 15 games including 65 shots on goal (4.3/game).
Under-achieving defenseman Ryan Whitney might be back on track with seven points in his last eight games. Some Pens flying under the radar over the last eight games include Maxime Talbot and Erik Christensen. Talbot has one goal and five assists and Christensen has two goals and three assists.
Jordan Staal, who was expected to play an increased offensive role with Crosby out, has contributed five points in eight games. He’s averaging almost 20 minutes of ice time per game since the Crosby injury. Staal was scoring at a 23 point pace prior to the Crosby injury. He has since been scoring at a 51 point pace. Better, but still less than anticipated.
The Pens are desperately trying to snatch as many points as they can in order to stay in the playoff picture. They’ve grabbed ten of a possible 16 points (4-2-2) without the big guy. It will be interesting to see if the Pens can hold down a playoff spot until Saint Sid returns.