Hello everyone and welcome to another addition Monday Masala. The last time I talked to you guys, our New Jersey Devils were in a trailing the Philadelphia Flyers. Hey well, y’all know the ending. New Jersey stormed back with 4 straight wins and are now gonna play the New York Rangers for the Eastern Conference Title and some extra bragging rights. Let’s take a look at some players who exceled in that series with Philly and if they can stretch that over today in Madison Square Garden.
Travis Zajac – Must I say more? Zajac is arguably the most consistent and clutch player the Devils have on their roster. It’s incredible how he came back from a serious injury and became a complete BOSS afterwards! After celebrating his birthday yesterday, I hope Zajac didn’t eat too much cake because if he stays healthy, the Rangers, in my opinion, will have a tough time handling him.
Ilya Kovalchuk – Yes I did put him under the “Stale” category but look what he’s done since! He’s produced monster numbers and completely killed Bryzgalov and the Flyers with his shot! Kovy currently leads the Devils in the playoffs with 12 points (5g, 7a). This is stating the obvious but if the Devils want to win this series, Kovalchuk needs to continue his performance to an equal or greater level compared to that of the Philadelphia series.
Bryce Salvador – His story is just beyond incredible. Salvador, after missing the majority of last season was looked upon as an uncertainty in respect to his performance coming into this season. If you contribute that to his decaying age, many feared if he would even be effective. Well he sure proved the doubters wrong. His defensive presence has helped the Devils reach the conference finals. Also, remember how he got no goals in the regular season? Well he got 2 against the Flyers (the empty netter in Game 2 and the equalizer in Game 5). Look for his presence to shut down those speedy Rangers.
Alex Ponikarovsky – This is an interesting choice in my opinion. Many have overlooked what Ponikarovsky has done for the Devils this playoff season. The guy is a complete workhorse! He battles mindlessly and tirelessly along the boards. While he doesn’t have many goals, he scored the memorable one in Game 3 against Philly that sealed the deal in overtime! I truly believe he’ll carry his momentum into this round and perhaps, maybe do some more?
Adam Larsson – What took Coach DeBoer so long to put him in the lineup?! This guy is a complete stud! I’m sorry if I ever thought that Larsson’s confidence would decrease due to his benching. It turns out that benching Peter Harrold and putting in Larsson was a key move in determining why the Devils are in the conference finals. Larsson tied the game in the 3rd in Philadelphia during Game 2. Since then, his defensive presence has grown into a force to be reckoned with. I’m looking forward to his game tonight against the Rangers.
Marek Zidlicky – Due to some slight verbal skirmishes on a New Jersey Devils fan group on Facebook, I’ve decided to refrain myself from addressing Zidlicky as “Bum” (as some people are too immature to take a joke it seems). Zidlicky has been a great pick up and to be honest, he’s done more work than Kurtis Foster did during his short tenure with NJ. Arguably, Zidlicky’s best playoff game came in Game 4 vs. the Flyers, where he added 2 points (1g, 1a). If he is healthy, you’ll see him pestering those pesky Ranger forwards every game, trust me.
Anton Volchenkov – Unfortunately this is true. Volchenkov has enjoyed the team’s success so far. Hockey is a team sport after all. However, individual performance also plays into some account. He’s done part of his job, which is to hit players and block shots. However, I don’t really see him carrying the puck as often and trying to generate plays! Perhaps if he realizes he has potential to be a thorn on the Rangers’ side, then he can become an overlooked x-factor.
Patrik Elias – Whoa how did this happen? I’m shocked too that I’m putting Elias here! Truth is however, that he does belong here for now because slowly, his numbers have been decreasing while the numbers of forwards around him have been skyrocketing. Though it’s a slight disappointment, I have faith in Elias. After all, who else has more fun playing the Rangers?
Devils 4th Line – This line is without a doubt, still a threat. However, they’re stale at the moment because while Carter, Bernier, and Gionta give the Devils emotional life, their goal scoring touch has disappeared just a wee bit. That’s not a sole negative because that’s not the 4th line’s job. They do their job handsomely and then some! Though, I’d love it if I could see them score a bit more often now. If they do, I wonder how Lundqvist is gonna feel getting 5-holed by fourth liners.
As a team? I would say without a doubt the Devils are SPICY! Following an impressive punishing of the Flyers, let’s hope the Devils can repeat it over the slightly favored Rangers. That’s alright because in some cases, underdogs rule! Rust will not affect New Jersey if you can believe my wise words. If you don’t believe so, do share your views. Once more, I encourage your views! You all can send me your views/criticisms via commenting or via tweeting.
For all the latest Devils news, follow us on twitter: @RWTDblog, @Rvaidya33, @RealScottRobb, and @DEVIN88MATTERA and you can like us on our Facebook page! So long for now – I’m Raj Vaidya, and hopefully this spice wasn’t too hot to handle!