GDHQNHL15_2pg-New Jersey Devils 2

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The second unit is stout, too, although it does present a bit of a dichotomy. Captain Bryce Salvador is a substantial presence on the blue line, even though he played only half of the season. He’s tough and experienced (he turns 39 in February), while Eric Gelinas has the size (6-4, 210) but not the veteran’s perspective. He’s only 23. Jersey could run into trouble with its third pairing, since Jon Merrill and Adam Larsson combined are as old as Jagr will be in February. While the Devils have high hopes for both, neither played an entire season last year. Merrill had the most experience, registering 11 points in 52 games and producing two game winners. Larsson, who will turn 22 in November, played in only 26 games. At 6-3, 205, however, he appears to have the heft necessary to be a factor. It’s not a perfect sextet, and it could be augmented at times by veteran Peter Harrold, but it should help Jersey keep things tight in front of Cory Schneider. Goaltending Losing a four-time Vezina Trophy winner and nine-time All-Star would set some teams well back, but the Devils should be in pretty good shape, even though Martin Brodeur is no longer with the club. That said, losing the security of Brodeur, who played 20 seasons with the club and was a linchpin on three Stanley Cup-winning clubs, will not be that easy. Devils fans should be cheered by the play last year of 28-year old Cory Schneider, who in 45 games logged a 1.97 GAA and posted a 16-15-12 record. His .921 save percentage was strong, and he was a sturdy goal-line presence on a team that ranked ninth in goals allowed last year. The Devils imported veteran Scott Clemmensen to back him up, although he has struggled the past two years. It’s time to see how well Schneider can handle a huge workload. There were times when Brodeur played 75 or more games. Schneider won’t have to do that much, but he will be in net quite often. Power Play After a 2012-13 season, during which Jersey converted on a woeful 15.91 percent of its power play opportunities, the team improved considerably, scoring on 19.5 percent of its chances. There isn’t one bigtime weapon on the man advantage; rather the Devils rely on a variety of people to score. The results—at least last year—are generally good. Adding Cammalleri to the mix should help. From 2005-09, he scored double-digit power play goals. Although his numbers have shrunk since then, he should contribute on the unit. Havlat hasn’t been that productive on the advantage either in recent seasons, but he has thrived there in the past. They’ll try to fit in with a group that includes Zidlicky (eight goals), Henrique (seven), Gelinas (five) and Jagr (five). The depth of Jersey’s options should put pressure on rival kills and allow the Devils to show a variety of different looks, the better to create uncertainty among opponents. Penalty Kill Just as New Jersey bumped up its power play success considerably last year, so too did the Devils get better stopping enemies from scoring with an advantage. It began in goal, where both Schneider and Brodeur were strong all year. But there was a lot more. Andy Greene played extremely well up top on the kill, which made it harder for rivals to initiate the passes that can lead to good opportunities. Even though Bryce Salvador, another blue-line penalty killing stalwart, missed a good deal of time with a fractured foot, he was sturdy while out there. Jersey has a variety of forwards who performed well on Jaromir Jagr this unit last year, beginning with Henrique and Elias. Even though Gionta was part of the third forward combination that tried to stop opposing power plays, he still performed well. Finally, credit assistant Mike Foligno with putting together a unit that was versatile and successful. Prediction This is not a team that challenge for the Cup, but there is a good chance New Jersey will reach the playoffs, after a two-year drought and missing three of the past four years. The team has beefed up its offense, and the D should be solid again, particularly if Schneider can handle the demands of a full season in net. The Devils will make the post-season but don’t expect a long stay. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images Scoreboard 13 12 11 10 09 PLAYOFF FINISH DNQ DNQ Cup Finals DNQ Conf QF REGULAR SEASON 35-29-18 19-19-10 48-28-6 38-39-5 48-27-7 POINT TOTAL 88 48 102 81 103 SHOOTOUT RECORD 0-13 2-7 12-4 3-2 6-5 GOALS SCORED 197 112 228 174 222 GOALS ALLOWED 208 129 209 209 191 POWER PLAY % 19.50 15.91 17.23 14.35 18.75 PENALTY KILL % 86.36 81.07 89.58 83.40 84.82


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