Brick City Breakdown: Adam Henrique’s line leads Devils to preseason win over Rangers.


Henrique! It’s over! Sorry, I had to, but even in this preseason matchup between the Devils and the New York Rangers that saying rings true. Adam Henrique absolutely owns Ranger goaltending. Whether it’s Henrik Lundqvist or Cam Talbot, Henrique has a knack for scoring against the Devils’ Hudson River rival. Tonight, Henrique potted a pair of goals, even though the official scorer refuses to acknowledge that he scored the first one on a beautiful deflection. The second of those goals came with just under a minute remaining in the game, with the score tied at four, and put the Devils on top for good for the 5-4 victory. Henrique is the Devils’ best offensive center and he proved that tonight. He was definitely in mid-season form and looks like he’s going to have a huge year.

Henrique was not alone in leading the Devils’ offensive charge. His linemates, Reid Boucher and Michael Ryder, were both outstanding tonight as well. The line clicked from the opening faceoff and never looked back. One minute into the game, Boucher saved the puck from exiting the offensive zone and skated in from the blue line. He let go a wrister that Henrique masterfully directed top-shelf past Lundqvist. The official scorer must’ve been blind and awarded the goal to Boucher, but nonetheless, Boucher made a great play to set up the goal. On their next shift, Boucher and Henrique swarmed on the forecheck and won the puck. Henrique got it to the point where Gelinas sent one toward goal that Ryder deflected down between Hank’s pads. A quick 2-0 lead and the Devils looked great. After two successive Ranger goals, Boucher flew down the wing and sauced a gorgeous pass to Ryder who tipped it home past Talbot. That line ended with four goals and four assists (if the first goal ever gets changed). They were terrific and Ryder surely enhanced his trade value tonight.

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The other positives from tonight, as far as skaters go, were the line of Dainius ZubrusPatrik EliasMartin Havlat, the defensive duo of Eric Gelinas and Adam Larsson, and the rookie Stefan Matteau. Zubrus, Elias and Havlat have amazing chemistry. They didn’t get on the score sheet but they played really well. That could be a line the Devils use quite often this season. Larsson and Gelinas each had a hiccup, but overall they both played a solid game. Gelinas took an unnecessary penalty and Larsson couldn’t corral a bouncing puck leading to the Rangers’ third goal. However, Gelinas unleashed that wicked shot of his and tallied on the power play – something he did extremely well last season. Larsson was calm and collected in his own end and just needs to think shoot instead of pass in the offensive zone. The Devils would be crazy not to pair those two together as much as possible this season. Matteau flew under the radar. He was on a line with Jacob Josefson and Jordin Tootoo (so not much to work with) but he threw his body around and showed he could be an option as a power forward down the road.

Unfortunately, now I have to talk about the bad. PTO Mike Komisarek was the worst player on the ice for either team. He was caught numerous times out of position and looked lost for most of the game. He has no shot of making the team and I’d honestly be surprised if he dressed for another preseason game. Josefson had a good moment or two but overall he was underwhelming. The same could be said for Tootoo. They each took a terrible penalty, and by terrible I mean it, which the coaching staff can’t be happy about. Other than those three, there’s not much bad to talk about. Dan Kelly played pretty poorly but he really has no chance of making the team so it’s not really important. Tomas Kaberle, another PTO, played a decent game. Nothing special but nothing infuriating. He could be an option if Damon Severson, who also played a decent game, does not develop and an injury on the back line occurs.

Don’t think I forgot about the goalies! Scott Clemmensen started the game and he actually didn’t play too badly. The first goal he let in was awful, but after that he didn’t disappoint; he was average I’d say. Then Keith Kinkaid came in and truly played well. He looked confident in the crease and made some big saves to keep the score tied late in the game. The two goals he allowed were in no way his fault and overall I thought he was fantastic. If I had to decide now, the backup goalie postion would easily be Kinkaids.

All in all, it was a very good first outing for the Devils. Far more good than bad and Reid Boucher was a shining star. The Devils need their system to develop a sniper and they just might have a diamond in the rough. If he keeps playing like this, the Devils will have to put him on the opening night roster.

The Devils next play Thursday when they travel to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers at 7:00 PM/EST. Stay tuned to Pucks and Pitchforks for all your coverage of Jersey’s Team!