Can the Devils be an Offensive Juggernaut?


Last season, the New Jersey Devils ranked 29th in the NHL in 5-on-5 goals scored, netting a mere 128 goals at even-strength.

Yesterday evening in Philadelphia, though, a different Devils team took the ice, as they scored all six of their goals at even strength in the  6-4 opening night victory against the Flyers.


The Devils ability to score all of their goals at even strength was a welcome change for the Devils, something that was much to the satisfaction of head coach Pete DeBoer.

"“We had more 5-on-5 goals [Thursday] than I think we had for weeks at different stretches last year,” DeBoer said, adding “But we still have a lot of work.” (Morreale, October 10)"

Mike Cammelleri, the Devils’ big free agent signing this off-season, got off to a phenomenal start, netting two goals while leading all Devils’ forwards with 19:00 of ice time. He was happy with the way his first game in New Jersey turned out.

"“It does feel good,” Cammalleri said. “It was a little bit of a fortunate bounce there. But we’ll take them all.” (Gulitti, October 10)"

Cammelleri also believes the Devils’ top line has the potential to be special this season.

"“I liked our intent and what we were trying to do,” Cammalleri said. “I think our execution can get a little quicker and we could move our hands and legs a little quicker; I can for sure. But I liked our intent.” (Morreale, October 10)"

Of the six goals, two were scored by line mates Patrik Elias and Dainius Zubrus. The duo, along with newcomer Martin Havlat, had a solid game as the line posted a combined +5 plus/minus rating.

"“I thought [Patrik] Elias and [Martin] Havlat looked good out there together,” DeBoer said. “I think we’ve got the ability to have three lines at any given point that can hop over the boards and get you a goal. So, it’s a nice luxury to have. We just have to keep that going.” (Gulitti, October 10)"

Zubrus on scoring his first goal of the season:

"“It’s nice to score … It’s good for everybody to have the confidence to score goals. There were a couple of nice bounces that we got, too.” (Gulitti, October 10)"

In all, 12 Devils found the name on the score sheet last night, including additional goals from Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder. Jaromir Jagr and Ryder also had two assists, while Henrique, Elias, Havlat, Andy Greene, Marek Zidlicky, and Ryane Clowe tallied one assist.

While it’s easy to get excited over a victory of this stature, Zubrus pointed out that everyone should keep calm for the time being.

"“We don’t want to get too carried away here. Just play our game and I think goals will come.” (Gulitti, October 10)"


While Zubrus thinks there is nothing to get worked up over at this point in the season, there are many reasons to disagree with him.

For one, the Devils very seldom scored six goals in a game last season, especially with Schneider in net. And while it wasn’t ideal that the Devils subsequently allowed four goals, the resiliency was something that was lacking at many-a-times last season.

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How many times last season did it seem like the Devils blew a one goal lead late in the game that would send the game to overtime, and eventually a shootout? Last night’s game had the makings of just that, but the Devils overcame the adversity and buckled down when the needed to.

Not only did they buckle down defensively, the kept the pressure on offensively in the process, something that seemed impossible for last year’s team to accomplish.

Furthermore, all three of the Devils scoring lines made major contributions to New Jersey’s offensive effort. It won’t happen every night, obviously, but if the Devils’ top-nine can replicate that play on a regular basis, it will give the team a dynamic that they haven’t had the past two playoff-less seasons.

Maybe Michael Ryder doesn’t go through a half-season-long scoring drought and returns to being a 25-30 goal scorer. Maybe Martin Havlat and Ryane Clowe do stay healthy and both contribute 50+ points. Maybe Adam Henrique does have a 70 point season playing between Ryder and Clowe. There are so many “ifs” surrounding this team, but if they can come through on at least a few of those maybes, a return to the playoffs would be all but certain.

Will the Devils score six goals every night? No, they won’t. So Zubrus is right, we can’t get too carried away here. But the potential shown last night gives Devils’ fans a lot to be excited about.

Stay with Pucks & Pitchforks for more Devils news and notes throughout the season.