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New Jersey Devils California Road Trip Thoughts

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(Stats per The Score)

1: Dougie Hamilton has produced 6 points in 7 games played and that is part of the 4-2-1 winning start of the first batch of games already played. Dougie is coming up against a very familiar western conference that he was part of in his time with the Calgary Flames. Will the familiarity of playing against certain teams and players help Dougie? Theoretically yes because he and fellow linemate Ryan Graves both know their opponents like the Los Angeles Kings very well in recent seasons, especially Graves who was with the Colorado Avalanche. Right now Devils General Manager Tom Fitzgerald is getting every penny’s worth out of Hamilton’s big contract so far and it is already paying big dividends with an Average Time On Ice of 23:53, 13 hits, 14 blocks, and 29 shots.

2: Andreas Johnsson has finally begun scoring 4 goals and 6 points in 7 games played. He has gained a ton of confidence already so far in the start of the season and he’s putting up an absurd shooting percentage of 40 percent. It seems like the power play, and offensive coach Mark Recchi is able to help Andreas find various ways to improve his play already.

3: Czech-born winger Pavel Zacha like Johnsson is already getting in the groove early so far this season with 4 goals and 6 points in 18:34 of Time On Ice, and has 8 hits along with a game-winning goal in overtime. This is a very good situation for coach Lindy Ruff to have a player like Pavel finding his game already and the matter of him only gaining the experience to be a reliable mid 6 winger at the NHL level.

4: Due to the hard-fought competition between Alexander Holtz and Dawson Mercer near the end of pre-season. Mercer who made the final spot over Holtz has made a statement with 3 goals and 5 points in 7 games played. Dawson Mercer is a player who should be not only in the Calder Trophy discussion but also a potential Selke Trophy candidate as he improves over time as a two-way center. With Jack Hughes out of the lineup Mercer, Hischier, and McLeod have stepped up a spot on the roster and the Devils are doing just fine with the perseverance of the Newfoundland native’s compete and 200-foot 2-way style of hockey.

5: Yarmouth, Nova Scotia native Ryan Graves has been another key cog for the New Jersey Devils leading the team with 15 hits, tied with Dougie Hamilton, and P.K. Subban with 14 hits. Graves has proven to be a key cog in the team’s penalty kill, and improving the even-strength presence on defense. Ryan does have 3 points (assists) in 7 games played and is proving Lindy Ruff and company that he’s worth what GM, Tom Fitzgerald acquired him for.

6: The players the Devils won’t have to face versus the Anaheim Ducks will be Jakob Silverberg and Rickard Rakell along with Max Jones. The Ducks still have plenty of firepower from mostly their forward core.

7: Kevin Shattenkirk the former New York Ranger and St. Louis Blue has 7 assists and 10 points in 10 games for the Ducks so far from the Anaheim blueline. Will Shattenkirk be able to score against a much more experienced Devils defense? It remains a question to be seen until both teams face off.

8: Troy Terry this slick soft mitts of a forward is someone you don’t want to get loose because he’s proven to not only get open but allows his creativity to allow him to yield points. Terry has 5 assists and 9 points in 10 games played so he’s piping hot offensively.

9: Devils fans will stay awake late enough to watch a special fan favorite to this day in Adam Henrique. Henrique the Brantford, Ontario native is a veteran center with 9 points in 10 games with 5 assists. Adam Has 2 power-play goals with 5 hits and 9 blocks already. He’s a team-first guy and still plays with that heart and soul type of hockey from his days with the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL.

10: Trevor Zegras the 2020’s new era of “the magician” in the post-Pavel Datsyuk hockey generation. Zegras is a former teammate of New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes from the 2017-18 USDP U-18 team. If a defenseman thinks they have him covered Trevor can spin around and make a tape-to-tape pass to help create scoring opportunities. Zegras has been the signature soft and silky-handed, dangler with the puck and being able to score with such accuracy.

Closing Thoughts

Expect the Anaheim Ducks to play John Gibson with a 2.92 ERA and a .906 Save Percentage with a 3-2-2 Win-Loss and OTL record. The Devils could go with Scott Wedgewood but with Jonathan Bernier has been pretty hot lately between the pipes he would be the best option with a 3-0-0 record. Don’t be surprised to see Mackenzie Blackwood return to his rightful place in the net if Lindy Ruff believes he is deemed ready to goaltend for the first time this season. The biggest concern in this matchup is how will John Gibson or Edison, New Jersey native Anthony Stolarz handle the Devils offense.

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Former writer for Pucks and Pitchforks and The Puck Authority. I cover New Jersey Devils hockey and NHL Draft prospects. I have a podcast called Heads Up Hockey on Anchor.fm