New Jersey Devils

A rematch between the New Jersey Devils and Panthers will be will be seen at the Rock tonight, with both teams coming off wins on Tuesday.

New Jersey Devils (16-11-4, 36 points: 4th place in Metropolitan Division)
Florida Panthers (15-12-4, 34 points: 6th place in Atlantic Division)
Today, 7:00 PM on FSL, MSG+
Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey

By Patrick Comia

The renaissance project that’s happening in New Jersey is continuing ahead of everyone’s schedule.

The Devils last game in Buffalo wasn’t a continuation of a possible setback. No, there wasn’t a Dennis Green moment, “They were who we thought they were”.

In fact, it was quite the opposite and was proof that this season’s Devils are not going to fade to black, as at the end of movies.

New Jersey currently holds the eighth, and final, playoff spot if the season were to end. That means, they are ahead of reigning Eastern Conference champions Tampa Bay Lightning and Stanley Cup favorites Pittsburgh Penguins.

Yes, it’s still early. But, how early is early? It’s almost at All-Star break for the NHL and the Devils have been hovering around the Wild Card spot for some time.

Sure, don’t get ahead of ourselves, but let’s give the Devils their due. They are a hard-working group that thrives on being the underdog.

Isn’t that the position you want to be in come playoff time?

However, the revival in New Jersey wouldn’t be possible if it were not for the rebirth of Adam Henrique and Reinanssance man himself Lee Stempniak.

Both players are second behind teammate Mike Cammalleri for the team lead in points with 24. Oddly enough, all three are on the top scoring line for the Devils.

Henrique is tied with Kyle Palmieri for the team lead in goals with 13, heading into tonight’s game versus the Panthers. His bounce back season in offensive production are one of the reasons why the team finds themselves in the position they are in. All of last season, he accumulated 16 goals in 75 games. By the time the All-Star Break comes around next month, he may have surpassed that total.

Henrique’s presence on the ice is a valuable one, which should be taken for granted as shown proof against the New York Islanders on Sunday.

Stempniak’s success this season is along the same lines as the Devils’ season. No one saw him coming and making the impact that he has.

A forgotten man by several teams, he signed as a free agent after agreeing to a PTO with New Jersey in training camp. He caught the eye of general manager Ray Shero and first-year head coach John Hynes, and was kept around.

Fast forward 31 games later, Stempniak has eight goals and 16 assists with a +5 goal rating in 31 games for the Devils. In addition, he is playing in all situations for the Devils: even-strength, power play, penalty kill, three-on-three overtime, and has been utilized in the shootout.

New Jersey is Stempniak’s eighth city to play for, dating back to his rookie season with the St. Louis Blues. He is hoping this will be his last stop for at least a couple of years. If he keeps up the production like he has so far, Stempniak will make Shero’s job that much tougher.

These two players are who we are looking to break through versus the Florida Panthers. Both players combined for two goals and two assists in New Jersey’s last win over the Panthers. Henrique had a three point game that included the game-winning goal and two assists. Stempniak scored a goal off a combination from his linemates Cammalleri and Henrique:

It’s this kind of play that has Devils fans grinning ear to ear about the prospects of what might come!

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I'm a blogger trying to make it in this world. Have been, and always will be, a fan of the NYR and NYG. Writing for the New Jersey Devils cause, well, someone has to do it!