With a record of 21-15-1, the New Jersey Devils have done very well considering… The Devils started the 2011-2012 season with a new head coach, a new system, a number of new players, including an 18 year old rookie defenseman, Parise in need to dust off some rust after a long layoff, and their number one center, Zajac, out with an injury. Soon after the season began, the Devils were playing without two of their top three centers after Josefson got injured. At the beginning of the season, except for Tallinder and Fayne, the Devils were playing with all-new line combinations, including a number of players that were playing out of position. Remember Parise playing center?
Barring another major injury, the Devils should be a better team in the second half of the 2011-2012 season. In 2012, I expect to see improved play from these players:
Travis Zajac: After only playing 7 games, Zajac is still finding his game after starting the season on IR. He is now playing with new linemates in Clarkson and Tedenby and he is learning a new system under a new coach. As Zajac finds his game and improves his game fitness, he will be playing better. When Zajac is playing well, he makes other players better.
Kurtis Foster: Foster has only played 8 games with the Devils and that after some time away from the NHL. Now, he is playing with new linemates, playing under a new system under a new coach. He is also just starting to play on the PP. His overall game should improve in the next few games.
Adam Larsson: As this season goes, I expect this talented 19 year old defenseman to cut down on his mistakes and to grow more comfortable with his game. Larsson will, no doubt, be better the second half of this season.
Adam Henrique: One of the keys to the success of the Devils this season, has been the emergence of Henrique. He has played only 35 games in the NHL and he has exceeded our expectations. He is doing a good job on the top line and he is scoring. I also expect him to improve his game as this season goes.
Let's not forget that the Devils have a number of players that have yet to play a full season in the NHL; players like Larsson (35 HNL games played), Henrique, Josefson (33 NHL games), and Taormina (25 NHL games). Techically, Fayne (94 NHL games) and Tedenby (94 NHL games) are players with just one year of experience. All these players are all still developing their games; they are improving. They will get better.
Now, with Tallinder back, the Devils are still waiting for the returns of Greene and Josefson. Once these players are back with the team and they dust off the rust, the Devils will be a deeper and better team. Never mind that the Devils continue to dress Boulton and Janssen. I am going to leave this last point alone.
I expect the New Jersey Devils to play better and have a better record in the 2012 part of this season. I expect them to make the playoffs. I know that there are a lot of players on this team that expect nothing less. Thank for reading this post!