Let's give PDB his due. It took half a season to institute his system, but once the players "got it", the Devils have performed like one of the best teams in the league, even though the talent on paper wouldn't suggest it. The key to this has been the aggressive pinching of the Dmen and the way the Devils out-man the opposition along the boards. PDB has improved upon the foundation that Jacques Lemaire built - who proved to Kovalchuk and the rest of the team that offense can be generated from great defense - by upping the level of aggressiveness in all three zones.
Though he can't possibly keep up his early-season scoring pace, Greene is playing PDB's system to absolute perfection. He picks the puck out from the board battles in the defensive zone and moves it quickly, he has been making perfect decisions in pinching on the offensive end, and he's been getting his shots and passes through from the point.
Depth on D
Yes, the Devils have the luxury of 8 trustworthy defensemen. Yes, they could use a top line winger and have the option of trading a Dman to address that need. But the blueline is playing well and injuries are inevitable, so as long as the team keeps scoring enough goals to win, I'm inclined to keep things as they are and try to use a draft pick to get a depth winger at the deadline rather than go for the big trade. That said, if anyone is to be traded off the NHL roster, I think it should be Volchenkov. Even though his PK work has been strong, his lack of offensive skill can be disruptive to the Devils' own forecheck and he is a poor fit for PDB's system.
The top line's slow start
Thank goodness for Patrik Elias and David Clarkson. Zajac and Kovalchuk have not only struggled to find a left winger to play with consistently, but they have failed to execute a consistent forecheck and have been guilty of overpassing far too often. To some extent, they've been snakebitten. But while Kovalchuk's defensive play has been strong and he has been distributing the puck well on the PP, at even strength he looks a bit lost and hasn't imposed his will upon the game. Not only does he need to shoot more, but he needs to get more involved along the boards in the offensive zone.
I don't agree with the decision to keep him with the NHL club, but I like the way this kid looks. He skates well, he has a quick shot, and he has good sense for how to make the right play. He hasn't been as physically imposing as advertised, but he still has room to grow and get stronger, and I don't doubt that he will turn out to be a good power forward. He's making Lou look smart for what was a dumb decision to not give up last year's first round pick as part of the Kovalchuk penalty.
Ageless wonders - except when it comes to puckhandling
When they're in the crease, our quadragenarian goaltenders have been fantastic. But I think if we'd reviewed the 21 goals Brodeur has given up so far, at least 4 or 5 of them would have occurred shortly after he handled the puck. Hedberg, too, has been shakier than usual - it was terrifying at times in his first game of the season.