Another edition of Hot and Cold and we have the Devils amidst a small slump. We took three players for each side, taking a look at who has been good and who hasn’t as of late.
1. Ilya Kovalchuk – Kovy has 6 points in his last 5 games and has been playing some of the best team-oriented hockey of his career. I always live by the term, “great players make everyone around them better” and that’s what we’re seeing from Kovalchuk right now. He’s passing the puck well, he’s getting time on the penalty kill and he’s unselfish. Plain and simple, the guy wants to win. His three assist night against the Flyers was a thing of beauty.
2. Adam Larsson – It has been a great thing to watch young Adam Larsson come into his own this season. His offensive game needs work, but defensively, he’s been excellent. His angle play has been sharp, he’s using his body well and he’s cancelling out shots. That’s what you want out of a defenseman. The offensive game will come down the road. He’s plus-5 on the year which is a pretty indication of where he is.
3. Andy Greene – Greene has been sensational as of late. He’s playing well in his own zone and he’s chipping in with some offense. He has two goals and six assists and is a plus-7 on the year so far. He’s playing back to the level we saw him play at in the 2009-2010 season where he chipped in six goals and 31 assists.
1. Henrik Tallinder – I’m still not sure why he’s playing. Tallinder looks sluggish and is making poor decisions that are leading to penalties and subsequently, goals. Quite frankly, when you have Mark Fayne and Peter Harrold sitting, he has to play better to earn his ice time. He’s even in plus/minus for the year. I’m not sure if Pete DeBoer is playing him in the hopes of snapping him out of his current streak, or just tying to get him to play well enough that he has some trade value?
2. Travis Zajac – Yes, he finally did end his goal scoring drought against the Flyers last week, but outside of that game, #19 hasn’t been doing much. In the ten games the Devils have played in the month of February, Zajac has all but two points and both of those came in the game against the Flyers. Is it his contract that he recently signed that’s making him press? Is it just simply a rough start? Whatever the case may be, he has five points on the year and as the team’s number one center, that’s not going to cut it.
3. Bryce Salvador – Before you freak out that I’ve put Captain Salvador here, think back to his recent play. He hasn’t been very good. He’s tied for last amongst defensemen on the team along with Marek Zidlicky, at minus-1 and he hasn’t been playing even close to where he was last year. Not to say that he’s not going to snap out of it, because he most likely will, but to see him struggle right now isn’t good. Furthermore, in some interviews following bad games by himself and/or the team, he’s taken a very laissez-faire approach. He needs to step up and take responsibility for his own play and call out the team when necessary. It can’t all be a “we’ll get ’em next time approach.”