Martin Brodeur has been absent from the New Jersey Devils lineup with a back injury. - Elsa
The New Jersey Devils are in the midst of their own slump, standing winless in their past five games. John Fischer from In Lou We Trust sheds some light on the recent Devils troubles... And they are not all related to the absence of Martin Brodeur in goal.
1 - What's the update on who starts in goal vs the Lightning Tuesday? I think I read that Brodeur is close. This being the Devils' 3rd game in 4 nights, if Brodeur isn't ready, what you can tell us about Keith Kinkaid? Is he the franchise's goalie of the future?
No idea at this point. Johan Hedberg had a very poor game in Toronto as he should have stopped the first three goals he allowed. If he had a good game and Brodeur's back was still out, then I would have predicted he plays both games. After what was witnessed, I doubt it'll happen. I personally don't know all that much about Keith Kinkaid other than that he hasn't been too great by the numbers with only a 90.5% save percentage in Albany this season. That said, I do not know if that's a function of him getting hung out there so often or whether he's just not all that great. Since the organization called him up, it's a sign they think more of his future than Jeff Frazee, who really does not. I do not think he is not the franchise's goaltender of the future in that it's incredibly difficult to predict a goaltender's development. Besides, more fans are interested in the younger Scott Clemmensen, who has been doing well for Trenton in the ECHL in his first pro season.
It's not Brodeur's absence. It's a combination of a lot of things. For starters, the Devils have scored only 14 goals in their last eight games, including their 4-2 loss to Toronto. They've had a run of games where they would dominate possession at even strength when the game was close or tied; but one error or one bad shift and it's a goal against. With the Devils shooting at about 6% (14 over 231 shots makes it 6.06%), it's been very difficult for the Devils to make up for those mistakes or get a cushion so when it does happen, it's not the end of the game. The power play has been abjectly awful with only two power play goals out of 31 attempts in this eight game slump. The penalty kill has only recently righted itself, though they got scored on in Toronto. Even when the goaltending has been fine, the results have not been. Ultimately, when the shots start dropping in more, then the possession will be rightly seen as a strength, and the wins will come. Until then, it's been awful.
3 - How has Adam Henrique looked this year? Any other rookies or youngsters in the system who you see becoming big contributors to the team either this season or next and that may be below the radar?
Henrique has been among the many cold Devils right now. He did score a shorthanded goal against Buffalo on Sunday. That goal was his first point since an assist against Washington on February 21, which itself was his first point since an assist against Pittsburgh on February 10. He started off hot with four goals from nine shots but that has since faded badly. He'll turn it around as he and his teammates get more shots. I'd personally like to get him another game at wing with Ilya Kovalchuk and a young center who has been a silver lining among this slump: Andrei Loktionov.
Loktionov wasn't respected in Los Angeles and the Devils got him for essentially nothing. He's been a real find. After an invisible debut, he had a five game point streak with three goals and two assists. One of those assists wasn't intentional but he's been a positive player in Corsi differential, he's had some great luck on a team that could use it with a super high PDO, and he's been getting more and more minutes in recent games. Loktionov has started with Kovalchuk in recent games and he's stayed with him, which is another sign of how he's got into the coaches' good graces. I do think his hot streak will end and he'll likely end up outside of the top six. Nonetheless, the Devils have a player in Loktionov right now.
I don't know if he's under the radar but Adam Larsson has done some impressive work in the big picture despite often starting in his own end. He still makes some bizarre mistakes and giveaways at times, but he'll have shifts where he looks like a pro. Perhaps you've seen this with Viktor Hedman, only without the offense? That's where Larsson is at in his second season in the NHL. In a year or two, he's really going to stand out and it'll be glorious. Expect Stamkos and St. Louis to see a lot of him and Andy Greene tonight.