New Jersey Devils: On Severson, Schneider, The 4th Line & More
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The Devils are 10% through the regular season, and though it hasn't always been pretty, they've set themselves up nicely for the rest of the year.
They've won four of five road games, have points in six of their first eight games and own a 52% Corsi Close while currently holding down a divisional playoff spot.
Some thoughts on what I've seen so far:
- Damon Severson is truly incredible. It's very early, but if he continues to play like this he'll be in the mix for the Calder at season's end. Through eight games Severson has four goals and seven points (tied for 1st with Tanner Pearson) while logging big minutes against the likes of Claude Giroux, Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin on a nightly basis. Not only is he producing points, but he's been used defending leads, on the penalty kill, and in every situation possible. He's also impressively posted the best possession numbers on the team among defensemen.
- After a couple poor starts prior, Cory Schneider bounced back in a big way this weekend. He stopped 68-72 for a .944SV% in back-to-back starts against two current playoff teams in Dallas and Ottawa. That's why the Devils gave him a big contract.
- Jordin Tootoo will be ready to return to the lineup soon, but I think the Devils should continue using a 4th line of Tuomo Ruutu - Jacob Josefson - Stephen Gionta. That line has more offensive potential than Ruutu - Gionta - Tootoo, and Josefson is a guy who can move up the lineup and/or play some penalty kill if the Devils need him.
- Damien Brunner looks like a new player this season. He's using his speed, attacking through the neutral zone, winning puck battles and creating chances consistently. Brunner has three points, nine shots and the Devils are generating 64% of the shot attempts while he's on the ice. If he continues to play this way he should remain in the lineup.
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