Last week I shared my wish list for us New Jersey Devils’ fans this holiday season. Well you know what, us Devils’ fans have been really good this year, so maybe we deserve a few more presents. These are not as big as the last ones, so let’s call them our stocking stuffers.
Same rules apply as the last list. They have to be things that are realistic and something under control by the team. As much as I’d love to have a black primary retro jersey in my stocking, unfortunately, that is not so realistic. Here are three things that can put us fans in the holiday spirit.
Jesper Bratt As An Every Day Player
Jesper Bratt should be an everyday player. He plays like he should be an everyday player. Unfortunately, there were times last year when Bratt was left out of the lineup. After being called out, Bratt broke out offensively to end the season. He has done everything and more to contribute to this team.
Let’s hope the new coaching regime under Lindy Ruff recognizes the value of Bratt and makes him a permanent piece in the lineup. An extension for Bratt would be nice as well, but one thing at a time here.
Corey Crawford Excels At Back Up
Believe it or not, out of the three main goaltenders the Chicago Blackhawks went with in their regular season — Robin Lehner, Corey Crawford, and Collin Dellia — Crawford had the best goals against average. Crawford had a 2.77 goals against average compared to Robin Lehner’s 3.01. He also started more games than Lehner in what was supposed to be a goalie tandem between the two.
Nobody needs, or is even expecting Crawford to be the cup-winning goaltender of his past. For the first time since he broke out in 2010-2011 season, Crawford is becoming a true back up. Back up goaltending is what truly hurt the New Jersey Devils last year and hopefully Crawford is an improvement. If he gives the team a chance to win every time Mackenzie Blackwood is not in net, that’s all we need.
Bounce Back for P.K. Subban
We all wanted a bounce back year for P.K. Subban. Unfortunately, Subban ended up having an even worse first year in New Jersey. Okay, let’s cut P.K. some slack hear, not a lot of slack, but some.
Last season was turmoil for New Jersey. Not only was there a coaching change, but a general manager change as well. In addition two of the team’s best defenseman, Andy Greene and Sami Vatanen were traded away. Let’s not forget that former head coach John Hynes also liked to change his defensive pairings mid-game for some odd reason.
This should be a calmer year in New Jersey. Maybe not an overly successful year, but a calm one. Remember, new head coach Lindy Ruff was brought in for his merits of handling defense. If Lindy Ruff brings anything, hopefully it’s stability. Let’s hope that newfound stability helps P.K. Subban find his game once again.