Devils chemistry helps key Hockeyville rout
It’s not often thought of as a reason teams win games, but both Pavel Zacha and Drew Stafford feel that’s why the New Jersey Devils are having some pre-season success.
That success continued Monday night Sept. 25 as the Devils routed the Ottawa Senators in the Kraft Hockeyville game, won by O’Leary, P.E.I. It was played before a full house at Credit Union Place in Summerside.
Zacha scored twice in a five goal first for the Devils, who out-shot their opponents 16-4. Both of his tallies were with the man advantage.
“It was my first game with Taylor Hall and Palmieri so I was very excited before the game,” he said. “It showed that we can play like this every game, not just this one.”
He agreed his confidence level is at an all-time high, mainly thanks to his teammates.
“It’s fun to play on this team,” said Zacha.
Zacha said the team kept the pressure up, not letting off the gas medal. It was discussed in between the first and second that they had to stick to their game plan.
“We talked about having to step on gas and play it as if it was 0-0, just try scoring goals,” he said. “Everyone played a great game, it wasn’t just one person.”
Stafford, who spent last year split between the Winnipeg Jets and Boston Bruins, has found a niche with the Devils this pre-season. He also had two goals.
“I believe in what I can do as a player, and I’m very grateful for an opportunity to come here and help the Devils win games, and slide in where I have so far,” said Stafford. “I feel it’s been a pretty good fit. There has been chemistry there and we’re trying to steer the ship from where it was last year.
“If I can be a catalyst for that sort of change in anyway, on or off the ice, that’s part of what I take a lot of pride in for character and bringing that type of leadership.
He said he hopes to play a role in changing the mindset and culture for Devils hockey.
“It’s great to have likeminded players that want to get better,” said Stafford. “It’s been a great training camp so far in building that culture.”
Devils head coach John Hynes said the performances of bubble roster players will make it hard on the coaching staff as they look to pare down the roster. The Devils play Thursday against the Washington Capitals to wrap-up the preseason.
“In this game, a lot of guys we’re trying to make decisions on played well,” said Hynes to TQN. “The good thing is we do have some tough decisions coming up, but that’s a good thing.”
Zacha had an idea of what to expect coming to Hockeyville.
“It was really nice to see the crowded practice and the big crowd for the game,” he said. “The fans loved it.”
Hynes enjoyed the Hockeyville experience.
“It was nice for this great group of guys to come up here and be welcomed by a Canadian town, and play a great game,” he said. “We’re very honoured to have been here.”
John Quennville scored twice—both on the power play–while Marcus Johansson and Nico Hischier added single tallies.
Saint John Sea Dog alum Thomas Chabot had the lone goal for Ottawa.
Cory Schneider wasn’t all that busy between the Devils pipes, stopping 12 of 13 shots sent his way. Ottawa’s Mike Condon surrendered seven goals on 24 shots, while Andrew Hammond gave up one goal on 10 shots.