Washington Capitals vs. New Jersey Devils: Five Questions


Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals are preparing for their match up on Saturday against their Metropolitan Division rivals, the New Jersey Devils. Likewise, on Stars and Sticks, we’re also preparing for the Washington Capitals game by bringing in bloggers of the opposing team to have them give us some insight into the Washington Capitals’ opponents.

To give us insight into the Washington Capitals’ Saturday opponent, I talked to David Berger, the editor at Pucks and Pitchforks, Fansided’s Devils blog. I asked him five questions about the Devils, and he answered them. I gave a little insight into those questions as well. Without further ado, here are the five questions! 

1. Who do you think has been the New Jersey Devils’ MVP so far this season, and why?

David: The Devils’ team MVP to the point is undoubtedly Mike Cammalleri. Cammy was signed in the offseason to provide much needed offense and he has not disappointed. He leads the team with 11 goals and has proven to be a great leader. Cammalleri is everything the Devils could have hoped for, and more.

Me: I probably would have gone with Cory Schneider, but Cammalleri has been very good this season. The Washington Capitals have to contain him if they want to win tonight.

2. It’s really strange seeing the Devils struggle on the penalty kill, something that they’ve been known to do quite well over the years, but here they are with the fourth worst penalty kill percentage in the NHL. How do you think the Devils can improve on that?

David: Statsitically, they are a terrible PK unit, but stats are misleading. The Devils were atrocious on the kill early in the season, but lately they’ve been quite good. In the last 11 games, the penalty kill is 35/40 which is 87.5%. Peter DeBoer has had no choice but to rely on the team’s young defenders in combination with veteran Andy Greene and they’ve been flourishing. The key to sustained success? Let the kids play. 

Me: It’s funny, the Washington Capitals have been the precise opposite. They were good early on killing penalties, but lately they’ve been struggling mightily. I do agree that DeBoer has been smart in letting his younger players play on the penalty kills. They have a lot more energy and are more aggressive than the older ones.

3. Adam Henrique is off to a pretty good start for the Devils, with 14 points in his first 18 games. Do you think that Henrique is having a breakout season? What do you think he’s been doing well so far this season?

David: I don’t know if I’d consider this season a breakout year for Henrique seeing as he did lead the team with 25 goals last season, but what he has been able to do this year is show leadership. With many key veterans out of the lineup, Henrique has taken it upon himself to lead the team both offensively and emotionally. Henrique isn’t afraid to get in an opponent’s face and play with an edge. Henrique could very well become the team’s next captain once Bryce Salvador leaves.

Me: I agree. Henrique has always been a goal scorer, but this season, something’s different. He seems to be a much better leader and is starting to make his teammates better. That’s what great players do. Henrique is another player who the Washington Capitals must contain tonight.

4. Here in DC, we don’t have much love for Jaromir Jagr, but he’s currently leading the Devils in points. Could you describe what he’s meant to the Devils during his time with them?

David: Jaromir Jagr has been the best thing to happen to the Devils in the last two seasons. Both on and off the ice, Jagr has been a crucial member of the team. On the ice, he led the team in points last season and in trying to hold off Henrique and Cammalleri this year. He’s also been so durable playing in every game until this past game in Toronto. Hopefully he can return for this matchup on Saturday because the team needs him. Where he’s also extremely valuable is in the locker room. Jagr provides a great example for the younger guys how to carry themselves and not accept failure. He always wants to win and tries to better himself every day. I could see him playing to 50.

Me: I hate Jagr so much because of how he basically gave up on the Washington Capitals. He set the franchise back a few years because of that. That said, I have the utmost respect for him on the ice. He’s clearly not as fast as he used to be, but he’s as strong of a skater as he’s ever been. He can still make incredible plays that very few players can make. If the Washington Capitals can shut him down, I think that they will win tonight. That’s a lot easier said than done, though.

5. In the past, the Devils were extremely well-known for their defensemen. Who does impressive rookie Damon Severson remind you of as far as former Devils defensemen?

David: It’s not fair to compare Severson to one of the upper echelon defenders in Devils’ history, but he has that kind of ceiling. The player he can develop into would be Scott Niedermayer. I don’t think he’ll ever be the skater Scotty was, but he has all the tools to be that kind of player. Severson is solid in his own end and can be a dynamic offensive defenseman. He has a great shot and great vision passing the puck. Brian Rafalski would also be a good example of the type of player Severson can be. He’s a special player, that’s for sure.

Me: I agree, Severson is a very special player. I remember I went to the first Caps-Devils game, and he made the Washington Capitals look silly. He generated most of the Devils’ offense that day. I’d compare him more to Rafalski because of his talent on offense, but he does have a ceiling of a Niedermayer-esque player. He’s going to be a thorn in the side of the Washington Capitals for many years to come.