Talk about a week with ups and downs. There has been a lot to digest, especially with a game every other day. So this week, we'll have a look at both those up's (hello, Pavel Zacha!) and some of those downs (no, I don't have a Nico Hischier update yet), with a couple of other things mixed in.
Enjoy your 10 Takeaways from the past week:
1. Welcome Home!
It was awesome having fans back in the arena last night. I cannot tell you how great it felt to hear "Let's Go Devils!" and cheering when the team hit the ice for warmups. It's so refreshing to have that live crowd noise, and even though we're only able to have 1800 fans at the moment, you could feel a different energy in the building. I can't wait until we get to the point where it is safe enough to have everyone back and a full house.
2. This One's Not Easy
It's tough to write this one, just because it was such a short moment in time that we had the opportunity to see Nico play before his injury.
We were just starting to see the flashes of the Nico Hischier we have all grown to love. In his first three games back, Nico was quiet, finding his stride after an 11-month absence and a recovery from a broken fibula. And then there was the Nico we all love, three points in two games, his first two goals of the year, and an assist. It was great to see, but unfortunately, his season has been halted once again. Rest assured, there's no one more disappointed than Nico.
3. So What's the Update?
I know it can be frustrating when there isn't much to report on a player's injury. And I understand the intrigue and desire to know. But the truth is, right now all we know about Nico's injury is that he is still being evaluated by team doctors. Until then, we have to sit tight.
4. Patience for Pavel
Pavel Zacha was on an absolute tear scoring goals and setting up his teammates over a 10-game span. He went on a 10-game point streak between January 30th and February 28th. Over that span, there was a brief hiatus with players in Covid-Protocol, but that doesn't take away from the accomplishment.
In that span, Zacha had eleven points (4 g, 7a) over that span, and became just one of five players this season to have a point streak 10 games or longer. So what company is Pavel keeping this year? Auston Matthews has a 13-game point streak, Mark Scheifele has 11 games, and Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each have 10 game point streaks.
5. Best Buds
There must be something to be said for really enjoying the line that you're playing with and the outside connection you have with the players on your line. The Zacha, Hischier, and Jesper Bratt line is a prime example of that.
I've had the pleasure of being around all three players as they've come up through the league together, and on the periphery, I've watched their friendship grow. During normal times, they all sit one or two spaces away from each other in the locker room. There's a lot of laughter in that stretch of players, and there's also a lot of trolling each other.
From experience, especially if you're interviewing either Pavel or Jesper, the other will try and chime in and throw the other one-off. They all get a good laugh out of it.
6. Eye on Ty
Every week NHL.com has a 'Trophy Tracker' with weekly division leaders. Here's how it works, five writers per division rank their top three for each award. Of course, at the end of the season, it doesn't actually count for anything, but it gives you a gauge of what writers and people who cover the game are seeing.
Two weeks in a row now, Devils Ty Smith has been ranked the Calder Trophy leader for the East Division. This last week it was a unanimous decision, the week before he was given three first-place votes.
7. Across the Pond
I had a fan reach out to me on Twitter the other day all the way from the U.K. He told me that when he can, a bunch of UK Devils fans get together to watch games. I loved hearing that. Because of the pandemic they now all get together over Zoom to watch together.
I love how sports bring people together.
8. Little Time To Waste
We're in the longest stretch right now that we'll have on home ice. Five straight games. It's nice to be able to sleep in your own bed, I'll tell you that much. I'm bad at math, but I tried to calculate it… I think the most time we have between games for the rest of the season is a whole 42 hours.
9. Travis, I Promise this is the Last Time
This is the last time I'm going to mention Travis Zajac's 1000th game. Not because it's not a major milestone, but because there's probably no one happier than Trav that all the fanfare is behind him. But that ceremony to honor his 1000th game when the team was back in New Jersey had such a nice touch.
It was so sweet to see his only son Zenon carry out the Silver Stick to his Dad. Can you imagine what type of memory that's going to be? Also, good on Zenon because that stick is not hollow, and thus quite heavy.
10. We're Moving!
For fans of 10 Takeaways, I just wanted to let you know that going forward we'll be deploying these on Mondays. So, make sure you look out for them on Monday morning's going forward!