Sometimes all you need is one little spark to get things going. 

Not that I've ever tried to light my own fire from scratch or anything but I do know enough that a single spark and ignite a pretty big fire. 

And hopefully that's what we're seeing right now, on the backs of two players who have stood out over the past week with their consistent performances: Newcomer Jake Allen is making quite the first impression and Timo Meier is on fire.

So that's naturally where we have to start with this week's edition. But there's so much more as well, from two players sharing their thoughts on driving in New Jersey, to what video clip did Travis Green most recently use when having one of his teaching moments with Alexander Holtz and why. 

There's plenty to delve into from this week!


The arrival of Jake Allen has been such a bright spot of late. Two straight starts for Allen has given him a first taste this season of finding a true groove with his game and he hasn’t disappointed. He'll get a chance to build on that Thursday night against Winnipeg as well. 

But he's come in, after waiving his no-trade clause, and made an immediate impact.

In his first media availability after the trade, Allen shared that he sees this opportunity as a chance to rejuvenate his career. It's a small sample size, but you'd have to think that the spark is there and starting to glow. 

This picture basically says it all... and a save on one of the best to ever play the game, no less.

allen crosby

We obviously don’t know how the summer months will play out, but Tom Fitzgerald made it clear that Allen is part of the goaltending plan for next season and he’s making a really good first impression and making a case that if Fitzgerald goes for his 'big-game hunting' this summer that the Devils could have a very solid, formidable 1-2 punch in net. 


From one spark to another...

Timo… man, is it ever fun to watch Timo Meier find a freedom in his game. That’s kind of the word I’ve been using to describe his play over the last few weeks. For a big, strong power-forward he looks like he’s playing loose and light, if you know what I mean.

In March Meier is tied for the lead in goals with Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov with 10 goals and Meier is tied for Top 5 in points (12).

Meier and Kaprizov also lead the pack in March for even-strength goals, both with seven.

You couldn’t ask for much more out of him right now. We’re in the final stretch here, where if the team is going to make a valiant push, they need their top players to be just that. Timo is rising to the occasion.

I loved this quote from Nico Hischier this week: 

“I mean, he looks like Timo. He skates well, he plays hard and he’s in the right spot at the right time. That’s what he does. You can see it, playing with confidence."

As he should. He's been a huge difference-maker in each game and while we're always inclined to talk about the goals he's scoring, Nico adds in an area of the game where it's not always pleasant to be:

“He plays hard (…) those little things that matter, he’s not afraid to block shots, he’s not afraid to go where it hurts. You need players on the team to play the way he does and he does it for us.”

Timo Meier with a Hat Trick vs. St. Louis Blues


I had a funny exchange filming a piece with Jesper Bratt and Ondrej Palat this week. We were talking about what sort of strikes them when they leave New Jersey at the end of the season to go home to their native countries (Sweden for Bratt and Czechia for Palat) and while I didn't think this would be the answer from Jesper Bratt, I was nodding my head in agreement because I can totally see where he's coming from.

"The first difference was obviously the pace. I mean I just notice that when I come home (to Sweden) in the summer and I start driving, I feel like I’m kind of always rushing. And then after a while, I start to slowly, slow down my pace a little bit"

Ah yes, driving in New Jersey! 


Palat said that the pace in Czechia is certainly more rushed than in Sweden, but it was his time in Tampa that made for such a jarring experience when he got to jersey. 

"You know, in Czech people are rushing a little bit like here. But Tampa was so laid back, like the driving was so relaxing there. But here, you got to be on it. My first couple of months I was so nervous to drive from Jersey City, or the suburbs to the rink in Newark. It gets pretty crazy too with the driving. A lot of potholes."


It cannot be easy for Nolan Foote. He has had a year filled with injury and rehabbing and the most recent happened during the practice before the team was set to travel to Dallas for their three-game road trip.

His injury is not the same one that had kept him out for the majority of the season and it’s really unfortunate for Nolan, who had just returned to New Jersey from his conditioning stint in Utica where he scored three goals and had an assist in his four games played.

I can add that Nolan, despite his new injury, has returned to the ice and is skating again.


Alexander Holtz was back on the ice for his next shift on Tuesday night after a pretty egregious play that nearly resulted in the Penguins scoring a goal.

Holtz opted for a blind pass from the corner behind the net, only for it to be intercepted and quickly turn into a dangerous scoring chance for Pittsburgh. That's a big no-no and certainly one of those teaching moments. 

So why was Green able to trust his gut to put Holtz right back on the ice, I asked him. Because in the fast pace of a game, where the next shift comes quickly, a coach has an on-the-fly decision to make. Is this player going back out? Or, is this player staying on the bench? 

For Holtz, Green sees a young player trying hard to listen, learn and execute. Holtz won't always make the right decision but the Devils interim head coach has noticed some improvements that help guide his decision-making process. 

“I see him trying hard to move his feet and skate and he gets places quicker with more authority," Green told me, "I don’t think we had seen that consistently enough."

“Holtzy has a knack around the net," he continued, "but like a lot of young players need to still learn a lot of different things away from the puck. How to get a puck back, how to protect the puck, how to deny a rush chance and using hockey sense not offensively but defensively and I have seen that in him. We’ve had some good conversations about what I’d like to see in his game and that’s part of it. The player is trying to do it, that goes into a lot of what gut feeling is.”

PIT@NJD: Holtz scores goal against Tristan Jarry


Behind the scenes, Holtz and Green talk a lot, the interim head coach shared. They've had several good conversations, according to Green. 

They talk and look at video together, he said, so I asked Green if he could share an example of what type of play he has recently gone over with with Holtz as part of the learning process and why that specific clip was important. If Green remembers correctly, it was a clip from the loss to the Rangers last Monday night. 

“I showed him a clip the other day that was just a simple clip the other day of getting open in his own zone to get a pass from his defenseman because his defenseman needed him, and he didn't go there fast enough and now we didn’t get the puck up. Those are split-second decisions that add up over the course of the game of you getting the puck out or not and all of a sudden when you get a puck out and you sprint to get open and want the puck, now your team can play fast and leave the zone. If you don’t do that, then you play in your zone.

“Those are just little habits a player needs to learn, quite frankly and we had that talk, I showed him one clip and I’ve seen him now trying to do that,” Green continued. “He’s not always perfect at it but that’s the fine line between winning and losing. Good players, smart players that you win with, they have those attributes in their game, that no one would ever talk about, or even notice during the game.”


While Green said he doesn’t pay any attention to the outside of what people are saying about the team, I did ask him if he thought that the absence of Dougie Hamilton for the past few months has been talked about enough in terms of the big hole it left in the team's lineup.

And this is not a knock on the players who have stepped in, because they have done an excellent job with their limited experience, but losing a player like Dougie has a major impact that is still felt.

An area that maybe we don’t address enough is how the trickle-down effect of Dougie's absence affects the forwards on the roster. Green explains:

“He knows pressure situations,” was Green’s first point, “Everyone knows about his shot, but you know, it does affect a big chunk of our team whenever you lose a top guy on the back end, it’s going to leave a mark. It’s left a mark on our forwards, being able to have a guy like that that can get pucks delivered into the net. Everyone wants forwards to score, get to the net. There’s a real art to getting the puck into the net, getting the puck on your stick and off your stick and Dougie is one of the best in the league at that.

“That’s one area that I’ve seen, you watch young defensemen when they get into the league, they have a hard time getting pucks to the net,” Green continued. “It’s just that they’re not used to the speed of the players coming out and the willingness of opponents to block a shot is extremely high in the NHL and those are all just the things that you learn as you’re longer in the league. That part of the game we’ve missed, his ability to create offense just by joining the play, I think we’ve missed a lot this year.”


It's been a couple of maintenance days in a row for Jack Hughes. Yes, Jack has dealt with his injuries this season, but taking maintenance days, when you play as many minutes and hard minutes, as Jack does every night, what is it that they say? Rest is a weapon. 

Staying off the ice allows him to conserve a different type of energy that you don't necessarily get in the same way when he's working out in the gym and when a player takes a maintenance day, it doesn't mean they're at home putting their feet up either. They're around, in meetings, possibly getting their regular treatment, they're just not on the ice. 

It's not uncommon. Ondrej Palat has had stretches where he's taken a few maintenance days, he's an older player who from time to time also benefits from staying off the ice. It's all about managing the regular grind of a season, especially as we approach the final run of the regular season. 

Travis Green brought up a good point about it when he talked about Timo Meier having taken a maintenance day a couple of weeks ago. He said you also have to remember that not only are these maintenance days about giving the body a break during a long regular season, but the season is also at the point where games start to feel more like playoff games with teams playing either desperate to stay in contention, fight for seeding or gearing up, elevating their game to head into the post-season on a good feeling in their game. The intensity rises and those breaks for your body are extra valuable. 


By the way, Meier has reached 21 goals this season, cracking the 20-goal mark for the sixth time in his career. That makes him just one of three Swiss-born players to reach 20+ goals six times in league history. He’s tied with Kevin Fiala, who sits at 23 goals this season with the LA Kings, and one season behind Winnipeg’s Nino Niederreiter, who has seven seasons of 20-plus goals and is currently sitting on 18 goals this season.

I don’t imagine it will be too long until you can add Nico will join those fellow countrymen on the list:

He’s up to four, including this season where he’s at 22 goals and counting.

NJD@VGK: Hischier scores goal against Logan Thompson