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Devils Alley: Three Things To Be Proud Of After Last Night's Game

Nhl preseason The preseason in hockey is like that in football: it's competitive, but the final scores don't matter. When the Jets and Giants get together, there is some team pride and competitiveness, but nobody really cares who wins or loses.

The Devils and Rangers are the same way. The excitement from hockey returning in 2011 sparked some team pride from both sides of the Hudson, but in the end the 4-3 Rangers win doesn't mean much for both teams.

However, despite the loss for New Jersey (1-1), fans learned a lot about what the Devils may look like when the regular season begins. Here are three things I picked out that fans should be proud of, and what may help the team in the next few months.

1. Adam Larsson's play

There are a list of players in the NHL who have excelled at their position early in their careers. Players like Patrick Kane, Steven Stamkos, and John Taveres have become center points for their respected organizations, and have done so at a very young age (all under age 22). Devils defensemen Adam Larsson is proving he is one of those players.

Larsson, the 18 year old fourth overall pick by New Jersey in this year's draft, has already shown that he can compete in the pros. The rookie not only posted two assists in his first game against Philadelphia, but added another assist and had a goal waved off in the third period against the Rangers last night. Although he did post a -2 rating for the game, many of his teammates are impressed with his tough play.

"Not a lot of 18-year-old guys have the confidence on the ice and the patience with the puck," said Ilya Kovalchuk to "The way he managed the game was very impressive".

2. Power-play Unit

The Devils went just 34-237 on their power play last season (14.4 percent), ranking them 28th in the NHL. Their inability to score on the man advantage was one of the team's biggest Achilles heal in a disappointing season.

The first two preseason games have shown promise for 2011. New Jersey went 2-6 on the power play last night against the Rangers, which was led by Ilya Kovalchuk's goal and assist. Kovalchuk is developing a good chemistry with Larsson on the team's first line power play unit, and they are something to watch when the season begins. The Devils are 2-9 on the power play in two games against the Rangers this preseason.

3. Adam Henrique

Another rookie who has been overshadowed by Larsson has been Adam Henrique, who has been asked to step into a bigger role with the injury to Travis Zajac. Henrique, the Devils 3rd round pick in the 2008 draft, played in one game last season for New Jersey, and is expected to see extended time in 2011.

Henrique posted a goal in the first period last night while playing on the team's second line. He was matched with Mattias Tendenby and veteran Petr Sykora, and has played well through his first two games.

Henrique made a lot of news last season when he was called up from the AHL for the team's final game against Boston. He is capable of playing both winger and center, and the Devils hope that he can step up and be a versatile player for the upcoming season.



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