I know this seems like an odd place to start given the fact that last night's game finished with a score of 6-3, but to prioritize praising anyone else prior to Cory Schneider would simply be disingenuous with how good he's been early in this young season. I understand that the mind of the average, offensively depraved Devils' fan wants to immediately jump to the fact that they have somehow already doubled up their amount of 6 goal games from last season. However, without a 47 save effort from the top tier goaltender who became the scapegoat for the entirety of an (a)pathetic roster last year, we would be forced to talk about the team's defensive woes just as much as their apparent offensive enlightenment. Simply put, every single person that suggested trading Cory Schneider or implied that his admittedly porous numbers were this team's biggest problem can choke on their own foot, because the differential in the last three games has been a glimpse into just how easy he makes it look when he has goal support.
And what unbelievable goal support it has been. I didn't think it was possible to find myself more impressed with a Devils' team that's lit the lamp more often than a teen who has yet to have worried about an electricity bill, but then I realized that a grand total of ZERO goals have come from the stick of Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, or Nico Hischier. I don't expect the Devils' to drop touchdowns on every team they play, but if they are going to continue to get substantial contributions in secondary scoring then I'm much more likely to believe that this early season offensive outburst is an undeniable sign of significant improvement up front. Non-facetiously speaking, this team would have considered themselves lucky if their bottom-6 tallied 4 goals in the longest month of last season, and they were able to casually hit that number last night alone.
Miles Wood didn't even crack the opening night lineup and he got on the board twice in a period. Blake Coleman might not even be in New Jersey if it weren't for Brian Boyle's unfortunate cancer diagnosis, and he ripped a bar-in laser that could only be described as a goal scorer's goal. There's literally not one single person outside the organization (or his immediate family) that thought Brian Gibbons was anything more than training camp roster fodder, and he potted a shorthanded goal while down two men to keep his PPG pace alive. Pavel Zacha was the most likely person to get on the scoresheet (twice), and he had all of 8 goals last year. The depth of the roster has been on full display, and top of it hasn't even fully gotten going yet.
Now, the Devils' aren't going to win games this consistently if they continue to give up 40+ shots while marching to the box 8 times per night. Still, the fact that they were able to overcome some pretty piss poor first period passing to win this particular game, on the road, over an extremely talented team should be enough to differentiate this '3-0' from the '3-0' that turned into the unceremonious, midseason dismissal of Peter DeBoer in comically quick fashion. I don't know that their superb special teams play (from multiple guys who weren't expected to be on the team a month ago) is sustainable, and they certainly aren't going to be able to lean on the luck of the iron as often they did last night, but there was nothing fluky about the amount of chances they were able to create with their collective speed and relentless forecheck.
This was the Devils' first true "test" and - while not exactly acing it - they somehow still managed to set the curve higher. I hope they are prepared to start living up to expectations as opposed to setting them, because since the drop of the puck in their first preseason game they've been making it insanely hard for their fans to continue managing them.
P.S. Absolutely loved watching Adam Henrique jump in to dry hump Matt Martin when he took a late game run at Jesper Bratt. I'm sure it had a lot to do with losing on a bi-weekly basis, but this team lacked that type of attitude last year. John Hynes wanted the Devils to become hard to play against and there is nothing more difficult then trying to pry a grown man who is desperate not to get punched in the face from a top you...
P.P.S. Someone check on Lou Lamoriello. I'm concerned as to whether or not his heart could handle watching a young, dynamic player wearing a recently altered Devils' uniform embroidered with the number 13. Hey Lou....BOO!