First and foremost, the biggest news of the day is obviously that Taylor Hall is playing tonight. Shockingly, I don't have too much to say about it. That's partly because I'm a soothesayer that (potentially) wished him back into the lineup with my unbridled optimism, but mostly because I have already expressed my semi-homoerotic thoughts on how much better he makes this team and - by default - each and every one of his teammates. That's why I am going to choose to go a different direction with this one - a younger direction...
I'm not going to say that seeing all that youth in one place peaks more than my interest, but that's only because that sentence could get me on a few lists I would rather not be on if read out of context. This is a filler sentence because I can't think of a better way out from under the weight of a pedophilia joke, but three of the four rookies that are in the Devils lineup tonight have - at times - been their best player on the ice. If you wanted to include Yohann Auvitu in that mix then you can easily make that four out of five with the fifth making his NHL debut tonight. The crazy part? I already know that I am expecting too much out of John Quenneville. I guess that's what happens when you delve into AHL highlights of him leaving goaltenders flabbergasted with a wrister that isn't done justice by the word "wicked", but it's also what happens when nearly every one of the Devils call-ups this season has set the bar too high with transitions that have been supiciously smooth.
I know it's commonplace for young players to contribute heavily in today's NHL, but I'm not apologizing for my excitement when the Devils prospect pools of the past have been more reminiscent of obstacles in a Tony Hawk video game than places where the future flourishes. There are an entire handful of first year players lacing them up for the New Jersey Devils tonight. Most of them are part of a bottom 6 that - for the first time in a long time - isn't a rusting, aging anchor that prevents the team from moving the puck up the ice, and the other is an imperative contributor to the defense. There was a time when I thought I would be in the 7th circle of hell* before I got to see a youth movement that was trending upwards, but the performances the Devils have gotten from players who have...::audible gasp::...improved greatly before being able to drink legally has me feeling like I'm on Cloud 9. There will be growing pains, but it's a good time to be a fan of a team that's just beginning to catch up to it's competition in terms of building from within with pieces that weren't picked out of the clearance bin at 'Home Depot'.
*Of note: That wasn't a reference to the concession lines at Prudential Center.