Good news for the New Jersey Devils: Forward Patrik Elias, who has missed the entire season so far recovering from a knee injury, is back on the ice. Yesterday, coach John Hynes told the media that Elias would be making the Western road trip with the club. Check out his media scrum here:
Also, check out what Elias had to say after returning to the team’s morning skate. He reveals that his knee has been bothering him for years, but was aggravated by changing up his summer training techniques. He says for the past few weeks, he has been working on conditioning and getting strength back.
This writer’s best guess is that, when he returns, Elias will assume a spot on the second line, playing on the left wing alongside centre Travis Zajac and right winger Kyle Palmieri. Elias is a natural centre, but he has seen time on the wing in the past. Coach John Hynes likely won’t want to mess with the unbelievable chemistry of the Devils’ first line of Lee Stempniak, Adam Henrique (who is playing centre, though he’s a natural left winger) and Mike Cammalleri. He recently moved Jiri Tlusty from the second line, replacing him with Sergey Kalinin, though, suggesting that the second line may not be set in stone.
Due to the Devils’ unexpected hot start (at the time of writing, they sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, way above anybody’s expectations), messing with chemistry may not be in Hynes’ best interest. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But, Elias could add more speed and leadership to ensure this team stays in a playoff seed. He is injury prone, though. Coming off of a huge, 4 – 0 divisional win over the struggling Pittsburgh Penguins, the Devils are headed west, starting a three-game Canadian road trip in Calgary on Tuesday. Only time will tell if/when Elias dresses, and where he will fit in, though it is pretty much guaranteed it’ll be somewhere in the top six.