If the New Jersey Devils score five goals a night, they are going to win a lot of hockey games. That's likely not going to be the case for the remainder of the 2013-14 season. Three goals a night is realistic and ideal for this team to be successful. While everyone may have been blinded by the offensive production last night, three aspects may have been overlooked that have been just as key over the last few games.
The second aspect on display last night was the defensemen stepping up in the attacking zone. It felt like 2011-12 last night. All the defensemen were pinching up from the blue line to keep pucks in the offensive zone. This is what made the Devils so dangerous that year. Not only was the forecheck from the forwards ferocious, but their defense was tremendous at holding the puck in the attacking zone to tire out their other team and create scoring chances. Now ask yourself this, when are defensemen willing to pinch in the offensive zone? If they have trust that the team's forwards will be there to back them up. Last night, the other defenseman slid over to the "pinched-in" area while a forward came back up the middle to cover for the rotating blue liner. It was executed seamlessly on many occasions last night. If the defenseman didn't keep the puck in, it rolled out to the neutral zone where a Devil flagged it down seemingly most every time. The other team won't be scoring very much if that's the best they can do in exiting their own zone.
The lack of giveaways in the defensive end last night was very encouraging. When that happens, that makes zone exits a little cleaner and leads to a transition game through the neutral zone. There was one segment last night, I believe in the second period, where the team had five or six tries to get the puck out of their own end but the Preds held it in. That was it, though. The Devils didn't have any giveaways that led to prime, quality scoring chances. The defense has played positionally sound for a few weeks now. If they can limit giveaways on TOP of that, Martin Brodeur and Cory Schneider won't have to do much of anything.
Now, they're not going to play like this for the next 60-some games, but it provides a glimpse of their ceiling when they are playing their best hockey.