Bryce Salvador is back, Devils fans! For more than two months now the Devils have had to carry on without #24, a loss that was felt in the locker room and on the ice. Tonight, after 30 long games, that all changes as the Devils' Captain laces up and returns to the starting lineup.
Fans will be able to see his impact right away in terms of possession and pacing. Bryce is a smart and deliberate player, with a way of calming the game down. He keeps the puck in the attacking zone on offense and slows down any rush attempts by the other team on defense. You won't see him out of position, making an errant pass, or getting caught on a change.
Don't get me wrong, the Devils defense has been great this year, even during Sal's absence. Marek Zidlicky has been playing like a true blue-line threat, young players like Jon Merrill, and especially Eric Gelinas have picked up their games to a pro level faster than anyone could have expected, and Andy Greene has played like one of the elite defenseman in the NHL. But, despite all that they've done right, they're still committing too many costly errors. How many times this year have you seen the Devils' D have two players trapped in the same corner, or let a forward sneak in and plant themselves in front of the goalie? These are the kinds of mistakes that allow opponents to get open shots on the netminder, and these are the kinds of mistakes that get cleaned up when Sal's in the lineup.
The only ones that will be happier than the fans to see their Captain back out there, will be the ones that get to walk down the tunnel with him. Bryce Salvador has that "C" thanks to his teammates and coaches. They voted for him, because of the type of leader he is, and all of them will breathe a lot easier, and skate a lot faster, knowing that presence is back on the ice.