Hartnett: With Henrique, The Devils’ Future Is Now
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By Sean Hartnett
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It’s unlikely that Adam Henrique will win the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s most outstanding rookie. Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche is the hot favorite to come away with that award.
That won’t matter in the long run. Henrique has shown the Devils and their fans exactly why he’s a vital player for both their present ambitions and long-term future.
He’s backed a solid 51-point rookie campaign with playoff poise as he dominated a pressure-filled Game 7 in Florida. Henrique was a threat to the Panthers practically every time he touched the puck.
Not only did Henrique score the game’s opening goal but he led multiple breakaways down ice and eventually scored the double-overtime winner. Henrique capitalized on a Panthers’ turnover and beat Jose Theodore through the five-hole.
Henrique spoke to reporters post-game about his game winner. “I guess somebody’s gotta be the hero right? Why not me? I’m sure that’s what a lot of guys are thinking (to start OT),” he explained.
“Got a pretty good bounce. Found myself alone and tried to get it on net,” Henrique said.
He sounds like a confident pro rather than a young kid taking his first steps under the playoff spotlight.
Why shouldn’t Henrique be filled with confidence? It’s clear he’s already a talented forward who plays a solid-two way game and can only improve from this point forward.
“NHL Game 7 winner… that’s like playing mini sticks at home. That’s the game you always play,” he told Tom Gulitti of The Record.
Henrique becomes the first NHL rookie since Claude Lemieux to score a Game 7 overtime winner. Lemieux, a former Devils’ playoff hero in his own right did so as a member of the Montreal Canadiens on April 29th, 1986.
He’s dreamed of this moment, now he’s accomplished it but there’s little time for Henrique to sit back and reflect. The Devils will travel to Philadelphia where they’ll prepare for their Game 1 opener against the Philadelphia Flyers scheduled for 3PM on Sunday.
“It’s zero-zero again,” Henrique mentioned to Rich Chere of The Newark Star-Ledger.
For Henrique, facing the Flyers is a blank canvas for him to display his talents and a fresh challenge. The Flyers are undoubtedly a deeper team than the Panthers and are coming off an inspiring first round upset of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It will be up to Henrique and his Devils teammates to continue the momentum gained through consecutive overtime winners into their next series. Turn the page.
How impressive has Henrique been in his rookie campaign? Who has the edge next round, the Devils or Flyers? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.