Quenneville Up, Santini Down & Zajac Gets Physical

After playing 31 games in Binghamton for the Devils’ AHL affiliate, 21-year-old John Quenneville will still not play his first NHL game of the season tonight.

The Devils are going with 11 forwards and 7 defensemen again, using the same lineup as they’ve used in two straight wins. But Quenneville got his NHL debut and first NHL goal out of the way last year so should the call up be old hat? Not really. Quenneville said that to be called up and get this opportunity with the way the team has been playing is pretty cool.

Although the Devils finally broke their 0-11 power play slump against Philadelphia in their last game, Quenneville is a power play specialist and could help in that area. His first ever NHL goal was a power play goal against the Rangers last March.

But when Kyle Palmieri scored on a perfectly placed, wicked shot on Philadelphia’s rookie goaltender Alex Lyon, it was their first goal with the man advantage in five games.

One last thing, John Hynes also used Quenneville to play 3-on-3 last year and the rookie assisted on the overtime game-winner that same night against the Rangers.

WHAT GOES UP MUST COME DOWN

Going the opposite direction this weekend for the Devils is 22-year-old defenseman Steven Santini. A surprising “demotion” if you watched the first 36 games the tough as nails kid played this year. But it was inevitable as he’s been a healthy scratch the last three weeks.

He’s tough and talented, but he’s a kid and he’s got to play. No reason to sit up in the press box and watch night after night.

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There are teams all over the NHL who have lost two or three of their regular defenseman to injury. In the Islanders case, for example, they’ve lost both Johnny Boychuk and Calvin de Haan.

The Devils just got Mirco Mueller back from a broken collarbone suffered in November and so they have eight healthy, proven defensemen. The odd man out has to be the only one with options who can be sent to Binghamton. It’s a numbers game and unfortunately for No. 16, that’s him.

FARM STRONG

Travis Zajac didn’t grow up on a farm but for a thin framed guy, he is what they describe in hockey parlance as farm strong. He’s not winning any Mr. Universe contests but you could see him pushing a tractor out of the mud or tossing bales of hay like they were frisbees.

After repeat offender Radko Gudas left his feet and jumped Kyle Palmieri maybe accidentally on purpose, Zajac didn’t hesitate to pounce when he had the opportunity and engage Gudas.

The coincidence wasn’t lost on the Devils that Travis’ last fight was against Brian Boyle when Brian was with the Maple Leafs late last season.

Travis’ motto is obviously “go big or go home.” At least when it comes to his opponents, when dropping the gloves.

It was revealed the day after that Gudas would avoid a suspension and any supplementary discipline from the league for his hit on Palmieri. But sticking up for his teammate earned Travis the Cammo jacket as the Devil of the game in the locker room after the win.

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