A few notes from New Jersey's bounce back win over the Colorado Avalanche:
1) Toying with the Avs for 60 minutes isn't much of an achievement these days but I was still impressed by the Devils' ability to dictate play.
At 5v5, the Devils out-chanced the Avs by at least four in all three periods and had no problem sustaining offensive zone time. The Avs are the Avs but a performance like that has to be a confidence booster even though the game inexplicably came down to the wire.
2) I thought the Devils did a nice job of making life difficult on Jeremy Smith in his first career start. It was a team shooting gallery from start to finish and there were lots of guys crashing the net and banging away at rebounds. Smith held down the fort quite well and made some great saves, including a few on Taylor Hall, but the Devils stuck with it and were eventually rewarded for their efforts.
3) Speaking of Hall, he's taken his game up a notch of late. He has six points in his last six and 26 shots(!) in his last five. He is generating a ton of chances right now so it's only a matter of time before the floodgates open in terms of goal scoring.
4) Pavel Zacha update: he has eight points in his last 10 games after recording seven points in his first 38. He also has at least two shots on goal in three consecutive games for the second time this season (the last came just prior to him starting to fill the scoresheet on a regular basis).
Zacha is more than capable of making skill plays on the perimeter but I like that he's using his size more and getting to the dirty areas. He's tough to contain down low and it seems he's starting to realize that. When he bulks up a bit more and develops man strength he is going to be an animal.
5) Damon Severson didn't get on the scoresheet but he quietly played another strong game. He finished with a plus-7 shot attempt differential (tied for a team-high) and the Devils out-chanced the Avs 11-4 with him on the ice at full-strength. He's not perfect but he continues to get better and has established himself as a legitimate top-4 guy this season.