Devils D Bryce Salvador finding the net again
The Stanley Cup playoffs usually produce a couple of unlikely
heroes. Count New Jersey veteran defenseman Bryce Salvador as
Stuck without a goal in the regular season, Salvador has
discovered a postseason scoring touch, and has been a key cog in
helping the Devils reach the Eastern Conference finals for the
first time since 2003.
After missing last season with an inner-ear concussion, the
36-year-old scored twice as the Devils ousted the Philadelphia
Flyers in five games in Round 2. Not bad for someone who had 23
career goals in 692 regular-season games across a decade-long NHL
New Jersey, the No. 6 seed with 102 points in the regular
season, will play either the New York Rangers or the Washington
Capitals in Round 3 next week.
As anyone who watches the Devils regularly will tell you, the
goals are just a bonus for Salvador. After all, his job is to
protect the region in front of goaltender Martin Brodeur. And
through two rounds, it’s so far, so good.
Salvador is a plus-8 in 12 games – tied for second best in the
league – and his stay-at-home style has allowed defensive partner
Marek Zidlicky more freedom to get involved in the offense.
Salvador laughed when asked about having his goal-scoring touch
back. His first – keep in mind – went into an empty net in Game 2
vs. the Flyers.
”You mean since I was 10,” Salvador said. ”I just think it is
everyone buying into the system and good things are happening for
The Devils – who would open Round 3 on the road, should the
Rangers win Game 7 on Saturday, and start at home, should the
Capitals win – skated hard for an hour on Thursday after getting
Wednesday off. Either way, Salvador was relaxed after the
And with good reason.
This has been a special season for him. His 2010-11 campaign
last just three preseason games, ending with that concussion. He
suffered it against the Flyers on Sept. 28, 2010.
”It has been a great experience,” Salvador said. ”I went
through a little phase where you really start to appreciate the
game again, when you are faced with that situation that you might
not play again. You look at everything all over.”
Salvador had symptoms one normally would associate with a
concussion during the lost season, but the majority of time was
spent searching for answers. He felt some of his concussion might
have been related to being hit in the head by a shot in a game
against Pittsburgh late in the 2008-09 season.
”I wouldn’t classify it as a typical concussion,” Salvador
said. ”The frustrating thing was trying to figure out what was
going on with me. It started to make sense when we realized it was
an inner ear concussion. And once we were able to figure that out
it was as smooth sailing as you can get.
”We had a game plan once we figured out what it was.”
Salvador said a major component of his recovery was working on a
regimen, recalibrating his fine motor skills and getting his
balance back in line. He said he saw doctors who worked with him on
his eyes, hearing and balance. All along, Salvador just tried to
control what he could, and follow the rehabilitation plan. He said
he never thought of retirement.
Salvador has played in all 94 regular- and postseason games this
year, and his game has improved since the Devils acquired Zidlicky
on Feb. 24 for three players and two draft picks.
”I think we complement each other really well,” Salvador said.
”He’s got some really good skills, the way he moves the puck and
skates with it, and makes my job that much easier. I just go in the
corners and bang it up and get it to him and he skates it out.
”It’s working well.”
Zidlicky, who suffered an undisclosed injury on Tuesday night
and didn’t skate on Thursday, seems to be rubbing off on Salvador
on the offensive end, as well. In the Devils’ 4-2 win in Game 4
against the Flyers, Salvador made a great pass from the left point
that found Zidlicky alone between the circles for a goal.
”All of a sudden, Bryce is sniping a couple in and making
plays,” Devils forward Patrik Elias said. ”I’m telling you it
goes hand in hand. I think there is a trust between them.
(Salvador) sees (Zidlicky) making plays, and he is trying to make
Forward Petr Sykora, who has played on two Stanley Cup
champions, including the 2000 Devils, smiled when asked about
Salvador’s new-found offense.
”It always seems that in the playoffs, someone you don’t expect
to get a lot of points always steps up and gets those points,” he
said. ”He is really having a great playoffs right now.”
NOTES: If the Rangers win Game 7 over the Capitals, it’ll mark
the sixth time that New York and New Jersey will have played in the
postseason. The Rangers have won four of them. … The Devils have
only played the Capitals twice in the playoffs, with each winning
one. … Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, at his team’s
cleanup day, made mention of how Philadelphia forward Jaromir Jagr
looked tired in Round 2, among others. ”I think a lot of guys did
against the Devils,” Holmgren said. ”Not just him.”