With the NHL Players Association approving the format for hockey to resume, I look at what this means for Devils fans with the likes of Gerard Gallant who, at this point, seems to be a close candidate for the vacant position as bench boss in New Jersey.
To fill that question, it would go like this. If you ever watched the Vegas Golden Knights under Gallant, if you ever saw the way his players turn up to playoff mode, it is amazing. What I find very impressive about Gallant’s strategy in the playoffs is that his forwards work very well, attacking with agility, speed and grace. One of the things I noticed from Vegas is that his three forwards are in a very near circumference when working together as a team on the ice.
That close radius with the left wing and centreman pressure the opposing puck carrier into submission to a guy like Mark Stone who can produce a lot of high quality goals and assists.
One of the things I look forward to seeing is how Gallant allows his forwards to play to the best of their abilities. Sure, that may sound cliche, but as a Devils fan, I like to see the same, if not, similar approaches with his centers from Jonathan Marchessault to Cody Glass. For the past two years, when you look at how Gallant balances his playmakers, snipers, grinders, and enforcers, this makes me feel positive about how the future of Nico Hischier, Michael McLeod, Zacha, Bastian and Jack Hughes will compare.
Most of the season in Las Vegas, you can see the team come out flying from puck drop, throwing hip checks while also managing to keep opponents to the outside of the face-off circle.
After the Devils promoted Alain Nasreddine back in December to interim head coach, the New Jersey Devils began to play opponents more outside of the face-off circle and slowing down opponents.
Another aspect of Gerard Gallant’s game day strategy I like is that he had a physical specimen like Brayden McNabb and defensemen Nate Schmidt being played on each line. His strategy can do well with players like Shea Theodore and Nick Holden that provide a lot of stability and chemistry. The Devils need Gerard Gallant to get acclimated quickly during pre-season rookie camp so he has an idea of how to move forward to getting players evaluated for the upcoming season.
The players, I believe, Gerard Gallant will do a lot of wonders with, improving Will Butcher, defensemen P.K. Subban and Damon Severson amongst many others. As well, Gallant’s duties would include getting Ty Smith to play to his full potential gradually, getting big boys like Kevin Bahl and Nikita Okhotyuk while hopefully influencing Daniil Misyul to sign with the Devils and improve his North American game.
What Gallant does the best when given a goaltender, whether it’s Marc Andre-Fleury or Malcom Subban, is he always seems to have a great defensive scheme. Gallant, if hired, would do a great job improving the defensive role for the strategy going forward. With the big, physical players like Bahl and Okhotyuk who could try and make the cut for a roster spot, it would bring a lot of competition to New Jersey, a team that could use some more improvement on the physical end.
In one of my recent articles about Gerard Gallant, I mention that he always seems to have a perfect ratio of balance in his rookies, sophomores and junior players to his veteran hockey players. One of the biggest problems over the years under John Hynes was benching rookies who made a rookie mistake or benched a veteran for being in a slump instead of coaching them through it. It’s important to have a guy like Gallant who actually works on the basics and fundamentals, going step-by-step to improve each individual.
He evaluates what the many strengths are and where they need to evaluate their weakest points. As such, every player under Gallant begins to adapt to his style and play schemes. Once every Devils player learns the system, then it will benefit his players more in the long run.