Sunday, October 07, 2007


The Chemistry of Parise-Zajac-Gionta

Currently, the most effective scoring line the Devils have right now features Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, and Brian Gionta. This is obvious to anyone who has watched the first two games. This is obvious due to the fact that each member of the line has a point already - two assists for Parise, an assist for Zajac, and a goal for Gionta. The line has combined for 15 shots on net and the three have the highest average ice time among Devils forwards.

OK, after two games, this sort of statistical basis to prove effectiveness is daft. My point is the same. This is the best line the Devils have going right now. The impressive part about this is how well Gionta has fit in well with Parise and Zajac. It isn't just Parise and Zajac; if it was, you wouldn't be reading this and I'd be typing about something else. However, despite the injury to Jamie Langenbrunner, the chemistry between the three is already there and it looks to grow the longer they are together. That's an important distinction as why it's a big deal and I would like to offer some ideas as to why it happened.

1. Parise and Zajac already know Gionta's style of play and how to work with it. Parise and Zajac were line-mates for pretty much the entire 2006-2007 season which obviously developed their now-strong on-ice chemistry. Gionta, on the other hand, played with Scott Gomez and Patrik Elias for much of last season. Nonetheless, the Devils lines are not vaccums nor totally independent of each other. They all practice as a team, they are all there at the games, and so all three of each other know who they are and generally how they play. By putting the three players together, that only served to improve their chemistry and to translate it onto the ice.

2. Their aforementioned styles of play work well with each other. Zach Parise is a very dynamic forward who can do it all on offense. Travis Zajac is an effective center who provides support to go with Parise's game. Brian Gionta plays a lot bigger than his size and with little fear. All three tend to play with speed and all three don't shy away from play. The three don't play that differently from each other, so the three playing together makes sense.

3. Brian Gionta has something to prove. I'm convinced that Gionta has started off the season so well because he wants to show his team, his new coach, and the rest of the league that he's not a one-hit wonder. In 2005-2006, Gionta set a franchise record (and a career high) with 48 goals - 24 coming off of power plays. Last season, Gionta did not perform as well, with his production dipping to 25 goals and only 11 power play goals. The best way to prove yourself in any sport is to play hard and to contribute. With 6 shots to lead the team (tied with Andy Greene) and a power play goal in his first two games, he's certainly starting off the right way. Should it be true that Gionta is stepping up his game to return to his past role of a goal scoring machine, this will make his line more effective with his line-mates knowing they have a go-to guy. In this case, it may be Parise and Zajac, making this line - and the team - that much better.

I believe it's a mix of all three reasons why this line has so much chemsitry and has been so successful on offense. OK, so one goal isn't a lot; but the production will definitely come if they keep playing they way they have in their first two games this season.

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4. They're all spazzes on the ice.
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