The Devils were in a funk – there’s no better way to put it. Injuries were starting to pile up (again), Martin Brodeur was struggling, and their offense was sputtering. In need of a change, Jacques Lemaire juggled up his lines again.
Niclas Bergfors, as reported here, went from top line RW to healthy scratch after scoring only 1 point in all of January. This paved the way for Dainius Zubrus to take over on the top line with Zach Parise and Travis Zajac and they clicked better than Lemaire could have imagined.
The line contributed to the first 3 of the Devils’ 5 goals in Friday’s 5-4 OT victory against the Leafs. Solid forechecking and perfect passing led to each of the goals and its evident the top line played with much more proficiency than in their previous games.
Parise (99% owned) and Zajac (79% owned) are no secrets to the fantasy world but Zubrus (3% owned) is worth a shot provided this top line sticks. Zubrus, 31, is 3 years removed from his best season, 52 points in 60 games with the Washington Capitals, but maybe he still has enough left in the tank to help your struggling RW group. Zubrus has 10 points in 23 games in this injury-shortened season, and 3 of them came last night. We’ve seen success from some other older players put into the same role that Zubrus is expected to play (Miroslav Satan, Bill Guerin) so at the very least, keep a close eye on Zubrus as the Devils host the Kings Sunday afternoon. If this chemistry sticks, and Lemaire doesn’t change up the lines again, Zubrus will continue to benefit.
Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice offers up a Zach Parise post-game reaction to Zubrus:
“Zubie got us going,” Parise said. “He made some really good plays on my goals and a great shot on the 2-on-1. He played really well. He was great out there tonight.”