May 25, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; New Jersey Devils center Adam Henrique (14) celebrates his game-winning goal during the first overtime period in game six of the 2012 Eastern Conference finals at the Prudential Center. The Devils defeated the Rangers 3-2 to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE
Adam Henrique's story book season continues to get better and better.
By now, many of you probably know the story. Henrique couldn't make the team out of training camp, and in a brief October callup, recorded no points. He went back to Albany, seemingly destined to spend the entire season with the Devils AHL affiliate.
His fortunes changed after Jacob Josefson fractured his right clavicle. The team called him up, and he went on to become the anchor on the top line, playing with Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. He finished with 51 points (16g, 35a) and a nomination for the Calder Trophy.
His regular season performance would be just the start.
Despite moving down to the third line for the Devils' first-round series with the Florida Panthers, Henrique found a way to make an impression. In a deciding Game 7, the rookie scored two goals - including the game-winner - helping New Jersey advance to the second round for the first time since 2003.
He'd wait until the Eastern Conference Finals to write the latest chapter of his outstanding rookie campaign.
Against the New York Rangers, Henrique cemented his spot as one of the best rookies in team history. He surpassed the most points for a Devils rookie in the postseason, beating Scott Gomez's mark of 10. His overtime winning goal last night sent New Jersey into their first Stanley Cup Finals since 2003.
After the game, Devils coach Peter DeBoer didn't credit luck for Henrique's performance.
"Again, unflappable," he told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. "I mean, this kid is just in the right place, right time all the time. The two biggest goals of the playoffs came off his stick. That's not accidental."
Kovalchuk, who has spent most of his time with the rookie, said he's the best in the league.
"He's got to be the rookie of the year," Kovalchuk told Gulitti. "This guy, he went through a lot of tough situations. He plays in all kinds of situations on the ice. The coach trusts him a lot with big minutes. He blocks shots and creates a lot of good offense. He's just in the right position to score those goals."
Henrique's already exceeded expectations. With just four more wins, he could finish his season with the perfect fairy tale ending - a Stanley Cup championship.