From: The Rock, Newark, N.J.
30th Anniversary Season
NEW JERSEY DEVILS: Good Team; Bad Team. The Club From Newark Battles Its Demons.
Here comes the Mickey Mouse Club. I was watching MSG Vault today and a special on the Devils. Wayne Gretzky characterized the New Jersey Devils as a Mickey Mouse organization after a game in which the Edmonton Oilers mercilessly beat the Devils in a 1983 game by a 13-4 final score.
Thirty years into their New Jersey history, that isn't the case now..., is it?
Last season was the ultimate season of - WHAT IF..? What if Zach Parisi hadn't been lost for the season? What if Ilya Kovalchuck hadn't forgotten how to score? What if the Devils hadn't gotten off to that horrific start? As horrific as their first half was, they played with fury after the break and almost salvaged a playoff spot.
This season comes replete with it's own - What If's. What if they hadn't lost Travis Zajac for this season? What If Marty Brodeur breaks down? What if they start as badly again as they did last season? What if Parisi and Kovalchuck don't get enough help playing on two different lines? What if no one steps up and makes a name for themselves on defense?
The Devils have a new coach this season; Peter DeBoer. The what-ifs are all his problem now. This time Lou Lamoriello went out of the organization for his choice. John MacLean didn't work out and Lou used the Jacques LeMaire card for the last time. So Big Lou tabbed the former Florida Panthers head coach. But then again, coaching issues are nothing new to the Devils.
One of Coach DeBoer's problems this season will be the Devils lack of a true center. Patrick Elias will man that position by necessity. But who exactly do the Devils think they are playing at center after Elias? Who?
The bigger problem is the Devils suffer from a wholly unbalanced gang of Forwards. But somehow, between Elias and Kovalchuck and others, they made it work in the second half of the season and incredibly only lost three games down the stretch.
The Devils surge was incredible actually. But what really made it possible was a band of over-achieving Defensemen. Bryce Salvador and Andy Greene are the known. But the Devils are putting an awful lot of stock into kid-Adam Larsson. If he and Henrik Tallinder can't add up to four reliable blue-liners,the Devils will have huge problems that will make their forward situation pall in comparison.
The 2010-2011 season was a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde campaign. Which team will show up early this season? And which team will finish the season? Or will one just dominate them?
The Devils should never be taken lightly; ever. But they are far from their glory days now. There are still members of those days still here; but few. There's still a Hall of Fame goalie in net. But a frustrating chase for the eighth or seventh spot come April of next year, starts now.