BlastCasta News Widget

Monday, October 13, 2008

Devils season preview: Why the Devils are a better team

Well I don't like to brag, but I have to be the best Devils' blogger out there. In case you think I am nuts, this is sarcasm. I haven't written anything about the Devils since November 25, 2007. The Devils were just getting around after a rough start of the season.

I can't promise I will write more on a regular basis because the News and Notes take a good chunk of my hockey time every day. But I wanted to blog about the 2008-09 Devils before the season started. As you all know the season started already and of course I am late.

Needless to say, last season didn't end the way we all had hoped for. It was a tough pill to swallow to lose the the Rangers and the only positive was that we still have not been swept in the playoffs. I have to admit and everyone probably agrees, our team was just not good enough to go any further. At least not much further.

It was a year full of paradoxes, where the defense was inexperienced and somewhat shaky but still efficient, thanks in large parts to Marty. Nobody could really agree on who should play on defense. The offense was terrible and ended up affecting the team's performance. The paradox is that many observers called the players underachievers but most people agreed the team overachieved. Go figure that one out.

The new season has just started and I will say a few words about it later. I am not sure this team can go all the way but I think it is safe to say this team is a lot better than last year. I expect them to at least make the playoffs and go further than two rounds. And by the way, don't expect me to give you a season preview or predictions for the new season. All I care for and about is the Devils and the rest can rot in hell.

Why are the Devils better than last year?

Well you can start with the substractions we had. The most notable and only one is Serguei Brylin. You can say what you want about Karel Rachunek of Vitaly Vishnevski but these two never really fit in with the Devils. It was tough to see Sarge go, more so because of what he represented than what he brought last year. He couldn't find the right place or right line to fit in and the expectations were probably a little too much when Langenbrunner was still out recovering from hernia surgery.

Serguei Brylin was such a great part of this organization that it was tough to see him go. He was the perfect good soldier. Best of luck to him in his new team SKA Saint-Petersbourg.

Meanwhile the Devils brought old Devils Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik back on July 1st. I was just starting to follow the Devils when Rolston was traded to Colorado for Claude Lemieux. Even though some people think Lou gave him a little too much of everything (years and money), I think this was an excellent signing for the Devils. He will make the power play better and he gives us a top line center.

Bobby Holik is not the same player as he was when he left the Devils. He is a few years older but he can still bring a lot to the team in terms of experience, leadership and feistiness.

We now have four very good lines :

Rolston scored 30 goals in each of the last three season with the defensive minded Minnesota. I believe his production will be around that for the Devils. Gionta and Elias need to rebound from subpar years and I believe they will.

The ZZPop line is reunited. They showed good chemistry a while ago. Since then Zajac had a sophomore slump and Langenbrunner hernia surgery. I am sure Parise will carry this line and make Zajac and Langenbrunner better.


One of the best duo of checking forwards are back together as Lou signed Jay Pandolfo over the summer. Clarkson should fit in well with those two and add feistiness to that line

This line is a curiosity. Zubrus was signed to help forget about Gomez departure to the Rangers. Zubrus didn't produce as well as expected on the Devils top two lines last year and found himself on the fourth line with Rupp. The addition of Holik makes this line one of the biggest line in the league and Sutter will probably play them more than a regular fourth line, giving the third line more freedom than just a checking role. They also have more offense than Cam Janssen.

Extra forward: Petr Vrana has made the team after training camp. The fact he would have had to clear waivers probably helped him make the team but apparently management liked his versatility and his hockey skills.

The Defense is almost unchanged from last year except they are a year older as in more experienced. And the defensive corps that was made of rookies in now made of players who have a few games under their belt. Also Colin white will start the season after he couldn't start last year because of an eye injury and Salvador is now healthy. He didn't play much last year after being traded and he should be able to bring some stability to the defense.

Defense: Salvador, Martin, White, Oduya, Mottau, Greene, Brookbank.

Anssi Salmela also made the team for the defense. He signed as an undrafted free agent back in May and he could be a Devils success story 'a la Rafalski'

Goalies: Brodeur, Weekes
I would like to see Weekes a little more this season. I like seeing how he gets excited on the bench when there is a fight. But I'd like to see him play a little more than he did last year. I always fight with people who say Brodeur plays too much but I believe 67-70 games should be the limit for Marty. I want him fresh and rested for the playoffs. I want him to be the difference in the playoffs so he can shut everybody up. Considering last year's struggles and how tight the race was in the East and the Division, Marty had to play. That's why I believe a better offense and more experienced defense this year will allow Marty to take a little more rest.

The Devils know how to make the playoffs. The team hasn't lost much since last year. The additions of Rolston and Holik give the team more depth and more options for the offense. The fourth line will provide a defensive relief for the checking line and also for the defense. Sutter also has one year of experience behind the bench and will have more talent to work with. We won't start the year on the road like we did last year and that will also help lay the foundations of a solid season.

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