Devils Stuck in Hell

What is the situation of the Devils? Have they improved? Will they improve? Will they jump up and down the .500 mark? Did GM Lamoriello make any attempts to help his team to climb back to their usual place?

Too much concentration on the Rangers and the Islanders. Looking at the Eastern Conference, the teams’ total points are not far apart. Every time there is a Rangers article, the comments are mostly negative and the criticisms are hard to counter, since they are mostly pointless. I cannot say much about the Islanders because of the unwillingness from the Islanders fans on HTR to write articles on their surprising team (expecting Isle’s article please). What about the Devils though? HTR has one very popular Devils fan whom I must say is the best to argue with. Surprisingly, HTR does not receive a lot of Devils articles, so I’ve purposely watched Devils games and observed them closely to write an article.

The Devils are 8th in the East with a 19-18-5-2 and 45 points, with only 104 Goals For and 105 Goals Against. The fact that Mogilny not on the team cannot be used as an excuse for the Devils record and Goals For. Where are players like Gomez, Arnott, Sykora, Brylin, Holik, and Elias? The Devils finished as the number one team in offense last season. Where is all the goal scoring this season? Scotty Gomez’s numbers are a big disappointment this season, only scoring 5 goals and 18 assists with a +/- rating of a –6. It is hard to say how the Devils will improve by keeping this team. The Devils have to find a way to score goals, since the team scored 2 goals or less in seven of the last 9 games. A team that finished in the Stanley Cup Finals should not let this happen. The Devils locker room is also a problem, especially when Martin Brodeur quotes: “I think we are desperate. That comes with not being confident.” Where is Captain Stevens in all this? Stevens has no goals, just 8 assists and a surprising +/- rating of –8. Stevens has to shake this team up, he is the captain of the team and it is his responsibility to improve the team’s confidence, especially when he will receive 21$ million dollars in the next three seasons.

Goaltending is a major issue for this team. Brodeur is exhausted and he cannot obviously carry this team anywhere without getting any rest. Brodeur has 18 of the 19 wins, has a great GAA of 2.30 and a not so surprising .903 SV%, which is on the border of below average. Brodeur is not playing his usual season, as I watched him get beat by slap shots, also costing a 2-1 loss at Buffalo when underachieving Chris Gratton blasted one through Brodeur. Devils have to find a back up because Brodeur cannot handle a weak team in front of him for another 40 games.

Back to the goal scoring, the Devils just lost Pierre Dagenais through waivers and was picked up by the Panthers. Dagenais scored 3 goals and 3 assists in 16 games. His numbers are not decent, but playing with a team that can’t score, those numbers are pretty good. Dagenais led Albany, the Devils affiliate team, in scoring for the past two seasons and was a top prospects for the Devils. Dagenais is a big player with very good speed and should become well known in the NHL in the next 5 years, he is only 24 years of age. Holik was asked about the Devils scoring, after losing Dagenais, by The New York Times and stated “No, we can’t go on like this. That’s the problem.” The problem meaning the lack of goal scoring.

Looking at the metro teams (NYI, NYR, NJD), all three GM’s are looking to add more scoring. GM Milbury is looking for toughness and a scorer, possibly Amonte or Guerin. GM Sather is looking for either a power forward, possibly Shane Doan, or a pure goal scorer like Selanne. GM Lamoriello is looking, or I should say, should be looking for a goal scorer and a back up goaltender. There are no possible rumors since GM Lamoriello likes to have low money investments in players. Selanne and Amonte are said to be out of the question because of their salaries. GM Lamoriello lied to Mogilny telling him to test the market because the budget was “tight”, even if Mogilny told him he wanted to stay. A tight budget? The Devils are owned by someone who has the dollar sign $ as his pupils. A tight budget? The Devils will spend 21$ million dollars on Stevens and 45$ million dollars on Marty Brodeur, and let’s not forget about Elias and Holik, if they will ever be signed. GM Lamoriello can trade for Amonte or Selanne because he can sacrifice 6 to 8 million this season for a player who could turn the team around. It is not easy to help your team during the season, as a GM, but, obviously a team like the Islanders or Rangers is not supposed to be a top team of the East, and therefore it is hard to criticize the team when the team is actually predicted to not make the playoffs. There is much to criticize when a team that went to the finals two straight times, winning the Cup the first time. The problems with the Devils are very obvious and not hard to find the ways to fix them. They need a scorer and they need a back up. No excuses for not landing a back up since there are many available (Weekes, Kidd, Essensa, Hackett, Rhodes) and also veteran goalies who would be willing to help even by signing a try-out contract (Hebert*, McKlean). I recommend Hebert. To land a scorer is very hard to do. I cannot see the Devils lose a player like Arnott or Holik. If Lamoriello wants a scorer, then he will have to give up either one.

How does the Devils future look like? They lost Dagenais, they might lose Holik or Arnott, or maybe even underachieving Gomez. The defense will always look solid, so nothing to worry much about there, but the Devils are weak in Centers and very weak in LW, however, the Devils are extremely strong in RW. Both Gionta and Berglund (RW’s) are currently playing with the Devils. Gionta doesn’t look ready for NHL action, but as for Berglund, he is a typical Swedish player. I always favor Swedish players, and Berglund should become someone in the NHL, very good passer and puck handler, however he is not a good scorer. GM Lamoriello should have made a move before the team hit the 44 games played mark, and it is still unknown when Lamoriello will make a move. The Devils are expected to win two out of the next three games that are against the Lightning, Rangers, and Hurricanes. If the Devils cannot come out with a winning record for those three games, then there are no excuses for this team and it should be time for GM Lamoriello to use his phone.

Micki Peroni

Personal Note:

I did not write this article to bash the Devils. I wrote this article just like any writer would do. What else is there to write about the Devils? Not much, except the fact that they need a back up and a scorer. There shouldn’t be any reasons for anyone to comment on the Rangers as a “counter attack” on me. Let me make this plain and simple to all those anti-Rangers fans out there, who are very talented in criticizing the Rangers. The Rangers suck, yeah…and? So far, the Rangers were unexpected to come this far, to have 50 points in 47 games. So far, the Rangers played better than the Devils, because if they didn’t then they wouldn’t be up there, no? This was u-n-e-x-p-e-c-t-e-d from the Rangers, they do not belong to be a top team in the East. The Devils on the other hand, they suck this season and there is no way anyone can defend that. Devils are the defending Eastern Conference winners, they appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals twice, won it the first time, and if they are that much better than the Islanders and Rangers, they certainly do not belong to be only one game over .500, to be 25th in the league in GF, and to have locker room problems. My point is, there shouldn’t be more criticism done on the Rangers and Islanders if so far they played better than the Devils. Flyers deserved all that criticism in the beginning of the season. The Avalanche deserved all that criticism in the beginning of the season. The Devils still deserve to be criticized because they are underachieving this season. This is just my personal note defending myself before I get bashed. It does not make sense to criticize a team that has improved this season, that has surprised the league, and is only one point behind 2nd place in the Atlantic. MantaRay, your last comment on the Rangers was pretty pathetic, keep working on it though, you’re getting better each time, heheh gotcha. There is much to criticize about the Devils, since they don’t belong to be “down there” and just one game over .500. Give credit to the Rangers for surprising teams, for improving and give credit to Sather who added 14 new players to the organization. It is stupid to criticize Sather when it is only his 2nd season as a Rangers GM. It does take time to change a team around, and he himself said it would take a good 3 years or so to do it (my response to Manta). I don’t expect to get any negative comments on the Rangers in this article, because there shouldn’t be any. This is about the Devils, their poor lack of scoring, and yes, poor management thus far this season, especially after losing a top prospect for nothing, and for not making one move to help the offense or goaltending. I just had to vent, now I feel much better. Thank you.