RANT: Something, anything – just stop the bleeding!

Someone's angry!After blowing lavish amounts of money to watch some of the greatest suck-fests in recent Devils history, I just can’t stand to watch the team I adore so much continue to put forth such piss-poor efforts. Players stuck in slumps that have carried over from last year, an inability to develop chemistry, and a no-excuse lack of effort have me feeling such a strange combination of blind rage and indigestion.

I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what compels this team to just flat out eat it seemingly every night. What happened to the Devils that struck fear in the eyes of the whole league? Don’t gimme that Rafalski/Gomez crock pot. I mean, the talent is there, it’s just not clicking or being used anywhere near its potential. As true as it may be that the team is not even close to giving 100% 75% 50% every night, it could have a little something to do with a certain head coach shuffling up the lines every odd-numbered shift. It seems that if the boys go consecutive shifts without scoring a goal (God forbid!!) Brent is going to mix things up worse than an inebriated dyslexic with a speech impediment — and the result has the players looking like so.

Here’s a dream of mine come true:

ME: (to Brent Sutter after 2-1 loss to Islanders) Hey, Brent – you do know it takes chemistry to win hockey games, correct?

BRENT: Well of course I do, I’m a two-time Stanley Cup champion and I’ve been coaching juniors for years.

ME: Ok, so… STOP ____ING WITH THE LINES!!

Frowns.BRENT: It’s Elias’ fault.

…speaking of overpaid and underachieving “all-stars” — Patrik Elias, what in green hell is your problem? You have had your head so far up your hep-free ass this year, you’re turning into the NHL equivalent of Adrian Foster. Brother, you seriously need to up your game, spend a month or two at hockey-schwitz , or just dye your hair a different color — this under-producing madness needs to stop. You’ve gone from single-handedly dismantling the New York Rangers playoff run not even 2 years prior, to making Keith Tkachuk seem like a reasonable trade option.

As a fan, there is nothing harder to swallow (my cooking aside) than having to watch your team not even come out of the locker room for a game. Much to the dismay of the Black ‘n Red faithful, that’s become a nightly chore. It’s one thing to have to deal with a team that just flat-out doesn’t have the talent or the needed resources to win hockey games and be successful.

...not so calm and collected.But when your roster boasts names like Patrik Elias, Brian Gionta, Travis Zajac, Zach Parise, and Dainius Zubrus – throw a name like MARTIN BRODEUR into that mix and there is no reason why the New Jersey Devils should be sitting laying, bleeding at 6-8-2, good for dead last in the Atlantic Division.

The Devils have picked a horrible time to continue their woes as they are doing nothing but burying themselves early on by continually failing to even show up for games against Atlantic Division rivals. I guess winning really does get old, eh guys?

Something needs to be done to turn this season around. Points in November are just as important as those in April, but that memo must’ve hit the Junk Mail folder of the Devils collective mailbox.

Comments

  1. MIKE HARRISON says:

    We are just plain mixed up right now, we can’t score (or shoot at the net for that matter), we’re not that fast, we’re not that big, we don’t hit enough to create turnovers or fear in the opposition, we ain’t good on “D” or on “O”, our best players (except Marty) arent worth the money they’re making. Imagine if we didnt have the new arena….the Devils wouldn’t draw any crowd. This comes at a time when the 3 teams around us are getting better, and also when the NHL is losing fans….tough times for the Devils. I don’t know what lies ahead, but it’s probably some BAD times.

  2. Why do people automatically assume it’s lack of effort when the team loses? Maybe the team’s just not that good anymore. I mean even we can’t sustain the types of personnel losses we’ve had forever, with the lack of a farm team to replace those losses.

    I’ve only really seen a lack of effort in two games this year, the Pittsburgh fiasco and the first Isles game. Other than that I just think we’re struggling. And we’re missing two key people we were supposed to have on top of it, hopefully one will come back this week.

  3. I agree with everything you said 100%. These guys are out of excuses time to gut check and get their heads/legs in gear.

  4. Just gotta throw it out there. With Langenbrunner coming back, I think it’s about that time to hand him the C and bench Elias. Seeing as how Rod Pelley’s more effective and Patty’s been moping all season, this should hopefully light a fire under his ass. Plus Langenbrunner’s a hard worker and great for the lead-by-example roll.

  5. Look at all my posts since the season has started, I’ve said the same thing for what 15 games now…We need to solidify our lines. Stop shuffling guys. Let them build something with a line mate. The only two guys who have something going are T-funk and Zack. No one else is chiming. We need to do something and fast. I hope Jamie is that missing component. Getting him will help.

    However if after 5 games of Jamie coming back, if they’re not changing, a trade needs to happen.

  6. MIKE HARRISON says:

    Yes the team is trying, but we just arent that talented anymore….we are a team of hard working AHL’ers, thats not gonna cut it in the NHL.

  7. it’s not the system (nor coach) that’s the problem. It’s the players themselves, Elias has become the Markus Naslund of the east coast, ie completely lost. Patty needs another scorer to play with him, he should play with Gionta and Brylin ASAP. Patty and Gio need each other to feed off. And about Brylin, he’s a nice player, but he should be playing on a 3rd or 4th line. Patty and Gio need a fast center, not so much a playmaker, but a fast guy who can go to the net. What made the Elias/Gomez/Gionta line so dynamic was how fast they were in transition up the ice, as well as the skill.

    It looks like Zubrus has found a home with Pando and Mad dog, and Pelley isn’t more than a 3rd or 4th line center. Maybe we should bring up Vrana from Lowell and give him a shot with Patty and Gio, or maybe Lou should wake up and look for a 2nd line center.

    Langenbrunner should play with Zajac and Parise when he gets back, but we can’t expect a lot out of him for the next 5-10 games, I’m sure his timing will be a little off, but those 3 have great chemistry. We sure could use JL’s shot from the left point . I guess the PP would be Elias-Parise-Gionta Langenbrunner-Martin. That sure makes the top PP unit stronger.

  8. The biggest two problems are clearing the puck and people from in front of Marty and the lack of a center playing with Elias. Hopefully, Colin White will be able to help the D at some pont. I can’t take watching the lowest rated penalty kill. I love Sarge but he is not a first line center. When Elias played with Arnott and later Gomez he was excellent for years. Without a playmaking center, his talent is wasted. Same for Geo. Once Jamie is back, we need to trade Clarkson for a center for example like Morrison of Vancouver. Finally, is it really a good Idea to ditch the trap at a time the devs are playing 3 rookie D men every night?

  9. Lou already traded Morrison away in 2000 to get AlMo. They’re not getting rid of him any time soon. Times like these I wish the Devs didn’t make that trade, nor the one that sent Steve Sullivan, Jason Smith, and Alyn McCauley to Toronto for Doug Gilmour.

  10. I had no problem with the Morrison for Mogilny trade. Morrison held out for a $1M contract mostly because Vancouver had been stupid enough to give his ex-Michigan teammate Bill Muckalt that much. He had been given the chance to play with Elias and Sykora, that hadn’t worked (in fact, that failure was what had led to Arnott beling put with the pair the season before) and, in general, he thought his lack of production was NJ’s fault. He was better off elsewhere. His holdout in the beginning of the year gave them a chance to get Gomez into the line-up.

    The Gilmour trade is a different matter. I wasn’t thrilled with it at the time…but you’ll find very few people who didn’t like it then, and if NJ had gone farther in the playoffs that year, or he had re-signed, it would have been looked at more favorably. None of the players in that trade stuck in Toronto. So it’s not exactly looked at favorably there, either.

    I’d say the current state of the team is due more to the failure of the drafts early in this decade to produce much. They’ve been better in recent years than earlier in this decade. However, there isn’t a single player in the NHL from NJ’s 2001 and 2002 drafts. The average is to get one player of some kind from each draft to the NHL, even if you eventually trade that player. I really don’t think trades that were made in 1997 and 2000 are as much of the problem especially since, with UFA, you cannot guarantee that those players would still be here.

  11. We don’t have our normal surplus of defensemen to make a deal with as is Lou’s m.o. so we are at a major disadvanate if we do try and make a trade. W/o White in the lineup, we can’t afford to trade d at this moment which leaves us with our current offensive roster and Lowell, which will not generate much unless we trade an impact player like Gionta or Madden. I like the idea of giving Vrana a shot b/c Sarge just isn’t cutting it. He is very useful but his salary can be put to much better use next year. Unfortunately, I believe it is his option to re-sign next year which basically means he is going nowhere fast.

  12. I’d be in favor of shipping Brylin to Phoenix in a package to get Reinprecht. I figure to give Vrana a shot because he’s from the Czech Republic so maybe he’s play ok with Elias. At the very least his speed would help him getting to the net. His scouting reports compare him to Sergei Brylin, but very speedy.

    Also, B.Morrison is a UFA after this year, but I don’t see him being traded to the Devils this season unless they get a scoring winger in return, and I wouldn’t give up Gionta,Langenbrunner, or even Elias, for him.

  13. I hate to tell you this Joe, but whether or not you Devil fans like to admit it or not, losing Gomez and Rafalski has hurt your team, BIG TIME. Not only was your post- Stevens-and-Niedermayer defense not that good, but having an already offensively anemic team lose it’s #1 center who was one of the best playmakers in the game help doesn’t help either.

    I know you guys are bitter because of Gomez jumping ship, and you’ll point to his lazyness… I don’t see it at all with the Rangers. In fact, he’s been a huge improvement defensively and faceoff wise over Nylander. You guys could definitely use Gomez, and you could definitely use Rafalski, as this defense is not nearly what it once was. Don’t get me wrong, Paul Martin is a good defenseman, but not a #1. He should not be logging #1 minutes. Also, signing Dainius Zubrus (who couldn’t score without playing with Ovechkin in Washington – I have Center Ice) and Karel Rachunek (How stupid can you be to sign someone who couldn’t keep his spot in the Rangers defense?) to replace Gomez and Rafalski is just mind-blowing. You just gotta wonder what the fuck Lou was thinking when he signed those two. Vishnevsky was a solid signing, as he gave the Devils that legitimate bruising presence they’ve lacked since Stevens (Sorry, cheapshot artists like Colin White do not count).

    Sure, this team may have some a few bright spots, but let’s face it… the Devils have gotta start doing a better job drafting. When a team that’s known for it’s defense has only one legitimate defensive prospect that projects to be a 2nd pairing defenseman (Corrente), only one prospect that is a possible top-line winger (Bergfors), and maybe a handful of players who actually have the ability to crack the NHL lineup, it means your farm is devoid of talent. But not only that, the Devils window of opportunity is closing quicker than people think.

    If the Devils have any chance of re-instilling the fear their name once brought upon other teams, it’s gonna be through good drafting, and we all know David Conte is more than capable of doing this. A few things strike me about their drafting though…

    1. The lack of a POTENTIAL ELITE STARTER. Read that again to yourself… what I just said there is that the Devils don’t even have a prospect goaltender that is capable of being an elite goaltender at the NHL level. I’m sure you guys are somewhat high on Jeff Frazee. I watched him at the 2007 WJC (Nice feature you get with Center Ice, as well as the AHL’s all-star weekend) and he was solid there. But… I also have Fox College Sports, and the team they showcase the most on there is the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Frazee’s college team, which is where the concern kicks in. Frazee lost the starting status because he was outplayed by an UNDRAFTED GOALTENDER, in Kellen Briggs. Frazee is the starter this year, as he’s the elder statesman amongst the Minnesota trio of goaltenders, and his numbers are alright to this point (Note: After 7 games…) 7GP, 4-3-0, 2.84 gaa, .899 save %… not bad, but he’s playing on the Gophers, a perennial WCHA powerhouse and contender for the national title. The team in front of him, despite the graduation of 2007 WJC best defenseman and arguably, the top defensive prospect in the game, Erik Johnson, is still a great team with a lot of firepower to work with. They still boast one of the better defensive prospects in hockey in Minnesota native, and former Mr. Minnesota (high school hockey player of the year) David Fischer. This team is not a team full of schlepps, and after a very solid performance at the 2007 WJC (Was a top-3 goaltender, statistically, checkout Wikipedia for more info on that) you would come to expect good numbers from Frazee in the NCAA. This is a big year for Frazee, finally emerging from Briggs’ shadow.

    2. The lack of a potential top-6 center. You guys have one of the better young centers in the game in Zach Parise, a luxury that most teams don’t have. But what you don’t have behind him is a guy that center that #2 slot. From the looks, they seem to be keen in having Travis Zajac (who has been a center all throughout his years playing with Salmon Arm in Junior A, and at North Dakota) as a winger instead of at the pivot. So let me ask the question… who is going to be the center behind Parise? We’ve all seen teams since the lockout that have done the one-trick pony routine… The 06 Rangers, Devils, and Flyers were all one-line teams when it came down to it. To win in the NHL today, you need 2 lines that can consistently score, 6 forwards. The #1 ranked center prospect in the Devils system right now is Tony Romano, a Smithtown, Long Island native that was drafted in the 6th round of the 2006 draft. He played decent at Cornell last year, scoring 9 goals and 19 points in 29 games, and some thought he could make a breakthrough. Well, if you ask me, he regressed, and is now playing for the London Knights of the OHL, where he’s the 8th leading scorer ON THE TEAM. Not in the league, ON THE TEAM. Not looking good, especially being the fact that in junior, you’re playing against (on the average) younger and less physically matured players than the NCAA. After Romano is 2005 WJC standout Petr Vrana, whose stock has plummeted immensly since then. Not only should Devil fans be worried about his progress because of his substantial drop in points in Junior for Halifax after the 2003 season, but the fact that his 2003 numbers were not incredible to begin with. Sure, they were nice, but let’s face it… when you’re a top offensive prospect playing in the Q, you should be looking at 90-100+ points perennially. Vrana had a little bit of trouble adjusting to professional hockey last year, but seems to be playing well this year, 11 points in 13 games (1st in team scoring) for Lowell. Vrana is the guy that I expect to win that battle for that #2 center spot, but the dropoff in his numbers after his banner year in 03 would still concern me. Especially with the way he played against the US in the WJC (nearly single handedly defeated them in the medal round, scored the game winner).

    3. Defense, Defense, Defense: Like I mentioned before, the lack of legitimate defensive prospects does not bode well for a team that preached defense to it’s choir. Matthew Corrente is a nice prospect, don’t get me wrong, but when he’s your only defensive prospect that projects to be a potential top-4 defender, you’re screwed on the back line in the long run. Not only that, but the Devils do not have a plethora of talent up with the big club as it is. Paul Martin is nice, but ideally, he’s a guy that’s playing 2nd pairing minutes on a championship team. Johnny Oduya is nothing special, and I’ve seen some Devils fans calling for his head recently. Vitaly Vishnevsky is a decent #5, MAYBE a #4. Colin White is no better than a #5. Karel Rachunek is just a waste of space, he’ll give you more headaches than Advil can handle. Just wait and watch. This is a team that needs to start restocking it’s defenseman. A defender in this year’s draft would be nice for the Devils. If the Devils are out of the picture come March, I would purge, and make a move to get into the lottery to get Drew Doughty, who is unarguably the best defender coming up in this year’s draft class. Sure, you might not be winning, but if you don’t start doing something about the situation now, down the road, you’ll be doing a whole lot more of losing than you think.

    The Devils are ranked 28th out of 30, in HockeysFuture.com’s updated organizational rankings.

    http://www.hockeysfuture.com/nhl_organisation_rankings/?start=24

    Strengths: The Devils netminder prospect, Jeff Frazee, has had a wonderful season both as a member of the University of Minnesota and playing in the 2007 World Junior Championships. Frazee could be the heir apparent to inherit the starting job from Martin Brodeur, after Ari Ahonen – among others – were unable to live up to the expectations. Additionally, New Jersey has two very good winger prospects within the organization in Nicklas Bergfors and Alexander Vasyunov. Weaknesses: The Devils organization is devoid of first-line forward or first-pairing defensive prospects. A generally weak crop of young players are on the Devils protected list at present. Strategic trades and outstanding drafting over the next few years is a necessity, or else the Devils organization will be hard-pressed to build from within. Top Five Prospects: Nicklas Bergfors (RW), Matthew Corrente (D), Andy Greene (D), Alexander Vasyunov (LW), Petr Vrana (C) Key Graduates: Cam Janssen, Travis Zajac

    This isn’t just some Ranger fan without a clue coming onto the site, and talking random shit because he hates the Devils. If you disagree with my opinions or the information shared, for that matter, that’s fine. But the last thing I’m doing is disrespecting anyone’s decision to root for the team they choose to root for.

    It’s called free-will.

  14. You mixed around Parise and Zajac, Zajac has been exclusively a center for the team, Parise’s been on the wing.

    I do agree they need a second center but there wasn’t much the Devils could do other than beg Gomez to stay with an insane offer (and he clearly had one foot out the door all of last year). Zubrus has been pretty productive as a winger but was lost as a center and he was supposed to be Gomez’s ‘replacement’.

    The D’s not what it was, people have to realize that you’re going to struggle on D with the likes of Mottau, Brookbank, Oduya, Rachunek and even Visnevski (good bodychecker but puts himself out of position too much to do so, there’s got to be a reason why he’s bounced around the league).

    Plus the D also lacks an offensive presence, which hurts the power play. There’s not one d-man that scares anyone from the point. Not that they had one last year but at least Raf could run a PP and get a few assists.

    And Marty himself seems to need 8-10 games every year (post-lockout) to play his way into shape but now that he has he should stay his normal self going forward.

  15. First, A big thanks to everyone for chiming in on my rant. Half the fun of posting these is getting the reaction, and they’ve all been fun to read. I’d like to respond to a few of them:

    HASAN – In regards to the effort comment, I have to stick by my own words in that one. You’ve been to just as many games as I this season – if not MORE. You can clearly see the boys just aren’t giving even 50% some nights. It was evident against the Islanders especially.

    RANDY – I agree completely with your statement about the inability to clear the zone, crease, dinner plate, whatever else you can think of. That in turn has lead to the abundance of GA this season as well as being a big contributing factor to the piss-poor PK.

    … Mr. Filk, I congratulate you on the longest comment in 2MA history, both past and most likely all of the site’s future. I will respond to yours in a separate reply shown below 😉

  16. FILK –

    To begin, Yes. The loss of Gomez & Raf hurt the team, but I am optimistic that it was the right move to – dare I say – “rebuild”. I don’t realistically believe the Devils are in full-fledge purge mode a la the Rangers circa 2004, but throwing bundles of money at Gomez is not a good idea in the cap-era. Rafalski I would have loved to keep, but things didn’t work out, so no use making cereal when you knowingly have sour milk.

    In regards to your bit about poor drafting – all I have to say about that is that it’s a little difficult to draft well when you win the Division every season and are handed bottom-10 picks as a result. I understand the Red Wings have been able to draft well despite being in a similar situation, but the difference between them and us – conferences aside – is that they aren’t afraid to draft European players. Lou has always been a sucker for (North)American-born talent, as was evident in last years squad. I’m not defending his approach, just clarifying it.

    Rachunek is a work in progress, I won’t touch that topic until a fair amount of time has passed. Martin on the other hand, is way too soft to be a #1 defender. Someone introduce him to Chuck Norris, maybe he’ll get him a Total Gym at a discount.

    Lastly, I’d like to touch on the goaltending prospect issue. I do agree that it would be nice to see a few more options down (up?) on the farm, but when Martin Brodeur is your goaltender for more than 15 seasons, you don’t usually worry about that area of the game. Is it possible Lou will begin his quest for the next Marty this off-season? Let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised.

    Thank you for your in-depth and knowledgeable response. Despite your slightly “blue” point-of-view, ( 😉 ) it was a pleasure hearing from you.

  17. Words are fun.

  18. Understandable, not wanting to throw loads of money, especially with the antics Gomez pulled, and how he pretty much had his mind made up before he left. However, Lou has had a reputation of not paying his players. For Exceptions, See: Brodeur, Elias. With that being said, I’m not happy with having Gomez as the highest paid player on the team, Jagr’s cap hit split – didn’t mean to rhyme – not withstanding.

    Well, you pretty much answered your drafting problem, as we have discussed before. Whether it was Conte’s decision, or Lou’s in the past to avoid drafting Euro’s – Sykora, Elias, Brylin not withstanding – it was still a poor one that came back to bite them. With that being said, New Jersey aside from 2001 was never a deep team offensively, and their defense was of juggernaut status. With Stevens going down in 2004, one would think that they would have drafted defenders in all of these years. Despite having defenders available in the later parts of rounds, they’ve avoided drafting defenders that have turned out very well so far. The prime example being selecting Travis Zajac in favor of Andrej Meszaros, especially when the prospect pipeline of defensemen has been weak for years for Jersey.

    “…a work in progress?” That’s putting it lightly.

    As for Martin, he’s just not skilled enough to be a #1. He’s a solid 2nd pairing guy.

    Random Chuck Norris Fact: When filming an episode of Walker Texas Ranger in France, the French surrendered to Chuck Norris just to be on the safe side.

    I understand that when you have a franchise goaltender that’s exceptionally skilled that there isn’t much to look for in the draft in terms of goaltending, so you take the BPA. Still, it’s nice to draft a goaltender or two over the years and play him for more than 10 games in a season to gauge his value and use him as an asset in a trade to improve the present status of the team. That’s the way you build a team up.

    LOL @ slightly blue. Hey, I’m calling it down the middle. The Devils have had a great run, unfortunately, it’s coming to an end, and things COULD get worse if Lou and Conte don’t do something about it now.