Archives for October 2008

NJ Devils Month in Review, October 2008

Back at this again!!! Always fun, always exciting to start a new season and have some expectations to it… and then soon after… it fizzles away by game ….goals… slugfests, all sorts of crazy stuff… but the roller coaster is on a down swing and injuries aside the first month of the 2008-09 season has some things to worry about!!!

Forwards:
#9 (LW) Zach Parise:
The future of this team and holy shit the future is NOW too… 12 points in 9 games… goals in his last five, a game winner and a game tying goal too… what the hell more could you ask from this kid?? This may be the easiest guy to talk about this month… and it’s a shame… he deserves more time here… but nothing to say besides… awesome!!!
Grade: A+

#14 (RW) Brian Gionta:
Has been bounced around already… and not by opposing forwards…. Victim #1 of the Sutter lines out of a hat shuffle… but really has done pretty well so far…people will bitch and whine “because he only has one goal” (should have had a second last night, but it did become an assist)… and leading the team in assists and second in points… not too shabby, more so for a guy with a knock of being shoot first second and third… shots lead to rebounds which lead to assists…. I like the feisty play and for a midget he really does thrive when he gets his nose dirty!
Grade: A-

#19 (Center) Travis Zajac:
Looks like a bounce back year so far for Travis… he’s bigger, meaner (from my seats he sometimes looks Holik-ish)..killing penalties… and looking like the team’s best center this, again only one goal, but SOMEONE scored on his 5 helpers right?? Last year is LONG forgotten here (and remember this all you dopes that wanted to trade a 25 year old with this much upside… I TOLD YOU AGAIN… be patient with the kids!!!)
Grade: B+

#26 (LW) Patrik Elias-A
5 minor penalties is not a good thing already, and seems to lost a step on his shot and is looking to help and pass first… hasn’t exactly clicked with Zubrus and Vrana, and with the injuries at forwards seems to be looking for a guy to make plays with.. willing to cut him some slack based on injuries and shifting talent around him… but will need more from Patrik if/when Parise slows down….least on the bright side… Elias has 40 shots, which means the effort and opportunity IS there… just a matter of them falling in….
Grade: B-

#11 (Center) John Madden-A
The 3 goals is a nice start, but it seems like Madden may be slowing a bit… look at the goals scored by opponents in the last few games…. 5, 3, 6… a troubling sign and yes the defense has been spotty, but some of that falls on the checking line… blasted in the post game by Sutter as well… maybe it’s a sign that this checking line can no longer be the focal point of this team’s strategy anymore….does have value still as the team’s lone faceoff guy too…
Grade: C+ (just a bit above average.. seems about the right grade for him)

#9 (LW) Danius Zubrus:
Has been a nice surprise this year… the goal stats are a bit eh, but also has been shuffled around… seemed to be more comfortable and physical with Holik as his center… but this physical controlling play seemed to have continued without Bobby One-Brow around…
Not really in the right mix playing with Elias and Vrana either… but the guy has a skill set and it’s just a matter of finding someone to play with him when Holik and Rolston get back too…. He’s been good so far though…
Grade: B+ (another much improved from last year folk)

#15 (RW) Jamie Langenbrunner-C
Disappointing could be a word… slow could be another… rushed back from an injury when there is NO NEED to (it’s October… play the kids and let the beat up guy you need in the stretch heal) 16 PIMs is a bad sign of being caught behind the play and having to cheat and heal up…. It may be a point in his career where he’s going to need to take some nights off to be effective, but the old boy’s club coach ain’t gonna do that either…then again this could be a “he’s off to a slow start and will get better come January” things… all the MORE reason to sit his ass and let him get healthy!!!!
Grade: C-

#23 (RW) David Clarkson:
VERY frustrating player… has all the skills and tools to be one hell of a power forward… but won’t get his nose dirty…. 2 goals again looks nice on the stat sheet but one was a Marty Turco whiff… the other was a NICE tip-in though… had one hell of a fight last night though… if he’d do more of that and keeping his stuff in front of the net he’d be a million times better, but I guess he’s still young… personally I’d give him #21 and make him watch Randy McKay films until his eyes bled!!
Grade: C

#20 (LW) Jay Pandolfo:
Again seems a bit slow this year… the 2 on 1’s shorthanded are long long ago and probably not coming back… maybe a bit complacent after getting the new contract, but he’s been slow out of the box too… not expected to score, but if this line is gonna get 18+ minutes a night… he HAS to be more then 2 assists, and again when Sutter is calling him out for a bad game (which should be expected when as many goals have flown by as they have in the last week)…it’s a scary thought if these guys wear down this year….
Grade: C

#22 (LW) Petr Vrana:
Has a nose for deflections by the net which I like.. stands in front… get his shit dirty, but doesn’t seem to have any explosion or anything in the play so far… but then again this team demands a lot on both ends of the ice and that and getting used to the league jitters are the norm (playing him on a line with Rupp is a TOTAL waste though mind you), 5 games is a short body of work to judge him on… and not to mention when the coach smells a sniff of shortening the bench he seems to be the first to go, and that seems to be more about his age rather then performance
Grade: C+ (some of this is fault of the coaching staff still, more on that later)

#12 (Center) Brian Rolston:
Looked like he was about to find his way and got hurt… that sucks….
Grade: Incomplete

#25 (LW) Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond:
Nice long ass name… he can fight… he can hit… he’s got an assist… but if he’s playing every night… we got problems… thug-loving fans will call for him to play in Cam Janssen like fashion, but is a spot player for limited minutes and he’ll be ok at that
Grade: Incomplete (3 games, and probably 10 mins of ice)

#17 (LW/C) Mike Rupp:
Still the worst hockey instincts I’ve seen in a human being outside of my pickup games in Short Hills… he’s fighting more which is a plus….but still… he’s kinda eh… tolerable as the team’s 12th forward which he seems to be… loved the fight with Hollweg last night that was 5 stars!
Grade: C+

#16 (Center) Bobby Holik:
Was scrappy and annoying and in people’s faces and backs when he was in the game… but the broken finger came at a bad time when he could have seen more, decent faceoff numbers… will eventually chip in some points and hopefully mentors Rupp and Clarkson along the way….he was decent enough until he went down…
Grade: C

Defense:
#6 Andy Greene:
Wow what a difference a year made in Andy’s play… more points in the month then all of last year… the shot is improved and two multiple assist games…. And the confidence is showing in his game as well, third on the team and first of all defensemen with a +4, and there’s been a few nights he’s been the best guy on the ice from the blue line…much like Zajac WORLDS of improvement over last year!!
Grade: A

#7 Paul Martin:
Three assists isn’t going to cut it over the course of a month… good thing Andy Greene is picking up the slack… has a nice rapport with Salvador and is playing like a top pair defenseman (though he did look gassed 26 minutes into his ice time last night)…the kid is coming along very nicely and his skating is better then any other defender on the team..
Grade: B-

#27 Mike Mottau:
Less minutes and on the 3rd Pair D is exactly what he needed… seems to have clicked with Andy Greene and the offense is coming from both of these guys nicely (hell look at the point upgrade in defense from this year to last already)… can’t complain much about this guy either… off to a good start….
Grade: B

#5 Colin White:
Spotty… kinda playing with just one eye open (I know that’s awful… but I yell way too much NO PLAY IT WITH THE GOOD EYE COLIN at games)… may never evolve into the next top defenseman the team expected… but he’s ok… he just needs to be more ok then bad, and he’s not been doing it that well this year… it’s only 9 games, but it is troubling… but still he’s a +4, that’s odd… but it also doesn’t account the wet soggy swiss cheese the pk’s been in the last few games….
Grade: C-

#29 Johnny Oduya:
Seems to be okay so far this year… still the mental mistakes are back a little… and he doesn’t seem to know how to use his speed and shot again (then again he’s probably getting scared to death of the Wrath of Sutter…. JOHHHHNNNNNN…. JOHHHNNNN!!)… only one assist is disappointing and may be spending more time covering Colin White’s bad eye then he need be doing….
Grade: C

#24 Bryce Salvador:
Is fast becoming my favorite player on the team… plays smart… sticks up for teammates… hits after the play… fights… you name it and this guy does it… Playing solid with Paul Martin (we call this earning the contract!)… not doing much in offense, but doesn’t need to… I think this keeps up and my next paycheck is getting me a #24 jersey! I have no complaints on this guy!!
Grade: A

Incompletes:
#28 (D) Anssi Salmela, #10 (RW) Matt Halischuk, #2 (D) Sheldon Brookbank:
Salmela looked not ready for prime time… it’s ok, let him bake and come back in Lowell (though he might be back now with Andy Greene on the shelf with the broken hand)
Halischuk looked like he belonged with Madden and Pandolfo… this is good…
Brookbank didn’t kill anyone with his slapshot yet, so we are pleased!

Goaltending:
#30 Martin Brodeur
Stupid, arrogant and ego-centric as the helmet may be (and it annoys me that he is allowed to put something on his mask that so OBVIOUSLY makes him ahead of the team)… he’s really been kinda good this month… well not the last two games (and I won’t go even into the fact that it’s a fucking joke that he played 22 hours after the game on Friday Night too… why waste money on a backup? Came out of the box really good and hellbent on breaking this all time wins record that NO ONE really cares about (well some Devil fans might… I don’t…want to set records that MATTER? Win more Cups… go get Patrick Roy’s PLAYOFF win record…. Until then it’s meaningless stat compilation and I’d rather he not burn his ass out in February again)… looked flat out EXHAUSTED by about shot 40 in the last game (then again that used to be a week’s level of worth… sad this is the only way I say the word WEEKES… free him now!!), but the blips in the defense and goaltending aside (it is a bit troubling that he’s let in some softies against the Rangers and Flyers)… he’s been pretty damn good… PLAY LESS GAMES!!!!
Grade: B+ (yes I knocked him down some for the helmet and the back to back garbage)

Coaching:
Ah Brent Sutter… where to begin?? Now let me say this.. I LIKE the guy… I stress this because it’s going to sound like I don’t and I want him gone… but he’s doing things that piss me off so far……let’s get to those
? Rushing Langenbrunner back when Bergfors was called up… Langs has been beat up, injured and showing a lot of age and wear on the tires at this point of his career… letting him take the foot off the gas and rest up would have been wise…
? TOO MUCH ICE TIME TO THE OLD BOY’S CLUB!! Yes Elias, Madden and all have been key parts of this team, but how are you going to see what these kids in Vrana, Halishuk and so on have when you DON’T THROW THEM TO THE FIRE IN KEY SCENARIOS (and it’s even a bigger disgrace when you see how BAD Madden, Pando and Langs looked… more so in the last game… instead of bitching them out post game HIT PLAYERS WHERE THEY CARE… put the young legs out there and see what they got…. Every other god damn team in the league does it… not like we’ve been piling up Cups since the lockout!
? Lack of creativity in the offense… this seems to have changed a little with the youth… we’re actually seeing speed… flow… people in front… deflections….and not to mention… I’m sorry.. it’s retarded to have you finesse guys in Elias and Parise being the guys standing in front of the net while the Clakrson’s, Zubrus’ and Gionta’s are the ones outside the paint and they NEED to be in the goalie’s face to be able to make plays and finish shit off!!!
? Special Teams…. They’re more like from the special Olympics… the power play concepts seem to be good and shots and traffic are flowing from it… just not bounces… I guess that can be injuries and personnel issues now as well (though I’d rather see Greene get pp time as a reward for this resurgence)
? Brent is the first second and third guy to kill someone when they mess up.. how come he NEVER comes out and praises the team as much as he kills them… the more you beat on a horse without break or reward the sooner the damn thing is gonna die on you….

Things I do like though:

? This team finally seems to have some balls… re: Salvador creaming a guy who tried to run at Martin….Rupp crushing Hollweg, etc…. this team is taking no shit and won’t be as soft or intmidated as they have been past years….
? The defensive pairings… White and Oduya almost by default… but this might change with Greene out… Greene and Mottau have chemistry as well as Martin and Salvador are a nice top pairing… but the minutes may need to be kept in the 22 range

So all in all…. We’re way better then we were last year, but an alarming sign against the better teams in the East… but the talent and mindset is there for this team to do well… but they’re doing only ok….. like I said I like the guy and I think he can adjust but he better get to it.. CMON BRENT!!!!
Grade: C

(no comments on Lou yet, because we have yet to see how his improvements to the team will pan out)

Devils/Leafs… Thoughts from Section 209

Well seems I’m the only one here who watched this fiasco…. so let me get to it…. but gotta save some stuff for the Month In Review coming soon to a website near you!

But where to start on this one….

— I have issues with Brent Sutter… but I’ll get to those probably Friday Night (depending on how nasty work gets to me)
— Jamie Langenbrunner looks trapped in concrete on ice, and really should NOT have played… forget about having major ice time in the third period… don’t tell me about chasing points in October and WE LOST ANYWAY… let him get HEALTHY (not to mention it’s a dick move to call up Berfgors and let him sit in the XL-4000 Luxury Easy Chair once reserved for Kevin Dean, the all time king of healthy scratches)
— we call up Halishuk and he looks good… plays with energy and keeps up on the Madden line… and he SITS in the 3rd period… oops…I’m Sutter foreshadowing…..
— poor Gio… stuff that puck into Toskala a hundred times more would ya?? Thankfully the Zub-a-roonie saved the day
— this team went into a shell at 2-0… then blew the lead… Clarkson with the best fight of his career wakes them up… they take the lead… and go into a shell… and blow it AGAIN, this team can’t sit on a lead in the THIRD PERIOD… STOP TRYING IN THE FIRST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (go with what is WORKING)
— Toronto worked their BALLS OFF, and frankly deserved to win this game… Ron Wilson.. you can coach my team any day sir!
— ANDY GREENE… there is no stopping you my man!!! (he’s even made Mottau look better)
— Marty, you looked tired and uninterested…. I know it will never happen… you want to light a fire on this team and send a message.. “Kevin… you’re up Saturday”… watch this team respond!
— Power play.. AWFUL (why are the grinders on the outside and the play-makers like Elias and Parise standing in front… HELLO)… penalty killing… WORSE… geesh

there was not alot to be happy about here… and for a team at 5-2-2, there’s a LOT to not be happy about…..

more to come in the next few days!!!

(oh good I can edit this :p)

also:
— Luke Schenn… sounds like a Mortal Kombat fighter!!
— Faceoffs were AWFUL.. yeah the stats say 45%… but I think 90% of those were in the first period… if I use one more percentage I sound like the guy in the NHL Network commerical giving 110% 100% of the time…..

Zubalicious

Zubbie’s scoring needs to occur more often when I’m less occupied. Never saw it, never even heard about it until just now, but here he go again! Zubbie’s keepin’ me honest.

Also, I’ll have you all know that I’m breaking away from TWO midterms to bring you this ZubbieCounter update, so y’all best…I don’t know, stare in awe at the godly scoring talent that is the Dainus-saur.

I’d love to post some sort of analysis on this game (sounds like a doozy, too, falling 6-5 in the shootout to the lowly Maple Leafs), but alas, I didn’t see more than ten seconds of the game total. They looked good in those ten seconds. Perhaps those were the only ten seconds that they looked good?

A ‘Stone For The Rock

Stone as in MILE-stone. Those of you who were thinking KIDNEY-stone look pretty foolish right about now.

So does anyone else realize the big milestone? Well, yesterday Prudential Center celebrated its one-year anniversary of Devils hockey. Yup, a solid 365 days had passed since that inaugural drop of the puck. It’s just too bad that said puck-drop was the only thing worth remembering on that night, but I’m not here to split hairs.

I remember walking from Newark Penn Station to the arena for the very first time last October. I had never felt so much anticipation in my life. Once inside, I was awe-struck. I couldn’t believe this incredible building was our new home.

That season seemed to come and go in quite the blur. I caught about fifteen home games last year and I still got that feeling of anticipation every time I made the walk down Market St. Though it may have gone quick, The Rock saw some heavy action and incredible moments in it’s inaugural year.

Now, for all of you out there – regardless of what team you follow – if you had the chance to experience Prudential Center last season, use the comment thread to share some of your favorite memories from the first ever season at the Rock.

Allow me to kick things off with my most memorable moment — Patrik Elias finishing off a beautiful 2-on-1 with Zach Parise to score the OT game winner vs. Boston. The Devils fell behind 3-0 in that game but battled all the way back for the win… December 5th, 2007.

Allow me to refresh your memory:

You wanted it, you can’t un-want it!

If only there were more to celebrate than the first edition of ZUBBIECOUNTER ’08-’09. Sigh.

That wasn’t a game, that was a statement.

And thus ends the saga of Brodeur V. Avery, at least for the time being. A 5-0 thrashing by the Devils, with every single player wearing the NJ crest looking spectacular. Check out Scott’s analysis below – even he couldn’t come up with someone to chew out!

As Scott mentioned, Andy Greene looked stellar, putting up two assists and bringing us back to the Andy halcyon days of the 2007 playoffs. Dainus Zubrus clearly is as upset as we are that the Zubbie Counter remains in the cob-webbed cellar of 2MA and is working to change that. Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond had a wicked hit late in the game to go with his first career NHL point. Zach Parise continued his stellar start, adding another goal and assist to his growing point totals. And of course, John Madden finally scored on a fast break-like situation!

Perhaps most importantly though, is that – save for a bad penalty by Clarkson in the first period – the Devils FINALLY figured out how to keep Sean Avery from getting under their collective skin. In fact, I submit that the Devils/Clarkson/Brodeur gave Avery a small dose of his own medicine. Even ESPN took notice of the little shoves and the clearing attempt by Brodeur that whizzed by Avery’s head. The Devils frustrated Avery and made him a non-factor. My only question is why they needed a thirteen-game study session last year to figure it out.

So now, with a 5-1-0 record, we move on to a home-and-home with our dear dear friends, the (still winless) Philadelphia Flyers. This could be fun.

Devils/Stars Thoughts from Section 209….

Hey i noticed no one else wrote something up.. must still be coming back… I see an open rush.. I’m pinching in (which is scary since I’m like… a GOALIE… but I’ve scored goals before :p)….so with that in mind… time to share some good joy from tonight…..

Things I noticed from this game:

— THIS is the Stars team I’ve seen all year on Center Ice not the one that showed up in MSG, bad goals, awful plays… and glad to see we pounded a team playing like shit like VEAL (again each game this more and more feels like the Devils of old)… Dallas is one of 5 or 6 teams I watch often on CI, if for their awesome announcers more then anything….
— Brendan Morrow lost his freaking mind in the 3rd period… and it’s only 3 weeks into the season
— watching Avery run like a scalded dog from a stickless Clarkson (who then blocked a shot too) was a classic throwback to Wil E Coyote and the Road Runner on ice.. hilarity!!!

— ANDY GREENE!!!!!! Told y’all last year was a fluke!!
— Jesus Christ the Zub-a-roonie was something to see!!!
— Marty, PLEASE save some of this for April and beyond!!!
— ANOTHER Clarkson sighting… nice shot.. shame most NHL goalies stop it… but I’ll take it!!
— ANDY GREENE!!!!!!!!!!!!
— Salvador beating the piss out of the guy who ran Martin (even though Martin bounced off)… this video to be youtubed later!! cool.gif
— Hard to pencil a Devil who looked BAD tonight

— one thing I did NOT like… why in a 5-0 bombing are you NOT playing Vrana more… I don’t wanna hear about defense and lessons to a kid… THIS IS THE EXACT TYPE OF GAME TO GET HIM MORE ICE TIME, and he only gets 10:50… WTF !??!?!!?!?

Comment away folks!!!

Hold On To Your Horns.

So the boys have completed their first road trip of the season and are returning home with a very respectable 4-1-0 record. The trend thus far seems to be thousands of shots on goal with minimal results on the scoreboard, but apparently that’s all that’s been needed. Marty has been Marty, and the D has been…well, the D. You know — giving us the occasional coronary every now and then, nothing out of the ordinary.

Oh, right — and we’ve lost Bobby Holik and Brian Rolston. Yup, Both of them. Rolston probably for a month or two.

I really don’t know what to make of this situation. It’s kind of funny — in a cosmic sort of way. Ya know, we bring back two veterans from the past and instantly our team is somewhat of a threat again. We get all amped up about it, and now they’re both sidelined less than three weeks into the season. On the other hand, there’s the fact that neither one of them has really had much of an impact on the outcome of the first five games, aside from Rolston’s game-winner in Atlanta.

As a Devils fan, I almost feel contractually obligated to round up my fellow fans and organize a cult-like mass suicide. But, for some reason or another, I’m still optimistic that the favorable results will continue. (Maybe that’s you-know-who’s way of telling me to stop drinking.)

This year’s Black & Red squad is a deeper one than last year’s, and I think we will be reminded of that over the next month or so. For instance, the group is definitely younger. Vrana is much more favorable to have in the lineup than Sergei Brylin; and on the same side of things I’d rather have Leblond playing over Aaron Asham. (Leblond has been called up to fill in for Holik for Wednesday’s game vs. Dallas.) Are they going to be easy replacements for Holik & Rolston? No. Hell No. But I think they will fit in nicely with the mold of the team and continue to help do the little things right. After all, that’s what has gotten this team to where they are now.

At one point or another, every team in the NHL will be going through a scenario similar to this. There will be other star-players that will go down and other rookies will get their shots with the big boys. I guess a positive to take out of this would be the fact that we’re only five games into the season, we have a .800 winning percentage, and six of the next seven will be home games for New Jersey. Not to mention the upcoming opposition hasn’t exactly been making much noise thus far.

The next several weeks will be very telling of the dynamic and character of this year’s New Jersey Devils. I’m tempted to watch with my hands half-covering my eyes, like it’s a badly-written television drama.

I guess what I’m trying to say is… Don’t hit that panic button just yet. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the way the team will perform in the absence of Rolston & Frankenstein.

If, two weeks from now, all hope seems to be lost…just be happy it’s not the last week of March.

OMG we scored three goals!!!

No, really! I’m not kidding! Three whole goals! And a shootout win! Amazing! Wee!

Whew, that was a pretty intense game. Well first things first, congrats to Petr Vrana on his first NHL goal and Patrick Elias for passing his way to the all time Devils assist lead! Woo! They jump started what was a fantastically exciting 4-3 shootout win for our boys.

Now for the bad news, Chico reports that Geico Spokesman Bobby Holik has broken his pinky finger after taking a shot to the hand during the game, meaning that Lou’s grand plan for revamping the Devils is on the injured list in its entirety after a mere 5 games.

Alright so our Back to the Future team is on the IR and our season high is now three goals scored in a regulation game, but a 4-1 start ain’t to shabby is it? I don’t think so. We could put Mr. Ovechkin on our team and I’m convinced he’d score 60 points, that’s just the way it’s gotta be.

Aside from the fact that our offense reflects our country’s booming economy, there’s a lot I liked during this game. First of all, it was a blast to watch, a fantastic showcase of hockey in my view.

Of course, Zach Parise is amazing. You can’t understate it, but I feel like everything that’s could be said already has, the kid’s just money. Travis Zajac looks like last year didn’t even exist. I LOVE the way this guy has been playing this year, and tonight is a perfect example of that.

I have to interject into my own post here and say I absolutely ADORE that Ron Duguay from MSG is getting into the Halloween spirit, his Jon Bon Jovi drowning in a blue dye factory costume is just spot on. Spot on.

Anyways, much as I’ve dragged his name through the mud, Johnny Oduya looked great tonight too. He seems to have carried his second half performance through to the start of the season and just looks like he’s primed to have a big season.

On the flip side of the glory of tonight’s comeback win, why can’t the Devils score on the freakin’ rush?! I feel like every time they have a fast break opportunity the second they go to shoot, they just seem to instantly have some sort of brainfart. I don’t think John Madden has scored in a high pressure situation since he coached the Oakland Raiders in the 60s! Zing!

Ok that wasn’t funny. I apologize. I think it’s too early to start making bold predictions about the Devils for this year (spoiler! Brent Sutter will continue to go bald!). Right now, there are about as many reasons to be excited as there are to be angry, so I’m hovering at a happy medium for the moment.

Nonetheless, I’m $%(#($^# thrilled hockey’s back. Keep it to 2ma for more.

Hiya Vrana!

It’s four games into the season, and the Devils have scored six goals. It’s four games into the season, and the Devils have a .750 winning percentage. Welcome to New Jersey Devils hockey, everybody. Same as it ever was.

So the Devils make do with next to no goals. And it looks like that continues tonight in Washington, as Brian Rolston – you know, the power play quarterback the team signed over the summer – out with a high ankle sprain. The Devils are playing it typically close-to-the-vest on Rolston, saying they’ll see what happens, but for comparison’s sake, Sidney Crosby missed nearly two months last season with a high ankle sprain. I’m not saying it’ll be the same for Rolston, but…it could be.

So in the meantime, Devils fans not living in Massachusetts will get a regular-season look at Petr Vrana, who’ll make his NHL debut tonight, likely alongside Dainus Zubrus and Patrik Elias. Vrana’s been in the system for three years now, finally making the team out of training camp this season.

So what’s to be expected out of young mister Petr? It depends on who you ask. Some out there are saying it’s about damn time, that Vrana will be a great addition to the front line and will go a long way in solving our scoring woes.

By the time you’re done reading this article, you’ll understand that I am not one of those people.

My question of Petr’s is simple. As Homer Simpson once asked of Johnny Appleseed, “If he’s so smart, then why is he dead?” So I ask, if Petr’s so good, why haven’t we seen him sooner?

Vrana’s spent three years in Albany and Lowell, tallying his best point total last year (20-41-61). Aberration, or finally coming into his own? I hope the latter, I fear the former. Prior to last year’s campaign, the highest point total Vrana notched was in his lone year in Albany, topping out with 35 points.

He made the team out of training camp this year, yes. But while he did have a good pre-season, I think it’s safe to say that he made the team more likely because of his waiver status – if the Devils wanted to send him back down to Lowell, they ran the risk of losing him entirely to waivers. Rod Pelley was not subject to waivers, thus is why he’s currently with the L-Devs.

I hope that Vrana proves to be a great player. I hope that he gives Lou and Brent some things to think about when Rolston’s healed. I just hope that we, as a fan base, are not expecting too much of him. He hasn’t proved much to me yet stats-wise. I hope that changes, starting tonight.

Now watch, he’ll probably pull a Fabian Brunnstrom and net a hat trick in his NHL debut. What was that I was just saying about expectations…?