Bold predictions and excited rants: Season preview the first

You know what? I think Rangers fans are scared.

A mere two days away from the puck hitting the ice stateside for the first time this season and those Rag loving Wall Street types are torpedoing our economy into oblivion with the hope that maybe, just maybe, the entire country will dissolve in time to put off the hockey season, and as a result their inevitable demise. It’s gotta be that. Or the Russians.. Hmm.

Well I will not be deterred! It’s Devils season preview time baby!

Three days to go before the New (Old) and Improved New Jersey Devils hit the ice against the New York Islanders at the Rock. If you’re like me, you’ve read the 645 other season previews out there who are writing off the Devils as an aging group running an outdated system.

I say eff that.

Marty

Yes Brodeur is a year older. Of course we’ll need to address this in the coming years but I for one am not gonna even pay a passing thought to this considering he won the Vezina for oh, the 4th time in 6 years. Next topic.

The new old guys

I’m actually extremely excited to see what this offense can do this year. On paper I see it as a solid blend of experience and youth, speed and size. I think that in the second year of Sutter’s reign, the boys will come out with a lot more confidence and gusto working in his system that will produce a noticeable increase in goals with the addition of Rolston and Holik.

The retooled front lines could also fall completely flat, but after several lean offensive years and two years of epic collapses from my beloved Mets, I’m prepared to handle everything short of the top three lines tearing up their contracts on the ice and signing with the Rangers, Flyers and Islanders, respectively.

Oduya’s army

Oh the defense.. You know, I’ve got no idea on this one. They were so befuddling last year I’m not going to even try. Maybe someone taught Johnny Oduya to skate backwards. Maybe Paul Martin will step up and show the offensive prowess we saw glimpses off last year. Maybe Annsi Salmela will become the next Scott Niedermayer and alleviate the need for me to start calling him salmonella by mid-November.

Anything’s possible, I suppose. If I were a betting man though, I’d be placing my chips on the guy in net and the offense carrying this team forward.

The Tykes

Speaking of Salmela, the potential youth influx certainly bears watching. I think Lou and Brent made the right choices on Vrana and Salmela for opening night, but I’d also like to see what Matt Halischuk and Niklas Bergfors can do at some point in the season. Who knows, maybe if they take Matt Corrente off suicide watch after his miserable pre-season performance he could even make an appearance. Definitely a wait-and-see approach with the new guys though.

All-in-all, I’m optimistic. If the D steps it up I think we’re a cup contender. If not, we could at least make up for a terrible showing last year by beating up on the Rangers and Islanders in the season series. Friday night’s a great time to start. Go Devils!

P.S. Church claps all around to the Rags fans who will undoubtedly point out that they scraped by with a pair of victories against a Tampa Bay Lightning team that had played together for all of 35 minutes before the first game. Kudos.