Life is good.

So here we sit, the NHL All Star Game coming up in less than 48 hours, the first half of the season complete (okay, a little more than half, but this is convienant, so bear with me, eh?).  As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, the Devils hit the break at the top of the Atlantic Division, despite hardships such as LOSING THE GREATEST GOALIE IN THE HISTORY OF GOALTENDING to injury less than a month into the season.

I could get used to this first place thing.  I’m hoping the team feels the same.  I’ve been thinking quite a bit about what we can expect as we hit the point in the season traditionally marked with obsessive watching of the standings and Tums overdoses.  And so I present to you, loyal 2MA reader:

Devils Storylines to watch, Spring 2009
Story the first: March 1st is only 36 days away!

March 1st, of course, being the date Lou has referenced as being the day they hope Marty call go “full-out” in practice.  Now, being the obsessive schedule-watcher that I am, I feel the need to bring up at least one point:  Marty won’t be going “full-out” in practice March 1st – The Devils host the Flyers in an afternoon tilt at The Rock that day.  Unimportant semantics?  Yep.  But I feel the need to mention it anyway.

So it’s pretty likely that we see Marty early in March (I’m predicting March 7th on Long Island, for what it’s worth).  This gives Brodeur about five weeks to shake off the cobwebs, play through the rust, and get himself ready playoff time.  I, for one, cannot wait.  The shape that Marty was in to begin training camp this season suggests to me that he’ll be in mid-season form when the playoffs start – which is exactly what we’d want out of our franchise goaltender.

Also, that pesky all-times wins record is still entirely within reach this season – he only needs seven to tie and eight to break Patrick Roy’s record of 551 wins – and the shutout record, while unlikely to be reached this season, also looms on the horizon.

Story the second – The battle for the best seat in the house.

Marty’s return means at least one thing:  someone gets to reclaim the role of “Cushiest gig in NHL”, being the Devils backup goaltender.  Based on current results, it seems a given that that job should without a doubt go to Mr. Scott Clemmensen.  However,  it might be wise to not jump to conclusions quite so quickly (because naturally, if we did, this would be one short article).

Both Kevin Weekes and Scott Clemmensen are free agents at the end of the season.  Both would have to clear waivers to be sent to Lowell – and presumably, neither would make it through the waiver wire, though I imagine at this point that Clemmensen would be more likely to be claimed than Weekes, based on his performance in usurping what was presumed to be #1’s duty when Marty went down in November.

So we’ve got one Hall of Fame-bound goalie, two good goalies who will both likely be gone next season, and a trade deadline right in the middle of Marty’s expected return.   The question then becomes, who does Lou jettison?  On one hand, there’s something to be said for keeping the guy that more than kept us afloat in the three months without Brodeur.  On the other hand, Clemmensen probably gets a better return based on recent performance, and Weekes has playoff experience (2002, anyone?) that will come in handy if – god forbid – Marty is not 100% by then.

It’s a difficult decision, though a pretty good one to have.  I have a feeling Clemmer, however, is the odd man out and gets shipped somewhere – anywhere – for a draft pick, unless a potentionally playoff-bound team finds themselves suddenly without a starting goaltender (say, perhaps, Columbus, who have to be at least a little worried about Steve Mason’s back), in which case Weekes gets moved.  I wouldn’t expect much back for either player, but Lou turned Cam Janssen into Bryce Salvador, so anything’s possible.

Story the third: Zach Parise is so awesome. (Patrik Elias too.)

WE’VE been saying it for years now.  The rest of the NHL, however, is just noticing now.  The boy wonder sits at third in the NHL with 28 goals, making Brian Gionta’s single-season Devils record of 48 a definite possibility for number nine.  He also has 55 points, good for seventh overall.  Patrik Elias has tallied 54 points, leaving him in ninth at the break.  Two Devils in the top ten in SCORING.  What a world.

Parise has too small a body of work to really draw on in this case – there’s not much that suggests he’ll slow down or pick it up even further, so I expect he’ll maintain his current pace and flirt with the 48 goal Devils record and maybe even a 50 goal/100 point season.  Elias, however, has made a habit over his career of picking up the pace after the All Star Break – and when the pace right now is 90+ points, it’s fun to think of what it could be if he follows his typical post-break trajectory.

Story the rest: Quick hits OR other things to think about.

  • Will Lou pull a big deadline deal for a defenseman?
  • Will Brendan Shanahan prove to be brilliant or a bust?
  • Will the line of Holik/Rupp/Shanahan earn the nickname The Hanson Line before the year is out? (You figure it out.)
  • Will Jay Pandolfo make his way into the lineup before the trade deadline?  After it?  Has he seen his last day in a Devils sweater?

And last, but by no means least:

  • Will Marty ditch the ill-fated MB30 mask?

Comments

  1. I got some bad news on your next-to-last question: Pandolfo has a no trade clause. He’s only moving if he waives it and I doubt he’ll do so this season.

  2. Oh yeahhhh…Wow, I completely forgot about that. That complicates matters a tad, don’t it?

    Still, I can’t help but wonder if there’s any room for him on this team right now. And I know Pando’s probably no malcontent, but he can’t be happy in the press box after very rarely being a healthy scratch in his career…

  3. Well written, Josh. I had a commentary like this in the plans but you nailed everything I had in mind – well done!

    MB30 needs to go, btw.

  4. Hello my name is Will Sommer and I just started thedevilsblog.wordpress.com. (I’m a little behind) I was just wondering if you have any names, for people that are interested in writing for my blog. That would be great. I also write for metsfansforever.com.

  5. Thanks Joe. I just wish WordPress would allow me to insert pictures the correct way, with the text wrap and all. It looks so pretty and the way I want in the dashboard, yet when it comes to publishing, it gets all funky.

    We needa start a collection to leave WP for good, lol.

  6. Enjoyed the post Josh.
    It really is incredible to think the Devil’s are sitting atop the Atlantic after everyone (including myself) was sounding the panic button as player after player went down with injuries. I can’t wait for Marty to come back, but can someone please burn that new (and possibly cursed) helmet of his. Looking forward to seeing Zach in the ASG tonight, and can’t wait for the season to start back up.

  7. Thank you Steve – I feel a little dirty actually caring about the ASG game tonight, but alas, here we are. Haha.

  8. Rolstoned says:

    just stoned. love the site. more zubeast!!

  9. Rolstoned says:

    brewins lose…..drink a brew.