NJ Devils 2008-2009 Season in Review!

Damn… it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these eh?? Last time I did this, Scott Clemmensen was still playing Shane Falco… the team was still up and coming… and damn… it was a while ago… but now with the regular season FINALLY over, time to take a look back at the wildest and more fun-est season EVER that I can remember as a fan of pro sports!!

Forwards:
#9 (LW) Zach Parise:
AAAAAAAHHHHH… PARISSSEEEE!!! Something about this kid makes you jump up and down like a little girl, ya know?? I mean we had all these records come and go this year and this kid’s season came OUT OF NOWHERE… and it was the second most fun thing about this year….3rd best season offensively ever (in goals and points) and emerged as the most dangerous offensive player on the team… slowed down a bit in the end when Elias was out and teams can really key on him… but his hockey smarts and timing are still there and he knows where and WHEN to be at the right place and that’s not going away!!
Grade: A

#26 (LW) Patrik Elias-A
78 points in 77 games… hey that’s pretty good… and like I said above when he wasn’t there, the Parise line really suffered… broke the all-time points record, broke 30 goals again, and seemed to elevate Gionta and Zubrus’ games at times too…not as dangerous as he used to be but he’s a helluva good second threat (and him and Parise are scary on the power play and 4 on 4 situations)
Grade: A-

#14 (RW) Brian Gionta:
20 goals, a bit disappointing, but I’ll take 40 assists though (means someone was scoring them… enough of them were Elias and even the king of the Zubbie-counter)… didn’t get to the front of the net as much as you’d like, doesn’t set up the play much… but still finds a way to contribute… ugh… god he’s a pain in the ass to figure out… he did well but not as expected… agh, I’m psycho-babbling, 5th on the team in scoring and a +12, you’d have signed on for that in September… so I’ll say he did ok!
Grade: B

#19 (Center) Travis Zajac:
One of many career highs on this team, and a HUGE sign on the upside on the future of this team…4th in the NHL in +/-…2nd on the team in faceoffs… and oh yeah.. one hellva year in offense (4th on the team with 62 points, and one of the 5-20 goal scorers on the team)… the third year truly was the charm for this center! The best part is he can really improve and get BETTER (playing with Parise helps too)
Grade: B+

#11 (Center) John Madden-A
7 goals?? -7 ?? Eeeekkkk… not the best way to go into a contract year (though if he goes BONZO GONZO in the playoffs it all goes out the window)… still decent on faceoffs and not brutally terrible on the penalty kill, but not dominant… has a 4th line role on this team, but at WAY less money… really needs to erase a miserable season with a good playoff… IF he has it in him…
Grade: C-

#8 (LW) Danius Zubrus:
Eh… he does the little things, but you’d like some more of the big things if he’s gonna play on the 2nd line with Elias and all… 15 goals is nice…25 helpers is OKAY, but it’s not great… hell it’s not even second line worthy, but it’s the best place for him and in it’s own kinda way… it sorta works… take out the fact that 4 of those goals were in one game and it’s pretty shitty actually (more so that it was Tampa)… again a lot can be forgotten in the playoffs… but until then it’s been kinda a bit less then average… that makes this grade easy…
Grade: C

#15 (RW) Jamie Langenbrunner-C
Horrible first month… but since then became the standard of consistent and reliable (probably should have sat some games to heal up)… but when he got on track he was DAMN good… another guy with career highs, handled the C just fine and did everything you asked of him and sometimes too much!
Grade: A

#23 (RW) David Clarkson:
He’s been getting more steady and reliable game in and game out… he’s cutting out the fancy shit (thank god) and sticking to a straight-nose kick ass, take names and get his face in the shit like he SHOULD be doing!! He still fights, and pretty well… so good job Clarkie!! Gives Power Forward a pat on the head… and hell… a cupcake!!!
Grade: A

#20 (LW) Jay Pandolfo:
5 goals… 5 assists and a -12?? That’s just not gonna cut it… the mistake contract from excessive loyalty for years of service…. Sometimes that’s just not a good idea… this was one of those cases…. He gets a lucky goal filling in with Elias and him Madden and Shanny look tolerable for one game and it’s a Pando-love-fest?? I don’t get it….really he can’t be in the long term plans of this team and this year was BRUTAL… unlike Madden I can’t see a step up playoff run in him
Grade: F

#18 (RW): Brendan Shanahan:
14 points in 34 games is a tolerable amount for him, though he seriously gets too much ice time (killing penalties at his age and lack of speed… not good), he’s still got the smarts, and the savvy… but the speed is long long gone and 15 minutes a game is WAY too much!
Grade: C

#17 (LW/C) Mike Rupp:
He’s been better at what he is… he’s not useless on the ice and he DID put up nine points and even 3 goals, his fighting is better, the boxing lessons did help his overall althelticism, and he’s not painfully retarded to watch stumble on the ice… for the enforcer-type… he’s decent enough (hell after last year this is a GLOWING review!)
Grade: C+

#25 (LW) The man simply known as PL^3 (cause I hate typing his name!)
Eh, he is what is he is…. He can skate, and maul people… he fights and has very little else…hell I don’t know if we saw enough of him to rate him fully…
Grade: Incomplete

#12 (LW/C) Brian Rolston:
Tough guy to rate this year because half his season is a wash-out from the ankle injury (and yes it takes THAT long to come back from the high ankle sprain)… and if you look at his stats 15/17 and a +2 is a decent enough half-season.. not really suited to be a center anymore (and personally I think he’s been best with Madden and Clarkson)… and free agents always suck the first year you get them (look at the improvement in Zubrus in year 2)….. so you almost want to throw away the first season sometimes….
Grade: C+ (another guy who can make up for a lot in the playoffs)

#16 (Center) Bobby Holik:
Eck… a minor penalty… a smarky post-game comment and a goal or two by accident (holy shit he had FOUR goals??)… really high faceoff % aside… he’s kinda sucked this year… the snarl leads to dumb penalties and at his age no way in hell is he gonna learn!
I didn’t expect a LOT… ok I expected 10 goals which WAS a lot after all :p… the best thing you can about ol’NoGoalik… at least the coach had the sense to bench him by season’s end!
Grade: D-

Defense:
#7 Paul Martin:
Emerged as a borderline elite defenseman this season.. hell the only thing keeping him from all-star level is the fact his offense is a step behind where it needs be (33 points is about 10-12 points away from being what a true top-tier defenseman puts up)…. Makes his defensive partner better regardless of who (I still hate him and Oduya as a tandem, wastes all our speed defenders at once)… but you’d have to look hard and far to say bad things about #7 this year!
Grade: A

#27 Mike Mottau:
Slow, but steady (seems to be the way with this team ain’t it?)… plays well with White… but good god that’s two cinder blocks on ice.. least Mottau’s skating is a bit better then last year (and so is White), 15 points is a solid contribution and the +24 is a function of playing with White and the team’s mojo this year… but I can’t blame success on him now can I?
Grade: B

#5 Colin White:
Best year of his career as a Devil, offensively… the team’s record sucked with out him, the penalties are cut down… so are the fights.. but you don’t bring a one-eyed guy to an ass-kicking contest, right?? Colin is everything you can expect and hope for him to be for a minute eating-defender… I just wish he had a partner with superior wheels….
Grade: A

#29 Johnny Oduya:
His offense picked up nicely when he got paired with Martin (they let the reigns off of him at that point and the goal scoring picked up nicely… including some game-winning gems) and he really grew into a nice steady solid top 4 defenseman now, a true find off the old scrap pile after all.
Grade: A-

#24 Bryce Salvador:
Good start… not-so-good finish (didn’t exactly click with Havelid after all)… a lot of what I am about to say about Havelid, it just didn’t work with the two of them (I’d love to see him and Oduya still, and maybe Havelid with Mottau perhaps)… nothing really much to say about him… he’s a good hockey player and he does “hockey player” things ya know? I’ll even out a B start and a D finish….
Grade: C

#28 Niclas Havelid:
4 assists and -2 as a Devil…. More evidence on him NOT clicking with Salvador (but yet as much as I love our coach… damn he is stubborn on not fixing the blazing holes in the defensive pairings)… I don’t think it’s his fault… he plays ok enough… he doesn’t suck out there… he just doesn’t click with his partner, and the coaches don’t want to mess with the rest of the D-pairings.. better or worse….
Grade: C-

#28 (version 2) Jay Leach:
Decent enough depth defenseman… unless he’s filling in for White or Martin.. scraps a little… doesn’t add offense… but he’s not gonna be expected to be… he’s alright enough in his role… I can’t bash this guy
Grade: C

#6 Andy Greene:
Heh… one of the most complained about Devils on the internets! I think the kid has the goods but it takes time for defensemen to grown and mature… he’s coming along good enough… started the season with a bit of offensive tear, but not so much after that… also got a bit lost in the shuffle when he came back … he’s not as awful as he’s made out to be *cough cough-NJ Devs-cough cough*
Grade: C+

Goaltending:
#35 Scott Clemmensen:
The sole reason behind the best feel-good story I ever followed in a sports team! No it wasn’t pretty…hell I admit it was downright scary at times!.. but 25-13-1, 2.39 gaa kinda speaks for itself doesn’t it? One career saved… and not only a regular season trivia question made…. But hell a new quasi-legend is born! Hell NO ONE saw this coming this year either (like I mentioned with Parise’s insane season)… long live the Devils version of Shane Falco!!!
Grade: A

#1 Kevin Weekes:
The definition of TEAM player… classic guy who sits and takes the shit that was dished on him without a WORD of complaint and a smile always on his face… got thrown into MANY no-win and under the bus situations this season… and no he didn’t come up big and make miracles out of them… but he did his damndest with them… and then even the hockey Gods shit on him and he takes a shot to the knee… I weep for the WEEKES!!!!
But like I said… he gets this grade on outlook on life at least!
Grade: A

#30 Martin Brodeur:
Seemingly allergic to the Rangers now.. Sean Avery or not…was good before the injury… and came back ON FIRE until the record that I care not about was passed (I mean it was nice to be there and all… but it’s still a regular season thing)… eh, I’m so farooqing torn on mb30 this year, and I guess he hit the wall on his post-injury comeback, so I guess I’ll go easy on him….
Grade: B +

Coaching:
They win… that’s a plus… the forward lines (least the top ones) stayed the same… some of the defense pairings are still a mess… and the special teams are special Ed more then anything… but hey the defense was 4th in the NHL, and 5- 20 goal scorers… it’s not a terrible job… and Sutter IS learning in his time in the NHL… definitely seems like a keeper….
Grade: B

Front Office:
I liked the Havelid deal… but it doesn’t seem to be working out… I liked the off-season signings… but it seems like mixed results at best… it’s so hard to tell with this team because teams that Lou builds are built for NOW and beyond… the draft picks and young players have been pretty good (Zajac, Parise, etc.) and the home-grown guys are good enough… but again … it all begins NOW
Grade: INCOMPLETE

Comments

  1. so I spend 5 hours writing this thing and all I get is a spammed response??

    NICE GUYS!!!!!!!!!!! :p

  2. Such is life, Scott.

  3. Hey Scott. I shared some of my thoughts on this on facebook already, but I wanted to post here to continue the discussion. Overall, good assessments. Especially the ones on Rolston, Parise and Langs.

    Your grade for Shanny was a little harsh. The kid is making $800K and playing on the third/fourth line. It’s the coach’s decision to play him 15 mins. a night and on the PK. I wouldn’t expect Brendan to say “Ya know Brent, I’m slow as shit, don’t play me so much.” If this is how you feel, you should dock Sutter some instead of Shanahan and it doesn’t seem like you did.

    I’d bump Holik up to a D just because this IS a sector of the entertainment business when it comes down to it and he DOES have some entertainment value. 😉 Besides, the status of sports as entertainment must be what you’re acknowledging in your grade of Clemmer, because there is no way you actually think he deserves an A after all the griping I heard from you after every time he let in a soft goal (which, despite his numbers, was almost once a game).

  4. RICO SUAVE says:

    i give clemmer an A not because he was perfect in goal. no, he wasn’t. he let up soft goals and kept us on the edge of our seats. don’t get me wrong, he did a good job out there, but our dmen really helped him out. anyways, the reason he gets an A is due to his mental edge. he came in here under such pressure and ran with it. even after some blow out games, and soft goals he kept it together for the long haul.

    also, i’m glad to see clarkson get an A because i feel he deserves just that. he’s developed vastly in his short time in jersey, and give a paraise effort every night. he’s had some key goals, and executes his role perfectly. if you take away his fighting minutes, he really doesn’t take penalties. few agitators in the league have taken as few penalties as he has. let’s bang this playoffs out ladies and gents. good job all around.

  5. You’re a harsh grader, Scott. I suppose I agree with most of it but I might’ve given out a hanfdul of ‘A+’s (maybe to say, Zach, Clemmers and Langs?) but overall, fun to read.

  6. I don’t believe in A+’s sorry 🙂

    but you have to be harsh, it’s what you expect from each player over an 82 game season…(hell I was thinking of giving mb30 a C to be honest, but some of that is mask irritation :p)

    and to return the copy/pasting:
    Isn’t Shanny like almost older then Sutter??

    though I’m not walking into the constant flame bait and cheap use of insider information that comes from sitting next to me 15 times a game your Lord-Ship :p…and being scared shitless of Clemmesieve as it was going on was part of the joy/roller coaster ride OF IT, the unpredictability made it fun!!!!

    as for Holik.. he’s not entertained me as much as when he kicked the boards at me in Ottawa back in 2001!… ah the memory!

  7. Sorry, but Andy Greene could become the #1 d-man in the NHL, but he will always be the vortex of suck to me 😛

  8. Vortex of suck? Try vortex of awesome.

    Andy Greene is so awesome, he need not play defense, for he simple plays Greenefense.

  9. ANDY GREENE!!!!
    ANDY GREENE!!!!
    ANDY GREENE!!!!
    ANDY GREENE!!!!
    ANDY GREENE!!!!
    ANDY GREENE!!!!
    ANDY GREENE!!!!
    ANDY GREENE!!!!

  10. GO GREENE!!!!!!

  11. GREENIE FOR PRESIDENT.