Hey, It’s the Off-Season.

I don’t now if global warming has anything to do with it, but the summer seems to be getting a little longer. Well, at least for us Devils fans it is.

The summertime is always a fun time to go through old hockey video clips and just talk puck with your buddies in anticipation of the new season.

Well, how about a little reminiscing, eh?

Oh, Mr. Richer. To this day you are still my favorite Devil of all-time, hands down. I don’t think I’ve ever loved a team like I did the boys in Black ‘n Red all the way back in 1995.

Not a bad pass by Broten, either. 😉

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

Listening & Working

I’d like to thank everyone who dropped by and hung around for the Live-Cap of the Devils/Rangers game a few nights ago.  As you may have noticed, we’re toying with something new as far as the structure of our Live-Cap is concerned.

Frankly, the maiden voyage has generated some mixed reviews.  It mainly breaks down like this:

But on a serious note…

– Those of you that attended and interacted in the Live-Cap had fun with it and seem to be giving it a thumbs up.

– Readers who checked it out after everything was wrapped up (I happen to fall into this category) are generating the more negative responses.

There are also plenty of readers I’ve spoken to that need to see some more of it before they can form an opinion.

This being the case, I wanted to let all of our readers & fans know that we truly appreciate your feedback on the matter and we assure you that we are listening to your advice and we will be trying different approaches, set-ups, and structures for our Live-Caps for the remainder of the pre-season.  We would love it if as many of you as possible could get involved and be a part of the process.

More or less, we’d like to use the comment-thread for this post as a braindump for you and ourselves to share ideas and explore some possible improvements.  So get to typing!!

I’d also like to point out that there is not necessarily a definite change taking place to the Live-Cap structure.  It’s very possible that we could end up using the original format, thus wasting our time after all. 😉  Hey, change isn’t always a bad thing.  Just ask Larry Robinson.

Thanks again for getting involved, 2MA loves you!