I Just Couldn’t Resist. Again.

Ya know, it really is funny. It seems like the newest fad in the hockey blogosphere is to grab a keyboard and wax poetic about how the Devils just destroy the game, disappoint hockey naturalists, sport lousy attendance, and simply aren’t getting it done anymore. But as we learned last time, it’s probably a good idea to make sure you have at least…I don’t know… watched a live hockey game before you plunge right in and scrap together a literary abortion. After all, it really isn’t fair to ask someone to resist temptation twice.

Let’s take a little trip over to Arthur Staple’s latest, shall we? Go ahead… I’ll give you a few.

Ok. Changed your underpants? Good, let’s go.

As a Devils’ fan, I’m obviously used to reading such poorly-written, devoid-of-substance attacks against one of the NHL’s most successful teams. However, I must admit that this is the first time I have read a piece focusing on playoff success in November. Really, Arthur? You’re going to sit at your little cubicle and write an article about the NHL Playoffs… in November?!

Brilliant. Well, your first self-contradiction comes with a statement that Lou Lamoriello “has it wrong” and that he’s “had it wrong since the lockout… even though the Devils have won three Atlantic Division titles in those four seasons.” (Could this be a test market for Microsoft’s new “does-this-make-sense?” feature?!) But wait, it gets better: Mr. Staple even makes his very own “trap” comment.

Arthur, seriously — you wouldn’t know the ol’ 1-2-2 if it kicked in your bathroom door and video-taped you reading Parade Magazine while you were waiting for the generous amount of Rogaine you graciously applied to your testicles to dry. I know this because had you recognized any trace of the “trap”, you would have easily detected it when the Rangers, Islanders, Penguins, Flyers, Capitals, Bruins, and Panthers executed it all year long. But no, no criticism of the sexy NHL clubs.

Oh look, kids — Brodeur comments, too?! How original, Arthur. Oh! You realized he got hurt last year, very good!

But Lou didn’t have a backup plan?

Really? I thought Scott Clemmensen came in and won a few games (or twenty-something) for the team and led them to an Atlantic Division championship? But ya know, Lou had no idea what he was doing. After all, Clemmensen was just signed to be a towel boy that happened to be an NHL-caliber goaltender. Who knew.

But when it’s down to the playoffs, the Devils only have Parise, Zajac, and Martin. No other Devils capable of taking a game on their shoulders, you say? My records show Langenbrunner, Pandolfo, Greene, and Clarkson — in addition to Parise and Zajac — all with registered playoff game-winners since 2006. Not to mention many from ex-Devils Gomez, Madden, and Gionta.

Sure, roster moves and player exits have caused holes to be “plugged” in New Jersey and Brian Rolston and Dainius Zubrus have filled those roles. Why? Because they want to be here. It isn’t about the money or the Broadway lights. It’s about playing a system that year after year proves itself to be one of the best in the league. Sure, the Devils have fallen on dark times in recent playoff years. But as I recall, the same string of disappointments befell the team in the late 90’s. After all was said and done, and numerous carbon-copied recycled bullcrap from “writers” like yourself — the Devils would go on to advance to the Stanley Cup finals in three of the next four seasons, winning the Stanley Cup twice.

Arthur, you can’t look me in the eye and tell me that Lou Lamoriello has no idea what he is doing. While the goal and the philosophy may stay the same year in and year out, master plans aren’t instantaneous in professional sports. Could these Devils be a part of a bigger puzzle? Who knows? I don’t have ESP, and neither do you.

Which is why you shouldn’t be writing this type of crap in November.

I will not congratulate the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Is it drafty in here?

Oh, it’s almost July. Never mind. Just a weak Entry Draft joke huh. My apologies.

So, it’s that time of year again. The future of the NHL will be determined by the calls of crusty general managers, granting the dreams and wishes of  scrawny framed, baby faced boys far and wide.

How I love the Draft.

Nothing too spectacular going on right now. Mr. John Tavares ended up going first overall to the New York Islanders, while picks two and three saw Victor Hedman and Matt Duchene go to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche, respectively.

Tavares, I’m sorry.

In other news, Chris Pronger was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for the Flyers’ entire roster plus seven hundred draft picks. Fancy.

Okay, okay, so I’m a little weak in the knees merely thinking about Pronger in the same division as Black ‘n Red, but come on — two firsts, a (conditional) third, Luca Sbisa, AND Joffrey Lupul? Highway robbery I say!!!!!!!!!!!!

And yes, I did just use an obscene amount of exclamation points.

So maybe I’m trying to defer my sheer fear in the solidity of Philadelphia’s 09-10 defense by mocking the deal, but WHATEVER. That’s a lot for a defender that will only play, what, a couple more seasons?

Yeah, I know. The Flyers are going to be a good team next year, ‘specially with Pronger’s elbows flying at Devils forwards left and right. Sigh.

Alas, we have a little way before pick number twenty-three greets us. Barring any last minute moves, Lou Lamoriello is expected to pick a skilled center to usher in a new era of awesomeness in Newark.

Check back for any late breaking news involving the 2009 Draft here at 2MA!

EDIT 8:02 PM: The Islanders are serious. Snow ‘n co just traded, like, 8393 of their picks for Columbus’s #16 pick. Wow. Serious, serious stuff here. Serious.

EDIT 8:52 PM: Long Island just got even more serious. Pick #12 goes to the Isles while Minnesota gets, uh, a bunch of picks. They won’t have any picks left at this rate!

EDIT 9:36 PM: Quebec native Louiiiiiiis Leblanc to the Montreal Canadiens. How fitting. Who the heck goes to Harvard for an education anyway? …not that I’m jealous or anything. Whatever. Leave me alone!

EDIT 9:48 PM: Calgary up to pick at 20 but there is word of a trade. Likely a giveaway to the Devils for the whole Brent Sutter debacle. Let’s see.

EDIT 9:50 PM: Yup! Calgary gives pick #20 to New Jersey in exchange for picks 23 and 84.

EDIT 9:58 PM: Another trade to report: Anaheim sends pick 21 to Columbus for picks 26 and 37.

Lou Lamoriello is awesome.

Brent Sutter is not.

The Final Playbill

I thought it would be another day or two before we saw the roster but Christmas came a little early this year! The Devils have trimmed their roster down to twenty-three, and it looks a little something like this:

You may notice a few surprises such as Petr Vrana & Anssi Salmela grabbing roster spots. Vrana ousted Rod Pelley who was assigned to Lowell of the AHL. To me, Salmela isn’t exactly a surprise… after watching him play live on Long Island last week I had a strong feeling he had earned a spot on the big team — especially after his off-balance rocket that beat Joey MacDonald to put the Devils up 3-0. Salmela’s biggest Achilles seems to be his puck control at the point, but the issue seems to be cleaning up fast and shouldn’t even be a problem once the puck drops on Friday.

Speaking of Friday, the lines figure to look a little something like this:

– FORWARDS –

Elias – Rolston – Gionta
Parise – Zajac – Langenbrunner
Pandolfo – Madden – Clarkson
Rupp (Vrana?) – Holik – Zubrus

– DEFENSE –

White / Salmela
Mottau / Oduya
Martin / Salvador

Brodeur

I should also note that Fedor Fedorov has been placed on waivers. Apparently the Devils gave up on him and it’s not exactly a mystery as to why. The guy has a weak work ethic and that won’t carry you anywhere in this league, especially under Lou Lamoriello.

Although I can be quoted as saying that the team hasn’t done much to improve, I am ready to accept my helping of crow. After reviewing the roster and taking in a live pre-season game, I can see a noticeable difference in this years squad. They are bigger, faster, and a ton more aggressive than any team in recent history.

If pre-season was any indication, I think the Devils style this year will surprise many — players & fans alike.

Numbers, Signings, & Ugly Thirds.

Over the last few weeks or so there have been a few tidbits worth updating about but I haven’t gotten around to it until now. For those of you who haven’t already discovered that knowledge is power through some other news source, it’s time to play a little catch-up, 2manadvantage style!

– NUMBERS GAME –

With the return of veterans Brian Rolston & Bobby Holik coupled with the departure of Sergei Brylin, There has been some rare number-swapping rippling through the Devils current roster. Holik will indeed regain his old # 16 that he wore during his first go-round with New Jersey. Dainius Zubrus gave up the number for Bobby and will don #8 for the rest of his tenure with the Devils. It should be noted that this change will in no way, shape or form, have any effect whatsoever on the (dare I say) world famous “Zubbie Counter“.

Sheldon Brookbank will sport the #28 previously worn by Brian Rafalski after giving his old #8 to Zubrus. Brian Rolston will carry over his #12 from Minnesota, as Sergei Brylin’s #18 will be taken over by rookie Niklas Bergfors.

– ROD PELLEY RETURNS, KEVIN CORMIER ACQUIRED –

In under-the-radar news, Rod Pelley has in fact been re-signed by the Devils. The deal is 2 years with a cap hit of $550,000 per season. In addition to signing Pelley, Lou Lamoriello made a small ripple on the trade market, sending Sean Zimmerman to Phoenix in exchange for Patrice Cormier’s older and bad-assier brother Kevin Cormier. If my memory serves me right, the Devils brother-total now stands at 4. (the Giontas, Pandolfos, Parises, & Cormiers.)

In my opinion, Lou can sign as many brothers as he wants as long he doesn’t shift his attention west… Vancouver in particular.

Wait, nevermind. I said brothers, not sisters

– THIRDS HAVE (unfortunately) RETURNED –

It seems that even RBK couldn’t keep the third jersey away from the game. Unfortunately there will be a return of the cash-grabs this season. Some teams have already released their designs, while other mock-ups are being rendered by fans based on provided descriptions. You can check out some of the MOCK-UP JERSEYS here.

– TIME CHANGE –

The Rangers/Devils pre-season game scheduled for next Saturday, Sept. 27th @ MSG has been moved up from a 2pm start to a 1pm start.

That is all.

******

Pre-season starts in just 6 days, folks! Who’s ready for a live-cap?!

Are We There Yet?

After a weekend of driving through the mountains of Cobleskill, you can imagine I had more than a fair amount of time to think about…well, absolutely anything.  Aside from the usual day dreams about Chinese takeout and when my next Dunkin’ Donuts rest-stop will be, my mind inevitably ended up on the ice.

Typically, I wouldn’t have a problem with that, but with the off-season still flaunting its ugly style it can tend to get a little frustrating.  Well, I’d like to announce that I’m tired of waiting for something news-worthy to write about.  That being the case, I’ve decided I’d like to spill whatever has been on my mind as of late.

Sound good?  Too bad, here goes…

IS IT WORTH IT TO GET EXCITED?

Part of me says YES, and the other part of me thinks its counterpart has an addiction to sniffing glue.  You see, it’s easy as a fan to get wound up over signing a player of Brian Rolston’s caliber, but it’s not so easy (or enjoyable) to know that realistically Lou Lamoriello hasn’t done much to improve his squad other than sign Rolston & Holik.  Granted, some weeding was also done in the Black & Red garden, but the current selection of crops leaves me with a sinking feeling that the team still isn’t ready to compete.  Why do I feel that, you ask?  Look no further than the blue line.

With Paul Martin as your reigning #1, and Johnny Oduya as our token puck-mover, I just have a hard time feeling confident about our defensive corps.  Even guys like Halischuk and Corrente competing for a spot out of training camp, it’s going to take a lot more to keep the Devils from becoming a part of a few embarrassing highlight reels this season.

WILL LOU MAKE ANOTHER MOVE?

If I knew the answer to this question, I wouldn’t be typing to you from my ground level living room/bedroom.  Then again, when it comes to Lou, the highest of the hockey insiders still probably wouldn’t have a clue.  Would I like to see another move made?  Absolutely.  One involving a defen

seman?  You bet!  Again, reality donkey-punches me in the face and I’m forced back down to earth, knowing that another roster tweak isn’t likely.  Barring a few minor additions out of training camp,

it looks like the current Devils roster will be the one that takes the ice October 10th at The Rock.

HOW MUCH DOES MARTY HAVE LEFT?

It just wouldn’t be a legitimate pre-season breakdown without asking this question.  It seems th

at year in and year out, it rears its ugly head.  The funny thing is that every single year, the answer remains the same.  Marty is Marty. He will bring his usual lights-out game with him no matter what the situation is.  Kevin Weekes will play sparingly or when necessary, unless the team happens to be 39-1-1 at the All Star Break.

WILL THE OFFENSIVES WOES CONTINUE?

It depends.  Obviously, Brian Rolston could boost even the weakest offense.  Which is good, because I think the Devils are the proud(?) owners of that title.  The real question is: what kind of year will his support have?  Rolston has already proven what he can bring to the table, it’s the veteran Devils that worry me.  If anything, they’ve been consistantly inconsistant. 

Let’s take Patrik Elias for example.  Dude is either lights-out or a dud christmas light.  Gionta is no better, and Travis Zajac left much to be desired in his Sophomore campaign.  Perhaps the only reliable forward the Devils currently boast is Zach Parise.  Likewise with returning captain Jamie Langenbrunner.  John Maddens surprising 2007-2008 season was likely a one-shot-deal (that went high and wide…BA-ZING!!), and Dainius Zubrus will need to step it up in order to be effective in ’08-’09.

In all, Rolston is a great addition and I’m beyond excited to see how many times he will make my jaw drop.  The downside is that he won’t be able to do it by himself, and that’s where I start to worry.  The boys are going to have to either shape up or ship out in order for the team to be successful.

CAN BRENT SUTTER REALLY LEAD THIS TEAM?

I say yes.  Brent Sutter was under fire for a lot of the choices and decisions he made last season and although I was often the one tearing him a new one, I feel confident with him behind the bench.  I feel he, like his team, will have to change some things about his game to be successful but in the end is still a leader the Devils can feed off of and will learn much from.  If they’re not too stubborn to listen, that is.

*****

That’s all I got for now.  I’m sure there are tons more questions that fans like myself ask themselves every day about the team.  Got one?  Feel like sharing?  I’d love to hear them and voice my own opinion about whatever it is us Devils fans like to shoot the breeze about until the puck drops.

Keep it bookmarked at 2MA, the season is nearing and we’re just getting started!!