Ilya Kovalchuk announces his retirement from the NHL. He leaves $77 million on the table and heads back to Russia, where one can only assume he will play in the KHL. No one leaves the NHL to go play in the KHL because the hockey is better, it always comes down to $$.
Fans of the New Jersey Devils have had a lot to celebrate over the past few regular seasons. They’ve been one of the most dominant teams on the ice leading up the playoffs, giving the home-team faithful months of chest-painting, white-knuckled, devil-shouting opportunities.
When the Stanley Cup Playoffs roll around, however, the Devils have a nagging little habit of being a habitual one-and-done squad.
What are the odds that all changes this year? It’s still very early in the NHL season, but based on the offseason moves, the current momentum the team is carrying, and the weight of the Devils’ competition, it’s the perfect time to lay down the lines and to call things like they are.
New Jersey has an extremely talented team. With their 38-year-old lock-down, never-say-die staple goalie, Martin Brodeur, the Devils rarely have to put up big offensive numbers to win. And forward Ilya Kovalchuk was a great addition when he came along halfway through last season.
They’ve also won four of the last five Atlantic Division titles. But don’t risk it all just yet. This isn’t a casino online; we’re talking about hockey. Sure, the Devils are regular season juggernauts, but out of those four division wins, they’ve only won two playoff series and, out of five straight postseason appearances, haven’t made it past the first round in three years.
Kovalchuk couldn’t get the Devils over the hump last year. Some say the mid-season acquisition was the reason, and that things will flow more smoothly this year. But it’s hard to forget that five-game beat-down New Jersey took from the Flyers.
Overall, the Pittsburgh Penguins are favored to win the Atlantic this year, at -150, but are essentially a .500 team to date. This does leave the door open for New Jersey to knuckle-up and handle business in the regular season, surpassing their +300 odds and taking down the title again, but they have to prove it out on the ice.
To get to the Stanley Cup Finals, we’re looking at a completely different set of odds. The fact that the Devils fall short year after year has to be factored in, even if you’re approaching it through pro-Devil bias. The odds of hitting a big win playing slot online are better; New Jersey is +1500 to get to the Finals.
Nothing is outside the realm of possibility. New Jersey is a great team with a few weak runs on their schedule that could bode extremely well. However, the team has to show up during the playoffs and prove that they’re worthy of a Stanley Cup. Until then, all the odds in the world won’t help the Devils.
NEWARK, N.J. — Jacques Lemaire’s radical new 6-on-5 approach to offense is paying dividends early and the New Jersey Devils coach says it won’t be long before other teams begin mimicking his strategy, much like the neutral zone trap in the 1990s.
“I’m amazed no one thought of it earlier,” Lemaire said ahead of Monday night’s game with the Philadelphia Flyers. “Six skaters on the ice at a time. It’s so simple and effective. It’s overpowering.”
The Devils will be vying to tie a league record 10th straight road win to start the season Monday and are riding an 8-game winning streak overall, which Lemaire largely attributes to having more players on the ice than his opposition at any given time.
Lemaire acknowledged that there have been some growing pains to playing the unorthodox style of hockey. The Devils have taken a league leading 647 too many men on the ice bench minors just 18 games into the season.
“Yea, the refs, they don’t really know what to do with it. They’ll come around though,” Lemaire said. “That’s what happens with every new idea though. Soon everyone will be doing it. If that happens, I might have to start throwing another goalie out there. Maybe send Arlette out to sing during penalty kills. There’s a lot of options with this.”
Devils leading scorer Zach Parise said it was tough to get used to a new system and a new coach, but believes the players have really bought into the system.
“It was weird at first,” Parise said. “At first, if you were the extra guy, Jacques would have you kind of hang back near the bench and act like you were talking to [Devils backup goaltender Yann] Danis, you know like you didn’t even realize you were on the ice. Then when the refs weren’t looking we’d just act like we’d been there the whole time.”
The Devils will skate without Patrick Elias on Monday, who is still nursing a bottle over the fact that Martin Brodeur didn’t invite him on his private jet to Lou Lamoriello’s Hall of Fame Induction. Additonally, center Travis Zajac will miss at least six months after farting without leaning and tearing both his MCL and ACLs, further compounding the team’s injury woes.
The team also put out a press release Sunday stating that the ban on Patricia Greuter, who has been repeatedly caught attempting to swap Martin Broduer’s MB30 mask for his old one, remains in effect and have asked Devils fans who see her near any games to report her whereabouts immediately.
Editor’s note: On the off chance anyone took this seriously..don’t. It’s fake. Get a sense of humor.