Every year before the start of the season I’ll sit at my computer and read through as many season previews and predictions as I can. And every year it’s the same story with the Devils: They lost a key player, they don’t have enough talent, and the most commonly used one, this is the year Martin Brodeur shows his age. But every year these so called “experts” are proven wrong.
Last year was suppose to be a train wreck of a season. With Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract eating most of the cap space, and a new coach who would need time to transition the team into his system, we were suppose to see the Devils out of contention. They were supposed to be in the draft lottery for a second straight year. But again, they proved the doubters wrong.
This year, similar assumptions are being made about the Devils. Listening to people around the web, not many of them are giving the Devils a shot. This year, we are hearing the same things I opened up with – they lost Zach Parise, they don’t have any depth, Marty is getting old. Those reasons are all valid. When talking about the Devils, however, those assumptions are proven wrong most of the time.
The loss of Parise will no doubt hurt at first. No one will know where the goals will come from, but I will say this: What happened when we lost guys like Scott Gomez, Bobby Holik, Scott Niedermayer, Brian Rafalski, Paul Martin, etc. The Devils just kept winning. With a tradition of losing big name players, the Devils’ “team first” mentality always overcame the loss of a superstar player and there is no reason to think it won’t happen again.
This team is not made up of many superstars. Of course, we have a few in Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias, and Brodeur. After that, most guys on this team are unnamed and unheralded.
Last year in the playoffs, we saw the Devils depth that many people said we didn’t have. The line of Stephen Gionta, Ryan Carter, and Steve Bernier were, in many of the games, the most dangerous line on the ice. They stuck to the system that head coach Pete DeBoer put in place, were rewarded with important ice time, and gave the Devils a boost with goals.
Without that line there is a good chance the Devils don’t make it to the Cup Final. Yet we lose one player in the off-season and now the “experts” say we don’t have depth. Depth will not be an issue for the Devils this year and they will prove it as the season rolls along.
When will the experts give up the notion that Marty is finally going to show his age? They’ve been saying this for probably for the last 7 years and yet time and time again he just puts up numbers that most goalies in their prime would love to have.
Yes, they aren’t your normal Marty-esque numbers, but he is still a goalie that can be the backbone of a championship caliber team. With the shortened season, and having one of the best back up goaltenders this game has ever seen in Johan Hedberg, Marty will be fresh throughout the season and I could see him rolling back the clock and putting up numbers resembling the ones he put up in his prime.
The Devils are a true team first organization. They proved it for the past 20 years and, to me, will continue to succeed with this formula. Devils fans should be very excited for this season and although they never get the attention from the “experts” that they deserve, they will continue to prove them wrong and just win games.
Jerry Elsing – Speaking of the Devils Contributor