The Instigators: Episode Seven – Devils Down and Out

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This week this Mike and the Instigator’s crew discussed the New Jersey Devils’ troubles this season and whether or not they will be able to turn things around anytime soon. The Sully’s Crew is very psyched to see the Devils a complete mess and we hope they stay that way forever. But if the Devils could at least pull it together to jump ahead of Toronto in the standings to push the Bruins lottery draft pick even higher, we might hate New Jersey slightly less.
The Devils have a new building the need to fill on a nightly basis, so I can see why they had to make a big splash and sign Kovalchuk to a long term extension. The Devils often have trouble scoring goals when it matters, and Kovalchuk used to score goals by the bucket full. A perennial playoff contender, the Devils looked ready to dominate again this season. However, the Devils have been a mess in all three zones, in net, and behind the bench. Where to begin?
With a goaltending tandem that includes a first ballot Hall of Fame player (Marty Brodeur) and a serviceable veteran backup (Johan Hedberg), you would have thought they would have been set in net. The numbers have not been pretty for either net minder and part of that has to fall on the defense. The Devils have a young inexperienced defense core that is not NHL caliber.  
It doesn’t get much better on the forward lines. Many of their aging veterans are looking mighty old and slow. Elias has always been soft, Langenbrunner’s best days are well behind him, not sure why Arnott is still holding on, and Rolston cleared re-entry waivers. Parise missed many games injured, but he has not been his usual dominating self when he has been in the line-up.
Oh, and the Devils had to fire their coach (MacLean) right before Christmas! Poor guy never really had a chance. And of course they turn to old friend Lemaire to help right the ship. The coaching change has not resulted in much improvement on the ice.
If the Devils are going to turn this thing around, I think they have to blow it up and start all over. Keep Parise, Kovalchuk and get younger. Not sure how strong the Devils’ prospect class is looking, but GM Lou Lamoriello generally drafts well and it looks like Jersey will have a top pick at the 2011 Draft in Minnesota. They need immediate help, but also need help at many positions, so they might have to trade down to accumulate more picks.
The Sully’s Crew looks forward to seeing New Jersey at the bottom of the Atlantic standings for years to come. This is karma paying New Jersey back for their dull, boring, trap it up teams of the mid to late ‘90s.

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