The Fansided NHL Network, that SenShot is proud to be a member of, is embarking on its NHL preview. Each day in September, one of its members will be posting a preview for their club. SenShot will look at their preview, and let you have a look. After that, we will provide our own perspective. Jared will handle the Western Conference teams while Tony will look at the East.
Today, we’ll preview the Southeast New Jersey Devils.
Here’s what Pucks and Pitchforks‘s lead writer, Drew Friedman had to say:
Last season was one of the most peculiar I have ever seen in my years as a sports fan. Going into 2010-2011, I was convinced this Devils team would compete for a Stanley Cup. With two straight division titles (in what I believed to be the best division in hockey), a new contract for star left winger Ilya Kovalchuk, and a new, more offensive-minded coach than we’ve had in past seasons (we all know how that turned out), it seemed as though the Devils had a great chance to win, at the least, one or two playoff series. Instead, not only were the Devils not the division leaders after half the season, not only were they not a top six seed, not only were they not even in the playoffs, not only were they not even bordering a playoff spot, but the Devils, the team who had made the playoffs in 13 straight seasons, were an absolutely putrid 10-29-2, those 24 points earning them a spot in the NHL’s basement after 41 games.
At this point, Jacques Lemaire had already been in charge for a handful of games; however, as the second half began, something changed. All of a sudden, the Devils went from playing like a true NHL basement-dweller to looking like one of the NHL’s elite. As the days went by, the ‘Devs kept on winning, an incredible run that would unbelievably, at one point, take them within four points of a playoff spot. However, the horrors of the first half proved to be too much to overcome, as the team missed the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons.
Click here to read the entire Pucks and PitchForks’ Devils preview.
You can follow Drew on Twitter here for all your Devil’s news and info.
Here’s SenShot’s take on the upcoming Devil’s season:
The Devils were last year’s surprise team for two reasons: one for their horrible start that put them in the NHL basement, and two, for their amazing run that almost saw them make the playoffs.
With a crazy off-season last summer which saw the Devils revamp their defense with free agent signings, and create the Ilya Kovalchuk contract saga, many were surprised when the team started off horribly. New head coach John MacLean fell on the knife as he was fired and blamed for the team struggles. What didn’t help was the fact that Zach Parise got injured early in the season and was gone for most the year. Former coach Jacques LeMaire was bought in to stabilize the team to help evaluate what the Devils actually had. Instilling the Devils’ philosophy, the team found their game and began winning and went on a impressive run to challenge for a playoff spot come late march.
With the team in transition this year as they look to get back into contender status in the East, the Devils hired new head coach Pete Deboer to lead the team. With no major additions to the line-up, it will be up to the coaching of Deboer that will determine if the Devils are successful this year, or are entering a rebuilding stage of the organization.
The story line that will hang over New Jersey all season long will be the contract status of (super) star forward, Zach Parise. Only being signed to a one-year deal this past summer, Parise is eligible to become a UFA next summer and be the best available forward on the market. And with the trend of the best player in free agency getting huge pay days, Parise may be tempted to test the market. The Devils will try everything they can to keep him in the fold, but it will be difficult to pay two players on the roster franchise money (Kovalchuk being the other).
Another interesting story will be the play of Martin Brodeur. Ending last season with his first below 500 record in his career, has the 39 year old finally seen his days as a dominant tender in the league end? In the last year of his contract, and turning 40 in may, will this year be the last of his spectacular career?
The Devils will be an interesting team to watch this year. Was last season a one-off? Will the Devils return to contender status in the East? How will new head coach Deboer instill the Devils philosophy? Will Parise resign long-term? Will Brodeur win more than 30 games?
New Jersey has a lot of questions that need to be answered for their season to be successful. But always a class organization and a threat in the East, I think the Devils will challenge for the last few spots in the East playoff race.
Check back here tomorrow when we preview the New York Islanders and their upcoming season.
**Don’t forget to buy your Tickets for SenShot’s Alfie Night in Ottawa on November 11th, 2011. Click here for more details**
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