It's a little under seven weeks until the 2007-08 NHL season opens in London, England on September 29th (blimey!) and it's time to start previewing the season. I'm starting these season previews really, really early but that's only because there's no way I can write 30 solid previews in only a couple of weeks. If I'm going to preview every single NHL team, and I'm going to try my hardest to do so, it will take all seven weeks and then some... And as you might have guessed, these aren't going to be your standard season previews.
Least Division (haha get it? I'm soooo clever), so today we continue the preseason stimulation with the New Jersey Devils.
- John MacLean is the Devils all-time leading scorer. Seriously.
- New Jersey has made the playoffs in 17 of the past 19 season. Impressive, are you.
- From the Devils' Wikipedia page: "NJ Devil keeps the crowd excited, signs autographs... and runs throughout the aisles of the Continental Airlines Arena to high five fans." High-fiving fans; that's kind of pathetic to have in your job description, don't ya think? Imagine if my resume said 'Kevin graduated from Yale with an MBA, maintained a 3.5 GPA... and is able to also make calls from a touch tone phone.' One of these things is not like the others.
- Also thanks to the Wikipedia page, here's a fun fact about the Devils' previous mascot: "Prior to 1993, the mascot was "Slapshot", a large Devils hockey puck that would also interact with the fans [Good to know he too can successfully 'interact with fans']. However, the man inside the costume, Brad Patrick Ebben, was fired after he improperly touched three women while in costume. To remove the stigma of the lawsuit, Slapshot was retired and has not returned since [Never mind]."
Odds for the folks at gambler's anonymous
8 to 1: The NJ Devil inappropriately touches Brent Sutter.
25 to 1: In his return to New Jersey, Scott Gomez is booed by all 32 fans in the arena.
3 to 1: In the end, we find out that Lou Lamoriello is, in fact, crazy.
123 to 1: After another sub par season, Marty Brodeur retires from the NHL and takes up his lifelong passion of holding signs.
23 to 1: If it's in the game, it's in the game. That's what they say at EA Sports, and this year Cam Janssen and Bryan Rafalski (since traded) will attempt to do their part to keep EA's motto true during a game.
Obligatory serious analysis
It's been a pretty wild off season in the Atlantic division, and the Devils were not on the good side of that craziness. They lost their #1 defender, Bryan Rafalski, to the Detroit Red Wings and arguably their #1 forward, Scott Gomez, to their cross river rivals, the New York Rangers. They lost Brad Lukowich, too, but that's not really too important. All in all, it's been a down off season for the defending Atlantic Division champs.
Not all is lost, though. The Devils brought in Brent Sutter to coach the team, and hopefully for them he can transfer his success in the WHL to the NHL. That is, as long as Lou Lamoriello doesn't fire him first. If you're not familiar with Sweet Lou, he has a happy trigger finger when it comes to firing coaches. New Jersey also brought in some new faces on the ice to try and offset the loss on Gomez and Rafalski. They locked up Dainus Zubrus to a massive six-year, $20 million dollar contract, and bolstered their D by adding Karel Rachunek and Vitali Vishnevski. Recently, they added former Islander Arron Asham to add some depth to their corps of forwards. As it stands right now, the Devils are going to be a different team than the one you have seen in recent seasons, but there is no reason to doubt that they can contend for the division title yet again. After all, they've won the Atlantic seven of the previous ten years. But this is going to be their toughest test yet, as the Penguins, Flyers and Rangers have all improved significantly.
Prediction: Hold on, New Jersey. It's going to be a roller coaster ride. I'm picking the Devils to finish last in the 6th spot in the east, but it's not going to be easy.
Anyway, I put 'jersey girls' into Google, and this is what happened:
Sorry. Hope I didn't blind any of you.
Previous Editions of Preseason Foreplay