When will the New Jersey Devils finally get the respect that they deserve? If you read the Eastern Conference picks for the current season prior to the lockout by the Hockey News, the Devils were slated to finish eleventh, not even making the playoffs.
Apparently, the fifth trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, a fourth Eastern Conference championship as well as a tenth Atlantic Division title were a fluke.
Before the unfortunate John MacLean interval at the start of the 2010-11 season the Devils had a thirteen year streak of making the playoffs. Sure, there was a three year stint there when the team made quick exits in the first round, but they were still in it and not booking their vacations.
Do we need to mention the three Stanley Cup banners that hang from the rafters of the Prudential Center?
Parise is not the first impact player to leave the organization due to free agency and his departure wasn’t exactly a surprise. There were many hints last year that he would be moving on.
There is life without Parise just as there was life after Scott Niedermayer headed to the Anaheim Ducks.
The key to the Devils is that the team is not built around one player. For a team to be successful, there has to be balanced scoring. The Devils have that.
Parise’s departure has opened the door for players like David Clarkson and Adam Henrique to shine.
For those who thought that Clarkson’s thirty goals last year were a flash in the pan, just take a look at what he has done so far.
Clarkson has fifteen points in the first nine games, including nine goals. That is not an accident. It’s skill. Pete BeBoer, his old junior coach, gave him an opportunity and he is making the most of it.
Of course, there is the presence of Ilya Kovalchuk who we all know has the ability to take over a game not to mention players like Patrik Elias and Travis Zajac.
The Devils have always had a solid defense and they also have a future Hall of Fame goalie in Martin Brodeur.
Sure, we all know that he is forty, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still have it. There is something to be said for experience, especially in goal, and Marty’s play thus far this season certainly doesn’t say retirement.
General Manager Lou Lamoriello also has a knack for making key trades. The addition of Marek Zidlicky last year before the trade deadline has really changed the look of the team’s power play which has struggled in the past.
With Pete DeBoer, the team finally has stability and longevity behind the bench.
The Devils are riding a five game win streak and their nineteen points are leading the Eastern Conference. They are also second in the league.
The New Jersey Devils are not a fluke. They are a force to be reckoned with and it is about time they get the respect they have earned.