On the other side of the coin are the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins. They have been extremely busy shoring up their lineup for a guaranteed run for the Stanley Cup with three major trades.
“It makes a great team even better,” goaltender Martin Brodeur said in an interview with The Star Ledger. “They were good anyway.”
“I don’t put a lot of stock in evaluating trades,” coach Pete DeBoer mused in the Ledger. “Those things either bear fruit or they don’t. There are of lot of intangibles that go into those situations.”
The Devils last blockbuster trade was in February of 2010 when they obtained top gun forward Ilya Kovalchuk from the then Atlanta Thrashers. It didn’t turn into a cup run that season. The club was unceremoniously bounced from the first round by the rival Philadelphia Flyers. Whereas the Penguins didn’t seem to have any needs to address with a 14-game win streak in progress, the Devils do. Scoring has been a major issue for the team and the second-leading point getter on the team will be sidelined for at least a month. Kovalchuk will be out for two-to-four weeks with a shoulder injury.
General Manager Lou Lamoriello has made two minor acquisitions thus far this season, adding Andrei Loktionov from the Los Angeles Kings and Matt D’Agostini from the St. Louis Blues. The addition of Loktionov has turned into a good one with the young Russian generating some much-needed offense. However, it is too early to tell with D’Agostini though he will be getting a huge opportunity to prove himself with Kovalchuk out.
Three injured Devils returned to the lineup in this evening’s contest against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Alexei Ponikarovsky has missed the last three games with a lower body injury. Captain Bryce Salvador and center Stephen Gionta both left Monday’s shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators with what turned out to be minor issues.
With the season quickly winding down and the Devils clinging to the number seven spot by a thread, the question remains: do they have enough to hang on?
In Jon Cooper’s coaching debut for the Lightning, his top scorer Steven Stamkos netted numbers 24 and 25. After a scoreless first period, the Devils drew first blood only to have the Lightning even it up at two apiece. For the Devils, their minor acquisitions added some fire. Loktionov continued his consistent play scoring the first goal of the game on an assist from D’Agostini who would later add another on Andy Greene’s goal. Tom Kostopoulos started off the game with a fight and later scored on a penalty shot. All he needed was an assist to complete a Gordie Howe hat trick. Ryan Carter knocked in the insurance goal, but the Lightning bit back to narrow the lead to one. However, with their goalie on the bench for an extra skater, Tampa Bay knotted the score with only fifteen seconds left on the clock. Despite the two goal lead, the Devils were unable to hold on which doesn’t bode well. They still managed to salvage the night with at least a point, losing again in a shootout.
With less than a week before the trade deadline, one has to wonder whether or not Lamoriello will go shopping or stay status quo.