The New Jersey Devils sit in second place in the Eastern Conference. Boasting loads of playoff experience and a certain All-Star goaltender, the Devils are a threat to the Stanley Cup year after year in the NHL. Lou Lamoriello’s team has always been a threat and is one of the most consistent teams in the league, preaching defense first while still keeping solid pace in the “new NHL”.
When you have a goaltender like Martin Brodeur, you can pretty much bet that you’ll always be a threat. That’s what Lamoriello does year after year as president and GM of the Devils. Brodeur is one of the best goaltenders in the world, a staple on the Team Canada roster and an All-Star nearly every year he’s played the game. Marty has won three Stanley Cups with the Devils, won the Vezina trophy and won the Calder trophy. He is also the first goalie in history to win forty games or more in a season over four times. Brodeur is also on a roll with ten consecutive seasons with thirty wins or more. At 34 year old, he signed a six-year contract extension with the Devils last year and remains as consistent as ever. Any team with Martin Brodeur on it is a dangerous team to play against in the post-season. Unfortunately for everyone else in the league, we’re talking about the Devils.
New Jersey was pretty silent during the trade deadline period because, let’s face it, they didn’t really have to do anything. Consistency and defense are the orders of the day in a typical New Jersey season, so this year is no different. They did send 25-year old defenseman David Hale over to the Calgary Flames for a draft pick, though, but that was all Lamoriello had in mind.
In front of Brodeur skates a defensive core that could best be described as solid. Starting with 32-year old rearguard Brian Rafalski, the Devils have worked hard to replace the loss of Scott Neidermayer from a few seasons ago. Rafalski brings mobility and a good sense to quarterback to the power play, making him dangerous but prone to some errors (he had 97 giveaways last season). With Rafalski, the Devils have the experience of Richard Matvichuk, the finesse of Paul Martin, the grit and pure defensive ability of Colin White, and the stay-at-home workmanship of Brad Lukowich.
Up front, New Jersey looks quick. The forwards are typically all about the forecheck. Defensive forwards like John Madden, Jim Dowd, Michael Rupp and Jason Wiemer all add a dimension of grit and experience. They also make it tough for opposing teams to put the puck in deep. Instead, the Devils forwards force pucks into open ice for offensive players like Patrik Elias and the older-but-still-somewhat-got-it Alex Mogilny.
Patrik Elias is responsible for almost all of New Jersey’s offensive, but he is assisted much of the time by the crisp-passing center Scott Gomez. Elias sat out some of last year with a Hepatitis A issues, but when he came back he REALLY came back. Lighting it up with 16 points in his first 10 games back, Elias went on to table an impressive 45 total points in just 38 games. This year, Patrik Elias is healthy and using his speed and vision to match up with Gomez and winger Jamie Lagenbrunner to make a seriously deadly offensive punch. He leads the team in scoring at press time with 59 points in 62 games, but he is an unfortunate -2. Lagenbrunner is not far behind Elias, second on the team in scoring with 51 points in 64 games.
All in all, New Jersey remains a consistent threat at both ends of the ice. With Elias putting the puck in the net and Martin Brodeur keeping it out of theirs, the Devils look to make a hell of an impact in the playoffs this year and serious content for the ultimate prize in hockey.