I have heard many opinions about the Devils sluggish start this season from angry, to confused, to shocked, to sad. I have to say that I am part of the majority that is still hopeful. I am hopeful that this team can overcome their differences and start playing like the team they are on paper but put it on the ice. There have been criticisms of the defense, offense, coaching, and offense.
To start with, the defense of the Devils is still their strength. The loss of Paul Martin this offseason certainly does not help the secondary scoring the Devils constantly seek from the blueline, but one man to replace Martin is Andy Greene. Last season, Greene showed that he could be the go to man on the blueline when Martin was out with his shoulder injury. Greene is, sadly, the only goal support I see for the Devils, which frightens me a little. Tallinder is serving a good teacher to Urbom and Brodeur should feel better that Volchenkov is always willing to sacrifice his body for a shot.
The offense, is next, always an issue with this team. Lou showed that the face of the team is changing going out to secure Kovalchuk last season, sacrificing Johnny Odua, one of the better defensemen, and Nicklas Bergfors, a promising foward I myself had high hopes for. If the Devils do not make it deep in the playoffs, or even the playoffs at this rate, Lamoriello will look like the biggest fool paying all that money for one player. The Devils are once again looking to the past, with Elias and Arnott to try to reegain the chemistry they had on the A -Line with Sykora. If this works, we could see some of the same magic witnessed in the 2000 Stanley Cup run. But I ask myself, how long is this going to keep working. Lou went out and got Rolston back and Shanahan and look howw those situations produced. Rolston has been less than stellar, with Shanahan being brought in I feel solely for leadership for the younger players. The offense also needs to drive the powerplay. The Devils need to strengthen the powerplay to be a contender in today's NHL and simply need to shoot the puck more and be less fancy.
Goaltending, an always touchy subject for any Devils fan and often the butt of many jokes. Brodeur can still play, as he demonstrated last season, breaking Roy's records of minutes played and wins, as well as Sawchucks record for shutouts. Marty is still the starter in net, no doubt, but will needs his games decreased significantly to be prepared for the playoffs, where he has been less than steller the past few postseasons, often looking tired and like he didn't care. I feel that Maclean should start Brodeur against any division team, as well as the leaders of the conferences and divisions, both in th east and west. Have Hedberg get the start on any lesser teams and non division leading teams, to keep him sharp and limber in case of another unforseeable Brodeur injury.
So far, Maclean has done a fair enough job only 6 games into the season. I feel that it is simply growing pains with this Devils squad and there is nowhere else to go but up one they finally gel together and just have fun playing the game with the competetive fire they have had for so many years.