ILWT Audition 2012: Gionta's Time to Shine

Earlier this month, I put out the call looking for new writers for In Lou We Trust to write about the New Jersey Devils. I've opened up the audition to the community at large in order to get some new perspectives and additional voices on the front page with regularity. Since then, I've received eleven entries. Regardless of how they're received, I thank the writers of each and every one of them - you know who you are - for stepping up and submitting an entry.

Throughout the next two weeks, I will post each one under an anonymous name so you can discuss and critique the post without regard to who actually wrote it. I can ensure you that I did not change any of the content outside of formatting it in to the SBN platform. and fixing spelling errors. To that end, please note that I don't necessarily agree with what the posts actually say. I'm just letting them stand on their own. Please be constructive in any criticism and do offer your thoughts about whether you liked (or disliked) the post in addition to discussing it's content. Don't be mean, but be fair.

This third entry comes from Writer C Anthony.Labor6, who made their submission on July 10. This post isn't about one of the biggest names on the team, though you know it quite well from the team's 2012 playoff run. It's about Stephen Gionta and Writer C Anthony.Labor6 think it's his time to take it to the next level. Find out why Writer C Anthony.Labor6 thinks so highly of the other Gionta brother after the jump.

They say great things come to those who wait. New Jersey Devils forward Stephen Gionta knows that all too well.

The 28-year-old Gionta had to wait five years in the AHL before being called up to the NHL. Before the 2011-2012 season, Gionta only played in 12 NHL games; all in the 2010-2011 season. The rest of his time since the 2005-2006 season has been spent with the Devils AHL affiliate, the Lowell Devils waiting out for his time to shine in Newark. During those 12 games he posted a -3 rating with no points, making the Devils Brass send him back down to Lowell for another season.

After a solid postseason and helping the Devils go to the Stanley Cup, the Devils decided to give him a two-year extension in hopes he repeats what he was able to do in the playoffs.

After the first 81 games of the regular season, it looked as if the 5-foot 7-inch Gionta would spend another "entire" season in Lowell. However, he got the call-up for the 82nd and final game of the regular season. How do you impress the front office and your coaching staff with just one game of the regular season left? Score the game-winner in your first NHL game of the year.

Gionta scored 10:55 into the third period in the Devils game against the Ottawa Senators to lead New Jersey to a 4-2 win to close out the regular season. His only game of the regular season seemed enough for Peter DeBoer to place him on the fourth line for the playoffs.

It was there the magic started, as Gionta was united with Steve Bernier and Ryan Carter, who made up possibly the best fourth line in all of the NHL. They played to make the big check, like most fourth lines, and they were able to score and score big. The fourth line was possibly the most consistent for New Jersey, as they always seemed to be together even when DeBoer shuffled up the lines in the middle of the game.

Gionta accounted for 7 points on the fourth line throughout the playoffs and he also contributed beyond the score sheet. The former Boston College Eagle, despite being 5'7" and only 185 pounds, was one of New Jersey's top enforcers, who wasn't afraid to lay down the big check.

The younger brother of former Devil and current Montreal Canadian Brian Gionta, Stephen is another speed-demon like his brother. He was able to get up and down the ice with the quickest of skaters during the Devils postseason run, helping to open up some breakout plays. Stephen had the scoring touch during the playoffs, able to score and set up scores, reminding all Jersey fans of the past 10 years of his older brother. One thing Brian's game didn't include was a lot of physical play. Stephen can contribute to both the physical and scoring side of the game; a rare feature nowadays.

Stephen reminds me like an under-the-radar Milan Lucic. Lucic standing in at 6'4" and 220 pounds is bigger and stronger than Gionta, but Gionta has just as much heart and willingness to enter the scrums as anyone on the ice. Now, obviously it is yet to see how he does during a full regular season, but if he can do what he showed in the playoffs, he could very well be a 20-goal scorer if given the chance now that the fourth line are all set to return next season.

Now with the departure of Parise, it is time for the other forwards on the Devils to step up and expect Gionta to be one of the guys to really step up and make an impact next season. He won't be a star 40-goal scorer in the NHL, but if he scores 20 goals and makes an impact with his physical play, that makes quite a bit of difference. It's much more fun to watch someone like Gionta play than someone like Eric Boulton, because you never know when Gionta will sneak through and score or goal or lay down a hard check. Boulton was just there for the checking.

The Devils should certainly look into the acquisition of Alexander Semin, as he would definitely add some depth to the core of forwards for New Jersey. However, Gionta certainly earned himself on the roster come time to play the Washington Capitals on opening day on October 12th.

Expect Gionta's name to come up a lot about moving up to the third line if his production continues. The only thing that might stop him from moving up is the great chemistry he had with Carter and Bernier. After waiting all this time in the AHL, Gionta will finally follow in his big brother's footsteps and become a force to be reckoned with in the red and black.

Editor's Note: Now that you read Writer C Anthony.Labor6's post explaining why we may expect better from Stephen Gionta, I want to know what you think. Do you agree or disagree with Writer C Anthony.Labor6's argument? Do you think it's Stephen Gionta's time? What did you think of how Writer C Anthony.Labor6 wrote this post? Based on how it was written and what was it about, is this the kind of post you would want to see regularly at In Lou We Trust? Please leave your answers and other comments about this post in the comments. Thanks go to Writer C Anthony.Labor6 for the submission and thank you for reading.

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