Well, there isn't much negative things to say about a New Jersey Devils squad that started off slow the first couple of weeks going (3-5-1) on a nine-game road trip to start the 2007-08 campaign, but by the time mid-November had rolled around the Devils had gone on a 9-game winning streak (Nov. 17- Dec. 7), and they were started to play the kind of hockey, that fans of the red and black, are used to them playing.
The Devils go into 2008, riding the momentum of a (14-4-1) stretch, in which they are in familiar territory as first place holders of the very competitive Atlantic Division. However, 5 points separate the pack in the Atlantic, with the their friends over the Hudson, the Rangers only a point back, with the Devils having a game in hand.
Nevertheless, like all people the Devils should have some things on their mind, as the ball drops this evening, and a new calendar year of hockey begins.
Here are my top 10 New Year's Resolutions for the New Jersey Devils:
10- Lou Lamoriello should send a special investigator to the Nassau Colliseum and get the ice inspected. It seems everytime this season the Devils go there, they fall flat on their face... literally. The Devils have lost by scores of (4-3 OT), (2-1), and just this Saturday (5-2). The guys from the Island have the Devils number this season, winning the only meeting of the two at the Rock (Prudential Center) by a score of 1-0.
9- Devils need to see more consistent play from Dainus Zubrus. The forward, who played last season with the Capitals and Sabres, has seen 18 minutes per game, but has only mustered 18 points (6 goals, 12 assists) in 18 games played. The Devils signed him to replace Scott Gomez, but he has not proven so as of yet. Still, Zubrus +/- ratio is normally higher than usual at this time of year.
8- In the second half, reverse the records against the New York teams, for the Pennsylvania teams. The Devs are (0-5-3) combined versus the Islanders and Rangers, and they are (6-2-0) combined versus the Flyers, and Penguins. This will at least provide somebody with breathing room in the sardine-packed Atlantic.
7- If it is the Devils' desire to find a replacement for Brian Rafalski, don't look towards the young, inexperienced duo of Mike Mottau and John Oduya. But, rather, Coach Bruce Sutter should mix and match on powerplays and giving some more opportunites to guys like Jamie Langenbrunner (captain by the way), and Travis Zajac, who if you remember originally came to New Jersey to fill the void left by Scott Niedermeyer's departure. The Devils don't commit many penalties, but other teams too, and the Devils being 28 th in the league on the powerplay doesn't help their cause.
6- Zack Parise needs to take even more shots on net. He has paced the Devils with 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists). Hey, I'm not staying Parise needs to turn into a Brendan Shanahan or something, but the Devils take roughly 25 shots per game, and that has to go up to increase their opportunities on net. Parise only takes a few more shots than Brian Gionta and Patrick Elias, and being that he is the leading goal-getter, he needs to show why.
5- Bruce Sutter should begin encouraging full skating practices on back-to-back games. He wasn't a big advocate of that principle in the beginning of this season and it has come back to bite the Devils. The Devils are 3-3-1 in the second game of a back-to-back this season, and that is not good for momentum.
4- Arron Asham needs to forget his Islander ways, and start playing like a Devil. Too many times this year we've seen unsportsmanlike play and penalties out of this forward and it really takes away from what he can provide to this organization.
3- The Devils equipment manager should see if he has any special skates in the locker room available for John Oduya, who seems to be always slipping and sliding when he's on the ice. Balance and coordination are very important for a young defensemen to be successful in clearing pucks out of the neutral zone.
2- Can somebody buy a 24 pack of protein bars for #26? Yes, Patrick Elias needs to get this offense pumped up. Outside of the Islanders and Phoneix Coyotes, Devils have the least points in the NHL. Yeah, I knew its slim pickens with the Devils on O, and a joy on D, but how much longer is Martin Brodeur going to continue this string of dominant performances. And, besides, we've seen him tire in some select games during the season.
1- Have a Happy and Healthy New Year Martin Brodeur. You are a 35-year-old Canadian man of steel. You've got your 500 th win, you're on pace to smash more and more of Patrick Roy's records, and already have added 2 more shutouts to your illustrious resume this season. Sit back, and enjoy the outdoor Hockey game of Pittsburgh versus Buffalo on New Year's Day, and get ready to put on the gloves versus the Florida Panthers (18-18-3) on Wednesday.
I wish a Happy & Healthy New Year to everyone else. Brodeur is in a league of is own, as we all know. I hope everyone enjoyed my post for Devils Daily, and I will see everyone Next Year, and of course... Go Devils!
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