I really don’t think people understand what’s really going on here. You see that video? That ridiculous 4-on-4 overtime game winner against the Habs (Canadiens = Les Habitants = Habs) last year? That wasn’t just a one-time fluke occurrence (involving the best equipment guy in the league, natch). It was some bizarro foreshadowing; a glimpse into the style of play set for this season.
This past off season the Devils upgraded offensively with the acquisitions of Ilya Kovalchuk, Anton Volchenkov, Henrik Tallinder, and Jason Arnott, not to mention a young group of players brimming with talent and speed (Josefson, Tedenby, Palmieri, it goes on) and a new coach, the franchise leader in points goals (thanks Rob!) John MacLean, orchestrating it all.
Johnny Mac’s style is not exactly the classical Devil way of life, as illustrated by Jacques Lemaire last year. This isn’t a slow-down, lock up the neutral zone, stumble across the blueline and CYCLECYCLECYCLE way of life. And that’s great and all, but Johnny Mac wants to see all his skill players hauling through the neutral zone, and he asks his defense to be look for the hail mary pass to spring those forwards through the zone and head-first into a breakaway. I saw four breaks in a pre-season game against the Flyers, and we weren’t playing our full lines. It’s something I’ve never seen a Devils team come close to pulling off.
And to top it off, our first line miiiiiiight be the best one in hockey. Parise-Zajac-Kovalchuk will treat opposing goalies like a firing squad – and the offenders are all baby rapists (link is SFW, contains no babies or rapists or a combo of both). Zach, a 4-time (out of five career years) 30+ goal scorer, who topped out at 93 points a few years ago, will be centered by Travis Zajac, who had a career year in goals (25) and tied his career high in assists (42) last season. Both of these guys have a very keen sense of where the other plays, almost exclusively playing with each other for most of their pro careers. But they have never played with a natural scorer like Kovy (two fifty-goal seasons, six-straight 40-goal seasons) and he’s never played on a line with as much talent as ZZ have. The Zip Line, as they’ve been called (I’m sorry if this offends any Vietnamese readers), are going to run roughshod through the NHL, and I will giddily laugh along from my seats in Sec 104 at the Rock. Tee-Hee-Heeing all the way home.
This team is going to be ridiculous – and that goes way beyond the homer talk. The Devils are usually the forgotten power in the East. Each season the prognosticators usually say how they’re getting old, they’ll fall off, they’ll never win the Atlantic, they’ll middle out in the playoffs, blah blah blah. And that’s fine – I love a good come-from-behind story…even if it’s been the same story for a decade. But when the Devs are in the Cup finals this year (against the Canucks, you heard it here first), don’t come back to me and act surprised. Consider this your warning. The Devs are going to not only be one of the best teams in hockey…they’re also going to be one of the most entertaining, which is probably the most shocking part of all.
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There will be periodic Devils posts along the way, so just get used to it, folks. That’s what happens when you’re 14th favorite blogging personality has half-season tickets. Hope you had a good week – I know the blog did. Appreciate all the eyes checkin’ out mah woooords. If you do enjoy this blog, please, continue to tell your friends. More readers, more gooder and all that. There’s a Euro-Centric mix coming for you tomorrow from the mastermind behind this whole Mixtape Revolution on the blog, so be sure to check it out. It’s really a great collection of tunes. Otherwise, have a good weekend, and I’ll see you back here on Tuesday (we observe the finding of our country over here).