Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Worried Report From The Devils Correspondents

Because we are not terrifically prolific reporters on all that transpires in the world of the Devils, we can only assume that everyone here has been waiting with bated breath to hear an update about our beloved team. Well, at this moment things look pretty good. After stumbling horribly to start the season with a lot of new faces, a new coach, a new system and a new building (not that we're making excuses or anything...), the Devils have figured things out and are rolling along at a fairly steady, satisfying clip. They are currently rocking a nice "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" vibe, all of which is backstopped, as usual, by a Marty Brodeur who gave us some scares that he'd lost his game at the start of the season, but who, it turns out, was only kidding. All in all, they kind of have a bit of the same character the 2003 team showed, where it's hard to figure out where the wins are coming from because no one guy (other than Marty) stands out, but the wins just keep on coming anyway. (Which is not to say that we think they're going to do what the 2003 team did, Hockey Gods. In case you're listening and looking for someone to smite.) In short, they're spunky, they're hard-working, they're traditionally low-scoring yet still fun to watch, and for the first time in 15 years there isn't anyone on the roster who is publicly making it known that he doesn't want to be there. We should be in a very good place. And yet, we're not. You see, trouble is lurking on the horizon, the kind of trouble that blows out its chronically-injured shoulder in a preseason fight and then gets in another fight in that same game to further demolish the woebegone joint. That's right: it's Cam Janssen.

The astute observer of the Devils last season would have noticed that the team was performing much the way we've described this year's squad above. They looked to be having a grand old time playing together, all full of camaraderie, brio, and a flair for pulling victory from the jaws of defeat with no small regularity. Then, one totally random evening in March, while the Devils were doing a workmanlike job of beating the Leafs, Cam Janssen threw his infamous hit on Tomas Kaberle, and the wheels fell off. The entire team deflated. They lost that game, blowing a sizable lead while doing so. And while they hung on to win the division, the character of the team was never the same. All season they'd seemed like a group of guys who collectively had a huge chip on their shoulder, who were driven to prove that while they were a kind of rag-tag group in comparison to Devils teams of old, they could still beat the teams the hockey media thought were sexier. But as soon as one of the season's villainous hits was laid out by one of their own, they stopped being scrappy overachievers and started being one of those teams that has to stand up for a dirty player. It sucked. And now, after a delightful half season during which Janssen has been both out of sight and out of mind for us, he's been cleared to play. Word is that the team is playing well enough that Coach Sutter won't want to mess with his lineup, that Janssen's going to Lowell, ne'er to return. We fervently hope so. But even with that hope, we're still very afraid of Janssen and his powers of creating dreadful turning points in otherwise successful Devils seasons. It could happen at any point, even when we least expect it. We wonder if anyone wants to trade for him. Anyone? Anyone?


kristin said...

My team is kinda short on dirty players right now...

Oh wait, his shoulder problems stem from my team's dirty players...maybe it won't work out...

Kerriberry7228 said...

Even if he's out for now, as soon as someone gets injured Cam will be your first call up. Maybe it'll be a good chance for him to practice his swing.

Do you think the Devils inability to beat the Islanders or the Rangers this season stems from Jannsen's absence? Especially those tough guys on Long Island... Clarkson holds his own though. Usually Devil/Islander/Ranger games are more about passion than skill, which makes me bring this up.

Off topic, the Devils are officially eliminated from the Metro Ice Challenge. I know how important it must have been for you, since it's such an important stat and all. At least, MSG and FSN make is seem that way.

Interchangeable Parts said...

kristin -- Hee!

kerriberry -- That's a good question about whether Janssen's absence is hurting the Devils against the Rangers/Islanders.
Our answer, in a word? No.
What's hurt the Devils against the Rangers and Islanders this season is the fact that they can't score against either team.
Janssen has no offensive skills (and no defensive skills either, come to think of it...), so he wouldn't help much with that.
Last night the Devils dressed Clarkson, Asham and Rupp -- all three pretty tough players -- and they still lost to the Islanders. Janssen wouldn't have improved that result.

As for the Metro Ice Challenge, we are despondent about that. Maybe the Devils should just quit for the rest of the season, since all is clearly lost. :P

Isleschick said...

I was going to say..who are our tough guys right now? Jackman intimidates no one and Witt wasn't playing. I just think DiPietro tends to lift his game a little vs Brodeur.

Kerriberry7228 said...

Since the Rangers are pushovers when Avery isn't playing (the little 175 pounds of Petr Prucha leds our teams in hits this year...whoa, not right) a huge part of their difficulties with the Islanders come from the Islander's "big-ness." I agree that DP raises his game to play the Rangers or the Devils, but I think Brodeur and Lundqvist do the same. Trust me when I say Brodeur raises his game when he plays the Rangers. You can tell he loves every second of beating them down, lol.

I'm not a Devil's expert, but the Rangers are soft and I don't think they are (yet) afraid of Clarkson... and they're not afraid of Arron Asham, either. Janssen though... so I wonder. The Rangers lose when they get hit around and need to go cry about it.

Isleschick... I didn't just mean fighters, I meant guys who use their body in general. Sutton, Guerin, Hunter, these guys throw huge hits and nullify the Rangers and possibly the Devil's ability to cause a rush up ice, or get outworked on the boards, etc etc.

Interchangeable Parts said...

I'm not a Devil's expert, but the Rangers are soft and I don't think they are (yet) afraid of Clarkson... and they're not afraid of Arron Asham, either. Janssen though... so I wonder.

But what's the point of being afraid of Janssen? When he comes back to the line-up, he won't get any significant ice time becuase he's not as reliable in any area of his game as Clarkson and Asham are.

Kerriberry7228 said...

I think it's so strange that you two are one name, don't know why, but I do lol.

True. And there is essentially no difference at all if the Devils pop the Rangers one, Janssen, Clarkson, or Asham. But you don't need significant ice time to demoralize this quickly demoralizing team. You need one shift in the first period to effect the rest of the game. Then again, you don't need Janssen for that. And of course, major penalities and suspensions aren't the Devil's top priorities (although it might just be the Flyer's...:-P).