Where to start…
I guess to get it out of the way, I have to give credit and congratulations to the Hurricanes. As much as I am upset but what I just saw, I don’t even know if I can describe it. The only way I can think of is to point out that the Devils ran out of gas. At the end of the game, they couldn’t close it out in the last few minutes.
This happened once before in the series, the Devils couldn’t close out the end of the third and it cost them that game as well – Carolina getting the game winning goal with only 0.2 second left.
The Devils were down early in the first period but came back to get the lead. Players like Jamie Langenbrunner, Jay Pandolfo, and Brian Gionta were really on there game. The Devils kept the 3-2 lead for most of the latter stages until Carolina scored with only 1:20 left in the third period.
The with nearly 30 seconds left, Carolina scores again to break the 3-3 tie and take the win. The cause was just a Devils team with nothing left in the tank. This was a big issue for the Devils in previous seasons, not being able to play a complete 60 minutes. But this season you didn’t see too much of that. The past few games against Carolina, however, exposed that same weakness that I thought was eliminated from their game.
During the course of the season, the Devils played against adversity and injuries, and came out victorious. The when the star players returned to the lineup, the Devils became an even more powerful team.
At this time, the season became just another season to a special one – some former Devils were back in the lineup and it looked like an old spark returned to the team.
That spark made me a believer. Every year you hope for the best, and convince yourself that this year is going to be the year your team wins the Stanley Cup. I have in the previous seasons and wasn’t all that surprised when the Devils were knocked out in the first or second round.
I don’t believe that makes me any less of a fan, just more of a realist than anything else.
This season, however, I didn’t need to do that. I really thought their roster would bring them far into the playoffs. I was truthfully expecting an Eastern Conference Champions banner handing in the rafters for the 2009-10 season.
A lot of news will be occurring during the off-season. First, there are a plethora of free agents that the Devils will need to comb through and make some tough decisions. There is the phasing out of Lou Lamoriello from what only appears to be arena business operations. And there will need to be some restructuring of the roster.
The offense the Devils had this season was good. Not much, if any, tweaking is needed in that aspect. But two areas do need to improve: the first is defense. The Devils tout no-name defensive lines, but in the end they could not withstand the pressure of the playoffs. They need change back behind the blue line. The second is Martin Brodeur. This will be a deep conversation for another time, but when Brent Sutter was asked about Brodeur’ play, Sutter said very dryly "Marty was great." You got the distinct impression that Sutter wasn’t happy about his play, but had no ability to do anything about it.
Again, I will be more than happy to dive into this topic much deeper at a later time, but the Devils are going to need to have a long hard discussion with Brodeur’s role in the lineup.
I’d like to thank all the fans and visitors to njdevils.info, attheredline.com, and njdevilsnews.com. Your patronage throughout the season makes what I do here fun and worthwhile. I appreciate your continued support and I look forward to seeing everyone back here next season, my 12th season in operation.
For now, I wish every Devils fan and visitor a happy and enjoyable summer. We’ll continue to post updates periodically throughout the off-season, but infrequently. I suggest you visit the NJ Devils News Center as this will continue to be updates frequently as news occurs in the Devils world.
Thank you again, and good bye for now.