When Devils GM Lou Lamoriello announced he had hired Brent Sutter as coach of the New Jersey Devils, it brought some to question how he would accomplish coaching a defensive style team.
Ladies and Gentlemen: we have our answer. He is no longer coaching the New Jersey Devils. At least not the Devils we knew.
Brent Sutter made no inclination that he was going to leave the Devils defensive style alone. He openly announced that he was going to make the Devils a more aggressive team. I had no idea that meant that the Devils would abandon defense altogether.
As much as I love the New Jersey Devils style and ability to strangle teams by sheer locking them out – I think Brent Sutter may have something here. Even during their early losses at the start of the season, Brent Sutter showed promise in the action, poise, and commitment to playing a whole 60 minutes.
When Claude Julian was let go with only a handful of games remaining last season, I questioned the timing of it, but not Lou’s decision. Julian never impressed me as a coach. Many fans were upset with the Devils lack of ability to play a whole 60 minutes. The “new” NHL required more oomph out of teams that the Devils couldn’t muster.
Was it fatigue? Was it poor coaching? Was it simply mediocrity? Or all of the above…
Wednesday night, the Devils remained in attack mode for all of the game, and got out a 5-4 victory in a game where the officials had to leave with security protecting them.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were assessed 6 penalties in a row in the second period, had a power play goal scored against them, and when scoring a goal, had it reversed because of too many men on the ice.
In the two games prior to this one, there were a couple of calls I did not agree with, for and against the Devils. However Wednesday night’s match did not seem to have poor officiating, but instead the Penguins just seem to have lost cohesiveness. The Devils did not have the ability to capitalize on most of the opportunities, but kept the Penguins from getting many chances and kept good offensive pressure on Pittsburgh for most of the game. Brent Sutter was happy with his team’s play.
As a fan I cheer for the team, what it stands for, and their history. The decision to go with a different style of play may be just what the Devils need to keep up in the new NHL. Looking back at the past couple of seasons, the Devils never had a poor team or a time when they did not appear competitive, but they had difficulty propelling themselves past the second round of the playoffs. Perhaps this new style is just what the Devils need to win another Stanley Cup.