Friday, November 11, 2005

Friday Roundup/Gameday: Devils @ Caps

[Gameday Preview]

One-timers today at The Rink as I have a million and one things to do before taking in today's Caps-Devs matinee live and in person (if you go to the game and see a good-looking guy in a #67 Bourque jersey and shout "hey, J.P., let me buy you a beer," I'll let you do just that).

The WaPo lists Olie Kolzig as "questionable, at best" for the home-and-home after the goalie tweaked his groin. Uh oh. The WTimes lists the 'tenders status as uncertain.

For the opposition's perspective on what this series may mean and the Devils' current struggles, my buddy Shayne offered the following analysis via email:
It's a big series for the Devils. They've lost their last four, and need to turn things around quickly. I think their main problem is a lack of identity. The Devs lost two captains over the past two years and have not named another captain. The lack of solid leadership, the one guy who will get in each player's face and tell him to step up or don't show up, and then back up the challenge by performing on the ice, has hurt the Devils. They don't have anyone to challenge them to play well. At least four or five times this year the devils have given up two goals within the span of 1:30. That's the type of thing that deflates a team's momentum and strong leadership (and smart play) can help to overcome.

Even though most of the talk about why the devils suck so far has centered around [Scott] Stevens and [Scott] Niedermayer, the guy they miss the most is [Patrik] Elias. Elias was a point per game player. The Devs just don't have anyone that can come in and make that up. Losing Stevens and Niedermayer forced the Devils to rebuild the d-corps, which they did with decent defensemen, not the greatest, but decent. When they lost Elias, they just couldn't replace him, which leaves a glaring hole in the offense that hasn't been filled.

So, a sweep by the Devils will show that Devils fans have hope that the season will not be lost and a turnaround could be in the future. A sweep by the Caps and [GM Lou] Lamoriello may start drawing devils logos on ping pong balls.
Indeed. Obviously the Devils' success this year hinges on healthy returns by Elias and Martin Brodeur, and by "returns" I mean returns to their pre-lockout forms as well as physically rejoining the team.

Daily Awards
Japers' Pick

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

JP, found your blog via Technorati link on WaPo. As a recent transplant to DC (from Boston) and a new Caps fan as a result, I'm pleased to have found your blog. It's a great resource. You've been bookmarked!

Spe said...

I appreciate the Devs analysis but bemoaning their struggle in November rings a bit too much like Yankees fans calling for Torre's head in April. They'll right the ship. First, Brodeur will be back and regain form to stablize the D. And if Elias doesn't return, as GM, there's not many better than Lou. There are some great stories on this year's team so far. The Gionta-Brylin-Gomez line, Sean Brown to name a few. Bottom line, NJ is one of the best run franchises both on and off the ice. And as poorly as the've played, they're only 2 points from the playoffs.