Let me start off by saying that I love the New Jersey Devils.
Watching the 2010-2011 season was difficult; from the bad months of October to January, to one of the best halfs of a hockey season, the Devils almost made it to the Playoffs but missed out due to the bad performance in 2010.
The 2011-2012 season started at the NHL Draft, where the Devils won the Draft Lottery and moved from 8th pick to 4th pick in the first round. Their wishes came true when Adam Larsson, a defensive rookie from Sweden, was still available, and picked by the Devils. A new coach, Peter DeBoer, was selected several weeks after the draft, and the New Jersey Devils were heading toward pre-season.
Fast forward to the opening night of the regular season, and Larsson was on the roster, but not without loss. Travis Zajac had surgery to fix his achilles tendon, leaving Zach Parise without his first line center. The new coach, Peter DeBoer, included several rookies in the team; Adam Henrique in addition to Larsson, with Jacob Josefson and Mat Tedenby returning to what looked like full seasons.
A month into the regular season, and Jacob Josefson is out for what looks like several months from a broken cavicalle after a rather nasty incident during the San Jose Sharks game that had him heading straight into the end boards. Martin Brodeur injured his shoulder again, straining his pre-existing injury from the 2009-2010 season that saw him out for the majority of the regular season. Brodeur still hasn’t returned to the playing roster after his injury on October 13, however he is listed as day to day, and he may see a return against the Toronto Maple Leafs on the 2nd of November. With injury scares from Adam Henrique, and reports of a near miss with Elias during practice, every day is crucial to the Devils; staying healthy is what will keep this club going through the long season. If the team continues to be plagued with injuries, especially by losing their top 2 centers, it could mean the difference between a return to a successful season and returning to the playoffs, or missing for their 2nd consecutive year.
As it stands after the first month of the 2011-2012 regular season, the Devils are currently planted 12th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 4-4-1 after 9 games. Whilst the New Jersey Devils are behind in games played and by catching up with wins could see then returning to the top 8, their mental state will need to stay strong, and the team will need to continue to play like they have against the Los Angeles Kings, and the 60 minutes of hockey they displayed. Their new coach Peter DeBoer, and new captain Zach Parise will need to lead the team in the right direction. After losing the last 2 games of their Western Conference road trip where they were beaten by the strong looking teams of the Phoenix Coyotes and Dallas Stars, they will be looking for a convincing win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at home.
November will be a tell-tale month for the New Jersey Devils. Putting wins together and cementing a top 8 position will help continue the team’s effort in December and the lead up to the busy schedule before Christmas and the All-Star break. Falling into a slump like last season will no doubt ensure another Playoff miss as the team’s confidence will likely shrink. The upside however is that the team appears to be following their new coach, and it should only be a matter of time before the wins come more often; it is still too early to tell.