Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Better Know an Enemy: The Fightin' Devils!

For giggles, Patricia from 2manadvantage.com and I exchanged some questions about our respective teams, here are the sometimes hilarious, sometimes curiously insightful results.

Ben: Who is the backup goalie for the Devils and does he know how to skate?
Patricia: Believe it or not, I am actually the backup goalie for the Devils. My skating abilities aren't the best in the world, but if Marty did happen to die on ice, I think we'd have a relatively decent shot with me between the pipes.

...or, more likely, I'd be decapitated by the first Dany Heatley shot that whizzed my way.

Who are the Devils' Leafs? (ie: a team that you would like to spontaneuosly combust and then piss on the ashes)
We Devils fans tend to really not like the Philadelphia Flyers. It's more or less a 'hey, your fans are assholes' type of deal though. Honestly, don't really have too much of a problem with the team itself, and without Floppa on the team anymore to make fun of, there isn't much I can really do with Philly right now. There were times when we could say the Rangers, Leafs, and to an extreme lesser extent, the Hurricanes were our 'jeez, the league would be better if you didn't exist' teams, but unfortunately, that heat just ain't there anymore. It's quite disappointing, really.

Who is the Devil's #1 D-man that will be assigned to shut-down the Spalfredheat line? (It's the best name we have so far - Spezza, Alfredsson, Heatley)
Wow, the sheer awesomeness of that name took my breath away for a second. Whew. The best we seem to have right now is the "ZZ-Pop line" for our wonderful Parise-Zajac-Langenbrunner line. I hate it.

Alas, to answer the question at hand, I'd have to give the #1 D-man responsibility to Johnny Oduya.

...just kidding.

No, really, I think Richard Matvichuk and Brad Lukowich are two key players for the Devils. Number one defensemen they are not, but they're some of the only size we have left these days and Mr. 'chuk seems to be amazingly versatile for a man who is coming off of a dangerous, sometimes career ending season-long salary cap injury. Brian Rafalski is our poor man's Scott Niedermayer, and I'll tell you what -- I sure as hell miss Nieds. Stupid Ducks...

Now that Scott Steven is gone, who is most likely to end someone's career (and possibly life) with a hit?
If I didn't say Cam Janssen, all of Toronto Maple Leaf nation would threaten to end MY life. I'm still bitter about that, you know. Yes, I will FULLY admit it was a late hit on Mr. Kaberle, but dude hit the boards awkwardly! Can't fault Janssen for an awkward fall! Yeah, we can get super technical and say that if Cammie J never hit Kaberle to begin wtih, then he wouldn't have nearly snapped his neck against the boards, but you know what? That's hockey. You live with it, you die by it. Hockey's a rough sport. Deal.

What's the state of NHL hockey in New Jersey? We see alot of empty seats on TV...
Yeah, uh, we kind of have a problem getting butts in the seats. Have you seen the sorry state our arena is in though,a nd I don't mean the state of New Jersey itself wise-akers! Seriously, the arena is in the middle of nowhere and worse yet, in the middle of all that nowhere, there's a gigantic sea of parking garage construction. We got this whole Xanadu garbage going on now -- the Devils are getting a new arena in Newark and the remnants of the Continental Arena are turning into some super mall or something...I don't know. Thing is, the fans (yes, we HAVE fans) just don't want to spend $150+ to sit in an eyesore of an arena in the middle of swamps and parking garage construction. And, really, there ain't much to exactly entice the fans either. I mean, seriously, when unscrambling the name "COLIN WHITE" on the jumbotron is the best you have to offer for entertainment value outside of the game itself, there's something seriously wrong.

I once called the NJ Devils "laziest team in hockey" and "from a pure spectator perspective, they produce the worst hockey games in the NHL" - do they deserve the reputation as a defense-first team?
Hardly. Long gone are the days of Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer, and Ken Daneyko. When your top defensive unit more or less consists of Colin White and Brian Rafalski, you're NOT a defense-first team. Problem is, we, uh, kind of aren't really an offense-first team either. At the end of the day, it comes down to Marty. Marty stinks up the joint, the team obviously begins to falter. He shines, the rest of the team shines. Really, if it were possible for a goalie to be the Cap'n, he'd be ours. Patrik Elias isn't exactly a Joe Sakic or Steve Yzerman, you know? I'm just not quite sure how to really describe this particular New Jersey Devils team. We've seen huge offensive threats like the 2001 team (a la A-Line and Mogilny/Gomez), and we've seen defensive domination like the shutdown capabilities of Stevens, Niedermayer, and the John Maddens and Jay Pandolfos of 2003, but the 2007 team is in a class of its own...and I'm not quite sure that's a good OR bad thing.

If the Devils don't win the series will Lou Lamoirello look like a total ass for firing Julien?
Not at all. Claude Julien never found a place with the team. Believe it or not, a lot of Devils fans called for Julien's firing merely WEEKS into the season...a bit much, eh? Well, sure, they didn't really give Claude much of a chance but I think their initial thoughts of him were on point -- he never really fit with the team. There are two extreme sides of coaching -- you have the hard-ass-bad-guys and the I'm-going-to-be-your-best-friend-guys. In between, theres a whole mess of variation. The Devils actually need one extreme or the other -- the Pat Burnses (Bad Cop) and the Larry Robinsons (Good Cop). Claude was more or less a "hey, I'm here if you guys need me, but I'm going to let you make the decisions and whatever that decision is, I'll be okay with it" kind of guy...it didn't work. Some teams, it would work, but for New Jersey, it's gotta be one way or the other. Does that, uh, make sense at all? Ha.

Good luck to the Devils in game 4! No... seriously, I hope they die.
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