Devil Hockey Overcomes Injuries

Nicholas McCutcheonContributor IJanuary 17, 2009

This was not the way it was supposed to go.

The Devils were supposed to be exposed after the loss of their hall of fame bound goaltender, Martin Brodeur. When Brodeur went down earlier this season, the rest of his teammates were left to pick up the slack. A task no NHL expert thought possible.

Yet Devil hockey remains, though not as it has been in the past.

After a failed attempt by goalie Kevin Weekes to resurrect his career, the three-time Stanley Cup champion Devils turned to perennial backup and journeyman, Scott Clemmenson, to fill the more than sizable shoes left after the injury to Brodeur.

However, as in the past, New Jersey continues to be a contender and a team no one wants to see down the stretch if they become hot.

"We're still finding ways to win games, but if you continue to let things get away from you it's just going to snowball," New Jersey coach Brent Sutter said.

Winning is winning, and the Devils keep piling up the victories. 

New Jersey initially felt the sting of losing Brodeur, as the team lost five of six after the injury. In stepped Scott Clemmenson and the ship has been righted.

Since, the Devils are 19-8-1 and posed to make a run at the Atlantic Division title and a top-seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.

The defense has remained the key to the Devils play, as they are fifth in the league in GAA.

The emergence of Zach Parise as a legitimate scoring threat to complement Patrick Elias and Brian Gionta, has allowed the Devils to go punch-for-punch with teams, instead of trying to squeak out one-goal victories on a nightly basis.

Parise was named to the Eastern Conference reserve squad for the All-Star game in Montreal, Canada.

"It means a lot. It means you're doing something right," Parise said.

Parise's father, J.P. Parise, played in two All-Star games in the early 1970s as a member of the Minnesota North Stars.

With the return of Brodeur on the horizon in late February or early March, the Devils continue to add weapons.

New Jersey signed Brendan Shanahan, bringing the 21-year NHL veteran back to the team that drafted him in 1987.

Shanahan, who turns 40 next Friday, will add toughness and goal-scoring to a Devils team that has its eyes set on a deep post-season run.