With 1:20 left in the third period, a few nights ago, watching from my seat in Section 230, I was almost sure of one thing: I would not have to write this article this soon. But alas, som random guy named Gleason (yeah, the same random guy who ripped the winner through Marty a week earlier), stopped the puck at the blueline.
He then zipped it to the left circle, where the puck was then wizzed around the ice, and finally behind Marty. "Well, we'd made it a little tougher on ourselves, right?", "But we'll beat them up in overti—" thanks, Eric Staal, for interrupting me.
But, instead of the "Shoulda, woulda, coulda, STUPID MARTY" attitude of the 17,625 that packed themselves into my home away from home, I felt bad for everyone. I felt bad for the Captain, who had knee surgery before returning to his lineup in a heroic way nine nights later. I felt bad for Parise, who saw the puck glide right by him and into the net.
I felt bad for Brodeur, who though he'd finally shut up his critics with his 44 save shutout not a week earlier. I felt bad for Sutter, who thought he'd finally end the "Can't win a playoff game" banter that unrighfully tagged him in his 2nd full season as an NHL head coach. I felt bad for Clemmensen, who had to watch the painful ending to his career-saving season...from the bench.
And, likewise, I felt bad for us fans, who poured blood, sweat, and tears into the tumultous season that had us screaming, cheering, crying, hugging, and discharging abnormal boul movements (what, nobody? c'mon, you're talking to me here). Regardless, the first part of my long article is a sad one. More or less, I present to you my eulogy of the 2008, 2009 New Jersey Devils.
Starting out strong for the first time since 2007, I was invigorated with this team. Well, to be fair, if they went 2-8 I'd still be up on the team--it's october. But there looked like something special was here, that this year was, to be clichee, "our year". Remember that old nursery rhyme, "Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November"? Well, it came early this year, four days early, to be exact. Nov. 1, 2008.
The 5-2-2 Devils had a commanding lead on the Thrashers, and everyone was having a grand old time. I just got back to my seats, Premio Sausage and Pepsi in hand. See, as a season ticket holder, the one thing you love more than squeak-em-out games are those blowout games. You can sit, talk, laugh, have a good time, and scream "Rangers suck!" without worrying about bad karma.
Well, that's exactly what we, in Section 230, were doing...at least until an uneasy buzz and uncomfortable silence filled the stadium. I looked over to see our franchise, Martin Brodeur, on the ice holding his shoulder. It was bad. In hindsight, we see that He (the capital 'H' is on purpose), would not return to the lineup for another three months and 27 days. Surely, this would be the Devils demise. Right?
Of the tragedy, I didn't get worried. I calmly post an article about a couple of nice options. Khabibulin, and Roloson were a couple names I tossed out there. While I mentioned we could just "stay put", I couldn't see the events that were about to take place. It is a ride that, as a Devils fan from day 1 of my young life, I will never forget.
That "ride" I spoke of has a name. Scott Clemmensen, he of 8 carreer wins in the bigs, was called up to backup the much more proven Kevin Weekes. Clemmensen, who spent the last year in the Toronto minor leagues, simply stole the show.
He would post a 25-13-0 record, boasting stats like 2 shutouts, and a 2.93 GAA. He beat the cross-river rivals, the New York Rangers, 3 times in 3 tries, the only goalie not named Martin Brodeur to ever do so wearing the black'n'red.
But, alas, some guy named Marty was set to return, and the now-cooled-off Clemmer was ousted to the minors. True to form, Brodeur returned with a bang: posting 9 wins in 11 games, including 3 shutouts. He also broke some minor record or something.. let me look that up.
Oh, yeah, he became the all time winningest goaltender in the history of the NHL. On St. Patrick's day, (how fitting, seeing as how *Patrick* Roy's record was soon to be broken), Marty finished the day with his patented kick-save with under two seconds left, and won the big one—win number 552."It was an exciting night," Brodeur said after making 30 saves in the Devils' 3-2 victory agianst the 'Hawks on that faithful Tuesday night.
"I'm happy that it's done and over with. It's been chaotic, the last few days. It was an awesome night. It was a great reception from the fans." These same aformentioned fans also got to see Patrik Elias record his 702nd point, good for the #1 spot on the Devils all-time scoring list.
But, as the fans exhaled from such an emotional night, it seems the players did too. The Devils finished the season with posting a dismal 5-7-2 mark, although they did finish strong winning four out of their last five. Be that as it may, the would face Carolina in an epic 7 game showdown in the not-too-distant future.
The game lived up to it's billing. Said Barry Melrose of the series, "This is, without a doubt, the most evenly matched series in hockey". Indeed, it was. The goal differential for the series was 3, the closest out of any other series.The series seemed to shift momentum every game, the Devils won, the Canes won.
The Devils won, the Canes won. The Devils won, the canes won. Series was tied at 3, with each team having an overtime, a regulation, and a blowout victory. And, as stated in the beginning of this article, the finish wasn't particularly settling for Devils fans. The Hurricane's blew past the devils in the final 1:20 (see what I did, there?), and that was that about that.
So, now on to next year. While you may think it's too early to be talking about that yet, I beg to differ. If you need your daily Devils-fix like me, you'll agree. Here's my (not-so) master plan.
In a perfect, (yet realistic), world...
-Devils re-sign Travis Zajac, 4y/14.5m
-Devils re-sign Johnny Oduya, 4y/14m
-Devils re-sign Brendan Shanahan, 1y/1m
-Devils re-sign Brian Gionta, 1y/3m
-Devils re-sign Kevin Weekes, 1y/650k
Madden, Holik, Rupp, Havelid, Clemmer, P3L, Greener are out.
I, for one, don't see us getting Cammaleri, or Havlat, or anyone of that stature. I do see a couple free agents worth signing, and I think a team like this coult take us to where we want to be.
-Devils sign Nik Antropov, 4/15 (3.75 hit)
-Devils sign Mike Komisarek, 4/18 (4.5 hit)
-Devils sign Chad LaRose, 3/4 (1.25 hit)
-Devils buy out, waive, cut, trade (lol), whatever: Jay Pandolfo, and Dainius Zubrus
-Devils call up Nicklas Bergfors
-Devils call up Matthew Corrente
-Devils call up Matt Halischuk
6.000 Elias (4 yrs left)
5.062 Rolston (3 yrs left)
3.750 Antropov (4 yrs left)
3.625 Zajac (4 yrs left)
3.125 Parise (2 yrs left)
3.000 Gionta (1yr left)
2.800 Langenbrunner (2 yrs left)
1.250 LaRose (3 years left)
1.000 Shanahan (1 yr left)
0.838 Clarkson (1 yr left)
0.500 Bergfors (1 yr left)
0.500 Halischuk (1yr left)
4.500 Komisarek (4 yr left)
3.833 Martin (1 yr left)
3.250 Oduya (4 yr left)
3.000 White (3 yrs left)
2.900 Salvador (3 yrs left)
0.762 Mottau (1 yr left)
5.200 Brodeur (3 yrs left)
0.650 Weekes (1 yr left)
Total Cap: 56,837,000
So Lou, if you're reading (hehe), feel free to send me complimentary tickets to the 2010 Stanley Cup Newark Parade. 3, please.