After a 4-1 loss to Philadelphia in their preseason opener, the New Jersey Devils look as if they may be off to a rough start, but the team has high expectations for this season and they rightfully should.
The team has not lived up to their expectations for the past few years—especially after last year's first round elimination in the playoffs by the rival New York Rangers—but they are seen as a contender for Lord Stanley's Cup almost every season.
Sensing that there needed to be some sort of change after last season, GM Lou Lamariello signed two former Devils—Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik—off the free agent market over the summer. Both players were members of Devils' Stanley Cup winning teams (Rolston in '95, Holik in both '95 and '00), so many fans will be glad for the return of these two veteran centers, who should help to fill a void with the major scoring problems the Devils had last season.
The Devils still retain other key forwards such as Jamie Langenbrunner, Patrik Elias, Brian Gionta, Travis Zajac, Dainius Zubrus, and John Madden, who will all benefit from the re-signing of Rolston and Holik.
Since the Devils had a major problem with depth at center last season, adding the two centers will give the Devils' wingmen a great boost in their game. That will most likely convert into more goals scored.
Other veterans, such as Colin White, will still be with the team to help maintain their powerful defense that the team has been built so much around throughout the years.
And Martin Brodeur, the Devils' prized goaltender and winner of last year's Vezina trophy, will still be between the pipes for the team, and backup Kevin Weekes is still on board to give Brodeur a rest whenever he needs.
The Devils have suggested in the past that the workload of Brodeur could be reduced because he is growing older and Weekes is a suitable backup/replacement for him, but that wasn't the case last season as Brodeur started 77 of the team's 82 games. Either way, the Devils have what most consider to be the best goaltender in the game today, and they will have no problems in this area as long as Brodeur is around to protect the net for the team.
Overall, Devils fans should expect nothing special from the team this season. The team will most likely be a contender in the tough Atlantic division, and it would be surprising to see them play poorly this season, although there is the possibility they could be worse than last year if it all doesn't come together like they plan.