To start the 2010, former New Jersey Devils standout John MacLean led the Devils to a 9-22-2 record as its new head coach. By Dec. 23, Devils management replaced MacLean with its former god of the neutral-zone-trap, Jacques Lemaire. The Devils suffered two injuries to stalwart goaltender Martin Brodeur and an injury to one of its few offensive stars, Zach Parise, and a myriad of other problems.
A funny thing happened though on the way to the offseason fishing boat. The Devils started winning. In response to the Devils trading away team captain Jamie Langenbrunner, the team went on a 26-7-3 run and nearly found themselves a playoff spot, but ran out gas with a loss to the Montreal Canadiens on April 2. It was the first time since 1996 that the Devils did not make the playoffs and the first time in 20 years the Devils would finish the season with a losing record.
The 2010-2011 season exposed some problems with the Devils, but also showed some promise with the improved play of Ilya Kovalchuk and the inspired play of backup goaltender Johan Hedberg. These are five important questions that hold the key to whether the Devils will rebound to it tradition of excellence or fade into mediocrity.