With the 2012-13 lockout underway, the New Jersey Devils have some time to regroup. After a very impressive first year under Peter DeBoer the ‘Devils Army’ will be looking for a similar performance when the NHL resumes. However, a large piece of last year’s puzzle is gone. Their captain Zach Parise is now part of the Minnesota Wild after signing a 13 year 98 million dollar deal along with Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter. Although Zach didn’t lead them in points, his leadership and skill was a huge part of the devil’s success. Now, more than ever, the pressure will be on forth year Devil Ilya Kovalchuk.
It was easy to see that “Kovy” was struggling early as a Devil, but last year he proved that he is worth his multi-million contract. He led the team with 83 points during the season and 19 in the playoffs. His dominant performance during the playoffs almost helped the Devils win a forth Stanley Cup. As of now, Kovalchuk will be playing on SKA St.Petersburg of the KHL, to keep himself on the ice. But when the NHL resumes, the 2012-13 season will be an entirely different story for him. Kovalchuk will not have the same team to support him, and will have to rely on some up and comers. One of whom happens to be Adam Henrique; Henrique performed admirably in his first year, passing every milestone that was expected of him. He continued his level of play into the playoffs with some timely goals. The most important of these was his over time winner verses the New York Rangers, which gave them a birth in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Lastly, the Devils will need solid play out of future hall of famer, Martin Brodeur. That seems like an obvious statement, but after last season it might not be. Marty’s playoff performance was nothing less than terrific. He made saves that were so abnormal they required broadcasters to create new names (The scorpion on Rangers forward Marian Gaborik). But if you forget about the playoffs, he posted average numbers during the season with a GAA of 2.41 and a SV% of .908. Marty has his work cut out for him if he wants to be successful when the NHL resumes at his age.
A matchup between the Devils and the Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals was very unexpected to the hockey world, not to say that both teams didn’t deserve it. The Devils proved many people wrong with their Conference Championship title, but now they have a standard to meet when the lockout is over. Devils fans are frustrated and aggravated after losing both the cup and Parise. The only thing that will sooth their pain is another unexpected winning season from their beloved team.