I know a lot of people have been calling for Lou's head during the slump, and more and more I think it's unfair. Here's why:
1) We finished 6th in the conference last year. We're 8th right now. I know the Finals run was great, and makes us think last year went better, but the regular season wasn't THAT much better than this one, at least in terms of points. Throw in the fact that the conference is stronger (Montreal, Toronto, Carolina, Winnipeg stronger, Washington and Philly weaker), and Devils haven't actually gotten much worse at all.
2) Not only did we lose Parise by no fault of Lou's (and if you think we should have traded him, then you basically wish the finals run never happened), that was followed up by a lockout that cost Lou a chance to replace him in any meaningful way.
3) We have 4, maybe 5, top 6 forwards. You can blame Lou for that, but again, Parise wasn't his fault, and a lot of stupid contracts are getting thrown around, and it's for the best that Lou didn't make one. 3 of the best 6 forwards on our team are hurt (Zubrus) or slumping badly (Zajac and Clarkson). Zubrus will be back. Zajac will almost certainly bounce back, and I expect Clarkson to as well, at least to some degree. If that happens, the top 6 will still be very slightly below average (Elias and Kovalchuk make a lot of people look good), but they'll generate some chances.
4) Everybody wants us to trade one of our d-men for a top 6 forward. No one has come up with a good trade. We have 3 guys who conceivably might fetch a top 6 forward. Volch has a NMC, and it would be stupid to trade Fayne, who has been our best d-man for most of the season, or Larsson, who does a lot right, and is still developing, no matter how many people here want to flame him.
5) Lou HAS done a good job getting third line type talent, without mortgaging the future or breaking the bank. Kostopoulos looks like a good pick up. While I would have preferred to just sign him, Lou didn't lose much to get Poni back. Loktionov looks great for the price. This team may be a little shallow up top, but they have a ton of flexibility, and decent forward depth. If Zubs comes back strong, and Zajac and Clarkson return to form, they'll go into the playoffs with a much better than average bottom 6 to make up for a somewhat below average top 6, and that below average top 6 includes Kovy and Elias, so they're certainly not bad.
6) The Moose has struggled. When you have a couple of goalies pushing 40, there's a chance of injury/guys looking their age. I don't love the Hedberg contract, but he's good in the locker room, and he did a great job when Marty got hurt 2 years ago. It may not have paid off, but I take that chance if I'm Lou as well.
This slump has sucked, but the team isn't that bad, just like it wasn't that great last year. I trust Lou to make smart moves to bolster this team without mortgaging the future, which is exactly what he's done since he's been here. And if we make the playoffs, anything can happen, just like last year.