Peter DeBoer has already passed a test no Devils coach has since Jacques Lemaire's first tenure - being the coach on 3 straight opening days. However, he's got 3 more tests this season that could determine whether we see him back for a 4th season or whether he goes the way of so many Lamoriello coaching hires. I will categorize these tests as the 3 tests from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, because if the Devils don't make the playoffs, then the forces of darkness will march all over the face of the earth.
1. The Path Of God - Andrei Loktionov
Andrei Loktionov came over in a midseason trade and was called up shortly thereafter. He had a marvelous hot streak, but the Devils didn't win that often with him in the lineup - hockey-reference has them going 8-20 with Loktionov. His territorial stats may be somewhat of a fluke, but this kid can play. He's got some defensive shortcomings but he is terrific on the forecheck and has excellent vision. Right now he's not included on the Devils power play but to me this has to change. If the Devils don't play him a lot and he goes back to Russia as a result, they may have missed out on a tremendous player.
2. The Word Of God - Martin Brodeur
Brodeur's word has been that of the Word of God for more than 15 years, and indeed most Devils coaches have been jumping from M to A to R to T etc. on stones to avoid falling to their deaths. DeBoer is going to have to handle this transition diplomatically, because Brodeur will run to the press if he's not starting often. Still, it's hard to imagine Brodeur being much better than he's been the last 3 years, and Schneider should be getting 50 starts this year if he stays injury-free.
3. The Breath Of God - Mark Fayne
The analogy breaks down here, but icing a defense with Bryce Salvador, Anton Volchenkov, Marek Zidlicky, and Peter Harrold may be like jumping into an open chasm at times. Mark Fayne ended up in the doghouse last year after a few giveaways led to goals, but what didn't lead to goals with Hedberg and Brodeur in net? Fayne is head and shoulders better than Volchenkov, Salvador, and Harrold and was better than Adam Larsson last year too. It appears he's sitting out the opening game - if the Devils treat Fayne poorly, he'll walk at the end of the season, and as long as his new team has an open mind and he continues to play how he can play, that team will have gotten an inexpensive top 4 defender. This guy was good enough to take on top players during 11-12 and now he can't even get in the opening night lineup? Bushwah. The Devils' margin for success is thin, so not dressing the guy who might be your 3rd best defenseman is not really a step in the right direction.