Crappy way to end the season. Outside of that nice 8-1-3 start, this was a pretty craptacular NHL season for Devils fans for sure.
Some people will point to bad luck, some will point to individual players, some to Lou, some to Parise's departure...but suffice it to say there's plenty of blame to go around. The problems are pretty simple, and we know what they all are: they can't score and they can't stop the puck.
All you need to know about Marty is that he ranks 11th in GAA (2.23) and 39th in save% (.900). The latter number is bad, and the former was clearly buoyed by the low volume of shots he faced. And the flat-out low save%s is continuation of a trend that is now on its 3rd season. I'd be surprised if he retires after this off-season, but I really do hope Lou and him have a sitdown, because though he deserves to try to exit the game on good terms, he can't go into next season as the unquestioned #1. If the Devils are going to be a club that struggles to score goals (and it looks like they will be for the short term...probably not as bad as they were this season, but I would think bottom half of the league for sure, likely bottom third), then the simple reality is, Lou needs to find someone who has a reasonable shot to stop .915-.920 of the shots heading his way. Such a goalie currently doesn't play for the Devils. I'm not going to get into picking apart Marty's quotes and killing him, but at the same time, I think this season showed conclusively that Lou can't just throw Marty out there next season and hope that he suddenly finds the Fountain of Youth. But I hope Marty realizes it too, because next year can go one of two ways...he can leave the game on reasonable terms, or he can pull a Messier and make things awkward for everyone, from the fans to his teammates to his GM to ownership. The sad fact is that some all-time greats have a hard time realizing that they've declined, and think they have that one last good season left in them. This off-season will go a long way in establishing whether Marty is willing or able to see that he simply shouldn't think of himself as THE guy anymore. I hope he does, because I don't think anyone associated with the Devils wants to be the one to tell him that painful truth. I think they're all hoping he will come to this conclusion almost completely on his own.
Can't help but wonder what will happen with Elias too. Since he signed his big contract, he has been good for 25 goals per 82 game block on average (regular season only)...no, Elias' value is clearly not measured on goals alone. But he's 37 and probably not going to get better, and if the Devils re-sign him, I am going to guess that they will do it thinking he's going to be one of their go-to scorers. If the Devils want to keep him, I am OK with it, as long as it's not for more than two years, and as long as he's not being paid like he's a guy who the Devils should count on for primary scoring. He should be looked at as a secondary scorer for the stage of his career he's about to enter...if someone wants to pay him as though he can do more than that, in both years and dollars, then Lou should let him go. I know some fans will feel like Elias should never leave, and that other fans will point out that an immediate Elias replacement or a player like him may be hard to find in the short term, but the last thing the Devils need is another overpaid star on the decline. Lou needs to tread carefully on this one.