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A BIG SCORER SHORT OF THE ULTIMATE GOAL

http://www.nypost.com/sports/devils/48987.htm

By MARK (N)Єverson

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

PRESSURE INCREASE:

Goalie Martin Brodeur will have little margin for error this season because Devils have assembled a team lacking in top goal-scorers.

Neil Miller

October 10, 2002 -- OTTAWA - For the first time in six years, the Devils don't have a new banner to hoist to the Meadowlands rafters. Odds are, it's twice in seven this time next year.

They'll always remain a team to be reckoned with as long as Martin Brodeur is their healthy goalie and their defense remains as strong as it had been throughout their banner years.

But once again, they will be the poster boys for the fiscal strategy of trying to win without gunners, those goal-scorers who command such high price tags, the ones who lead the way in the salary escalation the NHL is committed to stopping - the ones who make hockey fun to watch.

Pat Burns is the only three-time Jack Adams Trophy winner as coach of the year, winning in his first season in each of his previous stops. He'll be hard-pressed to continue that streak here.

FORWARDS

A lot of small pieces that don't fit. It might be different if the top line was a world-beater, but it's not the A Line anymore. Joe Nieuwendyk and Patrik Elias are the most gifted forwards on the squad, and it's a symptom of the skill shortage this team faces that Burns couldn't try Elias at center, needing him to provide Nieuwendyk with someone to score goals.

Jamie Langenbrunner simply must crack (shatter!) 20 goals for the first time in five years. An effective second line is essential and Scott Gomez and Jeff Friesen have not clicked. Help is needed immediately.

DEFENSE

From here, that help must come. Again, the pieces aren't precisely matched, but at least they have them. They must hope, however, that Scott Stevens' groin injury isn't the start of aging aches. They need Ken Daneyko to again rebound from a shaky start and remain a useful mean streak around the net. Colin White improves steadily, while Scott Niedermayer may be their best backliner.

Oleg Tverdovsky must learn the defensive part of defense and Brian Rafalski still has troubles against the rush, but any other team would trade their six for these. Andrei Zyuzin had a strong camp, but his trade value isn't what he's worth. Rafalski is their only righty, Stevens has a limited no-trade, Daneyko shouldn't be dealt, White is their only young hitter and Tverdovsky just arrived. Niedermayer seems the most expendable in trade and he'd surely bring a star forward.

GOALTENDING

Brodeur had some of those lapses of concentration in camp that marred his game a few years ago, but there seems little reason to believe that by tonight, he won't be the best goalie in the league again. He may be even more valuable for clearing dumped pucks if forecheckers have free runs at defensemen.

Corey Schwab's springtime heroics in Toronto proved he is more than adequate as a backup, and might interest someone if their No. 1 goes down.

COACHING

It won't be long until the Devils are tired of Burns and his strident style, and since they've already cost Larry Robinson and Kevin Constantine their jobs in this calendar year alone, Lou Lamoriello will have trouble nipping the players' sense that they know best, as validated by their GM's actions. Burns is long on discipline and drive, but we have yet to see if that applies to tactics and strategy. Expect tight, boring games.

GM

Lamoriello has some reputation-repair to do. Passing on Burns for Constantine, then firing Constantine for Burns suggests a lack of certainty. His deals have not helped lately. And his miscalculation with Holik will haunt this team. Perhaps he wears too many hats for someone so hands-on.

PREDICTION

Their goals-against will keep them decent, their goals-for will leave them mediocre, and they'll be in a pitched battle just to make the playoffs. Third in the Atlantic, seeded seventh in the East.

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The (N)Єverson dude is an assh-le.

This article borders on evil for the beat writer for the Devils.

I won't disect it all but let's have some fun with this part.

DEFENSE

Again, the pieces aren't precisely matched, but at least they have them. They must hope, however, that Scott Stevens' groin injury isn't the start of aging aches. They need Ken Daneyko to again rebound from a shaky start and remain a useful mean streak around the net. Colin White improves steadily, while Scott Niedermayer may be their best backliner.

Oleg Tverdovsky must learn the defensive part of defense and Brian Rafalski still has troubles against the rush, but any other team would trade their six for these. Andrei Zyuzin had a strong camp, but his trade value isn't what he's worth. Rafalski is their only righty, Stevens has a limited no-trade, Daneyko shouldn't be dealt, White is their only young hitter and Tverdovsky just arrived. Niedermayer seems the most expendable in trade and he'd surely bring a star forward.

Brodeur had some of those lapses of concentration in camp that marred his game a few years ago, but there seems little reason to believe that by tonight, he won't be the best goalie in the league again. He may be even more valuable for clearing dumped pucks if forecheckers have free runs at defensemen.

Ok...the red is one side of the mouth and the blue is the other.

The pieces aren't matched? Then he admits ANY other team would trade for these six? Nieds is the teams best defenseman, but the should trade him?

And I guess Brodeur's "lapses" are less tha ALL other goalies because even (N)Єverson admits he might be the best in the league.

I am beginning to hate this guy. The NY post is a great paper. Unusually conservative view for a NE paper, and a great sports page, including hockey. It figures the Devils get the biggest d-ck on the Post staff.

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While I hate the guy, he's not completely off with some things he says. If the Devils trap heavy, that can be constituted as boring. It certainly isn't like last night's Stars/Avs game.

The Devils do not overspend for the top line scorers in free agency or trading with weaker sisters like getting a Bure (no I wouldn't want him).

Brodeur has shown mental lapses in the last few years at times. But so has just about every other goalie.

But, this is the team that I root for and I honestly feel that they do everything the way a team should.

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Joe Nieuwendyk and Patrik Elias are the most gifted forwards on the squad, and it's a symptom of the skill shortage this team faces that Burns couldn't try Elias at center, needing him to provide Nieuwendyk with someone to score goals.

I am absolutely biased about Nieuwy, of course, but does anyone else think this is a true statement? Since when does Nieuwy need to be provided with someone to score goals for him?? Is (N)Єverson that ignorant?

Nieuwy's one of the rather small group of players in the NHL who has scored more goals than assists throughout his career.

Grrrr . . . I can't wait for (N)Єverson to be proven wrong on all counts! :evil:

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One thing I agree with, The offense is a huge question mark. Gomez and Friesen NEED to be a good tandem. We are counting on them.

About the players shutting out Burns, Lamoriello wearing too many hats, it's a load of crap.

We all know there's a contentious relationship between (N)Єverson and the Devils. The NY Post should do something about it.

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For the first time in six years, the Devils don't have a new banner to hoist to the Meadowlands rafters.

I keep forgetting why most of our fans are so spoiled and complain about our 8'th defensman and 4'th liners.

saying the pices are meshing before a single game is kinda stupid imo.

I usually wait abuot 10 games before really disecting a team, this year may need 15 or so.

Joe

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As much as he is a dick. He's somewhat right here, we need an allstar forward. It's that simple. We need some scoring, because we aren't going to win like last nite 2-1 all the time. I really don't want to trade Nieder, but who else do we have that could be worth the same. Prospects usually work for cheap teams, we have Ahonen, Hale, are they worth giving up. I don't think Hale is, Ahonen definitely is. We don't need him here. Is gionta expendable? for a big forward.

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