sk//adrian

a vague collection of daily struggles, hourly arguments, minute concerns, and secondary impulses.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

dead again -- part the second.

050507_2028 the mighty Devils fell in the second round, again. the coming autumn finds the team abandoning the Brendan Byrne and moving into the new Prudential Center; the 16W Project is officially dead.

with all due respect to Ray Emery, who had a great series, Game 5 was a blubbering mess of mistiming, overskating, and poor shooting. Scott Gomez added 2 goals to his free agency resume but was otherwise invisible. by the time fifty minutes had elapsed, only one Devil -- Zach Parise -- seemed to care that the team was two scores away from another playoff elimination.

post-season appearances are almost a given in this league, and for a recently storied team like New Jersey, a five-game second-round loss is akin to most teams missing the playoffs entirely. what does the future hold? Gomez won a $5 million arbitration award last year, which the team swiftly but reluctantly matched. despite a 24-point dropoff from last year (including 20 fewer goals), he will likely draw large contract offers from teams desperate for centers (Philadelphia, Long Island, and Washington especially). Martin Brodeur had a strong regular season but a regular, if not weak post-season; a friend mentioned that had Tampa Bay thought to acquire a goaltender at some point during the season, the Devils might have been out weeks ago.

with the late firing of Claude Julien, the Tri-State papers wasted no ink calling out team boss Lou Lamoriello once the playoffs began, crying that another weak playoff appearance would weaken or destroy the reputation he built over the past decade. he deserves at least one more season before we can make any sort of decision regarding the "destruction" of his legacy. it is one thing to lose to a team that was simply better -- like Carolina last year, who eventually won the Stanley Cup. but I do not see Ottawa winning even the chance to represent the East, let alone making it all the way to the Finals.

instead, with a few exceptions, the Devils who skated against Ottawa were shadows of the same who won the Atlantic division. these shadows are almost always vanquised from within , thanks to consistent drafting (Parise, Zajac, Elias) and overlooked, undrafted free agents (Madden, Rafalski, Oduya), so another year of subtly effective personnel moves are in store. with 3 Cups in the past 12 years, Devils' fans have their sights set high -- but to spend time rooting for a team that has always managed to win without flashy signings or uttering the word "rebuild", what else are we to do? like their former parents in the Bronx, the Devils open every game, every series, every season, with one goal: to win the championship. class and decency should be expected, not rewarded; victories are the point to all of this maneuvering. new building or not, we need to hold the standards high.

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