In my darkest moments, I think about what it'd be like to be a Devils fan. It must be nice; they have the greatest goaltender of all time, a bunch of good young American players, they live in New Jersey... well, I guess it's not all great. Anyway, the good people at In Lou We Trust were kind enough to answer a few questions about their crappy Eastern Conference team for our edification. They should have a few answers about my team on their site if you need a primer on the Kings. Read them both, dickhead.
1) Zach Parise: great American, or greatest American?
He's a great American player, winning gold at the WJC for the United States and he has been a constant producer at the NHL and international levels. He's still fairly young at 25 and he has plenty of times to build up his resume. He hasn't done as much as, say, Mike Modano; but he has the potential to be one of the greatest American players in our time.
His game is something I don't really recall any other great American players have. Parise is just in constant motion and his work ethic is off the charts. He'll doggedly pressure a defenseman on a forecheck or to retain the puck on a cycle. If he ever goes cross-ice to the other wing, he's almost always back at his position in short order. He loves to roam around the net and pounce on a loose puck or try to fire a shot up close for a goal, or make a feed to an open player. Despite his size (5'11", 190 lbs.), he has no fear of physical play, and so far no one has really figured out how he can be stopped.
2) How tired are you of the "It's a trap!" joke?
It just causes Devils fans to roll their eyes because it usually comes up from a fan of the opposition who isn't happy that their team isn't as good as the Devils. No, the Devils aren't playing the neutral zone trap for 60 minutes. No, the Devils aren't sitting back and clogging the neutral zone all game. To say the Devils are a trapping team is essentially to tell someone you don't understand what you're watching and so you rely on out-of-date assumptions.
3) Who the hell is Andy Greene?
Greene was an undrafted player, signed out of college after his senior with Miami (of Ohio) University. In college, he was well regarded as a two-way defender - someone who has good puck control along with good awareness in his own zone. He looked real good when starting out in Lowell in the AHL. He was called up for 23 games in 06-07 and showed some flashes of his potential. While he didn't start the next three seasons (including this season) on the active roster, he eventually tied up the #6 spot on the defense until this season. This season, Greene literally taken his game to the next level. Since Paul Martin's injury, Lemaire liked how he was looking in practice and in games and so he gave him a shot at a top 4 spot. Greene literally has ran with the opportunity and hasn't looked back since. He has improved by leaps and bounds over last season in terms of positioning, his decision making, and even his shooting. Granted, the production from Greene has slowed down a bit; but he's been the only Devils defenseman with a notable amount of points. However, that's not nearly as impressive as the fact that he's gone from the third pairing to playing in all situations and averaging 24:18 a night. Greene's not getting these minutes just because Martin's out, he's been earning this time on defense. I question whether or not he's just playing out of his mind or whether he has truly broken out in his fourth season of pro hockey.
4) Aren't you guys tired of making the playoffs all the time? It's like, unfair and stuff.
No. Admittedly, many Devils fans are so used to the team making the postseason that playing in mid-April in of itself isn't enough. They want the Cup every season. Since the lockout, the Devils haven't seen past the second round and many aren't happy with that. They like to blame - wrongly, in my opinion, and stupidly promoted by some in the media - Brodeur for playing too many games or a lack of a "big name" on defense/offense as to why they haven't gotten that far. I think the reasons go much deeper than that for not going deep. However, I like think that I have some perspective and I truly do appreciate the importance of making the playoffs. Sometimes, the matchups burn a team and there's little that can be done, as difficult as that it is to admit sometimes. Making the postseason consistently even without a "deep run" every few years is, I think, far superior to the alternative of missing the post season.