By the Masked Man
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So you are the Devils and have 20 goals in 12 games. You have cap issues, roster issues, depth issues and now have a Zach Parise issue.
During the Devils loss this past weekend in LA, Parise finally pulled the plug on a chronic ankle injury he has had all season, one that happened during summer training. Ilya Kovalchuk isn’t really scoring and neither is anyone else so the Devils have some issues.
The Devils were 0 for 2 on the power play and are an NHL-worst 3 for 39. The Devils are 0-8 when trailing after two periods, and haven’t scored more than three goals in a game. Why is this relevant? The Eastern Conference is pretty darn good and non playoff teams from last season like Tampa Bay and Toronto are improved. The Rangers have a chance when healthy to be a major factor.
This is a huge stretch for New Jersey as they finish a long western road trip. The question in NJ right now is when the season status changes from “it is still early” to “it is getting late quickly.”
The Rangers have enjoyed a great season so far from Brian Boyle. The former BC captain has finally hit the groove he enjoyed when he was at BC and leading the Eagles to a run of consecutive Frozen Four’s. Here is the kicker..if the Rangers defense struggles he can play on the back end. He did it at BC and he also did it in the minors with Manchester. The Kings at one point felt Boyle could be an NHL defenseman. Good to be versatile.
Islanders-Flyers Saturday night resembled the Isles-Flyers of old. Nastiness, penalties, cheap shots, Islander goalies looking to fight (think Billy Smith-Glen Cochrane). Flyers radio analyst Chris Therrien actually said on the air that “if not for that idiot Gillies being on the ice here at the end of the game, this could have just ended without incident.” Home team radio around most of the NHL (you could add MLB and the NFL to this) is a huge pom pom fest anyway so who could expect objectivity?
Switching gears, the three locals have built their rosters in different ways this season. Looking closely at the rosters, and we will start with the Devils here, the entry draft is still their bread and butter. The Devils roster is 46% home grown products led by Marty Brodeur, Colin White, Zach Parise, Jacob Josefson. Travis Zajac and Patrick Elias. NHL free agency is the second most populous supply of players to the Devils at 29% and that includes Johan Hedberg, Adam Mair, Matt Taormina, and Anton Volchenkov. You can thank the CCHA for a couple of good free agent college signings in Ohio State’s Rod Pelley and Miami’s Andy Greene. The Devils deserve credit for Pelley who always looked like a bonafide AHL’er but not a NHL guy who could be a factor.
The Islanders have used NHL free agency as their #1 roster filler at 43%. Players like Dwayne Roloson, Mark Striet, Mark Eaton, Mike Mottau (signed when Striet went down in camp), Trevor Gillies, P.A. Parenteau, Jon Sim, Matt Moulson, Milan Jurcina, and Doug Weight have all come in via Free Agency. The draft has given them 38% of their active roster with Rick DiPietro, Bruno Gervais, John Tavares, Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo highlight that crew along with Frans Nielsen and Blake Comeau.
The Rangers actually have the best balance of trades, free agents and drafted players on the roster. Henrik Lundqvist, Michael Del Zotto, Brandon Dubinsky, Marc Staal, Derek Stepan, Ryan Callahan, Artem Anisimov and Evgeny Grachev all came via the draft. Free agency added Martin Brion, Dan Girardi, Marian Gaborik, Ruslan Fedetenko, Chris Drury, Derek Boogaard and Matt Gilroy.