Last season was one to forget for the New Jersey Devils, after a
blockbuster trade for Ilya Kovalchuk never panned out and the team’s
star players clashed with the coach and the playing system. While we’ll
never know exactly what happened between Jamie Langenbrunner and Jacques
Lemaire, there’s no doubt that the team’s early demise in the playoffs
were due in part to an outdated defensive system.
Zach Parise, for
one, hopes that changes with new coach John MacLean.
From Rich Chere of The Star Ledger:
“He’s younger so hopefully he’ll bring some new ideas and some
changes. Because we need it.”
MacLean, 45, spoke of getting back to Devils hockey. I asked Parise
what he thought that might be.
“Who knows? I sure hope he brings more offense, more of an aggressive
style,” he said. “I hope we play a more aggressive, puck-possession
style. You look at the teams in the (Stanley Cup) finals and that’s the
way winning teams play. They’re a lot more aggressive.”
With the scoring talent the Devils have, it’s hard to picture another
season where the team just sits back in the same defensive system
they’ve been using for so long. While this style of play has certainly
led to some continued success over the years, it’s been a long time
since the Devils made any noise in the postseason.
The Chicago Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers both proved this
year that teams can be solid defensively and yet still play an uptempo
and aggressive offensive system. The question is whether GM Lou
Lamoriello will give MacLean the go ahead to instill whatever system he
feels is best.