OK, we've had some fun here at AHF with this whole Julien firing, and that's important. But as the site's resident Devils fan, I see that it falls to me to provide some perspective. After all, I've been watching this team all season, and if attendance is any indication, you sure as hell haven't. So give me just a moment to collect myself here, and speak out in defense of Lou Lamoriello.
Oh, yeaaaaahh...that's better.
First off, I haven't been wildly impressed with Julien's coaching. And before you point to the standings, let me assure you that if you'd been watching them all year, you wouldn't be too impressed either. This team has had to work WAY too hard to get where they are. I don't care to look up the stats (Forechecker?), but the number of one-goal games they've played this year has got to be some kind of record. And yeah, they've won most of those games, but if your team has to go full throttle to beat Philly 3-1 (including an empty-netter, no less) there's no denying that something ain't right.
Yeah, they've had some injuries lately...a lot, in fact. And having players like Patrik Elias, Brian Gionta, and John Madden all out at the same time is going to be a kick in the crotch (or in this case, groin) no matter who your coach is. But why so many injuries? At the time, the team blamed bad ice at the Meadowlands after the circus had been in town...but I didn’t really see that ice affecting the other teams. Might those injuries be due to a reduced number of practices, or a lack of intensity in the few practices they did have? Or was it the overworking of the top three lines resulting from a resistance to play a fourth line that, while not exactly offensive superstars, are still one of the best "energy" lines the Devils have seen in years?
Putting that aside, though, injuries are part of the game, and the beauty of the Devils' system and of their much-heralded (and rightly so) scouting department is that you can call up guys from Lowell to fill those roles. Rod Pelley demonstrated that he is a Madden-in-training, matching up against some of the top players in the league, going only -3 in 9 games, and winning faceoffs with a vengeance. And David Clarkson knocked us all on our collective ass notching 4 points in his first 7 NHL games, including 2 goals on the power play – and that's to say nothing of his gritty physical play on both sides of the puck. The talent was there, even during the stretch of injuries. But the team just wasn’t clicking...so who do you blame? (Hint: the coach)
If you're still wondering whether dumping Julien was the right move, take a look at last night's game against Ottawa. The second most productive offense in the league, and the Devils took them through 6 rounds of a shootout before John Madden (the captain of this team - sorry, Patrik) put the final nail in the coffin. Another one-goal victory, but it was like night and day compared to that game in Philly.
So maybe Lou's "house" was "spotless." It was certainly plenty clean enough for the likes of you and me...let's face it, we live like pigs. Empty pizza boxes all over the place, laundry stacked a mile high in the corner – if someone came in a washed a dish, that'd probably be enough to satisfy us. But in this case, I'm reminded of one of Lou's apocryphal quotes – "Good is not good enough when better is expected."
See you in the playoffs – In Lou We Trust!
UPDATE - The Forechecker rules. Anyone with theories on why the new NHL features so many one-goal games, let's hear 'em.