Hockey Buzz has a series of questions that surround the New Jersey Devils. They are great questions that really make you think about the Devils and the current state they are in. I will answer those questions...
"1. Will the Devils finish in the top-six of the Eastern Conference, and why or why not?"
I personally do not believe they Devils will finish top 6 in the East. If you look at the standings right now and look at who is currently below the 6th seed, you will understand why I say no. (Also, I know the season just started.) The currently Stanley Cup champions are in 11th place. You have to figure that they will not be down there much longer. Its WAY too early to not consider them to be in the top 6 let alone top 3. Tampa Bay is sitting at 12th. There is too much fire power in that offense to not make the playoff or at most top 6 in the conference. They still have the pieces that brought them to the Eastern Conference finals last season. A lot of the middle of the pack teams like Carolina, Florida, Toronto, Montreal and quite possibly the Islanders can make a run that can push the Devils out of the top 6 or out of the playoffs all together. So I say nay to top 6.
"2. If Martin Brodeur struggles with injuries throughout the year and misses a fair amount of games, can Johan Hedberg hold up?"
Johan has quite a bit of NHL experience at being the number one guy. But I think given his age he may not last. I think it would safer to say that towards the end of the season we see more of Keith Kinkaid of Jeff Frazee. It has become a trend in the NHL to not have a steady number one goaltender but a goaltending tandem. I think Johan may last for a while on his own but he will need to be relieved more often than Brodeur has in recent years when he was healthy. I think a tandem is the smart thing to do especially if the Devils are on the verge of making the playoffs and need Johan for the playoffs.
"3. Ilya Kovalchuk is currently ahead of Zach Parise in the point category. Will it be like that at the end of the year?"
Yes, Kovalchuk will have more points than Parise but the bigger stat here will be +/-. Parise will blow Kovalchuk out of the water in that category. Don't get me wrong Parise will be up there in points but Kovalchuk will have more on the simple fact that Parise is a better two player. Parise may sacrifice points to be a better defensive player.
"4. Will any of/or both of Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise finish in the top 15 in points this season?"
Nope. If the the first few games showed the exact reason why. So far the Devils have never scored more than 3 goals in a game. (The Los Angeles game the 4th goal was an empty netter, doesn't really count) If that trend continues and the Devils are winning games via the shootout, I can't see them being in the top 15. If anyone on the Devils is going to, it'll be Kovalchuk.
"5. Will Adam Larsson be one of three finalists for the Calder Award, and will he win it? If not, who will?"
Finalist, yes. Winner, yes given that his play is one of the reasons why the Devils give up less goals and proves that he is positively effecting the powerplay. He is no doubt the anchor the defense in the future and if he can really show that in his first year, he will win the Calder.