Heading into play last night, the Devils were only three points up on the cellar dwelling New York Islanders. If that isn’t bad enough, the Isles have played one less game than New Jersey.
New Jersey has had trouble scoring this season, recording a paltry 1.76 goals scored per game, way back of the second worst aforementioned Islanders who are averaging 2.11 goals per game played. If that’s not bad enough, they have also had trouble keeping the biscuit out of their own basket, allowing an average of 3.00 goals against per match. That combination isn’t going to net you many wins.
Was last night’s 3-0 shutout against the Phoenix Coyotes the turning point in the Devils season? Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice, Martin Brodeur notched another shutout and Travis Zajac chipped in with a pair of helpers. New Jersey doesn’t have enough depth to compensate when their best players don’t play their best.
There were many negative opinions when New Jersey signed Ilya Kovalchuk to a 15 year contract. While I don’t agree with signing a player for 15 years (five years is long enough), it was only done to bring the cap hit down to a very Devilish $6,666,666 per annum.
Now as gross as that cap hit may seem, there are 24 other players who eat up as much or more cap space than Kovalchuk. Included in this illustrious list of multi-millionaires are Scott Gomez, Vincent Lecavalier, Brian Campbell, Thomas Vanek, Brad Richards, Jason Spezza, Jay Bouwmeester and even Chris freaking Drury! Meanwhile Kovalchuk has averaged 45 goals and 87 points over the last six seasons.
Who has put up better numbers over that period? Alex Ovechkin who in five years has averaged 54 goals and 106 points. Sidney Crosby has averaged 37 goals and 101 points over five seasons and Evgeni Malkin, 36 goals and 95 points over four seasons. Dany Heatley is the closest comparable with 44 goals and 89 points over five campaigns. All four of these players have higher cap hits than Kovalchuk. Condemn Lou Lamoriello for the signing if you like, but at least the player has had the statistics to justify the contract.
Back in November, Brent Lemon talked about a book he read that questioned Martin Brodeur‘s status as maybe the best ever to play his position.
The biggest problem I have with this is using a statisti