posted 8 years ago
NEWARK —A year after opening the season with a new coach, a new arena and a new identity, the New Jersey Devils are mixing in a little of the old in an attempt to make another run at the Stanley Cup
Welcome back Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik.
The former teammates on the Devils' first championship team in 1995 were signed in the offseason in an effort to add a little grit, character and scoring to a team that lacked it in a first-round playoff loss to the New York Rangers last spring.
"The great thing about it is that it's not that big of a change," goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "Usually, when you sign free agents, there's a period of adjustment for everyone. But Brian and Bobby blended right in here and that's definitely a good thing. Plus, we have so many good young players who are going to make a difference."
While Rolston and Holik will add the intangibles as the Devils shoot for their 12th straight playoff berth, the key to the team will be Brodeur heading into the season opener on Friday night against the New York Islanders.
The 36-year-old enters his 15th season on the verge of becoming the all-time winningest goaltender in NHL history. The workhorse needs 14 wins to surpass Patrick Roy's record of 551 and eight more shutouts to top Terry Sawchuk's career mark of 103.
The Roy record should fall by Thanksgiving, provided Brodeur stays healthy. He posted a 44-27-6 record last season in winning the Vezina Trophy for the fourth time.
The shutout record might take a little longer. Brodeur only had four last year and his chances of getting more are not good playing with a defense that does not have a dominant player like Scott Stevens or Scott Niedermayer.
"I'm just happy to get it going here," said Brodeur, who has started at least 70 games in each of the last 10 seasons. "We made some changes to the team and made the team better. I'm looking forward to start the season and see where we match up with the top teams in the league."
The addition of Rolston and Holik solidified the first and fourth lines, giving the Devils four solid lines.
Rolston, who had at least 30 goals in each of his three seasons in Minnesota, will center the top line with Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta, and also give the team a quarterback on a power play that had only 50 extra-man goals last season.