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DeBoer: Kovalchuk-less Devils have a big challenge

Jul 15, 2013, 1:50 PM EDT

Peter DeBoer Getty Images

New Jersey coach Pete DeBoer wasn’t trying to fool anyone today when asked about the departure of Ilya Kovalchuk for the KHL.

According to DeBoer, next season’s Devils team will be a far different version than the one that made it to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.

“Sure it’s different,” DeBoer said, per the Star-Ledger. “You take out a (Zach) Parise and you take out a Kovalchuk. Those are players who single-handedly can do some things that only a handful of players in the world can do. We’re going to have to be a different team.

“We’re going to have to play more of a team game. Our five-man units and our systems are going to have to be air tight. Our special teams are going to have to be better. Goaltending is going to have to be top notch like it has been. There is going to be an emphasis on all those areas because you’re taking out a couple game-breaking players.”

The Devils missed the playoffs in 2013 (though they were perhaps a bit unlucky in that regard), so clearly they have a pretty big challenge facing them next season.

They should, however, be better in one area, and that’s goaltending. You’ll recall that Martin Brodeur was hurt for a lengthy stretch of this past season, during which Johan Hedberg really struggled to fill in. And let’s be honest, Brodeur wasn’t exactly unbeatable when he was healthy, finishing with a save percentage of just .901.

Now, after Cory Schneider came over from Vancouver, the Devils have a legitimate competition for the starting job.

  1. DED - Jul 15, 2013 at 2:07 PM

    Marty’s gonna have to step up and score a lot more. 😉

  2. puddywasright - Jul 15, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    Devils history is about playing as a team so to have to go back to that is ok with me.
    #17’s shot was a great asset but I think many teams figured it out and neutralized it. Also, he fell off in being a shoot out sure thing. He will be missed but if the Devils stay healthy, they will be competative. Goodbye sniper.

  3. ethanmacleod1685 - Jul 15, 2013 at 2:39 PM

    PHT has turned into NJ Devil central lol

    • ibieiniid - Jul 15, 2013 at 2:44 PM

      lol shyeah, every other story. w/e, i’m with it tho. that’s a pretty big story for a quiet period of the offseason. i’ll consider ourselves lucky to still have some hockey to talk about.

    • hockey412 - Jul 15, 2013 at 2:44 PM

      It’s the offseason – it’s either the Devils or more stuff from Seguin’s parents.

    • tru2joelu4eva - Jul 15, 2013 at 3:01 PM

      can we start talking about the coyotes again?

    • 19to77 - Jul 15, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      Surely there’s a new chapter in the epic saga of Roberto Luongo to write about.

    • nj666 - Jul 15, 2013 at 4:54 PM

      as a devils fan I’m sick of the kovalchuk crap too, hes gone its time to build off that

  4. mpg44 - Jul 15, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    It’s about time Deboer figured out what devils hockey is !!

  5. 950003cups - Jul 15, 2013 at 7:41 PM

    I’ll be over the Kovy thing if we win games. Ingot used to seeing him wreak havoc on goaltenders.

  6. blomfeld - Jul 15, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    “Now after Cory Schneider came over from Vancouver, the Devils have a legitimate competition for the starting job” ? …

    PFFT ! … more like the Devils now have the league’s # 3 best goalie backstopping their effort ! … and you combine that with the removal of two ‘over-rated & over-priced’ leeches and I’d say that you’ve now got the makings of a perennial cup contender ! … I actually wish the Devils well, especially with Schneider now on their side.

    *** Top NHL Goaltenders as per Bloomberg Sports ***

    1) Jonathan Quick
    2) Cory Schneider
    3) Ryan Miller
    4) Jonathan Bernier
    5) Carey Price

    28) Miika Kiprusoff
    29) Ilya Bryzgalov
    30) Alexander Ovechkin

    GO KINGS GO !!! … TODAY, TOMORROW AND FOREVER !!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) :) :)

  7. 950003cups - Jul 15, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    Wow. It finally came full circle. I just wanna say that I really enjoyed watching that man play. While I don’t agree with his decision, I must say that he changed the protocol of the way fans were treated. He mentioned the fans in every interview. He mentioned appreciation for them even when they booed his Thanksgiving greeting on the Jumbotron because he had a bad turnover leading to a goal.

    I appreciated all the interviews that were directed towards us in the stands.

    I also remember he was the one who had hats and shirts printed with the Swarm It Up logo prior to the 2012 playoffs.

    I wish Good luck to Kovy. I take back all the angry things I said when he left. I was sad.

    I just hope the younger players can keep that attitude alive. He really was a student if the game and he truly admired Jacques Lemaire. He carried the team on his back when Lemaire came back. I’ve never seen a hat trick live until I saw him do it vs the Islanders.

    I wish him the best of luck. Too bad he’s not playing in the NHL.

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