The Devils keep on rolling, staying at the top of the Atlantic Division with a record of 40-18-6. During the month of February the Devils had an outstanding record of 10-3-0; another strong performance throughout February. There's not a whole lot to say other than Martin Brodeur continues to be the NHL's best goaltender and arguably the best player in the league. He's had some poor games, but remains in the zone with a GAA of 2.06 (currently 2nd, behind Dominik Hasek of Detroit), a 92.6% save percentage (currently 2nd behind Chris Mason of Nashville), and the NHL's leader in wins (39) and shutouts (12). The month was so good, even Scott Clemmensen got a start and won. Brad Lukowich and Johhny Oduya continue to be good on defense, as are Brian Rafalski, Colin White, and Paul Martin. An injury to Gionta through the second half of the month hurt the Devils' EGG line, but the PZL unit of Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, and Jamie Langenbrunner have been getting the goals to help NJ pull through. The only consistent negative about the Devils is their power play and so far it hasn't doomed them. Made things more frustrating to watch in some cases, made games harder for the Devils, but the Devils continue to a be one of the best teams in the league.
Now, who is the Devil of the month? I have two real options. Let me tell you who is option number one. best Devil of the month first: Zach Parise. In the wake of the groin injury to Brian Gionta, it is easy to point out how Zach Parise stepped up. However, a closer look at the numbers from game-to-game shows he has been stepping up throughout the month. Only four games without a point, 8 goals, 4 assists, and arguably the most impressive goal scored by the Devils so far this season.
Now with 26 goals and 23 assists, Parise is the team's leading goal scorer and developing into an excellent player. That said, he's only one of my options. Who's the other option?
Easy. Martin Brodeur. I can't in good conscience deny this man's ability. Look at the scores of the games the Devils have played this month at NHL.com's schedule page.
7 of the Devils' 10 wins were one-goal games. While he hasn't had some good nights, (e.g. 6-5 win over Philadelphia on Feb. 1; 4-1 loss on Feb. 11 to Tampa Bay; 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh on Feb. 16), he has been nothing short of brilliant against Buffalo, the New York Islanders, and the New York Rangers. 3 shutouts, 9 wins, and still leading or close to it in all major goaltending statistical categories. He's even on the cover of the latest issue of The Hockey News, the Goalie Issue
(in America. Canada gets the infamous Andrew Raycroft on the cover for the annual Goalie Issue. Poor Canada.) Who to choose? Brodeur's consistent excellence or Parise's monster month?
Hell, it's my blog, I'll name them both the Devils of the Month. Zach Parise and Martin Brodeur are the ILWT Devils of the Month.
ASIDE: I like how aforementioned latest issue of the Hockey News has an article on Scott Clemmensen and Martin Brodeur. I am not surprised Mike Brophy's column on why the Devils are just plain bad for hockey; Brophy's "articles" were a good waste of my time reading them when I was a former subscriber to THN. Granted, the Internet has rendered much of THN useless and that had more to do with my decision to stop buying the mag except for special issues (namely, the draft preview). Anyway, another hater in the hockey media. Should we send them pacifiers or notes saying "We're New Jersey and we don't care what you think of us?" As usual, I think it's best to ignore them.
UPDATE TO THE ASIDE: Trendon at On Fire already has a response to this, presumably to Mike Brophy (who I incorrectly called John).
Very powerful, I hope Brophy reads it and learns something from it.