- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Unnerved by the Flyers' ponderous defensive core and their overall inability to adapt to the zippy, postlockout NHL (they were 1-6 in shootouts, for example), Holmgren began the league's most impressive overhaul. Trades last February brought, most important, goalie Martin Biron from the Sabres and, most telling, speedy blueliner Braydon Coburn from the Thrashers. In the off-season Holmgren added Nashville puck mover Kimmo Timonen, who'll quarterback the power play.
Philly ultimately broke camp with nine players who weren't on the roster at the start of last season, among them Holmgrem's prized import: free-agent signee Daniel Briere, a swift, high-scoring center who sees in the remade Flyers a chance for a reversal of fortune. When Briere went to the Sabres in 2002-03, he recalls, "we were near the bottom. We had to get together and grow together. I have the feeling the same thing is happening here."
NEW JERSEY Devils
LAST SEASON 49-24-9 (second in East); lost in second round to Ottawa
The Devils have left the Meadowlands and a 16-year-old building, where they won three Stanley Cups from 1994-95 through 2002-03, for downtown Newark and the ultramodern Prudential Center. Does it augur a new era on ice? Well, in the off-season G.M. Lou Lamoriello went outside the organization to bring in rookie coach Brent Sutter, a firebrand who'll implement the puck-control style he used to lead Canada to back-to-back world junior championships.
That would be a break from New Jersey's trademark defensive style and could lead to a repurposing of lines. (As Lamoriello says, "Brent will come in with no preconceived notions.") Despite that, and despite the offensive void created by the loss of playmaker Scott Gomez and puck-rusher Brian Rafalski, the Devils will rely on the assets that have made them perennial contenders: 1)�peerless goalie Martin Brodeur, who last year won his third Vezina Trophy while playing in a league-high 78 games; 2)�the scoring of left wing Patrik Elias, who has led the team in points in six of the last seven seasons; 3)��bercheckers, such as John Madden and Jay Pandolfo, hounding opposing forwards into oblivion; and 4) Lamoriello's incessant micromanaging. The Devils might not quite be the Devils of old-- Colin White is the only defenseman who was with the team when it won its last Cup--but the new version will retain a classic look.
NEW YORK Islanders
LAST SEASON 40-30-12 (eighth in East); lost in first round to Buffalo