The month of November was a tumultuous one for New Jersey. One of the worst fates befell the Devils: Martin Brodeur not being able to play. A horrible injury that could happen to the Devils happened in the very beginning of the month: Martin Brodeur tore a tendon in left elbow and will be out of action for 3-4 months. That was just the big exclamation point to start a month where free agent signings Bobby Holik and Brian Rolston as well as defenseman Andy Greene were already injured. At one point or another this month John Madden, Brian Gionta, and Bryce Salvador among others missed games due to injury.
This month was not only a trial of whether the Devils could succeed in spite of their injuries, but without the cornerstone of the franchise for the better part of the last decade and a half: Martin Brodeur. The results were mixed, largely driven how the offense would find success on a given night or the lack thereof.
he Devils ended the month with a record of 12-8-2 overall, due to a November where they went 7-6. At first glance, one may think that's pretty good in spite of the injuries. However, looking at how the Devils scored in wins and losses tells the tale that an inconsistent offense resulted in such a balanced record.
- In Devils wins in November, they scored a total of 32 goals. In their 7 wins, the Devils averaged an incredible 4.57 goals per game.
- In Devils losses in November, they scored a total of 6 goals, an average of, well, 1 per game.
You don't need advanced statistical analysis to figure out that if the Devils aren't finishing plays and/or if the opposition goaltender is hot, then the Devils probably weren't going to win. Of course, the results from this month largely came in streaks. After the initial injury of Broduer in a 6-1 beatdown of Atlanta, the Devils flip-flopped results between Buffalo (a 2-0 loss) and Tampa Bay (a 4-3 shootout win) before beginning a four game losing streak. While many Devil fans will focus on the Rangers demolishing the Devils in the second period en route to a 5-2 loss; the Devils weren't so much outplayed in the other three games. They just weren't finishing plays. They'd get shots on net, the skaters would be able to keep up with the other team, but they couldn't light the lamp. And so they lost. Suddenly, a wild, defense-optional 6-5 shootout win over Washington became the starting point for a 5 game winning streak where the Devils would, well, finish plays. This was glorious to watch. However, it - the streak and the month - all ended in a game that just went awry for the Devils at Pittsburgh last night.
It must be said that throughout the month, the issue has not been in net. OK, Kevin Weekes got lit up in the Rangers game and Scott Clemmensen made some poor decisions with his stick last night. However, both did well enough to keep the Devils in almost all the games that they were in - even in most of the losses. Both Weekes and Clemmensen have stepped up their games to fill in a role with a nigh-impossible hole to fill, and they have done well so far. We cannot blame either of them solely for any failures. Again, just look at the numbers if you want to see the major difference between a win and loss from this month: if Devils able to produce goals, then they win, if they have trouble scoring, then they won't.
Anyway, so considering all this then, who was the best Devil of the whole month? I emphasize the whole month because it's not enough to be great during a winning streak. I feel the best Devil is generally the one who excels even in losses. Failing that, I then consider whose contribution has been the most responsible for success coming to New Jersey.
To satisfy both cases, the player that best fits this category in my opinion is Patrik Elias. Now, Zach Parise and Paul Martin had some strong months (No surprise for Parise, but consider Martin, the Devils are 6-2 when he was playing that month); but Elias really broke out this month. He put up 6 goals and 10 assists to put him at just under a point per game so far this season. What's more is that even when he's not scoring, he's still shooting and threatening the goalie on offense - he was only held shotless once (the Ranger game), still he averaged approximately 3.3 shots per game in November. His rise brought about some additional production from Dainius Zubrus and Brian Gionta. When Sutter put them on a line together, they just clicked and gave opposition defenses someone to worry about other than Zach Parise. Elias was a big part of that and a big reason why the Devils went on the streak to begin with. For that reason, Patrik Elias is the November 2008 ILWT Devil of the Month.
#26 / Left Forward / New Jersey Devils
Apr 13, 1976
November 2008 ILWT Devil of the Month
GP: 13 G: 6 A: 10 PIM: 6 S: 43