Gentle Reader, as you know, we love statistics. Nothing tells the whole story of a hockey season like numbers do, so tonight we’re going to attempt to assign a numerical value to the ’08-’09 New Jersey Devils. Using a system of assigning numbers to the highpoints and lowpoints of the season, we’ll be able to to come to a solid, number-based conclusion about what this season meant. We have a methodology, as all good statisticians do, but we’re not going to explain it because it’s very complicated, and we all only have so much time we want to spend on a Devils post-mortem, right? Let’s just get right to it and crunch some numbers, in no particular order, as they come to mind!
+100: For the season opener, which we attended with Frisby and which allowed us to meet up with a lot of you from the IPB community. It was also a win for the Devils, but anyone from the IPB community who was meeting up with us missed the game-winner because Patty made a point of scoring it while we were all still returning to our seats from the concourse.
+94: For Zach Parise having a season that cemented his status as an NHL superstar.
+26: For Patty Elias breaking the Devils franchise scoring record on St. Patrick’s Day, prompting him to skate out for second star wearing a jaunty green hat.
+29: For the cool kids on the team (ha!) bringing cribbage to the mainstream. Here’s hoping one of them gets that magic 29 point hand some day.
+7: For Paulie Martin becoming a big-minute d-man.
+70: For more MSM types jumping on the “Paulie Martin is underappreciated” bandwagon.
+700: For MSG+ showing us footage of Paulie Martin from his high school football days. Go Elks!
-776: For Paulie Martin proving without a doubt that he has absolutely no finish whatsoever.
-227: For Nik “Talc Boar” Havelid being the single most unpleasant trade-deadline surprise evah.
-1975: For that Flyers fan who tossed a smokebomb on the ice at the very start of the season, setting the tone for the 82+ games to come.
+552: For the crazy run to the wins record after Marty came back from injury. That was as fantastic a time to be a Devils fan as any we can remember, with the fun, and the media attention, and the awesomeness, and the feeling like there was nothing that could ever stop this team…
-553: For the team deciding that, frankly, anything could easily stop them as soon as 552 was won.
+1,940: For not losing in the playoffs to the Rangers. Really, that means an awful lot to us.
-120: For coming up 80 seconds of defensive-zone coverage short.
-45: For bringing Blobby Holik back.
-40: For Brian Rolston getting hurt and then not being the game-changing superhero we were hoping he’d be.
+19: For Travis putting his sophomore slump behind him and anchoring the game-changing superhero line we were hoping the Poppers could be again.
-30,000: For the emergence of Scott Clemmensen: Prover Of Marty’s Overratedness.
+30,030: For Marty coming off the IR like such a house afire that within a week, the name “Scott Clemmensen” was nothing more than a bad dream, or a joke from his first stint with the team.
-180: For Marty playing not unlike Scott Clemmensen down the stretch and for the final two games of the Hurricanes series. And the fourth game of it. And probably the second. We don’t really remember all that well. It’s all like a blur of crap to us now.
-2000: For Brendan Shanahan thinking he was so welcome as a Devil that he could force Pando out of the lineup.
-2000: For Brendan Shanahan settling into the lineup, and, after an initial burst of scoring touch, pretty much just disappearing.
+1494: For Brendan Shanahan somehow still managing to make us grudgingly decide we don’t hate him.
+2020: For Pando’s stoic acceptance of his fate, then kick-assedness when he was finally permitted back into the lineup.
+49: For the Shanny/Pando combo (with a little Madden thrown in) making Sutter have to eat his words about the usefulness of a checking line, and the usefulness of Pando in general.
-8: For the weird feeling we had about Sutter for most of the season as the entire hockey media seemed to assume he was a lame duck.
-100: For the way the injuries and Clemmer and the Pando situation and the one-year deals for Holik and Shanny made this entire season feel like a place-holder while we waited for the real team to come along. It was a strange season for us, with some marvelous high highs but also a feeling throughout that the team was holding us at arm’s length.
So. What does this mean for the Devils season? It means the 2008-2009 Devils are a -894. Definitively. We could explain to you what the context for that number is, but it would take all night, so make of it what you will. And remember, numbers never lie.