It was Schedule Day today, Gentle Reader! WOO HOO! It’s perhaps the very best day of the year that doesn’t have either a major holiday or actual hockey games on it! We love, love, love poring over the ins and outs of the seaspn to come, spending these long, lazy summer days thinking about colder, happier times of year. But this summer we’ve added a new twist to our Schedule Day; at long last our specially-designed computer, IPBtron 3000, is up and running.
The IPBtron 3000, with our dedicated team of NHL Schedule Simulators.
IPBtron 3000 is a state-of-the-art device that can, in a matter of mere minutes, run thousands of simulated hockey seasons. It crunches more numbers than even the most dedicated stat-head could imagine, in algorithms so complex they’d leave a lesser person than us with their head spinning. It’s wicked smart. And as we all know, numbers (and algorithms) don’t lie; whatever results IPBtron 3000 comes up with are indisputable.
One of the Ookies, hard at work at the helm of IPBtron 3001, which exists to check IPBtron 3000’s work.
So what does the future have in store for the Devils? We were not at all surprised to see the following summation from IPBtron 3000:
October — Devils stumble out of the gate, still adjusting to new coach Jacques Lemaire’s system. Things look dire; even though the defense is solid, the offense is a wreck, and the team falls into a bit of a hole as one of the other Atlantic Division teams starts like a house afire and opens a huge division lead. Fans worry that Zach Parise won’t score a single goal all season.
November — Devils find their equilibrium. While not looking like world-beaters, at least they’re over .500. Zach Parise finally scores a goal. And maybe even a second one.
December — Don’t look now, but the division is suddenly all square again, as the Devils are starting to figure out how to play good hockey, and the front-runner has plummeted back to earth. Patrik Elias finally scores his first goal. There is a strange strain of optimism in the air for Devils fans.
January — If the playoffs started now, the Devils would win the Cup handily. It looks for these four weeks as if the 2009-2010 Devils are perhaps the greatest Devils team of all time. Travis Zajac and Jamie Langenbrunner both score their first goals of the season, and Brian Rolston comes close to getting his. Even better, though, is the fact that someone else in the Atlantic is almost managing to keep pace, so the Devils can open a lead in the division, but not so large of one that they ever stop flying under the national media radar. The situation is perfect.
February — It’s like January, but the wins seem less about awesomeness and more about luck. Everyone just figures it’s excitement about the coming Olympics. Devils fans start looking forward to a two-week ice dancing break. Or at least, these two Devils fans do.
March — Um, no need to panic. It’s just post-Olympic break rust. All the other teams are struggling, too, so it’s not like the Devils are losing ground in the standings. And, um, the Devils who went to the Olympics? Zach, and Marty, and Paulie, and maybe Patty, and maybe Langer (HA! Joke’s on Team USA if they do that!)? Um… those aren’t injuries, per se. Just… um… wear and tear. They’ll be fine… Okay, who are we kidding? It’s the Devils. It’s March. There are 15 games of this particular March Swoon. It’s ugly. Fortunately, everyone else in the Atlantic is inexplicably struggling, too. The Devils players continue to insist that they’re all fine, that none of them were injured during the Olympics (either from competing at the Games, or from some kind of beach-related vacation mishaps), and that actually, if you don’t judge them on offense, defense, goaltending or special teams, they’re really doing quite well.
April — Is it October yet?
Bonus Prediction: The Devils meet the Rangers in the first round. Lemaire has Zach shadow Gaborik. The Rangers score six goals in the five-game series. Unfortunately, the Devils only score two.
Another Ookie, hard at work at the helm of IPBtron 3001.05, which exists to be the sexy face of the IPBtron 3000 empire.
In other words, Gentle Reader, the more things change in New Jersey, the more they stay the same. We hope the Devils prove us wrong, though. About the post-Olympic stuff. We like the December/January part.