Devils advocate

12Apr10

Mike Brophy isn’t exactly one of my favourite hockey writers.

The long-time puck scribe, who currently scrawls his dribble three times weekly for sportsnet.ca, is a prickly sort. He likes to ruffle feathers, but not in a Don Cherry sort of way.

No, Brophy can be downright annoying. He’s weasely, in an Al Strachan manner.

But today, I’m inclined to agree with one of his prognostications. Brophy argues in today’s column, East Isn’t Least that there is a serious Stanley Cup threat lurking within the NHL’s Eastern Conference that isn’t garnering many headlines.

The New Jersey Devils, as Brophy astutely points out, have been flying under the rader this season. Overshadowed by the media darlings, defending Cup Champion Pittsburgh and President’s Trophy winning Washington, New Jersey quietly finished the regular season in second place in the conference.

The Devils, Brophy says, have a bit of everything. The team has strong, balanced scoring from Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac on down through vets like Jamie Langenbrunner and Brian Rolston. Brophy also likes the Devils’ defence, led by Paul Martin and Andy Greene.

And of course,  Martin Brodeur is still entrenched in the New Jersey crease.

Oh, yeah, that Lemaire fellow is back behind its bench too.

Brophy likes the Devils chances and so do I. The other Eastern contenders have major holes in their lineups. Washington has poor goaltending, a weak defence and questionable leadership/grit, the Penguins have a soft defence and the pressure of trying to repeat on their shoulders. Buffalo? Forget it; Boston will eat them for breakfast.

The Devils are the most balanced team in the East.

They might also be the conference representative in the Stanley Cup final.

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