The Devils created an identity under former coach Jacques Lemaire, but have shown that they are willing to change. Traditional Devils hockey is comprised of big players, dumping the puck into the offensive zone and cycling the puck. This strategy has worked for the Devils for years.
The first Stanley Cup that the Devils won was purely about the neutral zone trap. But since then, the Devils have moved to a more offensive game. In 2000 and 2003 the Devils became one of the better offensive teams in the league.
When Brent Sutter came to town in 2008, he changed the Devils offense to a more attacking system. That brought the Devils another Atlantic Division crown, but couldn’t produce any playoff series wins. Current coach, Pete DeBoer, continues the attacking style that Sutter brought with him.
Lou Lamoirello continues to draft well, and as a result, there is always good young talent arriving from the minor leagues. For example, Adam Henrique is a Calder Trophy finalist this year. In addition, other players like defenseman Peter Harrold and the Devils number one draft pick this year Adam Larsson demonstrate that good talent has been identified and developed.
As a result of the Devils development, the team has established multiple ways to play, which is especially important in a playoff series where the other team is going to find their weaknesses and pound away at them in a best of 7 series. If the Flyers want to go toe to toe, the Devils can do that, but they can also play a more open style of hockey if necessary.
Most of the Devils players are able to make adjustments when necessary, but some aren’t as adaptable as others. Ilya Kovalchuk has played well, but cannot continue to have any more defensive lapses like the one at the end of game 7 in the last series. In addition, we know that Marty Brodeur is excellent in a structured defensive game. Can Brodeur handle a wide-open back and forth game?