Devils fall short of the Stanley Cup, but they still have plenty to celebrate and much to anticipate for next season (Jim O)

All Things Considered

The 2011-2012 NHL season has come to a close, and the New Jersey Devils fell short of their hopes of a fourth Stanley Cup. But after a remarkable rebound from a playoff-less 2010-2011, a remarkable run in the playoffs, and a six-game, championship facing of a very formidable Kings team, there’s hardly a reason to be feeling remorse.

The 2011-2012 Devils played stellar on a plethora of levels. No matter where they finished in their division, conference, or in the playoffs, the fans got their eyesight’s worth in production and excitement. The players that were expected to perform did just that. Zach Parise, Ilya “Kovi” Kovalchuk, and David Clarkson all stayed healthy and performed up to expectations. Their respective 31, 37, and 30 regular season goals scored wasn’t just an argument to make for a season played beyond expectations; it also resembled extraordinary team-play and puck distribution.

Seeing some records get broken is another staple of a good Devils season, and there was room for that in 2012 as well.

On December 17th, Patrik Elias surpassed John Maclean in the Devils’ record books with 348 career goals. Patrik finished the season with 26 goals, and the franchise record he currently owns is 361 career goals (he also led the team with 52 assists during the 2011-2012 regular season.)

Another record was set this season, and it wasn’t simply a franchise record set by any single player.

The Devils broke an NHL record with a penalty-kill percentage of 89.6. The record was originally set by the Dallas Stars in the 1999-2000 season, and the Devils went on to defeat that same Dallas team in the 1999-2000 Stanley Cup Championship.

Adam Henrique gave the fans plenty to remember for his first season in the NHL, and then he threw in some bonus excitement for the playoffs.

The Devils’ phenomenal rookie finished the season with 51 points on 16 goals and 35 assists. His rookie-reigning also made him a major factor in the team’s record-setting for PK%. Henrique averaged 1:47 minutes-per-game on penalty killing opportunities during the regular season. At the close of this Stanley Cup Championship, he finished his first postseason with 13 points on 5 goals and 8 assists.

Two of Henrique’s playoff goals were overtime goals, and one of those overtime goals was the series-clincher in the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers. A regular season and a playoff season as such help Henrique who is in contention for the Calder Memorial Trophy; the NHL’s rookie of the year award yet to be determined.

In other great news, Zach Parise has made it clear he wants to return to the Devils for the start of the 2012-2013 season. Parise, whose contract expires on July 1st, relieved fans by saying “No” when asked about the possibility of signing with the Devils’ cross-river rivals, the Rangers.

“I’ve always appreciated everything this organization has done for me,” said Parise.

Added to Parise’s desire to return is Martin Brodeur’s willingness to play another season for the Devils. Brodeur, who has stamped his name across practically every NHL goalie record, would be returning for his second decade of work if he finishes the 2012-2013 season.

Marty looked as competent and as agile as any counterpart in the league in 2011-2012, and keeping him at the core of leadership for this Devils team might help with giving them another shot at the cup for next year.

While the season has come to an end, all fans can do is stay updated on what is to come for next year. Decisions will be made about who will be staying, and decisions will be made about who will be going. These decisions will be tough, and Devils’ management is as aware as the fans are about this current roster coming within two games of another cup victory. Nonetheless, almost does not add a fourth Stanley Cup Championship to the Devils’ collective.

It is nice to compete and win as an underdog, but whatever additions/subtractions that may occur during this off-season will hopefully make the New Jersey Devils team a dominant force for the 2012-2013 season. All a fan can do now is watch and listen until the start of next year.

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