2-1 winners last night over Washington, the New Jersey Devils are having a solid season- near the bottom! Since 2012 there has been little to cheer about in Newark. Currently 14th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 14-15-7, only a point separates the Devils from obscurity. Despite glimmers of hope this year, New Jersey seems unable to lift itself out this continual slump.
The trade for Taylor Hall at first looked like a smart piece of business. So far it has paid off with Hall ranking second overall on the team points list with 23. However, Hall is one of the few occasions that the Devils have looked to the future. If you look closely at their roster, the depth pool is only foot deep.Veterans like P.A Parenteau, Mike Cammalleri and captain Andy Greene still serve a good purpose. You have to wonder if this team will need a complete overhaul to get where they need to be?
Travis Zajac tops the scoring table with 24 points but at 31 years old he is no spring chicken. Goals for has been a big issue at the Prudential Centre this year. The Devils hold the fourth lowest scoring record with only 81 goals. With no real star power to their name, New Jersey is just feasting on scraps and hoping to score big at the draft. During their glory years from 1995 to 2003, this team had talent and quality in abundance. Now they seem reluctant to pursue bigger names and are clinging to the hope the good ol’ days will return.
Netminding is still a void that New Jersey is gradually filling. Cory Schneider looked heir apparent to Martin Brodeur when he first joined in 2013. Since then he has put up impressive numbers over the last three seasons. His save percentage numbers of .921, .925 and 9.24 show this is one area they are improving in. Schneiders record this season stands at 10-12-0 from 27 starts. New Jersey has shipped a massive 106 goals against. Blue line quality has dipped since the days of Stevens and Niedermeyer.
Missing the playoffs for four straight years has made the Devils once proud reputation sink. There seems to be an air of apathy all around this franchise and GM Ray Shero really needs to think hard. New Jersey’s playing style and just the overall attitude of this team is decidedly underwhelming. They need to reestablish a new blood line and work from there. Getting Hall was smart and he has emerged as one of the few bright spots (despite his terrible hit on Philip Larsen).
They need to get rid of this whole ‘Dad’s Army’ approach to their side. Having a roster mainly made up of veterans might bring experience but it hasn’t been bringing goals. They need to work on bring forward their younger talents because this is an area they are sorely lacking in. Looking to the future will be the key to any success. Head coach John Hynes’ days might be numbered because after consistent years of missing the playoffs- New Jersey might want to start making a list of contenders. Since 2015, Hynes only has 52 wins from a possible 122 games!
I understand Devils fans frustration but the sad truth is that Rome wasn’t built in a day. It might be years before we see this side a competitive force again. New Jersey is making baby steps towards improvement so far but in order to make the breakthrough those steps need to become wider. Perhaps this time team should follow the lead of Columbus Blue Jackets? This side had a similar problem with roster depth, but have found a way to turn it into an advantage. New Jersey has a plan hidden somewhere in the wreckage surely? Either way they need a bright idea very soon.