Last season was an unbelievable year for the New Jersey Devils.
After being the worst team in the league in 2016-17, they were one of the best stories in the NHL last year. They surprised everyone by making the playoffs and having one of their players, Taylor Hall, win the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player.
Going into this season, there was no real reason to believe that things would be any different. They have pretty much the same roster as last season and a roster that knows what it takes to get into postseason.
Unfortunately, things are not looking too good for the team from New Jersey as of this writing. In fact, this year’s Devils team is looking like the team that they were in 2016-17 when they were awful.
The Devils are last in the Eastern Conference and are the fourth worst team in the league. If you’re reading this at home, that’s not good.
One reason why this team is struggling is that they are having trouble putting the puck in the net. The team is currently 21st in the league in goals scored with 75 goals in 26 games, which means they are average just under three goals per game.
While Hall is having another solid season (27 points), he has scored just eight goals. Last season, Hall scored 39 goals, so clearly, he is currently not putting the puck in the net at the same rate he did last season.
To make matters worse, this team only has one player in double digits when it comes to goals. After Kyle Palmieri (12 goals), the next best goal scorers are Hall (eight), Blake Coleman (eight), Travis Zajac (eight), and Brian Boyle (eight).
Another big problem the Devils are having is keeping the puck out of the net. The club is currently 28th in the league in goals allowed as they have allowed 91 goals in 26 games, which means that are allowing close to four goals per game.
While the team has not played well as a whole in front of their goaltenders, it is their goaltending that is costing them a lot of hockey games. Again, the defense needs to do a better job, but their goaltenders need to start stopping some pucks.
After getting the Devils into the playoffs last year, Keith Kinkaid, though not terrible, has only been okay this season. He is currently 9-7-5 with a 2.94 goals against average, a .906 save percentage, and three shutouts.
Again, those numbers are bad, but if this team wants to get back into the playoff race, he needs to get his goals against down and the save percentage up. If he can do those things, that could help in somewhat righting the ship.
Cory Schneider, on the other hand, has been downright awful. In just seven games this season, he is 0-5 with a 4.19 goals against average, and a .862 save percentage.
It is tough to figure out what is going on with Schneider. He was so good three seasons ago, but since then, he has not been anywhere close to that kind of goaltender.
In his last five games, he has given up 17 goals and has only posted one save percentage of over .900. He clearly has not been good enough for this hockey team this season and one has to wonder if he is trying to play through an injury.
While it is only December and there is still a lot of hockey left to be played, the way the Devils are playing right now is concerning. They can’t score goals, they can’t keep the puck out of the net, and they are at the bottom of their conference standings.
If something does not change fast, this team will not make the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons. That certainly will not be a good look for a once extremely proud franchise.