Last season, the New Jersey Devils were one of the more surprising teams in the league.
After being the worst team in the league in 2016-17, they had a huge turnaround last year and ended up making the playoffs. They were led by Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall and everything just seemed to go right for them.
This season, things seemed to be going in the same direction. They got off to a fast start and were showing that last season may not have been a fluke.
Fast forward to now and things are much different. In fact, as of this writing, this team is the second worst team in the league with 13 points, just two points in front of the Los Angeles Kings.
For the Devils, their poor play starts with team defense. The Devils are currently 21st in the league in goals allowed as they are averaging just over three goals allowed per game.
The team is not great with the puck in their own end, they seem to make some careless errors in terms of positioning in their own zone, and whenever they turn the puck over in their own zone, the other team usually ends up coming back the other way and getting a grade A scoring chance.
Speaking of keeping the puck out of the net, the team’s goaltending has been suspect to start the season. I think fans kind of knew this would be the case because of Cory Schneider’s injury, but no matter how you look at it, the goaltenders have not been up to snuff so far.
We’ll start with Schneider. In three starts since returning from injury, he has been absolutely awful.
Schneider, 32, is 0-3 with a .481 goals against average and a .849 save percentage. While he was decent in his first start of the year against the Detroit Red Wings (stopped 27 of 30 shots in a losing effort), he has been terrible since in bad losses to the Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets.
Kinkaid has been the better goaltender so far for the Devils. Kinkaid, 29, is 6-5-1 with a 2.86 goals against average and a .909 save percentage. Certainly not great numbers, but not terrible either.
This team has also been just as bad offensively. As of this writing, the club is 26th in the league in goals scored with 45 in 15 games.
While players like Kyle Palmieri (17 points), Hall (15 points), Nico Hischier (12 points), and Travis Zajac (11 points) are playing well, it’s the other forwards that need to chip in more in order to help this team win hockey games. Players like Brian Boyle (7 points), Blake Coleman (7 points), Marcus Johansson (5 points), and Miles Wood (5 points) all need to step up their games.
The good news for the Devils is that the Metropolitan Division appears to be wide open this season. With inconsistent play from all the team in the division, there is no reason why the Devils cannot kick it into high gear and get back on track.
With that said, however, a lot needs to change in order to make that happen. If the Devils are not able to do that, they may end up missing the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons.
*Photo: Boston Herald/Associated Press