The New Jersey Devils, who are in last place in the Metropolitan Division, are heading out west to the Golden State for a 3 game road trip.
In their road trip, they’ll go up against the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks. The Ducks and Sharks are amongst the top teams in the Pacific Division, while the Kings are at the bottom of the pack.
Frustration In Newark
The past month has been rough on the Devils, who can’t seem to break the now 6 game losing streak and this road-trip is going to match them up with some tough teams. The Devils have had a difficult time finding their groove on the road this season with their road record standing at 2-10-1. The Devils struggles on the road are hard to pin point to a specific cause. During a post game interview back in November, Head Coach John Hynes offered no answers as to his teams road woes.
One of the issues is the Power Play. The Devils 18.6% power play is 18th in the league, (below the league average of 20.8%). The Devils haven’t been able to generate many scoring opportunities during the power play. When those opportunities do arise, the Devils cannot seem to capitalize. They spend too much time passing the puck around, setting up plays instead of putting the puck to the net. Good things happen when you send the puck in, however that concept seems to be getting lost on the Devils.
Letting In Goal After Goal
Another issue is the amount of goals they allow against: the Devils are 5th in the league for goals against with a total of 91. The defense seems to be making a lot of mental mistakes and have a difficult time clearing the zone. Their inability to get the puck out of their own zone puts increased pressure on the goalie to come up with big saves. Keith Kinkaid has been the Devils go to goalie this season and has come up with some big saves. Cory Schneider has not been able to get a win yet, but that’s not entirely his fault. The games that Schneider has started (and ultimately lost) have resulted in him unfairly shouldering all the blame. For some reason, the team has played better in front of Kinkaid, not giving Schneider a chance to succeed. The fans now get frustrated when Schneider starts or is put in mid-game, but there are 5 other players that need to step up before it gets to the goalie. Yes, Schneider does need to make better saves. But blaming him for the loss is just unfair.
The frustrating part about watching the Devils so far this season is that they are capable and have talented players. Problem is that those talented players are not stepping up to the plate and producing for the team. Everyone seems to be playing with a lack of intensity. Sure, some players have had moments of intensity and tenacity but when you look around the league it just doesn’t compare. Look at Patrik Laine from the Winnipeg Jets, or Auston Matthews from the Toronto Maple Leafs. They play with intensity and heart and are able to be game changing players for their teams.
Maybe this road-trip will serve as a turning point in the Devils season. Maybe the top players will finally start producing for the team. Maybe it’ll all be bad, time will tell. Hopefully the Devils can turn it around. I’ll be drinking extra cup of tea for these next few games to make sure I can stay up late enough to watch them. Good thing is that there is a lot of hockey left to be played this season.
stats from NHL.com