Halfway through the NHL season, the New Jersey Devils have been nothing short of abysmal. The Devils sit at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division with 37 points. For the ninth time in ten years, the Devils are likely to miss the playoffs.
The most embarrassing part of this season is that the Devils are behind the Philadelphia Flyersin the standings, who had a 13-game losing streak this year. Clearly, this season has been disappointing thus far.
Jesper Bratt leads the team in points with 43 through 44 games. Jack Hughes is in second with 27 points in 28 games, and Andreas Johnsson rounds out the top three with 26 points in 45 games. Even though Hughes missed time due to injury earlier in the season, he is second in the team in points. Being their lone all-star, the Devils hope he will remain healthy for the rest of the season.
Alarmingly, Jesper Bratt is the only Devil within the top 100 league point leaders. Tied for 31st, that is not enough firepower to carry a team. This lack of offense explains why the Devils have a goal differential of -31.
Nico Hischier has been solid thus far and was one of the strongest players during Jack Hughes’ absence earlier this year. However, the team would like to see Nico grow into the star fans had hoped for when he was drafted first overall in 2017.
The Devils boast a 3.49 Goals Against Average, placing them at 29th in the league. Even worse, the team is second to last in total save percentage. They have a .889 save percentage, slightly better than the Seattle Kraken.
Surprisingly, it’s not all bad news for the Devils defensively. They are 26th in the league in total penalty minutes, and they are 11th in the league in total penalty kill. For a team near the bottom of the league, these statistics are rather impressive.
It looks like a large part of this teams’ defensive problems revolve around their goaltending. Being third in goals against while being 14th in shots against is not something you strive for.
Jonathan Bernier, in ten games, leads the Devils with a .902 save percentage. The other three goalies to have played this season do not break the .900 mark. Simply put, you cannot be successful in the NHL if your goalies are not at .900.
The Devils have only made the playoffs once in the past ten years. Being a fan of this team is infuriating, and each year the team consistently disappoints. Because of their tradition of losing, this has become an organizational issue at this point. Changes need to be made at the top of the organization. The Devils have failed to become a playoff team, even with two top picks in the last five years.
Additionally, the Devils need to address the goaltending situation if they have any interest in competing. While no one expected Mackenzie Blackwood to struggle this much, this type of performance is unacceptable.
My analysis for this team is to be better next year. This team won’t sniff the playoffs this year, but hopefully, changes are made to create a better culture for this team.