Here at ILWT, we are about to begin our season preview of the New Jersey Devils' 2014-2015 season. Towards the end of next week, we will be giving our season predictions for what we believe the Devils will do this season. Before this all happened, however, I wanted to give everyone a taste of what other people are predicting for our favorite team. Are the Devils predicted to perform well this season, are they expected to regress, or are they expected to simply tread water with respect to last season?
I have separated each prediction I've found into positive or negative. And since treading water means not making the playoffs, I am bunching that in with negative predictions.
The Positive Predictions
Hockey Buzz (www.hockeybuzz.com) has a hot stove of different writers who predicted the final standings in the Metro. Not all of the predictions on here are positive, but since some are positive and there are a lot more negative predictions out there, I felt it was a good idea to throw it in this category. Of the five writers to make predictions, two have the Devils making the playoffs as a wildcard. A third writer has the Devils as the 5th team in the division, just missing the playoffs. The final two writers have the Devils in 7th place in the division, ahead of only Carolina. So while not entirely positive, the fact that there are some writers who have faith in New Jersey here is a good thing.
The Last Word on Sports (www.lastwordonsports.com) has the Devils in contention for a wildcard position. They do not outright say that the team will indeed claim that spot, but they believe that New Jersey has a legitimate chance to fight with the likes of the Islanders, Blue Jackets and Capitals for that final position. Considering how negative many other websites are, I consider this prediction to be one of the positive ones.
The Negative Predictions
Sportsnet Canada (www.sportsnet.ca) predicts that the Devils will finish in the same spot this season, just short of a playoff berth. They believe the team is strong in net and on defense, but does not have enough offense to be anything more than a "middling" team.
The Hockey News (www.thehockeynews.com) did a preview of New Jersey a couple weeks ago. They admit that because the division is pretty tight, the team could finish anywhere from 2nd to 2nd-to-last. However, mainly because of the team's age, the website has the Devils finishing in the latter category, in 7th place.
ESPN completed a preview of the Devils just the other day. The site likes the Devils' strong puck possession, and the fact that Schneider will have a full workload this season. This should certainly help the club. Nonetheless, ESPN still thinks that the Devils will struggle mightily to score goals, and thus will finish 6th in the Metro, in front of only Washington and Carolina.
Sports World News (www.sportsworldnews.com) has an entire prediction for the Metropolitan Division. While they say that NJ could make the playoffs if Schneider is excellent and if Jagr can continue to produce at a high level, they must not believe that this will be the case. The website has the Devils finishing 7th in the division, in front of only Carolina.
Yahoo Sports also has a preview of the Metropolitan Division, with how each team should perform. It seems like it was written by an Anaheim fan, so it could have more neutrality in it than some. In the article, it notes how the Devils are a strong possession team who had some bad luck last season. Nonetheless, it still says that the Devils will finish outside of the playoffs thanks to other teams in the division having more firepower.
Daily Faceoff (www.dailyfaceoff.com), like so many others it now seems, have the Devils finishing 7th in the Metropolitan Division. They speak positively about the team in general, with Schneider being a top goaltender and the young guns on defense having promise. Nonetheless, they do not expect that to translate into many wins.
Too Many Men on the Site (www.toomanymenonthesite.com), which is a subset of Fansided, has the Devils dead last in the Metropolitan. They predict that the club will have a record of 33-38-11, for a total of 77 points. For their prediction, this would make the Devils 15th in the Eastern Conference, ahead of only Buffalo. They clearly are not high on the Devils at all.
Odds makers from Bovada had the Devils initially over/under at 83.5 points for the season. That is less than last season. In the Metropolitan, only Carolina and the Islanders were initially set at less, both at 81.5. The next closest team in the division, Washington, was initially set at 88.5 points for an over/under, 5 points higher than the Devils.
USA Today did a predictions post a week ago where each of their writers predicted division winners. The Rangers and Penguins received most of the votes, and even Columbus got a pick for the division. The Devils, however, were not mentioned.
The Hockey Writers, about a month ago, did an article evaluating every team's "window" with respect to winning the cup. In the division itself, they predict that Pittsburgh is the only team that has an open window, while Columbus, the Islanders, and the Flyers have opening windows. According to them, however, the Devils have a closed window. Their reasoning is that the team's best goal scorers, Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias, are 42 and 38. They do not expect this team to score many goals.
CSN Washington, who is obviously writing for the D.C. metro area, predicts the Devils to finish 6th in the Metropolitan Division. They have the Capitals finishing 3rd in the division, which I guess is not implausible if the team can put it all together.
What Does It All Mean?
Clearly, people outside of this website are not high on the Devils at all. In writing this article, I did not set out to make everyone feel terrible about the Devils, but it seems like most people write this team off. The median prediction is that NJ will finish next to last in the division, ahead of only Carolina. One website even had New Jersey dead last in the division. There were a couple positive predictions, but they were few and far between. Of course not all hockey-related websites have given out predictions yet, as it is still September, so more may come out that place the Devils in a more favorable light. As to that, we will see.
To me, it seems like people who follow analytics more closely tend to be more positive about the Devils than others. Advanced statistics generally show positive things for New Jersey and Peter DeBoer's system. Those who put stock in stats like Corsi and shot prevention have the Devils performing better than division contenders like Washington and Philadelphia. Others, however, look at this team as old and without any major goal scorers. This view leads many to predict a terrible season.
Here at ILWT, I think you will find a little more positivity than you will elsewhere on the internet. One obvious reason is because we are all Devils fans, and therefore are speaking from our hearts at least to a degree. We try to be as level-headed as possible, but we are fans in the end. Also, I think the writers here buy into analytics more than the average hockey community out there, or are at least more schooled in it. So do not be discouraged! I sure am not. It is hockey after all, and predictions are simply that...guesses.
What do you think about the Devils' chances this year? Are you high on the team, or are you like most other predictors out there? Let us know what you think before our season preview comes out, and let us know if anything we write helps to change or affirm your views.
Furthermore, I would ask that if you find more predictions online, that you link to them in the comments and discuss them. Perhaps you can find more positive predictions out there than I could!