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Growing Pains

The Devils have played through three preseason games so far without a win. While we as fans were hoping for at least one win at this point, I take a look at some of what we are to expect from the team this season today.

Young Devils such as Jacob Josefson and Kyle Palmieri will have a chance to grow under coach John Hynes.
Young Devils such as Jacob Josefson and Kyle Palmieri will have a chance to grow under coach John Hynes.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

0-3; we shouldn't really be surprised by this, but I'm sure many of our fans (myself included) were hoping that our New Jersey Devils would have put one in the W column at this point.  Unfortunately, the team has yet to do so, but there are numerous factors as to why the team has gone winless.  As we've been saying, the team is learning a new system, so veterans and new players alike are all still adjusting.  In addition, there are a number of players who are not going to be NHL material (be it for a period of time or in general) that are still being used to fill out the roster for preseason games.

This is what happens with a team in transition; there's bound to be some rough times, and some growing pains, even for players who have been in the league for a few seasons.  We've seen some of this firsthand through the preseason games, especially against Our Hated Rivals, as the team conceded 6 goals, but to be fair it probably would have been at least one less had someone other than Yann Danis been in net for the second half of the game.

In some ways, the preseason is just that: the preseason.  It is a time for coaches (especially new coaches) to get used to players, get players used to each other and new systems, and to try and flesh out their rosters with the best 23 players they have.  In other ways the preseason can sometimes be a microcosm of what's to come during the regular season.  Now obviously, this has to be taken with a grain of salt, as the Toronto Maple Leafs for instance are having a great preseason, but many expect them to have trouble once the regular season begins.  My concern here is that the Devils already seem to be struggling, so this may carry over into the regular season.

On the other side of that argument, it seems that the different groups of players are struggling with different parts of the game, so while the team might not exactly be good this year, once everyone comes together it may not wind up being an unwatchable garbage fest night in and night out.  The unit that played last night and the first preseason game (there were a couple of different players but mostly the same faces) seemed to be great defensively, but struggling to find the back of the net.  The group that played Monday against OHR found a few goals on the power play, but had some absolutely atrocious defensive play (namely John Moore, Raman Hrabarenka, and Stefan Matteau's giveaway) that could see some players sent to Albany/healthy scratched sooner rather than later.

I've written before about how lucky we have been as Devils fans to have had a successful team to watch for the past two decades; however, the team was successful to the point that a few first round picks were traded to ensure the team's success and we wound up drafting late in rounds many years to the point that the players we drafted were not sure successes at the NHL level.

Just like the players, we as fans are going to have to learn to temper our expectations, at least for the next few seasons, as the team restocks at forward by drafting players who will help the team for years to come.  The defense will also need to take a step forward this season, and even if we are losing games, I wound be content as long as they and Cory Schneider are playing well on an almost nightly basis.

We've seen the game, and we've already seen the growing pains, but that's all they are.  The young players will be allowed to play and learn under John Hynes; the youngsters and the team as a whole will begin to grow towards being the winning Devils that we've been so accustomed to.  It's just sadly going to take some time and our patience is going to be tested over the next couple of seasons, but we'll get there as long as the team stays the course.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the team?  Do you think that the team will have to suffer these "growing pains" for long?  Will our young defenders pull it all together this season?  Do we have anything else to look forward to this season?  Leave any and all comments below and as always thank you for reading.