It may not be the moment to hit the panic button just yet for the 2017-18 New Jersey Devils, but the team has to be getting close. In the ever crowded, ever competitive Metropolitan Division, the team is fortunate in that they’re still in second place. The bad news is that the team is losing momentum, and has not seized opportunities to add to their points totals and improve their possible postseason positioning.
With only 2 wins in their past 9 games, and 3 lost games that they should have won in my opinion, the team is falling down and quickly. With some recent performances (or lack thereof), recent injuries, and mind-boggling coaching decisions, the team could continue to falter unless commonsense takes over; let’s look at those missteps and ways to possibly fix them.
Travis Zajac - I love Zajac, but defense alone is not enough of a contribution to the team. With only 7 points on the season and no points in the team’s last 6, he’s not part of the solution to turn this around right now.
Drew Stafford - Stafford seems like a good dude, but he only has 10 points on the season, and doesn’t even contribute defensively the way Travis does. I suggested a while back we waive him to end the experiment; I still stand by that position.
Andy Greene - The Captain has been alright this season, but we need better than “alright” from our top pairing left defender. He has also made a number of un-Greene-like mistakes this season, concerning myself and others that he is regressing faster than anticipated and hoped.
There are others who are underperforming as well, but these 3 stand out and as veterans they need to elevate their games to lead by example.
Injuries play a role in any team’s season, but to lose Taylor Hall for any amount of time hurts. Additionally, Marcus Johnasson going down for the 3rd time this season (thanks to “The Weasel” Brad Marchand who was rightfully suspended) doesn’t help matters and neither does losing bottom 6 energy forward Brian Gibbons. Compound the injuries with the number of underperformers and it’s a recipe for a slide down the standings.
I love the fact that John Hynes and his staff have the team winning this season, but the decisions they have made at times are ridiculous to me. Zajac and Brian Boyle on the same PP unit even when the PP isn’t able to sustain any significant pressure? Stafford on the power play period? No Miles Wood and/or Pavel Zacha despite their improved play? No Severson despite Butcher/Vatanen not being effective at carrying the puck recently?
I don’t want to say these are fire-able offenses, but they are certainly issues that need to be addressed before the season is lost. If something is broken, you fix it; granted the team’s power play success rate is still really good, but in watching the games, the execution is poor. The PP could be even better than it is if coaching made some adjustments.
The last set of games hasn’t been kind to the Devils, but the season can still be a successful one with a playoff birth involved. What do you think is the solution to ending the current slide? Is it the underperforming veterans stepping up? Does it require the team getting healthy? is it on the coaching staff to make the necessary changes? Leave any and all comments below and thank you as always for reading.