clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Random Thursday Thoughts

Looking at five topics surrounding our New Jersey Devils as they head to Toronto for action tomorrow night.

Nashville Predators v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The New Jersey Devils always have a variety of small news bits surrounding the team, and this week is no different. Today we look at five interesting story lines that are following the team as they head into a tough weekend in Canada:

1.) Is Tomorrow Night Yakovlev Time?

The Devils defense through the first four games seemed as though it wouldn’t be the issue that it was forecast to be this off-season. Now, that has been proven to no longer be the case, as the back end (and goalies) are starting to bleed goals (Penguins game not included) with some being due to poor play or positioning.

I think it’s as good a time as any to see if Egor Yakovlev is an NHL level player or not, but the question becomes who sits? I think Ben Lovejoy has earned a night off, and if Hynes is comfortable with someone playing off-hand, then we should see Yak in his first NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. You have an asset that cost you nothing more than cap space; might as well see how valuable said asset is.

2.) Paging Jesper Bratt

Jesper Bratt was a bit of a mixed bag last season; he started out like a fireball out of the gate with 30 points in his first 44 games played but fell off a cliff with only 5 in the last 30 appearances he made. He had a strong preseason and looked as though he was ready to contribute more in the vein of first half Bratt.

Then come a puck and an odd deflection off a crossbar.

With Bratt skating and practicing his return should come sooner than later, and with the team struggling at times on both ends of the ice, his skill and speed should go a long way towards helping the team get back to winning ways. As for who comes out of the lineup when he’s back? Well...

3.) Seney/Anderson > Stafford

I don’t think anyone is surprised by this statement, but it’s been refreshing to see a couple of younger Devils in the lineup that have been actively engaged and attempting to contribute in every zone of the ice. Certainly better than an aging Drew Stafford, who looks visibly a step behind whoever he’s with.

Stafford was only signed due to the injuries hitting the team at the start of the season, yet in my eyes has already been passed by both Brett Seney and Joey Anderson. The youngsters again just seem to fit the style and direction of this current Devils team more than Drew does; his foot speed decreasing coupled with no points in the games he’s played means it appears as though Stafford is no more than a shootout specialist, and the Devils have yet to see one of those this season.

4.) Damon Severson has been good

The new “whipping boy” on defense appears to be Damon Severson this season, but I can’t say I understand why this is. Sevs has been solid minus a few gaffes this season, but honestly he has not been the biggest problem on defense. The Butcher/Lovejoy pair keep getting hemmed into their own zone, and Mirco Mueller is making the same amount if not more mistakes than Severson; different mistakes yes, but the quantity is just as important.

Add his 8 points in 13 games (tied for the team lead with less PP time than Will Butcher) and Severson appears to finally be putting it all together. His additional physicality had added a dimension to his defensive game and has made him a tougher match-up as well.

5.) Is the Seat Under John Hynes Growing Warm?

I’d like to say no, but the roster that the Devils have is at least playoff caliber; to see this much of a struggle to start the year along with the lack of hesitance from other teams to fire underachieving coaches, it does beg the question though.

I think John Hynes is a good coach, and from multiple media comments, it appears he’s a player’s coach as well. But how long will the players tolerate blowout losses to teams such as the games in Tampa and Ottawa? How long until Hynes starts adjusting strategies mid-game? The seeming lack of fire from him behind the bench appears to get on the nerves of the fans as well.

A final aside on this one is that Taylor Hall has stated winning is his priority at this point in his career; if the Devils take a step back due to the team’s coaching, could that inhibit a Hall extension? Would his unhappiness be enough for Shero to make a move?

Only time will tell I suppose.

Your Take

Now I’d like your thoughts on these Devils topics; do you agree Yakovlev will play tomorrow? How have you liked Severson, Seney and/or Anderson’s games? Are you anxiously awaiting Bratt’s return? How do you feel about Hynes’ security? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!