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The January 2022 Month in Review of the New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils began 2022 with an overtime win in Washington, won just two more games after, and ended January with a crushing 4-6 loss to Toronto with a lead blown. This post reviews an awful January for the Devils where they went 3-9-0 and the issues are bigger than just making some saves.

Los Angeles Kings v New Jersey Devils
I feel like Jesper Bratt in this photo. Only the Devils’ games are throwing bombs at my face instead of Carl Grundstrom.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images

January is the beginning of a new year. For the New Jersey Devils, it was the same old story. Their playoff hopes were all but dead by the time January began. This month just about buried it. Following a 3-8-1 December, the Devils won just three games out of twelve games for a record of 3-9-0. They took six points out of a potential twenty-four. The Devils fell to the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, even behind a Philadelphia team that won just one game all month amid a franchise-record 13-game winless streak. A Philadelphia team that was one of two teams with a worse points percentage for January (15.4%) than New Jersey’s 25% (the other team is Montreal at 22.7%). It still was another bad month by a bad hockey team. Enough to make one question what the point is for the remainder of this season? Keep in mind: there are 38 games left. There is more to come. There is even a game tonight. First, let us revisit what in the world just happened in this past month:

The Games of January 2022

Spirits were a little higher at the beginning of the year. The Devils ended December with two of their three wins in a row. Would they win three in a row? The answer: yes. On January 2 in Washington D.C., the Devils managed to be up on the Capitals 3-1 late in the game. Then Mackenzie Blackwood was beaten and then made one of the worst giveaways a goalie could make it to force a tie. But in overtime, Jack Hughes stole a puck and set up Nico Hischier for his second of the day and the 4-3 win. A three-game winning streak! This felt good! What did not feel good was that Dougie Hamilton left the game early due to what we now know was a broken jaw from a puck hitting him in the face. Still: wins!

This was followed by a myriad of bad news. In addition to Hamilton being out with a broken jaw, Jonathan Bernier was ruled out for the season with a hip injury. Hischier was also out for the next game with an injury. And Yegor Sharangovich and Pavel Zacha entered the COVID-19 protocol. Combined with Blackwood having another poor performance, the Devils were beaten soundly by Boston by a 3-5 final score. The good news was that Blackwood would rebound and Hischier would return on January 6 against Columbus. The Devils beat them 3-1, led by Hughes at the front. However, the team was hit harder by COVID-19 protocol concerns for that Saturday’s game in Columbus as Andreas Johnsson, Nathan Bastian, and Jesper Bratt entered it before the game. The Devils put in a good effort. But a turnover by Tomas Tatar after a defensive zone faceoff win followed by no one covering Oliver Bjorkstrand in the slot led to Bjorkstrand scoring the eventual game-winner. The Devils lost 3-4 to the Blue Jackets.

Then came a pause. After that second game in Ohio, Damon Severson and Janne Kuokkanen entered the protocol. Between the Devils and Tampa Bay’s players in protocol, the NHL decided to postpone the January 10 game against the Lightning. This meant the Devils’ next game was on January 13 in Long Island. The Devils did receive enough skaters back from the protocol to play. However, both Blackwood and Akira Schmid entered the protocol. This meant Jon Gilles had to start that one with an emergency backup: Kyle Shapiro, assistant coach of the New Jersey Titans. Gilles did as well as he could. But a miscommunication on defense led to Mat Barzal being open in the slot. He finished that play to make it 2-3 - the final score in Long Island. With games in Toronto and Montreal postponed earlier, the Devils would be off for five days before hosting Arizona on January 19.

The Devils recovered the players on protocol. With plenty of time to rest and practice, the Devils came out on fire against Arizona on the 19th. They played an absolutely dominant first period, holding Arizona to just one shot on net while forcing Karel Vejmelka to be great. Then they fell apart in the second period. The visitors found screens, rebounds, and such to score three past Blackwood despite a low number of shots. The Devils’ response was lackluster and went quieter as the game went on. The Devils lost 1-4 in a game that was frustrating to watch. With Carolina looming on Saturday, the game had the making of a beatdown. Instead, the Devils put up one of their more surprisingly good performances against the best team in the division. Appropriate for Pride Night, the Devils played with some. Even after falling down 0-2 early, the Devils got the breaks and hung with the Canes. Bastian re-directed in two to tie it up in the first. In the second period, Michael McLeod responded to a Josh Leivo goal, who turned out Christian Jaros on the play, with a rebound goal. Johnsson finished a feed from Dawson Mercer to put the Devils up 4-3. While Brady Skjei joined an odd man rush and scored to tie it up, Jesper Bratt put the Devils up late 5-4. Hughes scored a PPG to give the Devils insurance, and a rebound put-back by Pavel Zacha made it 7-4. The Devils ruined Jack LaFontaine’s first ever NHL start and won their third game of the month in the most surprising way possible.

However, that would not be built on. Gilles started that game against Carolina and eyebrows were raised when he started the next night against Los Angeles. Gilles did well. But the Devils’ offense struggled to generate much. A miscommunication on defense led to Carl Grundstrom being wide open in the Devils’ zone. Dustin Brown found him for what would be the game winning goal in a 2-3 loss. The Devils’ errors bit them in that one. On January 25, the Devils were just poor. Not even 15 seconds into the game against Dallas, they were already losing. Akira Schmid was pulled in the first period after three goals against, and Gilles was beaten 15 seconds into the second period. The Devils did not get shutout but they were played off the ice in an awful 1-5 loss. That would be their final home game of January. And Gilles would be seen a lot more as Blackwood was put on injured reserve prior to the Stars game.

The Devils took to the road for Tampa Bay, Carolina, and the first half of a home-and-home with Toronto in Toronto. The Devils were competitive in Tampa and in Raleigh. Gilles gave them a chance to win. They did not. They were close against the Lightning, and Hughes made it 2-2 in the third period. But a bad back-check combined with the Devils’ tendency to swarm a puck carrier on a zone entry led to Anthony Cirelli streaking to the front of the net wide open. He got the puck and scored. That would be the difference maker (and a Lightning player alone in front was common that night) in a 2-3 loss for New Jersey. On January 29, the Devils took on a Whale-clad Carolina team. Gilles was only beaten twice in the first period. The Devils pulled one back thanks to Jesper Boqvist’s first goal of the season; played well in the second period; and then put up a mere three shots on net in the entire third period. They lost 1-2. With a five-game losing streak at stake, the Devils visited Toronto on January 31. This game went weird. The Devils were on the attack early, often, and chased Jack Campbell in the first period with goals from Zacha, Boqvist, and Johnsson. While the Leafs hit back with a brace by Auston Matthews, Bastian restored the two-goal lead. Would it be safe? No. The Devils found a way to blow this lead with blown coverages, a shorthanded goal against game-decider that Severson critics will not forget too easily, and a Matthews hat trick ENG to seal the 4-6 defeat. The Devils did lose their fifth straight. They did remain behind the Flyers for last in the Metropolitan. They ended the month at 3-9-0 with one of their most crushing losses in the month simply by how they lost it.

By the Numbers

Every month, I provide a snapshot of the team’s on-ice rate stats, with and without score adjustment, and their ranking among the league. I do this for 5-on-5, power play, and penalty kill situations each. Numbers in the top ten are in green, numbers in the bottom ten (23rd to 32nd). It is important to check on these numbers on a monthly basis to get a sense how the performances went as a whole beyond the results. To ignore them entirely is also unwise as they may point to some of the disappointing - and pleasing - things the Devils have done on the ice regardless of the score. All stats come from Natural Stat Trick and where mentioned.

5-on-5 Numbers: The Devils averaged just over 50 minutes per game in the most common situation in hockey, the fifth most in the NHL per Natural Stat Trick for January. Once again, the 5-on-5 situation matters most. The one big goaltending elephant in the room was still large for the month, but some other animals showed up in the room too:

New Jersey Devils 5v5 and Score & Venue Adjusted 5v5 Stats in January 2022
New Jersey Devils 5v5 and Score & Venue Adjusted 5v5 Stats in January 2022
Natural Stat Trick

For a second straight month, goaltending was Bad in the month. What is more interesting is the fact that the Devils did not finish last in the league for 5-on-5 goaltending January. Here are the four teams who had worse save percentages:

  • Coming in at 29th is Columbus. In their 14 games, they conceded at least 5 goals six times. A lot of those were at 5-on-5 as they allowed the most 5-on-5 goals in January with 47. The Jackets went 5-9-0 for the month, which is not good but it is better than 3-9-0. Oh, and the Jackets are also ahead of the Devils in the standings.
  • Coming in at 30th is Boston. Yes, the same Boston team that beat the Devils earlier this month. They bled a lot of goals in 5-on-5; 38 to be precise - second most behind Columbus. The difference is that they also scored 38. Combined with good special teams (14 PPGs, 1 SHGA, 1 SHGF, 9 PPGA), it is not so shocking that they went 11-4-1 in spite of their legitimately bad goaltending.
  • Coming in at 31st is Montreal. Montreal is literally the worst team in hockey this season and the only one of this group of four that had a worse January than New Jersey did.
  • In dead last in 5-on-5 save percentage for January is the team that just came back to beat the Devils: Toronto. Like Boston, they survived their abjectly bad netminders by scoring a whole heap of goals. They matched their 30 5-on-5 goals allowed by scoring 30 themselves. Combined with good special teams and so Toronto went 8-2-1 for the month. Great for the standings, less so for the many Leaf fans who are still going “Yeah, but what about the playoffs?”

Inversely, the top-five teams in team save percentage for the month were not all amazing either. Colorado had the best and easily had the best January in the league by going 15-0-1. And Florida continued their rampage with help from their goaltenders. However, Vancouver (5-4-3), Anaheim (6-6-2), and Buffalo (4-6-2) all posted team save percentages above 93% for the month and still put in middling records. The main point is that while the Devils definitely could have used better goaltending, it does not guarantee success.

You can even see that with the Devils’ own goaltenders. Mackenzie Blackwood had a poor month, although there is now a reason for it which I’ll go over in the next section. Akira Schmid had two starts and was pulled in one of them after the first period. Jon Gilles actually provided decent goaltending - a 92.4% save percentage in 5-on-5 is quite acceptable - and the Devils won just one game with it (and it was with Gilles’ worst performance, go figure). I do not disagree that goaltending has been an issue for this team, but I will not agree that addressing that alone would have made everything fine for New Jersey this month or this season.

And the other stats in this table show that. Namely, the Devils struggled to score goals for most of the month. The four scored against Toronto last night pulled them out of the bottom ten and closer to the league median. Ditto with the team shooting percentage. While the expected goals model at NST showed really well for the Devils, they did not beat it at both ends of the rink. Worse, the Devils were one of the top teams in January in terms of generating scoring chances and, specifically, high-danger chances. They really did have issues finishing those chances. Chalk some of that to puck luck, but just as some of the People Who Matter lamented that the goalie did not make enough Big Saves - the Devils really lacked some Big Goals too. After all, the leading 5-on-5 goal scorer for the month was Nathan Bastian with four - and two of those were deflections in that atypical 7-4 win over Carolina. Great for Nate, not so great for a team filled with talented guys who went cold and guys who have talent but do not always utilize it.

As far as the rest of the 5-on-5 numbers show, the Devils were once again not bad in the run of play overall. They had some good periods and games, they had some bad periods and games, and it all washed out slightly in the Devils favor. However, these figures do not really showcase the big flaws with how the Devils do business on defense. Their preference to overload on the puck carrier or the side with the puck has burnt them. Their seeming lack of communication has given the opposition some great chances to score - and did so. Sure, they did not allow a lot of HDCAs but you do not need to allow a lot to get punished. Just see this goal from the Los Angeles loss, this goal from the Dallas loss, or this goal from the Tampa Bay loss as some recent examples. If they can fix those or at least reduce their occurrence, not only do they help their goalies out, but they also help the Devils maybe drag a couple of those nine losses into overtime wherein they could take the game or at least take a point from just going beyond 60. But that did not happen.

What makes this more deflating is that the Devils’ special teams in January were a net positive.

Power Play Situations: The Devils’ power play exploded with a 22.6% conversion rate and seven goals this month. What’s that? They scored six last month? And converted just about four fewer percentage points in December? Oh. Well. There was a streak of PPGs in January and it was nice. Of course, the last appearance of the power play left a very, very sour taste in the mouths of the People Who Matter. Was it good over all of January, though? Um...

New Jersey Devils Power Play Stats in January 2022
New Jersey Devils Power Play Stats in January 2022 and Natural Stat Trick

Not quite. The Devils’ rate of generating shot attempts dropped to be the worst in the NHL in January. Their rate of generating both shots and high-danger shots were really low. The latter can be explained by how the Mark Recchi Power Play System operates wherein the wingers and one point-man have the puck most of the time. Which makes it risky because one bad pass or one good pressure by the penalty killer can create a shorthanded goal-scoring opportunity. That burned the Devils twice in January, with the one last night being the most memorable and damaging as it was a game-winner. Compounding the issue is the fact that the Devils just did not have a lot of power plays in January. They finished in the bottom third in number of situations as well as power play ice time.

Still! The Devils’ power play did have some success. Was it due to Nathan Bastian? Nathan Bastian was planted in front of the net. While he set some screens and got a tip-in one time, I think more credit should go to Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt. Each had five points on the power play, three more than Bastian’s two. Moreover, some of those 7 PPGs were a result of Hughes and Bratt taking care of business themselves regardless of the 1-3-1 formation. Given how good both have been at gaining the zone, letting them actually create instead of commanding they reverse the puck to set-up is not a bad idea. But the Mark Recchi Power Play System will not have any creativity. The point man shall fire away and that is why Damon Severson led the team in power play shooting attempts with 11. The Devils, as a team, shot at 20% for the month and had a run of six games of scoring a PPG in them. That is why it felt like the power play was better than it seemed. They also went 1-5-0 in those six games. But, still, it was a net positive and performed better than where it was two months ago.

Penalty Kill Situations: What has continued to stay actually good is the penalty kill. It was quite good for another month.

New Jersey Devils Penalty Kill Stats for January 2022
New Jersey Devils Penalty Kill Stats for January 2022 and Natural Stat Trick

These are great numbers almost across the board. The only part that went in the wrong direction was their rate of shots allowed. That went up and ended up being closer to the league median instead of the league’s best. It also drove their xGA/60 to be so high. Still, they allowed a relatively low rate of attempts, scoring chances, and high-danger scoring chances. The goaltending issues in 5-on-5 did not happen here; the goaltenders were collectively good on the PK. As a result, the Devils just allowed four power play goals all month and that does include an empty netter from last night. Additionally, the team was relatively well disciplined. Penalties shot up across the league, but not so for the Devils who faced 26 shorthanded situations for a second straight month - which ended up being the second fewest in the NHL in January. This is simply excellent work for all involved in New Jersey. This would not have happened had the Devils coaches stuck to their passive diamond. This would not have happened if the goaltenders were as bad as they were in 5-on-5. This would not have happened if skaters like Graves, Jonas Siegenthaler, Severson, Jimmy Vesey, Michael McLeod, and Janne Kuokkanen did not do as well as they did. Good job! Wish I could say the same for the 5-on-5 situational play, but again, the goalies were not good and the scoring was not often enough.

Additions and Subtractions

The Devils suffered both with injuries and the COVID-19 protocol. The league instituted a taxi squad for this month up until the All-Star Weekend to try to keep games going. Games were still postponed. They have been re-scheduled, mostly in February when the league was originally planning to break for the Olympics (something I do not mind). The Devils did hit the protocol list hard in January. Lindy Ruff, Jimmy Vesey, Mason Geertsen, Zacha, Sharangovich, Bastian, Blackwood, Schmid, Kuokkanen, Bratt, Severson, Johnsson, and Hamilton among others have been a part of it at one point or another through the month. The good news is that all are off the protocol now. The hope is that in February and beyond, COVID-19 will not be nearly as widely-spread.

With the taxi squad in place, this meant some more spot appearances from Utica Comet players and others on the fringe. Alexander Holtz got a game. Nolan Foote made his season debut in the first game against Columbus and played in the second game against the Jackets. A.J. Greer was able to get into two games before he left the Islanders game with an injury caused by a high hit from Ross Johnston, who was suspended three games for it. The various forwards being out led to four appearances for Marian Studenic and seven for Jesper Boqvist.

Injuries have been more substantial for the Devils. Dougie Hamilton taking a puck to the face and breaking his jaw was a literal bad break for the Devils. The Devils went pretty much the whole month without their best defenseman. Given how close some of these losses ended up being, it is fair to wonder whether the Devils would have had a better record with Hamilton available all month. I would like to think they would since Hamilton is an excellent player. However, we have to live with the reality we have and he was not available. His absence led to more appearances for Christian Jaros and Colton White. This was further supplanted by Ty Smith missing three games with an upper body injury after the loss to Arizona. Hamilton did travel with the team on its road trip to end the month. Hopefully he will be available for most of February’s games.

Towards the end of the month, Michael McLeod was knocked out of the Dallas game in the third period. His injury has yet to be disclosed, but he did not travel with the team to Tampa Bay or Carolina. McLeod’s absence led to Boqvist filling in his gap for the time being.

The other notable injury was Blackwood. He was placed on injured reserve on the day of the Dallas game. The injury is his heel. When Amanda Stein reported the news on Twitter, she included this quote from Lindy Ruff:

Per Ruff’s quote, this injury is not new to Blackwood. Apparently, it is the same heel injury he received surgery for before this season. It is likely he re-injured it as he was playing. In the Arizona game at the earliest, as that was his last start and he played all 60 minutes in the loss. I understand that players in all sports tend to play through injuries. Usually, those are minor enough such that the player can still perform to the best of their abilities. However, Blackwood has been notably bad last month and throughout January. Even if some of the goals against would beat other goalies who are both performing better and actually healthy, it is clear that Blackwood has not been a good goaltender since November. Now we know that Ruff (and presumably the other coaches) knew that Blackwood was not 100%. This makes it harder to determine whether Blackwood was just slumping, Blackwood has become really bad and should be replaced, or Blackwood was playing poorly primarily because he was hurt. This is an important determination that GM Fitzgerald has to make as Blackwood enters the final season of his current contract in 2022-23. How can he make it now?

This also makes it harder for me to trust this coaching staff to do right by their players. It would be one thing if Blackwood was playing well because then there’s a competitive argument - the good goalie has to play ahead of Jon Gilles and Akira Schmid. But Blackwood has not been good by objective measures; he posted an 87.7% save percentage in 5-on-5 hockey for January. Yet, Ruff and the coaching staff kept giving him starts him despite his poor performances and his injury. Dramatic as it may seem to some of the People Who Matter - especially those who bristle at any criticism of Ruff and the coaching staff - but this is a coach mishandling his player. Simple as. This is consistent with Ruff’s awful decision to start a sick Blackwood in Philadelphia last month, where Blackwood was lit up and had to be pulled. This is also consistent with a follow-up tweet from Stein where Ruff stated he would like to see Blackwood back when he is “close to fully healthy.” No. He needs to be back when he is fully healthy. This season is already lost so there should be no rush to return him. Yet, Ruff is seemingly not learning the lesson he should from the situation.

Anyway, with Blackwood on IR, the net will be tended to by Jon Gilles and Akira Schmid for the foreseeable future. Given that Ruff was not starting Gilles or Schmid unless there was no other choice (the Islanders game on January 13) or a back-to-back (Gilles started both on January 22 and 23, so I suspect Blackwood’s re-injury happened in or after the Arizona game at the earliest), I think the coaches had little faith in their abilities to not give either an appearance over a badly performing Blackwood. Again, with no other option available, they will go with these two. Likely with Gilles getting most starts as he ended up making more appearances than Blackwood this month.

Devil of the Month

The Devils won three games out of twelve this month. Again. One could argue that no one was consistently excellent to warrant such an award. Again. This time, even I am struggling to name a proper standout. It could be argued that no one really should get it. Whoever I select will have some kind of flaw in their monthly performance. Still, these two players excelled and so I will note them. Again.

For the honorable mention, I shall give it to the team’s 2022 All Star representative, Jack Hughes. Led the team in scoring for the month with 12 points in 12 games. This is even more impressive given that Hughes himself shot at 6.5% for the month (not for a lack of shooting, he took 46 shots in January to lead the team by 18 shots) and the team shot at just 7.2% when he was on the ice. For the most part, when The Big Deal was on the ice, the Devils were generally on offense. Some rate stats from NST to chew on: The Devils’ CF% with Hughes was a very good 55.9% and their xGF% with Hughes was an excellent 60.5% (their xGF/60 was 3.71, which led the team). The Devils’ power play run largely involved Hughes Doing Things that were not part of the Mark Recchi Power Play System, and so he was tied for the team lead with power play points with five. For a team lacking in offensive production, Hughes brought it. Yes, he was guilty for some of the goals against. Yes, his defense is not as good as Nico Hischier’s. Welcome to the Devils’ January 2022 where no one on the team was without some flaw. To that end, I shall elevate the ones who brought the most value. Ergo, he is Honorable Mention for the Devil of the Month of January again.

And, once again, I’m naming Jesper Bratt as my Devil of the Month. Bratt nearly matched Hughes in points in January with 11 in 10 games. Bratt did match Bastian for the team lead in goals for the month in all situations with five. Bratt did out-produce Bastian and matched Hughes for power play points with five as he was the other catalyst for the power play success the team did have in January. In 5-on-5, Bratt just continued to be a force. When he was on the ice, the Devils posted a CF% of 58.56% (best in January in NJ), an xGF% of 59.06%, and a shots for percentage of 59.65% with a mind-bending rate of 43 Devils shots per 60. On a team short of finishing, Bratt shooting 20% was quite helpful - even though the team’s on-ice shooting percentage in 5-on-5 with Bratt was a mere 5.88%. Bratt continues to be one to make any line better this season and he did so in January. And he committed fewer costly errors than Hughes. Therefore, for the third straight month, I am naming Jesper Bratt the All About the Jersey Devil of the Month for January 2022.

Concluding Thoughts & Your Take

In theory, the reason why teams have analysts, video reviews, practices, scouts, and personnel with a key function to identify and/or develop talent is to ultimately get wins in games. This is pro hockey. This is pro sports. It is a results-oriented business. The Devils did not get a lot of them in this past month, the past two months, or even all season.

Some perspective: The Devils may have a lot of potential (although those young guys are not getting any younger), a full prospect pool, more success in their drafts, and plenty of cap space. All reasons why Lou was pushed out from the GM role after the 2014-15 season. Yet, this season’s Devils team - seven seasons after that one - is on pace to finish with 11 fewer points than that 2014-15 Devils team. If Fitzgerald intended his rebuild - rebuild 2.0 after Ray Shero - to be short, then he is falling short of that. Of course, he is also falling short of the expectation he set after last season:

“I’m not saying we’re going to make the playoffs or anything, but I’m going to say we need to start to win games and play meaningful hockey down the stretch,” he said. “Next year we’re going to really focus throughout the year so in Games 80, 81 and 82, we want to be playing meaningful hockey and trying to get into the playoffs.”

That ain’t happening in 2022.

Obviously, there are many problems. Goaltending has been a weakness. It is not the only one. Scoring goals has been a weakness. The Devils’ preference for overloading or swarming puck carriers on defense has been risky and they have suffered for it multiple times for goals against. The power play has been a weakness - even with a hot run of six games in the middle of January. Depth at forward and at defense is a weakness. Coaching is absolutely a weakness as the players continue to make the same kind of errors and opponents continue to pounce on those errors in similar ways. For all of the positives and potential positives one can point out as well as all of the praise Fitzgerald earned in the offseason (which includes me), the team is simply not good enough. The 3-9-0 record for the month speaks to that. Their overall record of 15-24-5 The performances in January may have been more watchable with closer games, but the results are simply not there. There needs to be results to justify the transactions, lineup and roster decisions, and several others that every team does in any sport. When the results are not there, something has to change. Something has to give. Yet, nothing has in New Jersey.

At least nothing with the organization has changed. The attendance at the Rock is sparser. The views here have dropped. The general interest in the team has dropped. The world sees a team floundering and understandably says, “Whatever” before going to do or see one of the hundreds of other things they can do in their day. This is not 2016 where there was a general understanding that there were going to be some lean years, so to speak. This is now Fitzgerald’s seventh season in the organization. Patience can only go so far. Especially when we can see other teams - such as Our Hated Rivals and Los Angeles - seemingly rebuild themselves back to being a potential/actual playoff team in far less time than it is taking New Jersey. I can point out the progress made since 2015. I cannot lie to you and say the team is better for it because their record clearly shows they are not.

Keep in mind, I am writing this is in January. There are 38 more games of this season to endure. My cynicism tells me nothing is going to change behind the bench or in the front office until after this season. My hope is that the team does not decide to follow the path of Sherman Abrams and completely dump this season if only because I am tired of the faction of the People Who Matter who want the team to aim for lottery balls and the team actually doing just that. I wanted to watch and write about a team with something tangible to play for this season. I really did. This month cemented the fact that you and I are not going to get that. Simply because this hockey team has turned out to be bad for a second straight month. They continue to not get the results they need to justify what they have done.

Internet culture suggests that this is where I tell you to eat Arby’s. But they’re not paying me anything. So whatever.

Now I turn this over to you. What did you think of the Devils’ performances in January? Did anyone really impress you? What did you learn from this month in review? Do you agree that Bratt is the Devil of the Month? If not, who should it be and why? Would any Devil deserve it based on their January performance? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the Devils in January 2022 in the comments. Thank you for reading.