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The March 2022 Month in Review of the New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils ended March with a big thud of going 0-8-0 on the road, finishing at 5-9-0. While there were some big wins and some great performances, the bigger losses and the malaise of another lost season overshadowed them. This post reviews what happened in March 2022 before the Devils finish off the season in April.

New Jersey Devils v Toronto Maple Leafs
Someone shined in March.
Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

March is over. There were no meaningful games played by the New Jersey Devils. Meaningful as in there was something for the whole team to play for. There arguably has not been any of those in all of the 2022 portion of this season. And for a third straight season too. Still, the fourteen games on the schedule in March had to be played. There were positives. There were more negatives. Another losing record, 5-9-0, was achieved. Only three teams earned fewer than the 10 points the Devils did in all of March. Thanks to an abysmal loss in Boston last night, the Devils were also mathematically eliminated from the playoffs just before April even began. If that was not enough, the Devils enter today dead last in the Metropolitan Division on tiebreakers and 28th in the league standings.

There is one more month of the season to go. Another fifteen games to close out a lost season in New Jersey. To end a campaign built on high hopes from a proactive offseason and developing players that fell way short of competing for even the possibility of any hockey in May. This final month begins in earnest tomorrow for the Devils as they begin a four-game homestand tomorrow. Today, let us review what happened in March.

The Games of March 2022

March began on the heels of the Devils crushing Vancouver, 7-2, on February 28. On March 1, the Devils traveled to Columbus. The Blue Jackets have consistently been a thorn in the side of the Devils for years now. This game was no different. While Jack Hughes put the Devils up early in that one, they went down 1-3 to Columbus literally a period after Hughes scored. While Nico Hischier provided a response, Patrik Laine restored the lead by making Damon Severson look stupid when the defenseman attempted a bodycheck and Laine just went around him and rifled in a shot. Pavel Zacha make it a one-goal game, but that is where it stood as the Devils lost 3-4 to Columbus. Later that week, the Devils visited Manhattan to play Our Hated Rivals. The performance was not bad. The problem was Igor Shesterkin. He was near-perfect all night long. New York eventually broke a 1-1 tie in their favor twice, the Devils could not even get a second goal, and so they lost 1-3 to the one team few Devils fans ever want to see them lose to. These two road losses would begin a month of road futility. Fortunately, next week was all at the Rock.

In the wake of the City of Newark lifting its mask and vaccination mandate, the Rock also lifted its requirements too on March 3. This was conveniently timed as the Devils were to host St. Louis on March 6, Colorado on March 8, Winnipeg on March 10, and Anaheim on March 12. The first game against the Blues started off quite well. Ty Smith scored his first goal since November to open the scoring and Dawson Mercer finished a lovely feed by Hughes to put the Devils up 2-0 on the playoff-bound team. However, that lead went up in smoke within minutes in the third period. Yet, the Devils managed to hold the score at 2-2. Zacha won a loose puck and found Dougie Hamilton streaking past Robert Thomas in the slot. Hamilton cut to his right and beat Ville Husso for the 3-2 overtime win. It was the first post-regulation game played by the Devils since January 2. The surprises would continue on March 8 against Colorado. The Avs struck first, second, and third on the board. It looked like what one would have expected in a Devils-Avalanche game. Then a Jonas Siegenthaler shot hit the post, bounced off Tomas Tatar’s leg, and into the net. Then Ty Smith beat Darcy Kuemper shortside. Then Damon Severson took a slapshot from the center point past a screen to make it 3-3 by the end of the second. The Rock provided a standing ovation. Nathan Bastian slammed in a puck behind Kuemper after Hughes hit Bastian (literally) with a puck to make it 4-3. Yegor Sharangovich sealed the massive comeback win with a shorthanded empty netter; a 5-3 win that lifted all of the spirits of the People Who Matter. Would the Devils make it three in a row against Winnipeg on March 10? No. In fact, the Jets and Ducks games featured some heavy goalie-ing, games where the opposition’s goaltender denied just about everything to the frustration of those involved. If there was a surprise, then it was that Eric Comrie - the former depth Devils goaltender - did it to the Devils in a 1-2 loss. Anthony Stolarz - a career backup/depth goalie - also did it to the Devils on March 12. However, Nico Daws was more than up to the challenge and so a 1-1 game was dragged all the way to a shootout. It was the Devils’ first shootout since December 6, 2021 when they lost 2-3 to Ottawa. Hopes were low as the Devils have not been good in shootouts for a while. Yet, Tatar and Jesper Bratt scored while Daws made the saves. The 2-0 shootout result yielded the Devils’ second shootout win of the season, 2-1, over Anaheim. The 3-1-0 week was the Devils’ best in a while.

That was followed up by a three-game road trip into Western Canada. This ended up being one of the worst weeks of a season filled with non-winning weeks. On March 15, the Devils visited Vancouver. While the Devils tied up the game early on, the Canucks pounced on a non-sharp Devils team, chased Daws from the net, conceded a shorthanded goal, and the Devils lost handedly to Vancouver, 3-6. On March 16, the Devils went into Calgary. Again, it was close - 2-2 a bit over 25 minutes into the game- until it was not. A run of three Flames goals chased Daws and put the Devils down 2-5 a little bit after the halfway mark of regulation. The Devils ultimately lost 3-6 to Calgary with a defensive performance leaving lots to be desired. The trip ended with an afternoon game in Edmonton on March 18. Jon Gillies started this game. He gave up an absolutely heinous goal just over a minute into the game, which Jesper Bratt answered later. He gave up another absolutely heinous goal late in the second period to Evander Kane with an “assist” from Ryan Graves. This was answered by Bratt 26 seconds into the third period. A Hischier goal took a 3-2 lead in the third period. You won’t believe what happened later. Another heinous goal allowed at the left post by Gillies tied up the game. Then a catastrophic bounce on a penalty kill and no recovery stopped Kane’s PPG. Then Zach Hyman scored on the next shift. Then Connor McDavid scored an empty netter. That is correct. I wish I was making it up. But it was true. Gillies was never replaced and the Devils managed to lose a game in the third period enough to ensure a third straight 3-6 loss on the road. This trip was awful.

March 22, 2022 provided a chance at some redemption. Our Hated Rivals were coming to the Rock for the first time this season. The Devils have lost their last eight games to them. The People Who Matter absolutely heard about that. As well as that New York is going to the playoffs and the Devils are not. There is no other opponent that is ever so sweet to beat than a hated rival. At first, it did not look like it was going to happen. Nobody had Mika Zibanejad when he opened the scoring and Adam Fox doubled things in the first period. It was a lousy first frame. In the second period, it looked like the Devils would get pounded. Then the pressure stopped. The Devils started to push forward more. Then at 7:12, Jesper Bratt gained the zone, found a trailing Graves entering the zone, fed Graves the puck, and Graves hammered a shot that Shesertkin seemingly stopped. Tatar tried to jam it in, but as it turned out, the puck was trickling past the goalie and it was 1-2. A little over a minute later, P.K. Subban dropped a bomb from the point that found the top of the net like it was laser-guided. 2-2. Minutes after that, Graves took a slapshot off a loose puck. Shesterkin saved it, only for an uncovered Dawson Mercer to slam in the rebound. 3-2. Shortly after that, Severson found Tatar with a killer diagonal pass for one-touch goal. 4-2. Late in the period, Yegor Sharangovich hammered a shot from the above the right circle, off the post to Shesterkin’s left, and into the net. 5-2. The Rock was ecstatic as the Devils turned from looking like doormats into looking more like dominators. Shesertkin was chased out of the net. While Ryan Strome made it a two-goal game early in the third, New York had no answer for the best player of the 2019 Draft Class in the third period. The Big Deal, Jack Hughes, converted a power play in the third and during that goal’s announcement, made Ryan Lindgren, Ryan Reeves, and Alexander Georgiev look like scrubs with a backhander to make it 7-3. The Devils won 7-4 in one of the best wins of the season. They exposed New York as the frauds they are. Several comments at the game and at the site from the People Who Matter stated that they would be fine with losing the next few games because of this win. The powers that be, Lady Luck, the invisible hand, fate, and/or even the Hockey Gods all responded: “Bet.”

On March 23, the Devils went into Toronto. They did not give up four goals in a third period to lose. They did lose by six in the six. Instead, the Devils found a new way to enrage the People Who Matter by conceding not just one but two shorthanded goals. The first one tied up the game 1-1, the second one ended up being the game winner in a 2-3 loss to the Maple Leafs. On March 26, the Devils visited Washington. They won there back on January 2. That did not happen again. Despite carrying a 2-1 lead into the third period, the Devils proceeded to concede a backdoor goal to Connor McMichael, a goal to Nicklas Backstrom that made it rain plastic apples, and a backdoor power play goal to Vladimir Putin’s Favorite Hockey Player to make it 2-4. A late Jesper Bratt goal gave the Devils about 32 seconds to find an equalizer. They did not, so the Devils lost 3-4 in a game they could have won. On March 27, the Devils hosted the 31st-place Montreal Canadiens. The last time these two met, the Devils won big and Montreal’s coach was fired the next day. This game would be far closer with both Nico Daws and Sam Montembeault playing above expectations. However, a 2-0 lead created by Jack Hughes was wiped off. Josh Anderson made it 2-1 late in the second period. Within the final minute, Christian Dvoark spun a pass around Graves, across the slot, and right to an open Rem Pitlick for equalizer. In overtime, the Devils nearly lost it when a stupid decision by Severson to attempt a back pass led to a Mike Hoffman breakaway that he seemingly scored on. Thankfully, the refs reviewed it and found that the puck hit both posts and never went over the line. Another shootout was needed. It was anxious. It was nervous. It was long with goals. But Yegor Sharangovich provided the goal in the seventh round and Daws stopped Paul Byron for the 3-2 shootout win over the 31st place Montreal Canadiens. Yeesh. Was the win over Our Hated Rivals worth all that? Honestly, yes. Always support wins over Our Hated Rivals.

If you have followed along closely so far, then thank you. And you may have figured out that the Devils have not won a road game all month. In a month with eight road games, that is not good. Their last crack at avoiding a goose egg for road wins in March was in Boston last night. The Devils went into Massachusetts with a eight-game road losing streak (February 25 to March 31) against a team they have yet to beat all season. Before the game, head coach Lindy Ruff claimed that they would treat it as its playoff. The Devils went out there, fell behind 1-2 after one period, and proceeded to have the worst second period all season wherein they gave up six unanswered goals. Nico Daws was bad. Jon Gillies was bad. Anyone in a Devils uniform was bad. The Devils lost and lost big - a final score of 1-8 - in their final game of the month. They were swept in the season series by Boston in emphatic fashion. They extended their road losing streak with their worst road loss (so far) of 2021-22. The Devils’ touchdown-plus loss in Massachusetts ended a March to mostly forget.

By the Numbers

As is tradition in these monthly reviews, this section looks at how the team stacked up in 5-on-5 play, power play situations, and penalty kill situations with respect to the rest of the league for the month. Numbers in the top ten are in green, numbers in the bottom ten (23rd to 32nd). All stats come from Natural Stat Trick and where mentioned.

5 on 5 Numbers: To the surprise of no one, getting creamed 1-8 by Boston last night dropped the numbers a little bit at Natural Stat Trick. The general conclusions remain true as if that game did not happen, though:

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

The general conclusions are that the way the Devils play has looked good from this perspective in 5-on-5. They finished the month out-attempting, out-shooting, and definitely out-chancing their opposition overall. The Devils remain stalwarts for high-danger chances in both ends. What these stats do not reflect are whether the Devils are broken down on the relatively few HDCA they allow or their more modest-relative-to-the-league SCA rate. That the Devils did finish in the bottom-ten in shots allowed per 60 minutes suggests that all may not be well with the defensive end, regardless of how it yielded a favorable expected goals against rate. Once again, the score and venue adjustments were almost completely unfavorable for the Devils, driving for-rates down a bit, against-rates up a bit (except in HDCA/60), and percentages of both.

As you would expect, the Devils still gave up a lot of goals. A whole lot of goals. Nico Daws, who started 13 out of 14 games in March, gives the Devils a better chance to win and had some legitimately great performances in the Winnipeg, Anaheim, and Montreal games. But that did not mean that Daws was anywhere close to good. The Boston game almost knocked the team save percentage almost down a whole percentage point. The trip to Canada was brutal for Daws and Jon Gillies - who was just brutal in all of his appearances in March. Daws finished the month with a 5-on-5 save percentage of 89.5%. That is not good by any standard. Gillies finished with an even worse 88%. Out of all 75 goalies that played even just a single minute in March, Daws and Gillies finished 59th and 64th in save percentage respectively at Natural Stat Trick. Goaltending remains as a Major Issue since December 2021. By the way, the Devils’ team save percentage was just above 90% before the Boston game. “Thanks” for getting rocked in that one, Devs.

What was different in March was the offense. Some of the People Who Matter felt that the offense was just fine after a hot-shooting February. I am going to gently suggest it is not. Despite a high expected goals for rate in 5-on-5, the Devils’ actual goals for rate was a bottom-ten rate in the league in this past month. The team’s shooting percentage dropped below 7% in March after a February where the team shot just below 12%. The result is just 26 goals in 5-on-5 hockey. Only 11 different players scored a goal in 5-on-5 play last month; led by Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier with four each. Not that the Devils were going to be able to out-do their awful goaltending, but a more potent offense could have kept them in some of the games they ended up finishing close in.

Basically, it is the same story from most of this season. The goaltending was bad. The finishing was not there. This undercut the surprisingly decent-to-good on-ice rates in 5-on-5.

Power Play Situations: The power play went back to giving up shorthanded goals and wasting situations. A lot of situations, in fact.

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

The Devils returned to giving up multiple shorthanded goals in March. Their three allowed was tied with Montreal for the most and it pushed the Devils up to having the most shorthanded goals allowed this season with 11. Likewise, despite drawing an astounding 46 power plays and spending just over 80 total minutes on the power play, the Devils’ power play offense utterly wasted that,. The Devils finished in the bottom six teams in every statistical category except for shooting percentage. Whether it was creating shooting attempts at all or high danger scoring chances, the Devils were terrible at it compared ot their peers during man advantages. They scored a low rate of goals on power plays last month and they were expected to score even less. Their 16.67% shooting percentage bailed them out from having red numbers entirely in that section of this monthly chart.

After the two SHGA-driven loss in Toronto, I wrote a lot of about the shorthanded goals allowed and pointed out the flaws in the Devils’ power play and breakout systems that lent themselves to allow as much as they did. Those same systems are reasons why the Devils’ power play achieved so little despite getting so many opportunities. My conclusion from March’s is the same: This power play is bad and Mark Recchi needs to go as soon as possible.

Penalty Kill Situations: The Devils’ penalty kill was not as dominant in March. However, they were a bit better than their success rate would imply, as well as in spite of a bad trend in one category.

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

The Devils were both really good when it came to allowing power play goals and being in shorthanded situations overall. The Devils’ not-so-amazing success rate for March is a function of just how few shorthanded situations they were in. The Devils had a huge advantage of +15 between man advantages and man disadvantages. The Devils did score one shorthanded goal, albeit an empty netter (Sharangovich in the Colorado win), so the net result of the penalty kill was -6 goals. Which is great over the fourteen games from this past month.

The on-ice rates are not as peachy. The Devils did rebound from February in a good way when it came to allowing attempts and allowing shots on net. The Devils finished in the top ten in the former and just outside of it in the latter. Always a plus. While the Devils remained around the league median for scoring chances against, their rate of high danger chances allowed shot up in the wrong direction. If the Devils’ PK was beaten, it was often down low and behind the penalty killers for close shots in dangerous locations. That is reflected in the team’s HDCA/60 for the penalty killers as well as their high expected goals against rate. Fortunately, Daws and Gillies were not total paper tigers in shorthanded situations; putting up decent shorthanded save percentages for the Devils to beat the model in a good way. It is a concern because this is the first time the Devils finished a month in the bottom-ten in an on-ice rate stat. It suggests a weakness in how the Devils are performing on the kill. Yet, it did not cost them dearly in March. It helped a lot that the Devils were on the penalty kill few times in the month relative to the rest of the league. Once again, the best kill is the one you never have to make.

Additions and Subtractions

March was also the month of the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. Here is what the Devils did:

  • Forward Nate Schnarr to Montreal for goaltender Andrew Hammond.

That was it. A goaltender to basically replace Jon Gillies. What I did not know then was that Hammond was injured. He did not start practicing with the team until the last week of March. That is why Daws started every game in March except for that game in Edmonton. To use his own words, General Manager Tom Fitzgerald likes this team otherwise. Yes, the team with the points percentage hovering around 40%. I’d hate to see what a team that he does not like looks like.

However, there were plenty of transactions within the organization due to minor injuries and illnesses here and there. Hischier picked up a lower body injury during the St. Louis game and ended up missing the rest of the four-game home stand that week. He has since been active since the game in Vancouver. Pavel Zacha was injured in the Vancouver game. While he is practicing, he is not likely to return until April. Jonas Siegenthaler missed the Vancouver game due to illness. Andreas Johnsson missed the Calgary game due to a minor eye injury and the Montreal game due to illness. Ty Smith missed games too, but those were healthy scratches due to poor performances and wanting others to play.

These absences here and there meant seven more games of Mason Geertsen doing pretty much nothing on the ice. Colton White returned for four more appearances where he was very much a depth defenseman. After the trade deadline, A.J. Greer and Kevin Bahl were given brief call ups to see what they could do for New Jersey again. Both were called up earlier in the season. It could be seen that New Jersey wanted to see what they have developed after further time with Utica. On March 27, the Devils did get one major return to the lineup: Miles Wood. He was activated to play his first regular season game of the season. Wood is one of the many restricted free agents after this season. The remaining season may not mean anything for the Devils as a whole, but they will mean a lot to players like Wood.

By the end of the month, the injury list cleared up further. Janne Kuokkanen, who has been out for the whole month with a wrist injury, if I recall correctly, was activated from injured reserve on March 31. He did not play in Boston, which made him one of their best players that night by default. Tyce Thompson was also activated on March 31; he was demoted to Utica so he can play with a team that actually has a winning culture. There have been further positive developments. Hammond and Zacha has been practicing. Mackenzie Blackwood is even skating again. The Devils may get to full strength - a rarity in a NHL season, especially this late into it. It may not mean much of anything, but it is welcomed.

As one late addition, the Devils did sign Michigan Tech winger Brian Halonen to a two-season entry level contract on March 27. The contract begins next season, so he can only play for Utica on an amateur try out deal for the remainder of this season should he choose to sign an ATO. Halonen is a 23-year old, right-shooting winger. He led the Michigan Tech Huskies in points last season with 21 goals and 44 points in 37 games. Halonen hovered around half that amount in production in his previous three seasons in college; he had a glow up in his senior year. And I do mean glow as Halonen’s senior season placed him in the top ten in the entire NCAA for points (tied for eighth) and he was named as a top-ten finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. As Tech’s season was over recently in the Frozen Four tournament, the Devils jumped to sign him. It will be next season when we can see if and what he can do at the next level.

Devil of the Month

Another month ending in 2022? Another toss-up between two, maybe three, players on the Devils that most anyone can see from a mile away? Yes and yes. Am I going to explain it anyway? Also yes.

The honorable mention goes to winger Jesper Bratt. At a glance, you could argue he would normally be the Devil of the Month. He was one of the top scorers on the Devils in March with 15 points in 14 games. He finished second on the team in shots in March with 39. His on-ice rates in 5-on-5 play were utterly fantastic. When he was on the ice, the Devils had an expected goals rate of 3.78 and an actual goals rate of 3.88. The Devils had over 60% of scoring chances and high-danger chances in March when he took a shift. If you wanted the run of play to go in the Devils’ direction, #63 was often involved in making that happen. The relatively little success from the power play? Bratt was usually involved there. Putting in an effort in most games - Boston last night excepted - even when the rest of the team seemed resigned to lose? Bratt did that. Under most circumstances, I’d happily name him as the Devil of the Month. He is just the honorable mention in March.

The one I name is The Big Deal himself, Jack Hughes. Why? His 5-on-5 on-ice rates are mostly on par with Bratt save for a big swing in actual goal rate. Hughes on the ice often equated to good times for the Devils in the run of play as well. The big difference is simple: goals. Hughes not only produced 17 points to lead the Devils in March, but he scored 9 goals. This more than doubled Nico Hischier’s four goals scored, the second most a Devil scored this month. Out of all 38 goals the Devils scored in March, only 13 different Devils provided them and only Hughes did so throughout the month. His nine included four of the Devils’ eight power play goals. His last three goals were literally the last three goals the Devils as a team has scored against a goaltender this month. His goals have made the league as a whole stand up and take notice that he is exactly the Big Deal I have written about him since the Devils drafted him. In a month filled with bad losses, one of the few shining positives are the rise of Bratt and Hughes. As Hughes provided more goals, more shots (55!!), more points (17, 11 at even strength), and more skill than anyone else on the roster, he was the stand out player. The haters and losers of Jack Hughes, of which there are a stubborn few, can gnash their teeth. I name Jack Hughes the All About the Jersey Devil of the Month for March 2022.

Concluding Thoughts & Your Take

Back on January 24, I wrote a plea to the New Jersey Devils: Please, Devils, Say No to Sherman Abrams. For the uninitiated, Sherman Abrams is the personification of tanking. The Devils’ season was effectively a non-playoff season by that point, but I wanted to see the team strive to actually compete. Many in the comments either agreed and/or insisted that the Devils were not tanking. I was pleased that I was not alone in this thinking and/or hoping.

Since that post, the Devils have went 9-18-0 (the 30th best record in that time frame). They are still in the running of posting the franchise’s worst record in the salary cap era. Yes, even worse than last season’s squad. The Devils made only one trade in 2022 so far and that was for a depth goaltender at the deadline - who was injured and so has yet to even debut for the Devils this season. In spite of what The Big Deal, Jesper Bratt, and Nico Hischier have done, the Devils have cratered. For all of the stunning wins (a handful of comebacks, two shootout wins, etc.), there have been twice as many losses. If the Devils are not full on tanking, then they are doing a fantastic impersonation of a team that is doing it. Sherman Abrams remains chilling in Alpine, presumably working remotely to Newark, and at least offering his praise for what is happening. I am coming off the flu, so that just makes me sick in a different way.

Once again, I get to be told either through the team on the ice, the team-run/supported media people, or even by some of the People Who Matter that this is just fine. The team is young! They are developing! They need to Learn How to Win and get goaltending and maybe a defenseman and a winger or two and it will be good soon. Real good soon. Didn’t you see the Devils make the cover of The Hockey News’ Future Watch? You can’t just ask for the Devils to get better soon. Can’t you be patient. Don’t you see Tom Fitzgerald building a culture of winning?

No. I would expect a culture of winning to include some actual winning! It really does not mean anything to me to be explained to about how the Devils can play against anyone in light of a month where they went winless on the road, outscored by 14 in 5-on-5 play, and just got embarrassed by Boston. I can begrudgingly listen to a MSG broadcast or even fans repeat these platitudes as they quickly become cliches. I can - and even write about - the many stats that actually do suggest the Devils are not in dire straits that their position in the league suggests. I can agree that the Devils have a stronger system of prospects than they had about a decade ago. But that wass not what I was told by Mr. Fitzgerald at the end of last season. Once again, here’s the quote after the 2021 season ended:

“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.”

Fitzgerald and the Devils team has utterly failed to do that. This past month of March further cemented the issues plaguing the Devils that are going to need a lot more than just patience and development - which I begin to question how good they are at that for defensemen given Ty Smith’s nightmare of a season. Goaltending was an issue. Roster management was an issue (e.g. Daws starting 13 out of 14 games, trading for an injured goalie). Playing on the road was an issue. The power play was an issue. Scoring beyond Hughes, Bratt, and Hischier was an issue. Maintaining leads was an issue. Responding to adversity was an issue. I am not telling you something you have not read before or you have not thought about the team yourself. Except the road thing; that was particularly new in March with an 0-8-0 road record.

I know these issues are not necessarily going to be fixed in April. The value for the next 15 games are going to be mostly for the players who need new contracts. If there is a team goal, then it would be to basically try their best. But after a March where they won just five games and zero of them on the road, what is that even going to look like? Especially after that debacle in Boston? Is winning even eight games total in April an actual, realistic possibility? If so, does it change the possibility that Fitzgerald is going to have to repeat last year’s offseason in that he needs to make some significant moves to improve the team? To achieve a goal he set after last season? And if not, then what? More of the same - potential trash served up on a plate of fan hopes and dreams? Does ownership wake up and decide to go in another direction; perhaps with someone outside of the organization? Does another season have to be burned to get there? The wins over Colorado and Our Hated Rivals in March were great, but this is what I’m left with: a malaise about the Devils after this past March, amid this lost season as a whole.

Now I turn this over to you. What did you think of the Devils’ performances in March? Did anyone other than Hughes, Bratt, and Hischier really impress you? What did you learn from this month in review? Do you agree that Hughes is the Devil of the Month? If not, who should it be and why? Where do you go from here if you’re Tom Fitzgerald? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the Devils in March 2022 in the comments. Thank you for reading.