Devils: Is New Jersey Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel?

Yesterday we wondered if the floundering of the Dallas Stars was business as usual. Today, we can’t help but wonder the same thing about the New Jersey Devils.

The Garden State’s hockey club of note seemed to get off to a good start this season, leading the Winnipeg Jets 4-0 into the opener with roughly two periods in the bucket. But then that game took a turn in the final frame and the Devils wound up losing 5-4 after the shootout. It was all downhill from there.

Long story short, New Jersey’s yet to win a hockey game.

The Sabres took them apart 7-2 in the second game of the season. The Flyers shut them out 4-0. The Oilers beat them in the shootout. The Bruins shut them out 3-0. And on Monday, the Panthers took them out.

New Jersey now holds the honour of being the only team without a win. They’ll have a chance to get their first against the Rangers on Thursday on Broadway, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Devils took to the summer with designs on improvement, snagging P.K. Subban to bolster their D, drafting Jack Hughes, bringing in Wayne Simmonds, and getting Taylor Hall back to good health.

But now, these Devils are staring down the barrel of a zero-for-18 power play and the worst goal differential in the league. Hughes has been held pointless, while Hall’s return to form is in a bit of a holding pattern. To be fair, the 27-year-old does have five points in six games – but just the one goal.

Pavel Zacha is second in scoring with four points, including one goal, while Kyle Palmieri, Blake Coleman and Nikita Gusev all have two apiece.

In goal, Cory Schneider’s redemptive arc isn’t going according to plan. He’s got three losses in four starts, a 4.09 goals against average and a .876 save percentage. Mackenzie Blackwood doesn’t have better stats, with a 4.90 goals against average and a .821 save percentage. But the 22-year-old has been in goal for two of New Jersey’s closest games, the two overtime losses.

Blown leads are becoming a pattern. New Jersey probably should’ve won at least three games by now, including the opening flop against Winnipeg and the tilt against the Oilers. Monday, they led the Panthers 4-1 ahead of allowing five unanswered goals in the last half hour.

Where do the Devils go from here? For one, their goaltending is not good. For another, their scoring needs a kick in the pants. Whether that amounts to a coaching change remains to be seen, but smart money suggests John Hynes could be first on the block early this campaign.

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Published by Dr. Pucksworth

Doctor of Puckanomics.

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