The New Jersey Devils season has not been one to remember. After having two long losing streaks (six games, then ten games), the Devils plummeted from the top-seed to fighting for last in the division, and are also out of the playoffs.
This brings up one question: Should Peter DeBoer be fired?
There is no question that DeBoer is partially to blame for the team’s struggles, but there is more to it than that.
The Devils have struggled in very important aspects of the game, especially goal scoring and power play. The Devils are ranked 23rd in power play percentage (15.0%), an awful percentage for a team that should be in the playoffs. They also have the worst goal scoring in the entire NHL (2.26 Goals/Game). Embarrassing for the Devils organization.
DeBoer has not handled the defensive situation well either. The rotation between the last four of the eight defenseman on the roster is not the best way to handle it. If one player has a bad game, that player should be in the lineup the next game to have a bounce-back performance. Instead, benching the player damages their self-esteem and overall play.
The team is now eliminated from playoff contention. The Devils have only missed the playoffs once (2010-11) in the previous 15 seasons.
DeBoer has remained positive. Not once did he lose faith in his players and the organization. He knew they could win games, but nothing was going their way.
The front office of the Devils did not offer DeBoer any help. The Devils lost arguably their best player to free agency, made little signings, and did not make any big trades throughout the season.
The Devils are ranked first in short-handed goals for the second straight year.
DeBoer made the Stanley Cup Final just a year ago.
The players love playing for DeBoer, he is very influential on the players.
Although the negatives outweigh the positives by a minimal amount, DeBoer is not to blame for the Devils not qualifying for the playoffs. The shortened season took a toll on the Devils, probably because they are an aging team. Also, injuries plagued the Devils, Martin Brodeur went down and missed 12 games; later, Ilya Kovalchuk missed 11 games due to a shoulder injury. With a little more offensive firepower, healthy players, and a normal season should help DeBoer’s team and system.
The Devils will make the playoffs next season. If there is one thing Lou Lamoriello hates, besides the Rangers, it is losing. The front office will do everything in it’s power to give DeBoer the best team possible.