The New Jersey Devils defense may have been a strong point for the team, but they still struggled. Here are my grades for them:
Marek Zidlicky - C-
Zidlicky…. where do I start here. If you have not noticed, I pick on him a lot. If it was not for his offensive presence for the Devils, I would have given him a D. However, Zidlicky was a top scorer for the Devils which should go into some consideration. But the fact is Zidlicky does not have good defensive skills. He also had a plus/minus of -12, the lowest on the team tied with Bryce Salvador. Zidlicky also turns the puck over an astronomical amount. Many of these turnovers led to goals for the opposing team. I believe if he transitioned to forward, Zidlicky would be a more productive player, but is definitely not worth the 4 million dollar paycheck he receives.
The new captain for the Devils had a poor season. As mentioned before, Salvador had a -12 rating in 2013. Not very good if you ask me. Salvador is aging and slowing down. It will not be long before he hangs up the skates. His season came to an early end after suffering a hand injury. However, Salvador is great in the locker room and is loved by everyone on the Devils.
Mark Fayne - B
Fayne played very well at points for the Devils, but also was very streaky. Some games Fayne was nonexistent, but would play like a top defenseman the next game. Fayne only played in 31 games this year which did not give him consistency, setting him up for failure. Fayne also had the second highest rating with +6.
Adam Larsson - C+
Larsson stepped up his defensive game late in the year and started to play very well. After a slow start to 2013, Larsson started to blossom into the fourth overall pick he is. With a little more seasoning Larsson could still be the top-notch defenseman he was once predicted to be.
Andy Greene - A
What a season. Andy Greene played outstanding this entire year. His team leading +12 rating was double any other player on the Devils roster. Greene was awarded the “A” on his sweater while Kovalchuk went down and maintained it when Salvador got hurt. Greene was arguably the team MVP, deserving of an A.
Anton Volchenkov - B-
Volchenkov has his ups and downs, but I like his physicality. The A-train at times seems to be the only Devils defenseman who knows how to hit. However, he took it a little too far earning a suspension of four games for elbowing Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins.
Peter Harrold - B-
Harrold played rather well in the games he played. Harrold was only in 23 games, but scored two goals and had three assists. Harrold had some big defensive plays and even some offensive.
The defense may have played better than the forwards this season, but they still did not do their best. There is much room for improvement and they should have played better down the stretch of the season. Andy Greene was by far the best defenseman this season. He deserves to be in the running for team MVP, along with Patrik Elias. Overall, there are some improvements needed to be made and the physicality needs to be turned up, but the defense was the best part of the Devils in 2013.