New Jersey Devils: Grading The West Coast Trip


The New Jersey Devils, fresh off an impressive victory over the San Jose Sharks, will head back east with an extended break around the NHL All Star Game on a hig

Jan 19, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; New Jersey Devils center Adam Henrique (14) congratulates Devils center Jacob Josefson (16) who scored during the third period against the San Jose Sharksat SAP Center at San Jose. Devils won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

h note. New Jersey won two of the three games on their West Coast trip against some of the top teams in the entire league.

The Devils made some much needed adjustments after dropping the middle game of the trip to the Anaheim Ducks, namely by shooting the puck more frequently and by putting pressure on the opposition with pretty solid forechecking and backchecking. The team had some lapses against San Jose, especially in the third period when they stopped contesting the puck possession as much which allowed the Sharks to gain clean zone entries.

However, the positive overall performance on the trip remains the most important take away as we enter this break in the schedule. New Jersey has come under a great deal of scrutiny for having one of the oldest rosters in the league, and those veteran players will get some much needed rest, as Patrik Elias will be the lone Devils player representing the club at the All Star festivities in Columbus, Ohio this season.

Grading The California Trip


New Jersey certainly played well overall on the California trip in winning two of their 3 games, the team has definite strong points in their level of play and also has some areas which are in need of improvement. The most glaring issue I gathered from the three games in the Golden State is that the Devils have to work on avoiding lapses in the third period.

The Devils allowed two third period goals in Los Angeles and they allowed the Sharks to relentlessly push the puck forward in the third period without contesting any of their aggressive puck movements. I understand that part of that scenario in the San Jose game was driven by the fact that they were playing with a lead, but the Devils have shown at points that no lead is safe.

The bigger problem with that approach is that in tight games you take the risk of allowing the opponent to gain momentum and potentially tie or take the lead in a game in the closing minutes.

All that being stated, the win in San Jose was still a big victory for this team, the Sharks are one of the top teams in the NHL and the Devils played extremely well overall. I think it is a positive development that the team is getting offense from unlikely sources such as Jordin Tootoo, Jacob Josefson, and Steve Bernier. The resurgence of Bernier is an especially captivating story which my colleague will cover in much greater detail.

The game against the Anaheim Ducks was a complete disaster, but the Ducks are the top team in the NHL, and they are very difficult to beat on their home ice. That performance for the Devils unquestionably puts a damper on the trip.

I have watched this team for a long time and I will touch on several topics in this article that will become the themes for future articles that either myself or one of my fellow staff members here at Pucks & Pitchforks will cover in the next week during this break in the action.


First, the media and the fans have been so divided this season over goalkeeper Cory Schneider it is almost surreal. You read one article and he is the best goalie in the league, another report is critical of his play between the pipes, and still other opinions range from him being the worst goalie in the East all the way across the spectrum to fans calling for Keith Kinkaid to start games. In my view, casting all of those opinions and reports aside, Schneider has had a heavy workload and that is the bigger concern which I will cover in greater detail in a separate article.

The next big story surrounding the Devils right now is the media spin surrounding the extended leave of absence by Martin Brodeur from the St. Louis Blues amid some agencies reporting that he and Devils General Manager and Interim Co-coach Lou Lamoriello have had a great deal of contact in recent days. Despite the frustration that some fans have had with Schneider at times this season, it is thought that Brodeur is discussing a potential front office role with New Jersey.

Next, the potential for roster moves will be a big storyline surrounding the Devils over this break in action. How active or inactive Lou Lamoriello is in making changes to this group of players is an interesting topic that we will all probably delve into here at Pucks & Pitchforks because the front office could go a variety of different directions with the roster. These potential actions will indicate how the executives and Lou view the team moving forward.

The play of the defense, most particularly Andy Greene, since the coaching change will be the source of a future article that I am putting together. Greene is having a stellar season and has truly established himself as the top defenseman on the team.

Finally, the new coaching staff has brought about a very positive change to the play of Jacob Josefson, I wrote an article last year about his role within the organization, it has been great to see him play so well recently. That is an interesting storyline for this team as they are on a break until next Wednesday, January 28th, when they will return to action against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Please continue to check in frequently with Pucks & Pitchforks for all the latest news and all you need to know to follow New Jersey Devils hockey.

(Records, statistics, schedules courtesy of )