It’s Official, It’s Not Fun To Root For New Jersey Devils Anymore

SUNRISE, FL - NOVEMBER 26: Mark Pysyk #13 of the Florida Panthers tangles with Miles Wood #44 of the New Jersey Devils at the BB&T Center on November 26, 2018 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL - NOVEMBER 26: Mark Pysyk #13 of the Florida Panthers tangles with Miles Wood #44 of the New Jersey Devils at the BB&T Center on November 26, 2018 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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After the New Jersey Devils loss to the Florida Panthers with a backup goalie in net, one thing became clear. It’s hard to root for the team this season.

The New Jersey Devils found a new way to lose, blowing the game with 90 seconds left against the worst team in the Eastern Conference, a distinction this team now owns. The Devils are currently in last place. Last flipping place. There is no team worse than the New Jersey Devils. That’s despite holding a 2-0 lead on the Florida Panthers with James Reimer in net. That’s despite having an empty net with 90 seconds left.

The excuses are over. There’s no more injuries to blame. Their lineup is as healthy now as it’s been all season. There are some small nicks here and there, like Marcus Johansson missing Monday night’s game, but overall they have just about everyone. Joey Anderson, who wasn’t in the original lineup anyway, is the only player on injured reserve. Steve Santini is technically healthy even though he’s still on IR.

When the Devils took the lead off a Jesper Bratt tip in, it seemed like things were going very well. The problem was that all we know from the Devils this season is that lead was not safe.

The Devils blew the game. They allowed the game-tying goal when they were on the verge of winning. This is an all-too-familiar narrative with the Devils on the road. They find ways to lose.

Something is very different about this year’s Devils team. Last year’s team was never out of games. They could overcome two-goal deficits in the third period. This year’s team can’t even hold on to the leads that they have.

It’s just not fun to watch a Devils game this season. When last year we rallied behind three amazing rookies in Nico Hischier, Will Butcher and Jesper Bratt, that just isn’t there this season. Brett Seney and Joey Anderson have two goals combined.

Last year we got to follow the ascension of Taylor Hall. He went from afterthought to MVP overnight. This season, he seems different. Hall is trying to do too much. Since he’s doing that, he’s actually doing nothing at all. That’s excessive, I know. He’s been the best player on the ice, but in times of need he continuously tries to make something out of nothing. Last year, he did that naturally. This season, you can tell he’s doing it by force.

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There’s no easy fix for the Devils. The defense is shot. Sami Vatanen looks like a shell of himself. Andy Greene looks done completely. They can’t afford to lose more games while Cory Schneider figures things out. Keith Kinkaid has had all the luck, but is still losing games.

They’ve been terrible in overtime. They have lost all four chances they had in the extra period, despite having Hall, Hischier, Kyle Palmieri, Bratt and Marcus Johansson as forwards. Despite being so bad, they keep doing the same thing. It’s almost like they think they’re philosophy is “if at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” What they don’t get is this is more like the definition to insanity. Yet, frustratingly, nothing ever changes.

The power play has been abysmal. Their numbers say they are middle of the pack, but a lot of that happened in the beginning of the season. We saw on Monday night when a Panthers penalty kill looked more like the power play. The Devils just can’t generate high-danger chances with the man advantage.

Next. Overtime Woes Come Down To Confidence. dark

It’s still very, very early in the season. This isn’t to say the Devils should give up, but if they keep playing like they have been the season will give up for them. Something within the philosophy of the Devils has to change, or they will soon be legitimately unwatchable.