New Jersey Devils Are Now At A Nadir After Loss To Blue Jackets

RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 18: New Jersey Devils head coach John Hynes walks off the ice during a game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the New Jersey Devils at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC on November 18, 2018. (Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 18: New Jersey Devils head coach John Hynes walks off the ice during a game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the New Jersey Devils at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC on November 18, 2018. (Photo by Greg Thompson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Even placed in the context of this incredibly depressing season, last night’s 4-1 loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets puts the New Jersey Devils at rock bottom. They are now truly at a nadir for the season.

It doesn’t get much worse than this. Watching the New Jersey Devils get blown away this season by top-flight teams like Toronto and Tampa has been depressing.  Epic collapses in Ottawa and Buffalo sink everyone’s spirits.  Soft goals allowed by our netminders abound. Slow starts coming off seemingly big exhilarating wins seem to be the norm, not the exception. But now, the Devils are at a true nadir. The meaning of nadir, is the lowest point of a person or organization.

Last night, every time that cannon exploded and AC/DC blasted throughout Nationwide Arena, it was as though Devils fans were getting shot down in flames again and again (and again and again).  Last season’s win against Toronto was surely the franchise pinnacle of the past twelve months, but January 15, 2019 in Columbus might soon be considered a bottoming out point for the Devils’ 2018-19 season.

Although there are many “lowlights” to “highlight”, here are perhaps the most noteworthy of them.

Horrific Defending

Last night, Damon Severson was not ready to play. Maybe, to borrow a phrase from one of the Devils players from the past, Damon thought the game started at 7:30PM.  His turnover in the first minute was clumsy.  Severson then lost a battle in front of the net on the second goal. His penalty leading to the fourth goal was pretty much laziness, the result of a player not moving his feet and instead using his hands to impede his opponent.

After that, his immature reaction to his infraction, drawing a second minor for unsportsmanlike conduct, demonstrated a lack of discipline beyond description. Severson should have been benched not only for the second period, but for the entire game.

Last Night In Columbus Was A Low Point For The Devils.

Blown Opportunity

I can’t even bring myself to go back and count how many times the Devils have lost to backup goalies this year. They can never get a sniff against Sergei Bobrovsky and, for once, they get to face Joonas Korpisalo in the Blue Jacket’s net. Now I’m not saying Korpisalo is awful, but seeing any backup in net does leave the door ajar a bit for a club. However, the Devils did nothing to swing that door all the way open. Very disappointing.

Slow Start

Look, Severson was terrible, but you do defend with six guys. On both of the first two goals, no one was in the slot. And can Keith Kinkaid please make a big save for us sometime?  It has to be a good 7-8 times this season the Devils have conceded a goal in the opening five or so minutes of a game (again, I can’t bring myself to go back and count).

Personnel Choices

Listen, Kevin Rooney plays hard, as does Blake Pietila. Nothing personal against them, but is there ever a time when the Devils will bring in their first-round picks John Quenneville and Michael McLeod and just play them in a top-nine role for twenty or so games? I understand Quenneville has had his chances and has not set the world on fire in Newark so, if you say to me that maybe you take him off the list and give a guy like Marian Studenic or Nick Lappin a shot instead, no argument there.

But, regardless of the two or three forwards the club identifies, as top draft picks and/or younger players, their ceilings are higher than some of the forwards in Newark now. 2018-19 is a lost year, it’s time to give up the ghost and play the kids and see what they can do.  That concept should also apply to Steve Santini, Mirco Mueller and perhaps even Egor Yakovlev even through he is not a “kid”.

We know how bad the team is now. It’s now time to evaluate some of the other players to see what is there for the future.

Make A Call

Listen, I admit it, I don’t think Damon Severson is good. Yes, he can skate and he has a good shot. But his judgement leads him to give up odd man rushes, he tosses the puck away at times and is frequently out of position. His numbers and playing time also support the contention he’s a below average defensive player. Severson is apparently not good enough to kill penalties, based on current coaching decisions.

His plus/minus for his career is minus -73.  Let’s face it, that’s terrible. It’s time to pull the plug on #28, it seems likely he would benefit from a change of scenery and I’m pretty sure he’s still young enough that the Devils could get back a decent asset for him. Trading him is probably a win-win, good for Severson’s career and good for the Devils. Just do it!

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This is another place to make a call. Keith Kinkaid looks totally shot. His primary contribution to the club these days seems to be more with Twitter and emojis than with his stick and glove.

Even though Cory Schneider has looked terrible this year, he is signed for several more years and Kinkiad is not. Under the same assumption that the season is now lost and it’s time to evaluate players for next year, the Devils should be throwing Cory in when healthy and putting Kinkaid on waivers.

Keith is not part of the future and it’s time to move on. I’m not really optimistic about #35 either, but buying him out is a lot of dead money so it’s reasonable to give him another look during many of these now meaningless games in the dead of winter in Downtown Newark.

Without A Trace

Look, there is nothing to be mad about here, the Hart Trophy winner is a gamer and I’m sure he’s hurt, but how depressing is it to have Taylor Hall on Injured Reserve, with zero information about his status and zero information about a projected return date? Just the perfect coda to the Devils season and the final reason New Jersey is now at a nadir.

Next. How Did The Devils Do That?. dark