It became clear pretty early that this might be a tough season for the New Jersey Devils, but nobody saw all these injuries coming.
The New Jersey Devils are coming off a rough stretch. The stretch saw the team play relatively well despite very tough conditions. There are so many injuries to key players that some teams go seasons without seeing anything like it.
Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri, Sami Vatanen, Cory Schneider, Miles Wood, Stefan Noesen, Pavel Zacha, and more are all either currently injured or have been injured for stretches. As a result, the Devils record of late has taken a hit. They were having a tough season as it was, and then Taylor Hall went out. It was a downward spiral from there.
This teamcan win games without Hall, but he is the type of game breaker that can help a team get on a run and win enough games to make it to the playoffs. You saw it in 2017-18 and he was on a similar if not better pace this year. Losing a guy like that can cost you a season, and even more than that went wrong this season.
With many guys who help generate offense naturally the team doesn’t score many goals right now. There are many guys who spent a majority of the season in the AHL in the Devils lineup, and they could develop into real contributors in the future. However, it isn’t going that way.
They lost to the Calgary Flames by a score of 2-1, the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 6-3 and the Boston Bruins by a score of 1-0. That is very few goals scored on the three game losing streak. Other than the Philly game where some mistakes were made, they have been okay in the defensive part of the game against some very good teams.
Both the Flames and Bruins are top five in the standings and they score a lot of goals. The Devils kept them to a combined three goals in two games. The defending is fine, but they just cannot score right now.
Their last win was against the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night, and they only scored twice while giving up only one goal. If there is any positive to take out, it is that once some offensive help is back in the lineup to end the season and into next year, some guys defensive game is developing which is always first and foremost.
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It also doesn’t help that they have traded away a couple of good forwards in Brian Boyle and Marcus Johansson. Both of those players are perfectly capable of contributing some offense. There is a reason their new teams acquired them in a quest to win the Stanley Cup.
Nathan Bastian was injured in the game against the Flyers and missed the game against the Bruins. He scored his first NHL goal a few games prior against the Canadiens. Nico Hischier was injured in the game against the Bruins and there still has not been an update given. This would be the final straw in all the Devils best players being out of the lineup if he is out for a while.
The Devils will look for Michael McLeod to get his first NHL goal and start contributing. A guy like Jesper Bratt could go a long way in helping this team score some goals in a time like this. He is really coming on lately, and he figures to be a big part of the Devils future plans.
Fans can only hope that Monday brings good news about Hischier, because they are going to need him to help score some goals down the stretch. This might be a rough stretch of games to end the season here. Everyone should realize that it is all about the future and as long as the youngsters progress in their development and the goaltenders are playing well then it is all about next year.
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The Devils are back at it on Tuesday when the new look Columbus Blue Jackets visit the Rock. This Blue Jackets team is desperate for points. They feel like the need to make the playoffs after not only not trading Artemi Panarin even though he is on an expiring contract, but adding other expiring contracts in an attempt to make a run as well. The Devils will look to spoil the fun for them in Newark.