Understandably so, frustrations are peaking for the New Jersey Devils and their highly disenchanted fanbase. Last night’s infuriatingly frustrating 7-6 home overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning saw the Devils squander yet another multi-goal lead and leave New Jersey with just two wins on the year—the fewest in the NHL.
Left wing Taylor Hall voiced his displeasure on the crowd’s attitude, saying how the team was “battling their own fans,” when the ice was getting showered with in-game boos, despite the score being tied and the team already being one-for-three on the power play at the time.
Hall did clarify that he empathizes with the fan’s frustrations. However, regardless of whether it was right for the crowd to start booing when they did, it leaves one to ask whether or not Taylor Hall calling out the fans—especially when you take the Devil’s performance as a whole into consideration—was justified.
Hall’s full comments are below (Per Corey Masiak):
The short answer is no.
Now don’t get me wrong; a quick browse of social media will show the New Jersey Devils fanbase has their fair share of snooty, whiny, obnoxious, entitled know-it-alls. The same fans who were zealously arrogant going into the season that viciously tore into anyone who thought otherwise are the same ones currently dragging their team’s name through the mud and patronizing anyone who has any degree of optimism moving forward.
Having said that, their outrage is warranted.
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While Hall is probably onto something when he says it’s a tough environment to play in if you’re getting booed by your own fans, whose energy the team is supposed to feed off of, the team’s performance thus far doesn’t give his remarks much leverage.
As previously mentioned, to describe New Jersey’s 2019-2020 performance to date as abysmal is more than generous. For Hall or any player trying to hold the fans to a higher standard when New Jersey is currently 30th in the league, in addition to their litany of other statistical debacles, is dauntless.
To reiterate, Hall was upset Devils fans booed a team when they were tied and had already gone one-for-three on the power play. This is also a team that has blown a whopping nine in-game leads through their first 10 games, four of which were multi-goal and/or occurred in the third period. This is a team whose power play and penalty kill respectively rank 26th and 25th, have scored the second-fewest goals in the league, surrendered the ninth-most and allowed three or more goals in eight of their first 10 contests.
We don’t even need to delve into the disdainful goaltending numbers.
Hall says the Devils are battling their fans, whose booing makes for a tough environment to play in—you guys, the players, are the ones making the environment tough to play in for yourselves and the aforementioned numbers corroborate that statement.
Yes, it’s still very early and there is plenty of time for this team to righten the ship. This roster is too talented to continue playing at this rate and is capable of meeting the heightened expectations set for them going into the season. Whether that happens, remains to be seen.
So far however, the New Jersey Devils have given very little (if anything) for the fans to cheer for but plenty of reasons to boo. That’s something only the players can change.