New Jersey Devils: Revisiting Preseason Bold Predictions

P.K. Subban #76 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
P.K. Subban #76 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood (29): (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports) /

Prediction: Mackenzie Blackwood Will Be In Vezina Conversations

This one is a big miss. Mackenzie Blackwood was indisputably great to start the year. He won four of his five starts with a save percentage north of .940. Then, the wheels fell off. He lost eight of his next nine starts. Lindy Ruff seemed to trust Scott Wedgewood over Blackwood. It’s clear contracting the coronavirus really impacted him.

Now, his overall numbers are pretty much in the tank. Even though he’s bouncing back, it’s too late to save it. Of all players who’ve had at least eight starts, Blackwood ranks 32nd in save percentage, 38th in GAA, 40th in HDSV%, and only eight goalies have worse goals saved above average (all stats from NHL.com or Natural Stat Trick). The stats are outright terrible.

Blackwood is going to be fine. Carter Hart is really the goalie that people should be worried about. He’s last in GSAA in the entire league. Still, Blackwood’s stats aren’t exactly the stuff of confidence. However, he’s been playing much better as of late, and his latest game against the Penguins was a confidence boost.

He’s not going to be in Vezina conversations. It’s Connor Hellybuyck, Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Marc-Andre Fleury as the top three. Maybe there’s an argument one could make for Semyon Varlamov, but Ilya Sorokin’s eight-game winning streak hurts his street cred. Either way, Blackwood would need to win almost every start and carry the Devils to postseason contention to get back in the Vezina Trophy conversation. It’s incredibly improbable, and that’s fine. If he can avoid disaster next season, he’ll be back on this projection.

Conclusion: Off By Quite A Bit