New Jersey Devils: Lindy Ruff Needs To Change Narrative On Team

New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff: (Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports)
New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff: (Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports) /

The New Jersey Devils had a pretty good preseason on the ice and a pretty bad one off the ice. They won four of their five preseason games and the players they needed to look good did. Jack Hughes was very good in a limited time. Dougie Hamilton needed just one game to show he is going to be the dominant force they paid for. Dawson Mercer established himself as an NHL player. There was so much good from the Devils.

Unfortunately, the headlines still deal with the bad situations. Mackenzie Blackwood isn’t vaccinated. If he hasn’t done it now, it’s going to take something drastic to get him to take the shot. Was the drastic measure the multiple inconclusive tests that forced them to hold him out of the now-canceled Thursday night game against the Islanders? We still don’t know what his status is and if he will be able to play on opening night.

On top of that, the Devils are dealing with multiple injuries. Damon Severson accidentally stepped on a puck and strained something. Some of these you can’t make up. Ty Smith is also dealing with an injury, and he could miss the start of the season. Jack Hughes was already injured, but it seems minor. It still caused him to miss the rest of the preseason.

Then, on Thursday night, the Devils needed to cancel their last preseason game against the New York Islanders because they couldn’t get the lights on. It doesn’t help the whole “poverty franchise” that rival fans like to throw as an insult at Devils fans. It’s literally a team that can’t keep the lights on. This is after a few of the preseason games weren’t even televised, and they had to cancel one of their games on ESPN+.

It’s not a great start, and those weird happenings can have an effect on a team. The teams it usually doesn’t impact are the ones with really good head coaches. They can bounce back from anything. Is Lindy Ruff in that category?

Ruff has been around for many, many years. He has seen most things, but it has been hard to stop the snowball from turning into an avalanche in years past. Things went from bad to worse last season after the COVID outbreak. The same thing happened in 2019-20 when the Devils blew the lead in the first game of the season then ended up losing seven in a row. To end the preseason on a sour note after crushing it in the first four matchups is not what you want as a franchise.

Alex Holtz Should Be Top Six Or AHL Bound. dark. Next

Ruff needs to right this ship. It’s up to him almost on his own. This is a young team that’s still trying to find themselves. They are dealing with a semblance of expectations for the first time. To step up to the plate, it needs to start with a hot start. They need to get healthy and put the issues of the past behind them.