What’s Next For New Jersey Devils After Another Embarrassing Loss?

New Jersey Devils goaltender Jon Gillies (32): Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils goaltender Jon Gillies (32): Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports /

The New Jersey Devils had another game where they had no chance in the first period. It is just another in a line of embarrassing losses that the Devils keep getting themselves into. It follows a pattern. Actually, it follows one of two patterns. Either the team goes down early and plays well trying to dig themselves out of a hole, only for the goalie to make a few great saves to seal the game and another embarrassing loss. Or, they go out to an early lead only to blow it, sometimes multiple times.

The former happened on Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars. It was the 41st game of the season, marking the halfway point to this year. The Devils are completely out of playoff contention with 41 games left in the season. They would have to win something like 65% of their games when they’ve won 36% of games this season.

Think about that for just a moment. The Devils have won 36% of its games this season. We don’t count salvaging a point. It’s either win or lose at this point, and all the Devils do is lose.

We aren’t even asking the Devils to win more than lose at this point. However, games like the one on Tuesday night are becoming too commonplace. They were out of the game in the first period when Akira Schmid allowed three goals. The Stars didn’t even play that good of a game offensively. The Devils just couldn’t get anything going. The Stars got into passing lanes, and they countered every Devils strategy. It was like a Master Class in how to play this team.

The advanced stats will show that the Devils played a “quality” game, but this is where the advanced stats just miss the mark. The Devils chances outside of the Jesper Bratt goal were medium quality at best. They were in close, but Braden Holtby was almost always in the right position to stop it.

The question now is what comes next? Some will call on head coach Lindy Ruff to be fired, but it really is more than that. The Devils lost both of their goalies and their top defenseman for more than a month. Also, the season is over, so leaving Ruff in there doesn’t hurt or help. He has seen the development of Jack Hughes, Bratt, Nathan Bastian, and a few others. Maybe his game management isn’t great, but his player progression has been good, so let him handle that for the rest of the year and then see how we feel in the offseason.

The Devils are in no-man’s land. They wanted to be competitive this season, but it’s clear they aren’t. They really don’t have a lot of assets to sell off. Most of the players on this team are either restricted free agents or signed through next season. However, playing out the season just going through the motions seems like a bad idea as well.

Next. Devils Should Ride Jon Gillies. dark

This is where the coaching staff needs to earn their paycheck. They need to set attainable goals that this team can hit each month or by the end of the season. Get this team motivated again. Don’t make the goal a playoff spot because it’s not happening, but if you make it finish fifth in the Metropolitan Division, that gives this team something to strive for. Maybe get the players excited about personal goals like point production or milestones. Find something that gets this team going. This team’s fanbase can’t take too many more embarrassments. There are 41 games left. They better come to play for all of them.