5 Things That Must Happen For New Jersey Devils To Make Playoffs

The New Jersey Devils skate in warm-ups (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The New Jersey Devils skate in warm-ups (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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New Jersey Devils
Mackenzie Blackwood #29 of the New Jersey Devils (Photo by Rich Graessle/Getty Images) /

2. Some goalie has to step up

The Devils have Mackenzie Blackwood and Vitek Vanecek on the opening night roster. Both goalies looked quite good in the preseason. In fact, all four Devils goalies looked pretty good. Blackwood technically had a negative goals saved above average, but it’s just slightly too low. Vanecek was the 25th-best goalie in that stat according to Natural Stat Trick. Nico Daws and Akira Schmid had positive GSAA numbers, too.

Great, we saw some decent goaltending play in the preseason. We’ve been there before. How can this translate to the regular season? For one, the Devils hope Blackwood realizes he’s on his last chance. The Devils signed Vanecek to a three-year deal this offseason for a surprising raise. Meanwhile, Blackwood is in the last year of his own three-year deal. He’s making $2.8 million trying to earn the big payday this offseason. While he might be a restricted free agent at the end of the deal, the Devils could still decide to move on if it doesn’t work out.

Then, there’s Jonathan Bernier. He will be there to clean up the mess if it goes terribly like it did last year. We expect him to return around Thanksgiving from major hip surgery. If Blackwood and Vanecek falter, then hopefully Bernier can do something.

Either way, the Devils need one of these three goalies to work out. They cannot make the playoffs without a goalie. Even if the defense is dominant, they need someone to stop the puck.