The New Jersey Devils made a few moves at the NHL Trade Deadline that made the roster more competitive. Now, the bottom of the roster will have to prove its worth for the rest of the season.
Despite the New Jersey Devils‘ dreadful performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night, they are almost a lock to make the playoffs this season. With 15 games left in the season, the Devils are 18 points ahead of the New York Islanders, the owners of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. There will be two major goals from now until the end of the year. The Devils want to win the Metropolitan Division and prepare the roster for the postseason.
To prepare, the Devils have to find the best lineup. They’ve been playing with the lines since Timo Meier arrived, and he’s struggled to fit into the Lindy Ruff system. It’s not something to be worried about. Ruff’s system takes time to acclimate. Then, on Tuesday night, the Devils added Curtis Lazar to the lineup for the first time.
Adding those two makes every moment matter for the bottom six. The Devils are evaluating everyone and expect to see a few different lineups for the next few weeks. Who is fighting for their playoff lives? Let’s start with the new guy.
Lazar, as we said, joined the lineup for the first time against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night. He had a rough night, being on the ice for four high-danger chances against and zero for his own line. The offense wasn’t there, at least meaningful offense. Only Michael McLeod and Miles Wood, his linemates, had fewer 5v5 minutes.
Lazar was already given penalty kill time, which didn’t go so badly. He didn’t allow a high-danger chance in 1:12.
The Devils eventually gave up on the fourth line. It’s happened far too often as of late. The Devils wanted to run four lines, which is why they made the moves they did. However, Lazar needs time to get into the right place in the Lindy Ruff system, just like Meier. If he takes too long, he could see himself out of the lineup come playoff time.