5 New Jersey Devils Players Fighting For Playoff Minutes

New Jersey Devils right wing Nathan Bastian (14) and left wing Miles Wood (44) and defenseman Ryan Graves (33) and center Michael McLeod (20) celebrates a goal scored by Wood against the Dallas Stars during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils right wing Nathan Bastian (14) and left wing Miles Wood (44) and defenseman Ryan Graves (33) and center Michael McLeod (20) celebrates a goal scored by Wood against the Dallas Stars during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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New Jersey Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek (41): Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

5. Vitek Vanecek

Well, this one is a little awkward. Vitek Vanecek is the reason the Devils are where they are. Getting a competent goalie helps the Devils secure the first playoff berth since 2018. After last year’s debacle in net, it was nice to get someone who could at least be average on a nightly basis.

However, we saw on Tuesday night how average can turn into terrible against the right team. The Lightning are one of the more opportunistic teams in the league. The Devils lost momentum when their second goal was disallowed due to a pretty mediocre goaltender interference call. The Lightning took advantage, and Vanecek couldn’t stop them.

We’ve asked if Vanecek might be a problem, but he responded with a shutout of the Carolina Hurricanes to send the Devils to a tie for first place. The Devils already lost that tie after the loss on Tuesday, and it’s starting to look like Vanecek might be losing his endurance.

Next. 5 Greatest Devils In-Season Trades. dark

Meanwhile, Mackenzie Blackwood is on the verge of returning, and Akira Schmid has been nothing short of outstanding. The Devils have a strange problem in net, but it could lead to a great starter taking over in the playoffs. Vanecek will be given every chance to secure his spot after how he’s played this season. However, the Devils have to do what’s best for the team. If Blackwood or Schmid is the best option right now, that’s who will play in the playoffs.