Fix Penalty Kill
When Ryan Graves and Damon Severson left for greener ($$$) pastures, most Devils fans weren’t terribly upset. They were good in their time in New Jersey, but it’s pretty clear the Devils couldn’t afford to pay their new premium. The Devils also have a ton of young defensemen who can take their place. Both Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec were top picks who are close to NHL-ready. They could jump in and replace Severson and Graves at even strength, but they couldn’t replace them on the penalty kill.
The biggest issue is somehow John Marino. He allowed a goal every 9.6 penalty minutes last season. Basically, Marino allowed a goal on one in every ten power plays against. This season, he’s allowing goals every 2.4 minutes on the PK. His five goals allowed is the most on the team, and it’s one of the higher numbers in the league. Five goals allowed in general in three games in terrible. All of them coming in 12 penalty minutes is devastating.
The Devils PK has allowed five goals, so Marino has been on the ice for all of them. Only three other teams have allowed more, and two have played more games than the Devils.
This is a section of the team that has to get clamped down. We talk about Timo Meier, the goaltending, and the defense all we want, but if the penalty kill continues to struggle, the Devils will always be playing from behind.