New Jersey Devils: 3 Changes That Need To Happen Now

New Jersey Devils Goalie Akira Schmid (40): Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils Goalie Akira Schmid (40): Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports /
2 of 3
New Jersey Devils
Alex DeBrincat #93 of the Detroit Red Wings (L) scores. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Defensive Pairing Changes

It isn’t all on the goalies. The defense is hanging them out to dry. The penalty kill has not been good. Even their strongest defensive defensemen, Jonas Siegenthaler and John Marino, have not been as good as they were last year. The Devils had a big test with Tuesday night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche, currently the top team in the Central Division. During the loss, the Devils’ weaknesses in puck possession, odd-man rushes, and their overall defensive zone struggles were on display. The Devils gave up 13 odd-man rushes on Tuesday.

How can Lindy Ruff improve the defense? It’s time to shake up the defensive pairings. As much as he’s insisted on keeping the D-pairings consistent this season, something has to give. Marino and Kevin Bahl are not working out together. Luke Hughes and Brendan Smith are not working out. This could mean it’s time for Luke Hughes to work with Marino.

Colin Miller needs to get a chance once he’s healthy. Aside from Miller, what about Cal Foote and Simon Nemec? It might be time to look into a defensive upgrade via trade if none of these options cut it. Smith is more serviceable as a seventh defenseman than a regular.

The Devils have a 7-4-1 record even though they’re among the worst in the league in goals allowed. They’re sixth in total goals scored this season with 46 goals. They’re fourth in goals scored per game with 3.83 goals. In other words, their offense has made up for their defense. Stellar offense won’t be able to outpace significant defensive mistakes down the stretch, though.