New Jersey Devils: 3 Players Who Are Most To Blame For Bad Start

New York Rangers right wing Patrick Kane (88) scores a goal past New Jersey Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek (41) behind defenseman John Marino (6) during the third period in game two of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
New York Rangers right wing Patrick Kane (88) scores a goal past New Jersey Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek (41) behind defenseman John Marino (6) during the third period in game two of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /
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John Marino, New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils defenseman John Marino (6): Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

3. John Marino

Siegenthaler narrowly edges out John Marino as the most disappointing defenseman on the team. Both have been about as bad as they were good last season. Maybe it truly is the loss of Damon Severson and Ryan Graves that is hurting this defense, but it’s not like their replacements are bad (outside of defenseman Brendan Smith). Luke Hughes and Kevin Bahl have been pretty good, and Colin Miller has been serviceable since returning from injury.

It’s something more than just replacing quality players. Marino is in a terrible slump. He can’t play at any level on the ice. He’s been bad in the defensive zone, sloppy in the neutral zone, and made low-IQ plays in the offensive zone. His mistakes often directly lead to goals, and he’s not able to make up for the mistakes of his teammates like he was last season. It’s like he’s regressed terribly.

Where Marino is especially struggling is on the penalty kill. No defenseman in the NHL is giving up more goals on the PK than Marino. In 75 minutes with a man disadvantage, Marino has seen 16 goals scored. Again, that’s a league lead in the worst possible way. It’s not all his fault, as seven goals were not of the high-danger variety, but his nine high-danger goals against are still a league-high.

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We’ve seen this regression when Marino was on the Pittsburgh Penguins. The good news is this means he’s gotten out of it before. The bad news is it took a trade to the Devils. Is Lindy Ruff’s system taking its toll on this defense, or is this general regression? Can Siegenthaler and Marino bounce back? They need to, or the Devils may never recover.