3 Adjustments New Jersey Devils Need to Make to Get Back into Playoff Race

Two more brutal losses this week have knocked the Devils further out of the playoff race. What will it take to get back into the hunt?

Montreal Canadiens v New Jersey Devils
Montreal Canadiens v New Jersey Devils / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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2. The Power Play

There’s no arguing this fact: the Devils’ power play has been awful. Despite starting the 2023-24 season with the best power play in the NHL, it has completely flatlined. The Devils had a five-minute power play on Thursday night. Not only did they fail to score, but they failed to generate opportunities. They couldn't even keep the puck in the offensive zone. Then the Devils proceeded to allow the Rangers to score an immediate power-play goal. The rest of the night didn’t go any better on the power play.

The Devils are now 2 for their last 46 power play opportunities. Notably, they have been without Dougie Hamilton for the past three months. Hamilton is a big threat on the power play with his wicked shot. Even still, the talent on the PP units should be generating more chances and more goals. At this point, it may be too late to completely change the power play system. But something needs to change. There’s a lot of passing back and forth and not taking shots. Players need to move around more with the puck.

After Thursday night’s loss, Ruff told the media (who he felt were creating excess pressure) that he and his staff would look at the power play to see what changes needed to be made. It’s past time to mix up the units. Perhaps Luke Hughes and Simon Nemec could switch units, even if that means splitting up the Hughes brothers. Or maybe it’s time to try a different defenseman on the power play, like John Marino, who has found a little bit of offensive pop this year, or Colin Miller, especially given Hughes’ recent struggles. Erik Haula or Timo Meier could switch to the first unit, moving Tyler Toffoli to the second. At this point, just make the changes and see if there’s some new chemistry.