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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3. Goaltender Load Management

We've talked about goaltending and the trade market all season long, but here's a different angle to the team's goalie woes. The Devils are officially running Nico Daws into the ground. The 23-year-old rookie goaltender had hip surgery in the offseason and returned to play in December. He has started six games in a row, playing six out of eleven calendar days following Vitek Vanecek’s recent injury. Goalie load management is critical, especially for a rookie coming off a major surgery.

Daws was fantastic in four of six games in the past two weeks. He stopped 45 shots last Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers, setting a new record for saves in an outdoor game. He seemed to run out of gas in the most recent games against the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers. This isn’t on Daws. He’s being overworked. These past two games have been a brutal hit to his save percentage, knocking him back below .900%.

It’s become clear that the Devils don’t have confidence in Akira Schmid right now, and perhaps that’s warranted. But Daws can’t play every game, especially with a back-to-back this weekend. They recently called up Isaac Poulter, who is having a strong season in the AHL. It’s either time to see what Poulter can bring to the table, give Schmid another shot, or trade for a goalie. Considering playoff hopes are slipping away, it may not be worth trading anybody away for a goalie at this point. Regardless, the load management needs to change. Overworking Daws has shown disastrous results.

The Devils have themselves up against a wall, and the hill to climb to make the playoffs might be too steep at this point. If they have any hope of battling for a spot down the stretch, they need to win both games this weekend.

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