Lindy Ruff's Decisions May Have Cost New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils went into their matchup with the Anaheim Ducks depserate for a win. It did not work out, and Lindy Ruff deserves some of the blame.

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

If the New Jersey Devils season hasn't gotten worse already, they lost to the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night. The Ducks were not only one of the worst teams in the league, but the Devils had already lost to them in December. As an NHL team, you cannot try to make the playoffs again, become elite, lose to a team like that twice in the same year, and expect to make the playoffs. So much of the reason they lost was again due to Lindy Ruff's multiple costly decisions he made before the game, so let's go over them right now.

Starting Nico Daws over Akira Schmid

The goaltending has been a big problem throughout the season, but it has recently gotten better. In the past few games, Nico Daws has been starting over Vitek Vanacek, who is now trying to return to the team after a stink on IR. While Daws has been great, starting him in every game and not giving him a break is clearly causing fatigue. Daws did not look like himself in that game; 2 out of the four goals he could've stopped but didn't, and not only that, he gave up four goals on 17 shots.

It was only until the 3rd period that Ruff decided to pull Daws and put Scmid in, and he stopped pretty much every shot the Ducks had at this point. There were other benefactors to the goals given up, sure, and maybe if Schmid started, he could've played as well, but you still must take the risk and give your primary goalie a break, and considering Ruff didn't do that, that decision pretty much cost them the game and the season.

Putting Kevin Bahl and John Marino on a Defensive Pair Together

The defense for the Devils this season has been brutal. The pairings cost them too many games, but last night was difficult thanks to one bad defensive pairing: Kevin Bahl and John Marino. The two probably had one of the worst defensive performances of this year. Most of their problems happened on the Ducks line of Frank Vatrano, Mason McTavish, and Troy Terry. The first goal given up happened to a weak hit attempt with Bahl trying to push McTavish and falling, allowing Vatrano to get wide open for a goal. That very same paring had another mistake late in the 2nd period, where when the Ducks were pushing for a change in the Devil's zone, Marino missed Vatrano, who zipped right past him, allowing Radko Gudas to connect with him for a goal, which ended up being the game-winner.

Bahl and Marino aren't having good seasons, but why did Lindy Ruff put them together as a pairing? That's just increasing the odds they'll mess up even more, and last night proved that perfectly. Why does Lindy put pairings like this that get beat almost every game? While yes, the Devils need a defenseman, that strategy would get a coach like Lindy Ruff fired. But he is still here, but there is one more decision in this game that should've made Lindy get fired this morning.

Letting Jack Hughes Shoot the Penalty Shot That Could've Tied It

Let's talk about the play that led to the penalty shot. With less than 10 seconds to go in the game, the Devils are down 4-3; they are pushing for the tying goal in the Ducks zone; they try to put the puck in near goalie Lukas Dotsal and Vatrano, with 2.1 seconds left and pushes the net off its moorings before the puck goes in. The Devils got awarded a penalty shot, and Lindy Ruff put in Jack Hughes to make the attempt. Hughes skates in and, while trying to make a move, loses the puck, and the attempt fails, so the Ducks win the game.

While people criticize Hughes for not attempting a shot, there is one giant aspect people are missing. For most of the 3rd period, Jack played a double shift and played for the entire period. Because of that, Jack was most likely exhausted, which probably means he was too tired to try and make the shot. Do you know who made all those decisions? Lindy Ruff. Why would someone tired take a shot like that with the season on the line? Where were Jesper Bratt, Tyler Tofolli, or even Timo Meier, guys who are not only not playing double shifts but also are very good at attempts like this in the shootout? Why isn't one of them taking that shot? This decision is perhaps Ruff's worst decision all year, yet he still has a job as the team coach. If he eventually gets fired, reasons like this and others will be looked back at fondly when he is no longer the team's coach!