One Thing Will Cost Travis Green His Job With New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils seemed like they wanted to give Travis Green every chance to get the job as long-term head coach. However, one particular stat will make it impossible to hire him.

St Louis Blues v New Jersey Devils
St Louis Blues v New Jersey Devils / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The New Jersey Devils have seen their Eastern Conference opponents give them chance after chance to get back into the playoff race. The Devils have responded by losing every big game they’ve played as of late. However, it’s not just that they are losing, it is how they are losing. 

First, let’s talk about the New Jersey Devils under Travis Green. The Devils fired Lindy Ruff and named Green the interim head coach on March 4th. It’s been close to a month with the current coaching structure. In that time, they’ve played 14 games. They have 12 NHL standings points in those 14 games. Only the Detroit Red Wings, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, and Calgary Flames have fewer points since Green took over as head coach. 

Some players are doing better, like Timo Meier who was one of the best players in the entire NHL in March. Others, like Curtis Lazar, who scored his first goal in the Green era on Tuesday, have not been good under Green. 

While players will drive decision-making regarding who coaches the 2024-25 Devils, one thing we haven’t seen from them is an ability to bounce back. It was as evident as ever on Tuesday night. The Devils held a 3-1 lead in the third period against the middling Pittsburgh Penguins, a team they have owned for years. Yet, the Devils watched as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin score within 1:20 of ice time to tie the game.

One would think this would wake up a team. Nope. While the Penguins were burying the Devils, they fought back with a measly two high-danger chances. Meanwhile, the Penguins scored two more goals, ending the Devils night poorly and finally ending any talk about the playoffs.

Actually, the playoffs talk should have ended on Friday with a loss to the Buffalo Sabres. They held a 2-0 lead, but they blew that one, too. It was a night when they were the only game on TV, so there would be eyes on them. They didn’t show up, and the Devils lost the game 5-2. Another terrible effort from a team that’s clearly looking toward the offseason. 

And that is going to be the issue. The one thing happening with Lindy Ruff for most of this season was that this team showed effort. It’s probably why the Devils waited so long to fire Lindy Ruff. It didn’t happen until the team looked apathetic when losing or when the momentum started to swing. 

That hasn’t changed under Green. Tuesday night was the Devils sixth blown lead in the third period of the season. That will surprise some people, as this season from hell should have more blown leads, but the Devils never really had leads when the team loses. 

The first one came against the Vegas Golden Knights. Both goalies played great, leading to a 0-0 tie going into the third period. Nico Hischier broke that tie less than a minute into the final period. Momentum should swing in the Devils favor. Instead, the Knights score two minutes later, and they took the lead for good about eight minutes after that. 

There are two other games where the Devils third period play cost them the game (honestly, the Devils have been terrible in the third period overall under Green). The Devils had the Hurricanes on the ropes in March, looking to take a huge victory against a new rival. Instead, with the score tied 1-1 going into the third, the Devils watched Jesperi Kotkaniemi take the lead less than three minutes in. Then, Andrei Svechnikov extended the lead with less than two minutes left, sealing the deal. 

The Devils performance in the third period will force Tom Fitzgerald to look outside for a coaching hire. This just isn’t working, and this team looks as broken as it did under Ruff.