Power Ranking 10 Reasons Why New Jersey Devils Season Went To Hell

The New Jersey Devils went on a Western Conference road trip in desperation mode. After leaving with just two points, it's time to look back and see where the Devils went wrong.

Timo Meier of the New Jersey Devils waits for a pass from Nico Hischier
Timo Meier of the New Jersey Devils waits for a pass from Nico Hischier / Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
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The New Jersey Devils needed the Western Conference trip to go well to stay in the playoff race. The opposite happened, and now the Devils are coming home thinking about how to salvage what's left of a disappointing year. The NHL Trade Deadline is just five days away, Now, there might be no point in doing anything at all.

When they say a year is the "Season from Hell." it's never one issue that tanks it. It's not just the coach or the star player getting injured. Everything has to go wrong. That's exactly what happened to the Devils. Every unit fell below expectations. Some fell so far they were among, if not the league worst.

If we were to rank what tanked the season the most, we originally had an idea for five issues to be ranked, but that wasn't enough. We found 10 major issues that turned this season into... this. We didn't even mention some of minor issues that hurt them, including Nico Hischier's injury, his drop from Selke candidate, everyone taking too many penalties, losing Damon Severson and Ryan Graves, the lack of toughness, or that their shooting percentage dropped one full percent. So, let's get to the ten that did make the list.

10. Timo Meier

Simply, Timo Meier. The Devils close to $9 million man did not have a good first full season in New Jersey. As of right now, he has 28 points in 48 games. That's not good enough for what the Devils paid him or what they traded for him. But it's more complicated than that. Meier got hurt multiple times this season trying to be the only guy who brought a level of toughness from the star players. He had been playing better as of late, scoring three goals in his last give games, but like a lot on this team, it came too late.

9. Lineup Decisions

Devils fans spent a ton of time discussing Lindy Ruff's daily lineup. The status of Alexander Holtz took up way too much time in our collective social media conversations. Do we think that Holtz should be on the fourth line? Of course not. Brendan Smith shouldn't be playing on his off-hand for weeks. Jack Hughes shouldn't have Curtis Lazar on his wing. Simon Nemec should not have started the season in Utica. The lineup decisions did not lead to great chemistry, and it hurt the Devils. The Devils have had one line play more than 150 minutes together this season, and that's Ondrej Palat, Nico Hischier, and Jesper Bratt. On the other hand, the Rangers have three lines over 230 minutes at 5v5, and Panarin-Trochek-Lafreniere has played 612 minutes together.

8. Special Teams

Some might think this one should be higher, but special teams was winning the Devils games earlier in the season, especially when the Devils had trouble scoring at 5v5. The power play was at an unsustainable rate, hitting north of 40 percent at one point. Then, the opposite happened. The Devils went weeks without scoring a power-play goal. This team with Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, etc. etc. etc. couldn't get the puck on the net, let alone in the net with the man advantage. Right now, the Devils are 11th in the league in PP (but 18 percentage points below their previous high), and 15th in penalty kill. With all the other issues, the Devils needed to take more advantage of this.

7. Michael McLeod's Arrest

We want to start off by saying nothing about the Hockey Canada situation matters more than the victim. She's first and foremost in this situation. The Devils found out at the end of January that Michael McLeod and Cal Foote would both be turning themselves in tied to a sexaul assault in 2018. McLeod was in the midst of his best season and really helped replace the production lost by all of the injuries. With McLeod in the lineup, Curtis Lazar was playing well, and all his production was extra. Without him, Lazar needed to match McLeod's production, which just wasn't happening. Losing McLeod changed how this roster fit together.

6. Dougie Hamilton's Injury

Most lists would have this higher. We definitely think Dougie Hamilton's impact is felt, but the Devils were struggling with him in the lineup. The power play wasn't running through him. Luke Hughes has been the PP1 QB since day one. One thing that did change is the power play went back to an overpowering first unit and then scraps plus Timo Meier on the second unit. On top of that, Hamilton was on pace for another awesome offensive season. His bomb of a slap shot was getting through defenses, and that was leading to goals for him and rebound chances. Hamilton's injury was a huge blow, but just wait until you see the top five.