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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5. Back-to-Backs

The Devils were impossibly bad in back-to-backs this season. It's not a problem for everyone, but it was especially a problem for the Devils, who had the most back-to-backs of anyone in the NHL. The schedule makers (or AI bots who do it now) gave the Devils 16 back-to-back duos in their schedule. That's basically two every months, if not more. On four occasions, the Devils have back-to-back home games. That means there's usually travel between games for 12 of them. The Devils are 2-9-1 this season o nthe second half of a back-to-back. If the Devils were just .500 in them, the Devils would be ahead of the Flyers for the third spot in the Metropolitan Division.

4. John Marino and Jonas Siegenthaler Fall Off A Cliff

The New Jersey Devils felt like they wouldn't miss Severson and Graves because they had young defensemen like Luke Hughes and Kevin Bahl to replace them. Eventually, Simon Nemec would step up and take a spot on the right side. All that worked out about as expected, but it was reliant on smart defense from Jonas Siegenthaler and John Marino. Both players had huge roles shutting down opposing defenses. Marino has been on the ice for 62 goals against, third most in the NHL at 5v5. Nobody on the entire 2022-23 Devils squad was on the the ice for 62 goals against. Marino has been on the ice for more than a goal per game. Obviously, his drop in production is a huge reason the Devils are where they are.

3. Jack Hughes Injury and Recovery

Jack Hughes has been injured on two different occasions this season. He's missed a total of 16 games, which isn't the end of the world, but Hughes's recovery adds another 10 or so games until the Devils see his full potential. That's why, despite starting the season as an MVP candidate, Hughes is at 57 points in 45 games. On the surface, that's a 103-point pace, but Hughes has been trying to be Superman, and it's not bringing out the best in him. Just take Sunday, when he was a -3 and scored zero points against the Kings.

2. Coaching System

While Marino and Siegenthaler deserve a ton of blame for the defensive play all season, the system itself has been a disaster. There is a major issue where two defensemen chase the puck when it goes behind the net. It happens with literally every pairing, which tells you it's a part of the strategy. There's also the many, many times defensemen go too far to their off side, and it leads to a wide-open man. The defensive system does not work with this current roster. The offensive system has its issues, but it's still scoring at a pretty decent clip over the season. Still, a team with this much talent should never had what happened to them on Sunday (one goal which came 15 seconds in during a desperation game).

1. Goalies

There was nothing else. The goalies are the number-one reason the Devils are where they are in the standings. Between Nico Daws, Akira Schmid, and Vitek Vanecek, the Devils have allowed close to 18 goals below the average player at even strength. When adding all strengths, it jumps to 22. If the Devils just got average goaltending this season, they would have allowed 190 goals instead of the 212 it's at now. We imagine that gives then at least four more wins, which is what they need to be in a playoff spot.