3 X-Factors that will make or break the rest of the Devils season

The Devils haven’t taken the step forward we all expected, but they also haven’t taken so many steps back that the postseason is out of the question.

Feb 17, 2024; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86) skates
Feb 17, 2024; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86) skates / Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
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New Jersey must pick things up in the net, or else they will miss the playoffs

While the Devils are in the top 12 in goals scored, they have struggled defensively all season, allowing 185 goals. Through February 19th, that number sits 25th in the NHL, and much of this has fallen onto their goaltending.

It’s true that they can use another defenseman in the rotation, as someone like Noah Hanifin would be great, but their top goaltender this year, Vitek Vanecek, has been a major disappointment. He’s only faced roughly 27 shots on goal per game, which should be a manageable number given how well a player of his caliber performed in recent seasons. So his abysmal 0.890 save percentage and 3.18 GAA is inexcusable. 

Either A, the Devils add one more piece to the defensive rotation to help prevent a few more shots from making it to the net, or B, they trade for a goaltender like Jacob Markstrom to settle things down between the pipes.  

If they sit there and do nothing, then they better hope someone currently in the lineup steps up. But since they have the assets to make a trade to strengthen at least one of their weaknesses and they aren’t too far outside of a wild card, they need to make a splash in the next few weeks before the trade deadline.