In last week’s article, I told Devils fans, take a deep breath; it’s not time to hit the panic button yet.
Not only is it time to hit the panic button, but the Devils’ fanbase and front office should be mashing it.
The New Jersey Devils have two wins in their last 10 games; both wins coming against the Philadelphia Flyers, who were on a 10-game losing streak when those games were played. During this stretch, the Devils have been outscored 37 to 26, removing those Philly games; it’s 35 to 18.
The New Jersey Devils are a bad hockey team, and they need a lot to go right for them to earn a playoff spot.
Here’s how they can get there: they need to fire Coach Recchi, have their two first overall picks step up, and they need to learn how to have fun.
The Dominoes Have to Start Falling at Some Point
The stats don’t lie; if you combine the New Jersey Devils powerplay percentage the last two years, they have the lowest success rate on the powerplay. Somehow, the powerplay is worse this year, although having signed Dougie Hamilton in the offseason. Whatever Recchi is having them do, it’s just not working. Game after game, the Devils lose because they can only generate goals at 5v5.
Remarkably enough, the Devils have scored two powerplay goals over the last 10 games. They’ve also given up four shorthanded goals over that stretch. If the Devils want to save their season, something needs to change because running the same powerplay back over and over again is obviously not going to work. I’m just not sure what the Devils gain by keeping Recchi and his powerplay blueprint around.
Need Their Stars to Shine
Since his return, Jack Hughes has put up 4 points in 7 games and is on a three-game point streak. The first two games he played as Nico’s linemate; I will not count because the decision made no sense considering their game style are as different as could be. Since then, he’s looked like the Jack Hughes from the first two games of this season. For a team who struggles as much as anyone to put pucks in the back, they’ll need Jack and his line to get going.
As for the captain, Nico Hischier whose coming off of his first-ever fight, he’s quietly put up 16 points in 25 games, which is suitable for a 52-point pace. Since being paired with his buddies Zacha and Bratt, who are playing at an all-star level, he has two hard-working assists. There’s a chance Bratt can heat up Nico. There’s also a good chance Jack will heat up whoever is on his line. If this Devils team wants to start winning games, they are supposed to be all-stars who have to rise to the occasion.
Yes, It’s Still a Game
The New Jersey Devils stink right now, and unsurprisingly they’re not having fun. Night in night out, the Devils go through spurts where they’re sloppy and show no effort. One thing I said about the New York Yankees all season was that the team didn’t know how to have fun.
When you feel good, you play good, and this Devils team is not feeling good or playing good. I can’t tell you what they need to do to have fun. Maybe everyone can grow a mustache or something. Outside of Jack Hughes, little to no emotion is expressed on this team.
An easy way of having fun is winning, but that doesn’t seem like a realistic option, so the next best thing is a team mustache, maybe a dog, or scoring goals could work too.
Featured Image: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images