If the Devils had average goaltending this season, they’d be in the fight for a playoff spot. Instead, they’ve gotten the second-worst goaltending in the league and are once again in the basement of the metropolitan division.

I know I’ve written about the goaltending woes before, but with how bad it is and how many games it’s costed the Devils, a monthly reminder is necessary.

Most Recent Woes

The Devils gave up two hattricks in an 8-5 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night. These are the same Blackhawks who rank 30th in goals per game, have been shut out three times this month, and if you take out the eight-goal game against the Devils, they’ve averaged 1.75 goals in their last nine games.

The Devils cannot seem to realize that giving up four-plus goals per game is not a winning formula. In their last nine games, they’ve given up four or more seven times. Additionally, six or more goals were scored in four of those nine contests.

The Failed Jon Gillies Experiment

When Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald traded for Jon Gillies, I don’t think he pictured him being the next Marty Brodeur. However, as low as his expectations for Gillies were, they haven’t even been met. Gillies is an AHL caliber goaltender, and the stats prove it.

With the Devils, Gillies has posted a .884 save percentage. According to NHL.com, the average save percentage in the 2021-22 season was .913. To make matters worth, he’s been completely unserviceable in the month of February. He’s been yanked twice and has given up six goals three times in just his last six starts. Not to mention, his save percentage over this stretch has been .861. If you remove the one quality start against the Canadiens, it drops to a .839 save percentage.

And if case you were wondering, no, in none of those games did Gillies face an onslaught of high-danger chances or breakaways. In his outing against Tampa Bay, where he let up six goals, according to CJ Turtoro, only 1.78 goals were expected to go in that game. Gillies surrendered six and got pulled. Furthermore, in his other six-goal game against Chicago, he surrendered three goals on .59 goals expected.

Now What?

It’s obvious Gillies isn’t the answer, so now what do you do if you’re the Devils’ front office? If you stay in house, the options are limited and produce the same quality of starts. According to JFresh, Mackenzie Blackwood, Akira Schmid, and Jon Gillies, all rank in the bottom ten for lowest goals saved above expected. It seems as if the Devils are trying to scour the league in hopes of landing a solid goalie at the trade deadline.

According to TSN Insider Pierre LeBrun, “So the Devils now are calling around the league with a pretty aggressive nature trying to find a goaltender for the rest of the season.”

Blackwood’s hurt, Schmid owns the fourth-worst save percentage among goalies in the league, and Jon Gillies can’t stop a beach ball. Do you throw rookie Nico Daws into the fire? While he played fantastic in a 6-1 win over the Penguins, do you want to give him a heavy workload? If it were up to me, I’d trade for Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid for old times sike.

Honestly, trading for Rangers backup goaltender Alexandar Georgiev may not be the worst option. The Rangers are set at goaltender with Shesterkin, so Georgiev is expendable. He will be an RFA by season’s end, meaning if they want to bring him back, they can easily extend him a qualifying offer. While he hasn’t had the best season, he’s only 26 and two quality seasons when in a 1B goaltender role. Believe me, I don’t like the idea of trading with the Rangers either, but the Devils need solid goaltending and fast.

Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast – staff, AP

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