Experience Devils hockey. I would say this week summed up what Devils hockey has been like for the last decade, but that would be disrespectful to the last decade.
The Devils began the week with one of the most embarrassing losses in team history as they got humiliated by the Boston Bruins, who in that game had eight goals before the third period. Also, in that same game, the Bruins had 3.57 expected goals, they scored eight. Experience 2021-22 Devils hockey.
After that embarrassing outing, the Devils came out flying against the best team in the NHL, Florida Panthers. The Devils hung six on the Panthers’ head before the end of the 2nd and were up 6-2 going into the third. As if the Bruins game wasn’t pathetic enough, the Devils surrendered four goals in the last fifteen minutes of the period and lost in overtime. And of course, you guessed it, most, if not all of the goals let up by Andrew Hammond in his Devils debut, were, of course, softies.
For what feels like the tenth time this season, the Devils have hit rock bottom. And rock bottom was hit before the Hughes injury that occurred during Sunday’s game against the Islanders, so I’m not even sure where they’re at now, AHL level?
Anyway, on the other half of the weekend back-to-back, the Devils took on the Islanders in their only nationally televised game, and they didn’t disappoint. They gave up a hat trick to J.G. Pageau, a guy who hadn’t scored a goal in 13 games before that contest. His second career hattrick was his first also coming against the Devils; what are the odds? Former Devils Kyle Palmieri would go on to score the game-winning goal, but that isn’t the best part, the winning goaltender for the Islanders was Cory Schneider. Yes. That Cory Schneider, the one that the Devils bought out, and the same one who hasn’t appeared in an NHL game in two years. So yeah, what a week it was for the basement Devils.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, the Devils have turned into a losing franchise and have accepted a losing culture. Clean house, bring in a million veterans, I don’t know what to tell you, but this team has bigger problems than goaltending.
They’ve surrendered the most first career goals since 2012, they blow leads like it’s their job, 22 to be exact, and the only guy who has fought the franchise blindly hates for no reason. The coaching staff will be gone come April 29 at 10pm, but there needs to be more done than that, players have to be held accountable too.
I could care less if P.K. Subban is not worth 9.5 million a year, he is one of the few Devils players on this team who care. In today’s game, call it a clean hit or a cheap hit, which usually knee to knee region hits are dirty. Anyway, when Jack Hughes went down, Subban not only came to the defense of Jack and fought for him, but he was livid after as well.
The Devils would be foolish to not bring back P.K. next year. They need more veterans, more guys that know how to win and keep P.K. in the garden state.
Injuries have plagued the Devils all year, and they’re back again. Jack Hughes exited Sunday’s game due to a check he took, and Nate Bastian left the game as well due to a cross check. Miles Wood, who just returned from injury, left due to injury, so that’s three starting Devils out of the lineup. No update was made for Hughes or Bastian. As for Wood, Coach Ruff said they expected his departure from the lineup to happen, considering he’s coming back from injury.
A look ahead to next week
The forecast reads for most Devils games where they need to score five goals if they want to win. The Devils now own the worst saves above the expected differential, meaning the New Jersey Devils have allowed 41.3 goals that should not have gone in. The Devils may be a goalie away from being competitive, but a playoff team? They definitely need more than just a goalie. On Tuesday, they play the Rangers at the Rock, followed by the Canadiens on Thursday. They then head down to the lone star state to take on Dallas on Saturday.
Photo: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports