The New Jersey Devils aren’t where they should be halfway through the 2016-17 NHL season. Here are their grades.
The 2016-2017 season is half way over with the New Jersey Devils in a less than favorable place in the standings.
Going into tonight’s game against the Florida Panthers, the Devils are seventh in the Metropolitan Division and are 16-17-8. They sit eight points behind the Flyers for the final wild-card spot in the East with one game in hand. It can be attributed to things such as goaltending, defense, and lack of scoring.
Offense Grade: C-
The Devils biggest problem in season’s past has been a lack of goal scoring. They went out this offseason and robbed the Edmonton Oilers of Taylor Hall. A former No. 1 overall pick, Hall adds a big name scorer that the team has lack since he-who-must-not-be-named left the team. The Devils are tied with the Panthers for 27th in goals per game and tied with those same Panthers having scored 92 times total.
They are on pace for 184 goals, which is only two more than they scored last year. Goal scoring still remains an issue that just one player can’t solve. Taylor Hall has missed some time with injury and they are underperforming. What saves them from a D here is that they have shown they can have some fire in their game when they need to.
Defense Grade: F
This is the biggest problem with the Devils, far none. The fact that Jon Merrill is still on the team shows the state it is in. Poor play and injuries plague the d-corps. like the opposition that spends a lot of time in the Devils zone. The defense that was once the core of the Devils team has become a shadow of its former self.
One issue is that the Devils have a problem clearing and staying out of their own zone. That leads to the defense being out for longer shifts. That leads to mistakes. For the most part this season, that leads to the puck in the back of the Devils net. The Devils inability to have any consistency on defense has been a death blow to them in several games.
Cory Schneider has been having an off year. That said, he has shown flashes of greatness in an otherwise dismal season. Schneider is having his worst season, in which he has played more that 10 games, number wise going 12-13-6 with a 2.78 GAA and a .908 save percentage with 2 shutouts. Goaltending has always been the backbone of the Devils team. There is still time for Schneider to improve.
His backup, Keith Kinkaid, has also shown signs of fantastic play. The long story short is that the Devils goaltenders have to pick up their play. Their play has been shown to inspire the team and improve confidence. If the Devils want to stay within striking distance, it must improve.
Special Teams: C
When a grade of C is given to special teams, let’s be honest, it’s not for the power play. A power play that was in the top 10 last season has fallen to the 29th. Considering the team is better offensively on paper this year, it’s a major disappointment.
On the other hand, the penalty kill has been top notch. At 13th in the league, the Devils operate at 82.3 percent. They have scored shorthanded three times. If there is room for improvement there, it is when the man on the top of the zone has the puck. The Devils allow him too much room to move and pass. They also give him too much time, and that leads to chances.
Overall Grade: D
The Devils have underachieved this season. While some say they are in a rebuild still, the team has potential to produce and possibly make the playoffs as a wildcard.
Poor performance, combined with untimely mistakes and injuries, have left the team in a weakened state. They are still in striking distance, but they have to turn it around right now.
Tonight, it starts with the Florida Panthers.