The New Jersey Devils should keep their heads up: Taylor Hall is a major reason why
Jan 3, 2017; Raleigh, NC, USA; New Jersey Devils forward Travis Zajac (19) celebrates forward Michael Cammalleri (13) third period goal against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The New Jersey Devils defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Just now past the halfway mark of the season, the New Jersey Devils can’t seem to stop digging their own grave. All hope isn’t lost, though.

The gameplay of Cory Schneider has taken a significant hit and the team lacking chemistry leads to nearly no scoring night after night. It’s hard to believe the New Jersey Devils sat atop the first three seeds of the division at any time this year, but they did.

It just goes to show how upsetting this season has truly has turned out to be.

When you bring in a star like Taylor Hall in the off-season, you can’t help but think it has to get better. Only taking a loss on the defensive end with the Adam Larsson trade, every hockey fan in the country knew the Devils won out on the deal. Looking at the trade today, the only person that really won was Larsson himself, now playing for a dangerous Edmonton team that seems to finally have all their ducks in a row.

The optimists might say that the Devils are only halfway through the season and that anything could happen. They’d be right. Anything could happen.

But, the realists could also confidently disagree that nothing will happen and that the season is over.

New Jersey is filled with realists. What the realists can say, in a more optimistic light, is that there is something to look forward to. Probably not this season, but next season for sure.

To start, the New Jersey Devils and their fan base can look forward to Miles Wood.

The 21-year-old left-winger from Buffalo, NY has shown a lot of potential. He has scored five goals on a team that isn’t known for its scoring and he has accumulated 22 penalty minutes — all of this in a matter of only 23 games played so far this season. His numbers are by no means a comparison to Patrik Laine, but numbers are not his most exciting feature.

As corny as it may sound, the kid brings fire to the ice. His ability as a playmaker, and an instigator (22 penalty minutes), makes him valuable. All of that put together makes him fun to watch, and the Devils have not had “fun to watch” in a long time. God help Ray Shero if Wood is not on this team next season.

The next thing the Devils have to look forward to is the firing of John Hynes. If the realists are right and the optimists are wrong, it is destined to happen. He wasn’t an NHL coach to begin with, and he is proving it in only his second season. For fans, nothing would be more exciting than bringing in a coach with name recognition.

For quite some time now, the Devils seem to insist on no-name men. John Maclean was an absolute train wreck, quickly fixed up by the one and only Jacques Lemaire. Then there was Peter DeBoer, who has since made a name for himself with San Jose, but when he was hired; a no-name.

He spent three years with a powerless Florida team, so the Devils had no reason to believe he was a good coach. He landed a gig with a great team and brought them to the Stanley Cup. (The losses of Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise goes to show their downfall in the Cup was them, and not DeBoer himself). But then things only got worse and he was fired; justifiably so.

Hynes has found himself in a similar situation. So let the Devils go get a well-known coach and turn this franchise around.

Lastly, there’s Taylor Hall. He’s a big deal. He was when the Devils acquired him, and he still is. The Devils just need to make sure he feels at home.

Losing game after game with this wretched team is probably only making him wish he was in blue and orange, and not red and black. The guy is only 25, and he’s a stud who has yet to see a single day of postseason hockey — and won’t this year, yet again.

But the day he does get there, it will be gold.

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