There comes a time when fans must just accept the truth. And the truth is this: the New Jersey Devils will not make the playoffs.
It’s no shock to anyone that the New Jersey Devils are in the midst of a rebuild. It’s painful to watch, but every team goes through that phase at some point. The previous season though, they gave fans hope things would change, as the team was in the running for the playoffs going into March.
The 2016-’17 season started out well, as the Devils went on a California road trip, bringing them a five-game winning streak, making them 9-3-3 on the year at the time. Then, they fell into a hole they haven’t been able to dig themselves out of.
There are three very clear reasons the Devils are not going to make the playoffs: lack of offensive power, tons of inconsistency and leaving far too many points on the table.
A common past complaint was that the Devils don’t score enough. So they went out and traded for offensive stud Taylor Hall. He leads the team with 40 points, including 26 assists. He’s also tallied 14 goals, but with that said, the Devils still are among the worst in the league in goal scoring.
Their power play work is in the bottom half of the league, while they have scored the third fewest goals of any team so far. It doesn’t help that they have been shutout four times as well.
Offense remains a major issue for the Devils. You can’t win games if you don’t score goals.
One could pick apart every aspect of the Devils’ game and inconsistency would apply to each and every one of them. They would look great in one game, and then get shutout with 18 shots on goal the next. Since November, the longest “winning streak” the Devils have had is a measly three games.
The Devils have also had inconsistent goaltending, as both Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid have been under-performing and it’s hurting the team. There have been flashes here and there of great plays from that duo, but they haven’t strung together enough of that to make a difference.
There are some things the Devils have been consistent at though – failing to get the second point.
When the game is tied after 60 minutes of play, exciting hockey happens, but not if you’re a Devils fan. The Devils have lost in overtime eight times, with two more coming in shootouts. That’s 10 points the team should have that they don’t. That could’ve put them in the final Wild Card position with a four point cushion.
While the Devils have won more shootouts then they’ve lost, overtime remains the problem. Five overtime wins doesn’t excuse the points that are being left behind on more occasions. With 22 games left, that number could very well grow even larger.
The Devils should be sellers when the trade deadline arrives on March 1. It appears a rebuild will take longer than fans had hoped, but in the meantime, the organization could look at other options to try and make it back to the playoffs soon. But until then, dark clouds loom over the Prudential Center.