No one expected the New Jersey Devils to do much. Well, maybe anyone that isn’t a Devils fan. For a season that started out so promising, the team didn’t move very far. The 2016-2017 New Jersey Devils season is one fans and the team would like to forget. This is their story.
Chapter 1: A New Hope
When the season began, New Jersey Devils fans had a few things that they hadn’t had in a while.
First off, they had a big name on their team. Taylor Hall had left the Oilers, and boy does he probably regret it and joined Jersey’s team in a trade. Big names aren’t what the franchise has been built on. Along with Kyle Palmieri and Adam Henrique coming off 30 goal seasons, he was supposed to be the team’s third 30-goal scorer. Despite the fact he has never reached that mark in his career, he has the potential, and can.
However, it’s safe to say the 25-year-old wants to play in the playoffs. The Devils are a few years off from making that type of leap. Hall has another three years in his contract. Perhaps once those are done, or even before, he might think about joining a team that is playoff ready.
Another thing that Devils fans had was hope.
The thought of an offense led by three 30-goal scorers was something that Devils fans have longed for. The team’s laughable offense would be taken seriously. Cory Schneider is an amazing goaltender, so there is no worry there. The defense will hold as the youth emerges from Albany. Everything is going to be fine.
Chapter 2: I Told You So
The season started out fantastic. The Devils were competitive, the offense was alive and it wasn’t suffering from slow starts from key players. The defense was holding strong and for the most part, the team was healthy. It was fun watching Devils hockey. The team also appeared to be having fun. You know it’s true when Captain and defensemen Andy Greene wins a game on a penalty shot in overtime.
Then, it happened. The California Trip.
The team was on a five-game winning streak heading into the California trip. All they had to do was win one game. One game and it wouldn’t matter what happened in the other two. That’s not exactly how things went.
The team began a nosedive they couldn’t recover from. On the trip, the team was outscored 11-4 in three games and were shutout once. It didn’t help that Cory Schneider was showing that he was going to have an off year.
Chapter 3: Trying To Try
For the rest of the season, the Devils went through a few different stretches. There were games they couldn’t shoot and didn’t score and they lost. There were games they scored four times on 40 shots … and still lost. The key theme is that they kept losing. No matter how much effort the team put into a game, they could get the points when they needed them. It certainly doesn’t help when you leave 14 points on the table.
Not that it would have mattered. Even if those points are added to the season total, they still are the worst team in the division.
Then a strange occurrence happened. It was the last breath of the season for the team as this stretch was extremely surprising. The team won three games in a row, beating three playoff teams as well, to finish out their Western Canadian trip. After two low-key wins against Calgary and Vancouver, the Devils had an inspirational win against the Wild. But after that, the season returned to what it had been all along: a hot dumpster fire.
Chapter 4: It’s Finally Over
The season mercifully ended on Sunday with the Devils losing to Red Wings in the final game at Joe Louis Arena. Patrik Elias announced his retirement, which while sad everyone knew it was coming. He was given one last skate with the team before they were dismantled by the Islanders. The one on-ice highlight for the season will be the 3-2 overtime defeat of the hated New York Rangers. With the season mercifully the team can look to see what the draft lottery brings them.
There are some moves they can try and make in the offseason.
The saying goes, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” For the New Jersey Devils, it was just the worst of times. Everyone had a bad year, the team is a laughing stock, in a market where it’s already hard enough to draw fans, the Prudential Center crowd will be lacking red for some time.
For the first time since 1985-86, the team finished last in their division. Devils fans hope they won’t have to hear that anymore. Unfortunately, they could hear it a few times, at the end of the new few seasons.