Forums/New Jersey Devils

What's Wrong With the Devils?

Nov 12, 2018 at 5:54
#1
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They were world beaters when they started out 4-0-0. Now, they're terrible. What gives? Their recent defensive play is by far the worst defense I've ever seen them play. Are these personnel issues, or do they need a coaching change? Any thoughts? Do they try to make a deal to shake things up, or stay the course and hope things improve? I'm truly at a loss right now.
Nov 12, 2018 at 2:04
#2
Martin Erat's Lawyer
Joined: Nov 2015
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Quoting: Brian2016
They were world beaters when they started out 4-0-0. Now, they're terrible. What gives? Their recent defensive play is by far the worst defense I've ever seen them play. Are these personnel issues, or do they need a coaching change? Any thoughts? Do they try to make a deal to shake things up, or stay the course and hope things improve? I'm truly at a loss right now.


They overperformed last season on the back of Taylor Hall, and likely did the same at the beginning of this season. Their blue line is pretty weak. The have no true top pairing defenseman, the closest being Vatanen. Greene, Vatanen, and Severson are closer to middle pairing guys, with Butcher being a sheltered PP specialist.
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Nov 12, 2018 at 4:59
#3
Joined: Jun 2016
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Quoting: Brian2016
They were world beaters when they started out 4-0-0. Now, they're terrible. What gives? Their recent defensive play is by far the worst defense I've ever seen them play. Are these personnel issues, or do they need a coaching change? Any thoughts? Do they try to make a deal to shake things up, or stay the course and hope things improve? I'm truly at a loss right now.


Pavel Zacha took a big step back this season¿
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Nov 12, 2018 at 6:44
#4
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Quoting: Bflo_Soldier
Pavel Zacha took a big step back this season¿


They're def gonna need Zacha to get his game together if they're gonna get back in the mix. He had no points in 10 games before being sent to the AHL. Seney and Joey Anderson are too weak on both sides of the puck. What are your thoughts on Schneider? What do they do w/ him? It seems like Kinkaid is the #1 at this point but Schneider makes $6M for the next 4 seasons!
Nov 12, 2018 at 6:51
#5
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Quoting: DoctorBreakfast
They overperformed last season on the back of Taylor Hall, and likely did the same at the beginning of this season. Their blue line is pretty weak. The have no true top pairing defenseman, the closest being Vatanen. Greene, Vatanen, and Severson are closer to middle pairing guys, with Butcher being a sheltered PP specialist.


I think Butcher is really weak defensively and his mistakes are being magnified on the road w/o last change. They need more physicality. Their 2nd line w/ Johansson has also been abysmal offensively. They're also way too dependent on the Hall-Hischier-Palmieri line.
Nov 19, 2018 at 4:46
#6
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Quoting: Brian2016
They're def gonna need Zacha to get his game together if they're gonna get back in the mix. He had no points in 10 games before being sent to the AHL. Seney and Joey Anderson are too weak on both sides of the puck. What are your thoughts on Schneider? What do they do w/ him? It seems like Kinkaid is the #1 at this point but Schneider makes $6M for the next 4 seasons!


They're going to have to rehabilitate Schneider, in some way. Tonight against Carolina was promising (but, grain of salt, it's against Carolina and just one game). But the way he's currently playing, that contract is untradable.

Kinkaid hasn't been great lately but he's still clearly a starting-caliber goaltender. That's not their big problem right now.

I would point to scoring depth as a pretty enormous problem. They have probably two top-line wingers in Palmieri and Hall, two #2 centers in Hischier and Zajac, and not much beyond that. MJ is a nice piece but probably is like Mathieu Perrault for the Devils - an excellent middle six player who shouldn't be counted on for more than that.

Ultimately, losing for the Devils is probably much better than making the playoffs. They need more young guys, and it's hard to find great young guys. I would expect them to be big Nylander players if he's really on the market.
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Nov 19, 2018 at 9:08
#7
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Quoting: tadhockey
They're going to have to rehabilitate Schneider, in some way. Tonight against Carolina was promising (but, grain of salt, it's against Carolina and just one game). But the way he's currently playing, that contract is untradable.

Kinkaid hasn't been great lately but he's still clearly a starting-caliber goaltender. That's not their big problem right now.

I would point to scoring depth as a pretty enormous problem. They have probably two top-line wingers in Palmieri and Hall, two #2 centers in Hischier and Zajac, and not much beyond that. MJ is a nice piece but probably is like Mathieu Perrault for the Devils - an excellent middle six player who shouldn't be counted on for more than that.

Ultimately, losing for the Devils is probably much better than making the playoffs. They need more young guys, and it's hard to find great young guys. I would expect them to be big Nylander players if he's really on the market.


All true. They need Boyle, Nico, and Sami back ASAP. Seney and Anderson are potential regulars in the lineup, but they're the team's weakest links right now. They're gonna need another puck moving D or top 6 F if they're gonna make the playoffs again. They're just way to dependent on Hall right now. When he doesn't factor into the scoring and the PP doesn't connect they're a soft team.
Nov 21, 2018 at 6:16
#8
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Even during that 4-0-0 run, flaws were masked by Kinkaid's hot streak. The Devils' system asks Defensemen to pinch regularly, even when it's risky. Last year, the Defensemen were largely successful when they pinched, and Forwards were quick to cover for them when things went poorly. This season, these pinches have been less successful, and the Forward have been a step behind on the backcheck. This is why, even in those dominant first four games, the Devils gave up quality chances.

The team has also been ineffectual in their own zone from day 1. Don't get me wrong, they're disciplined and structured on Defense, which limits the amount of quality chances they concede. My gripe is that they can't regain the puck once their opponents have it in the O-Zone. Opposition cycles last for entire shifts, which (on top often yielding Goals Against) tires the Devils and inevitably leads to mistakes. I don't know if this is because the players have been coached to be conservative on Defense, or if they aren't getting proper instruction on winning puck battles. My hunch is that whatever the strategic reason, it's exacerbated by the team's lack of size. Boyle, Severson, and Santini are the only players who can and do push anyone around; that makes it hard to disposes attackers of the puck.

Goaltending has also contributed to the losses. In those first 4 games, the Devils allowed 4 Goals on 103 shots (for a save % of 96.12). Since then, they have allowed 51 Goals on 483 shots (for a save % of 89.44), with Kinkaid stopping of 336 of 372 shots (90.32%) and Schneider stopping 96 of 111 (86.49%).

Depth scoring has also been an issue. While the top line has cooled down since the beginning of the season, they've still done well (at least when Hischier was healthy); since game 4, that trio has combined for a respectable 12 Goals in 15 Games (even as Hischier mas missed 4 matches). Meanwhile, players who weren't named Hall, Palmieri, or Hischier scored 10 goals (2.5 Goals/Gm) in the first 4 games of the year, but only 26 Goals in the 15 games since then (1.7 Goals/Gm). In a league where 19 teams are scoring at least 3 Goals-per-game, the Devils can't win without more production from their Dmen and depth Forwards.

All that being said, I still think the team can turn it around (although probably not enough to make the Playoffs). The Defensive issues aren't likely to be fixed without better personnel, but Goaltending and depth scoring may improve. Even if Kinkaid and Schneider return to their mediocre 2017-18 numbers, the Devils will win more games. The Johansson - Zacha - Bratt line has played well, while Johansson and Wood (who are both currently snake-bitten by poor shooting % and low on-ice shooting %) need only for their bad luck to recede. If those two players catch some breaks and Nico returns to health, the Devils' offense should be competitive.
Nov 22, 2018 at 1:34
#9
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Quoting: JacobWallman
Even during that 4-0-0 run, flaws were masked by Kinkaid's hot streak. The Devils' system asks Defensemen to pinch regularly, even when it's risky. Last year, the Defensemen were largely successful when they pinched, and Forwards were quick to cover for them when things went poorly. This season, these pinches have been less successful, and the Forward have been a step behind on the backcheck. This is why, even in those dominant first four games, the Devils gave up quality chances.

The team has also been ineffectual in their own zone from day 1. Don't get me wrong, they're disciplined and structured on Defense, which limits the amount of quality chances they concede. My gripe is that they can't regain the puck once their opponents have it in the O-Zone. Opposition cycles last for entire shifts, which (on top often yielding Goals Against) tires the Devils and inevitably leads to mistakes. I don't know if this is because the players have been coached to be conservative on Defense, or if they aren't getting proper instruction on winning puck battles. My hunch is that whatever the strategic reason, it's exacerbated by the team's lack of size. Boyle, Severson, and Santini are the only players who can and do push anyone around; that makes it hard to disposes attackers of the puck.

Goaltending has also contributed to the losses. In those first 4 games, the Devils allowed 4 Goals on 103 shots (for a save % of 96.12). Since then, they have allowed 51 Goals on 483 shots (for a save % of 89.44), with Kinkaid stopping of 336 of 372 shots (90.32%) and Schneider stopping 96 of 111 (86.49%).

Depth scoring has also been an issue. While the top line has cooled down since the beginning of the season, they've still done well (at least when Hischier was healthy); since game 4, that trio has combined for a respectable 12 Goals in 15 Games (even as Hischier mas missed 4 matches). Meanwhile, players who weren't named Hall, Palmieri, or Hischier scored 10 goals (2.5 Goals/Gm) in the first 4 games of the year, but only 26 Goals in the 15 games since then (1.7 Goals/Gm). In a league where 19 teams are scoring at least 3 Goals-per-game, the Devils can't win without more production from their Dmen and depth Forwards.

All that being said, I still think the team can turn it around (although probably not enough to make the Playoffs). The Defensive issues aren't likely to be fixed without better personnel, but Goaltending and depth scoring may improve. Even if Kinkaid and Schneider return to their mediocre 2017-18 numbers, the Devils will win more games. The Johansson - Zacha - Bratt line has played well, while Johansson and Wood (who are both currently snake-bitten by poor shooting % and low on-ice shooting %) need only for their bad luck to recede. If those two players catch some breaks and Nico returns to health, the Devils' offense should be competitive.


All excellent points. The goaltending stats that you referenced after the 4-0-0 start are largely skewed by 4 blowout losses to TBL, OTT, TOR & WPG in which they allowed 25 or 26 Goals Against. Schneider started 2 of those games, which were on "the road trip from hell." Kinkaid has actually been a top 10 Goalie statistically this season. They've definitely recovered defensively since then, but there are still some pretty big issues. To me the biggest concerns are the PP, which they relied on heavily last season and in the beginning of this season, and that absolutely terrible 3rd D pairing of Lovejoy and Butcher, w/ Yakovlev and Santini also in the mix w/ injuries. Butcher was great as a PP specialist last year but he's been front and center on the majority of the defensive breakdowns this year. Good analysis on your part though.
Feb 13 at 3:43
#10
Devils Armchair GM
Joined: Feb 2019
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What's wrong with the Devils? I could have predicted a season like this from NJD in September. This what's wrong:

Last year the Devils were an over performing fringe playoff team (literally second wildcard spot by one point). In the offseason we let John Moore, Patrick Maroon, and Michael Grabner walk as UFA's. This left our roster with holes in our middle six forward group and top four defence group. Instead of acquiring/signing roster players to fill in for these guys, Ray hoped that younger players like Quenneville, Anderson, or McLeod (etc) would be able to step into our lineup and be somewhat relevant. That didn't happen. I think Q played close to 20 games and didn't get a point. These young players that Ray had hoped would fill in those holes never quite worked out. On defence, management hoped Will Butcher would become a top four D-man in John Moore's place, which he hasn't. Butcher simply doesn't have the size, strength, or speed to be a top four D who can handle his own defensively, and I'm afraid he might be slightly overpaid. Don't get me wrong, Butcher has proved to be a PP QB, but also proven he isn't great defensively. Because Butcher has been unable to fill John Moore's top four role, LOVEJOY HAS TO DO IT. THE PROBLEM WITH THAT IS THAT LOVEJOY IS NOT VERY GOOD!!! The rest of our D isn't much better either. Greene wouldn't be a top four on more than half of the teams in the NHL, and Lovejoy is just terrible. Severson has become a very good top four D-man in the league, and Vatanen is also solid. Other than Severson and Vatanen our D is in shambles, and Santini doesn't look like he's going to be as good as he was expected to be...

Further, last season had a full year of good goaltending. first half was Cory, second half was Kinkaid.

Also our unofficial captain Taylor Hall injured for half the season (so far) which certainly doesn't help.

My point is that last year the Devils barely made it into the playoffs, and did nothing to improve. Instead, they got worse (overall roster wise). This is not the formula for success.

However, if we land a top 3 pick this year than it's fair to say: we took one step back to take two steps forward.
Feb 13 at 5:14
#11
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Quoting: njdevilsdiehard
What's wrong with the Devils? I could have predicted a season like this from NJD in September. This what's wrong:

Last year the Devils were an over performing fringe playoff team (literally second wildcard spot by one point). In the offseason we let John Moore, Patrick Maroon, and Michael Grabner walk as UFA's. This left our roster with holes in our middle six forward group and top four defence group. Instead of acquiring/signing roster players to fill in for these guys, Ray hoped that younger players like Quenneville, Anderson, or McLeod (etc) would be able to step into our lineup and be somewhat relevant. That didn't happen. I think Q played close to 20 games and didn't get a point. These young players that Ray had hoped would fill in those holes never quite worked out. On defence, management hoped Will Butcher would become a top four D-man in John Moore's place, which he hasn't. Butcher simply doesn't have the size, strength, or speed to be a top four D who can handle his own defensively, and I'm afraid he might be slightly overpaid. Don't get me wrong, Butcher has proved to be a PP QB, but also proven he isn't great defensively. Because Butcher has been unable to fill John Moore's top four role, LOVEJOY HAS TO DO IT. THE PROBLEM WITH THAT IS THAT LOVEJOY IS NOT VERY GOOD!!! The rest of our D isn't much better either. Greene wouldn't be a top four on more than half of the teams in the NHL, and Lovejoy is just terrible. Severson has become a very good top four D-man in the league, and Vatanen is also solid. Other than Severson and Vatanen our D is in shambles, and Santini doesn't look like he's going to be as good as he was expected to be...

Further, last season had a full year of good goaltending. first half was Cory, second half was Kinkaid.

Also our unofficial captain Taylor Hall injured for half the season (so far) which certainly doesn't help.

My point is that last year the Devils barely made it into the playoffs, and did nothing to improve. Instead, they got worse (overall roster wise). This is not the formula for success.

However, if we land a top 3 pick this year than it's fair to say: we took one step back to take two steps forward.


Neither John Moore, Patrick Maroon, nor Micheal Grabner have done anything this season w/ their new teams. Letting all three walk has had very little impact in my opinion. I def. agree w/ you on the goaltending though. Kinkaid has been terrible since week 2 of the season and Schneider is done w/ the Devils after they buy out the final 3 years of his contract after the season. They'll lead the NHL in cap space this summer and they have a great young Goalie. They're in much better shape than most teams who are gonna miss the playoffs this season.
Feb 13 at 7:05
#12
Devils Armchair GM
Joined: Feb 2019
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Quoting: Brian2016
Neither John Moore, Patrick Maroon, nor Micheal Grabner have done anything this season w/ their new teams. Letting all three walk has had very little impact in my opinion. I def. agree w/ you on the goaltending though. Kinkaid has been terrible since week 2 of the season and Schneider is done w/ the Devils after they buy out the final 3 years of his contract after the season. They'll lead the NHL in cap space this summer and they have a great young Goalie. They're in much better shape than most teams who are gonna miss the playoffs this season.


All points you made are fair, and I understand what you mean about Moore, Grabner, Maroon not being spectacular with their new times. However, they are better than what they were replaced with...

Hoping for a big/at least somewhat exciting deadline/offseason as you said.
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Feb 13 at 8:11
#13
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Quoting: njdevilsdiehard
All points you made are fair, and I understand what you mean about Moore, Grabner, Maroon not being spectacular with their new times. However, they are better than what they were replaced with...

Hoping for a big/at least somewhat exciting deadline/offseason as you said.


They're gonna need a major rebound season if Hynes wants to keep his job and if Hall is going to re-sign long term.
 
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