11.20.19 | The Blame Game
We are quickly approaching the Thanksgiving mark of the season and things didn’t get much better for New Jersey since we last spoke. I know if you’re a Devils fan you’re either thinking fire Hynes, trade Hall or just blow up the entire roster. Keep reading to learn about my main observations from the past month of the season and what I think the Devils should do next.
The biggest news came when New Jersey announced they placed veteran goaltender, Cory Schneider, on waivers dropping him to the AHL. You really don’t have a soul if you don’t feel bad for Schneider. His timing with the Devils was never right. When he first got traded to NJ he was arguably a top 10 (maybe top 5) goaltender. He played with an aging roster that took years to get younger, you can’t blame him for the lack talent/speed in front of him. He was never the same after his injury and it’s sad to witness. Although, I will say he has been nothing but a class act throughout this entire process which leads back to you have to feel bad for the unfortunate turn in his career.
To fire or not fire John Hynes.. isn’t that the question of season. I still say don’t fire him simply because there are no good replacements. I really don’t think Mike Babcock is the answer the Devils need, please give me your thoughts below if you disagree. I recently went to a Panera and sat at the drive thru for 30 minutes for a bowl of soup… beyond ridiculous and unacceptable. When I finally got my soup it was the wrong one. I had to waste even more time by going in and speaking to an employee. The manager came out and I was ready to give him an earful. He said he had workers call out and when I looked back the employees he had did not give a damn about what they were doing. To translate this to Coach Hynes… can you really blame him if player aren’t giving 100 percent or just doing whatever they want on the ice and not following plays? Just think about it.
When you examine every loss the Devils have had (which is a lot) the blame changes each time. You can’t blame the goaltender when the forwards can’t score one goal in 60 minutes. It’s hard to blame the forwards when they scored six goals but the team still managed to lose 7-6. The team has rarely been in sync with each other. When they manage to win a game they look real good but that inconsistency is going to keep destroying them all season if they don’t figure out how to play as a full unit.
Then there is Taylor Hall and this gem of a quote – > “we’re 1-for-3 on the power play and getting booed, It’s a tied game and we are getting booed. That’s a tough environment to play in, especially when you are home.” Now he is not wrong! Devils fans are brutal and because they had high expectations going into this season, fans are booing the team every chance they get. Are the boos sometimes deserved? Yes, especially when the team gives up a 3 or 4 goal lead. I think this quote rubbed people the wrong way and some people want him out.
Ideally I would like to trade Hall but my reasons have nothing to do with the above quote. At his best, Hall has the most trade value on the team, I would have happily give him up for a right-handed defenseman. I know I know I sound like a broken record but can I please have just one solid defenseman on the team… just one?
10.16.19 | Started at the Bottom… Still Here
Going into this season I think some (probably most) Devils fans were expecting an instant turn around after this summers acquisitions. As of right now they are winless and earned a mere two points via shootout losses. By the way in both of those shootout losses they let a lead slip away (insert eye roll emoji). On various platforms I have seen the angry rants of Devils fans not happy with these past two weeks. I decided to break down my top three current issues with the Devils this season. You will notice that goaltending and the coaching staff did not make my list, well at least not yet.
- Lack of Leadership
When Andy Greene was named captain in the 2015-2016 season I was okay with the selection. At that time the team did not have many candidates. Now we started the 2019-2020 season and Greene’s leadership style doesn’t appear to be effective (I’m sorry Andy Greene). There was one event last year that really changed my opinion of our current leaders (again, I’m sorry). On January 18, 2019, after a 4-1 loss to the NY Islanders, Drew Stafford called the rest of his teammates to center ice for a players only meeting. Now why is it that Drew Stafford felt the need to call a meeting? Where was our captain or any of the alternate captains? Now the team has even younger players on the roster and I ask who will be the player to call a meeting? Will PK Subban step into that roll? Maybe Taylor Hall? All I know is that there needs to be a wake up call whether it comes from the captain or someone else.
How many years have Devils fans been complaining about the defense? Since Stevens retired? When Scott Niedermayer left for Anaheim? It’s been a really long time. When PK Subban was traded some thought he was the solution to the defense’s woes. Nope. First of all that’s a lot of pressure for one guy. Second, he is an offensive defenseman. Do we ever see Subban out on the first penalty kill unit? Nope. The Devils, in my opinion, are still missing a defenseman that can #1. bring the puck through the neutral zone (although Butcher can possibly grow into this role) and #2. I would also like to see a defenseman that can park in front of our goaltender and be a stay at home defenseman.
- No Chemistry
Our lines are being juggled a lot. In fairness to the coach, the Devils are taking a ton of penalties. See below:
PIM Through 6 Games
|SUBBAN||14 (Including 10 minute major)|
I can imagine it is difficult to keep four lines in tact when players are constantly taking penalties and players having to jump in for the penalty kill. With that being said, Hynes is still juggling lines too much game to game. A friend of mine pointed out that when Nico was developing he had Palmieri and Hall as his constant wingers. Hughes has been on a line with Simmonds, Boqvist, Zacha, Coleman, Bratt and Wood. There is no consistency for Hughes… yet. I think the lines eventually should be as follows:
Hall – Hischier – Palmieri
Gusev – Hughes – Bratt
Wood – Zajac – Coleman
Boqvist – Zacha – Simmonds
I am not ready to fire Coach Hynes or trade away one of our goaltenders. In the last game the Devils blew a three-goal lead to the Florida Panthers. I personally think that was a team loss. The forwards collapsed, the defense could not track the puck, Schneider probably was not as bad as the score depicted but still was not on his game. For this game I would also say that Hynes was out-coached by Quenneville.
Tomorrow the Devils will face the New York Rangers (who are off to a much better start). While most people will be focusing on Hughes v. Kakko I will be focusing on special teams, the play of our goaltender and who will be Jack Hughes wingers.