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It’s New Jersey Devils day on PHT

Aug 30, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

Adam Henrique, Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder AP

It’s debatable that the New Jersey Devils were a normal shootout record away from making the playoffs in 2013-14, but the bottom line is that they were pretty close.

With a 35-29-18 record (including a stunning 0-12 mark in the shootout), the Devils finished with 88 standings points, leaving them tied for 10th in the East (although they would have taken the tiebreaker from Ottawa if that mattered). The Devils finished five points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings for wild card spots.

That’s not to say that the Devils were a great team with awful luck. Instead, it might be better to describe them as a one-dimensional team that lacked the goaltending needed to make their defensive strengths pay off. New Jersey tied Calgary for the third-fewest shots per game (26.8) while limiting opponents to an NHL-low 25.5 per contest, so chances rarely happened for either side during their games.

While that doesn’t exactly sound fun, it could prove to be an effective formula if Cory Schneider backs up that mammoth extension he received this offseason and the team improves on offense.

It’s tough to imagine Jaromir Jagr replicating his astounding work from 2013-14, but the Devils are likely banking on improvements from within (maybe at least a sign of life from Ryane Clowe?) and nice outputs from Mike Cammalleri and injury-ravaged former star Martin Havlat. There are quite a few ifs at work for the offense – example: will Adam Henrique make another step in the right direction? – but it’s conceivable that things might be a little better next season.

Unfortunately, their defense doesn’t look as stout now that sorely underrated defenseman Mark Fayne is a member of the Edmonton Oilers. The Devils tend to make the most of their defensive groups, so don’t be surprised if they’re still stingy.

In broader terms, the Devils seem like they’ll make their living being “pesky,” at least if Schneider can carry a workload that will conjure up comparisons to departed icon Martin Brodeur. Much has been – fairly – made about the struggles Brodeur faced the last few seasons, yet if things don’t go well, the pressure could really start to wear on Schneider.

(Some might even call it a “be careful what you wish for” moment for a guy who’s faced a lot of roadblocks to becoming the No. 1 goalie.)

This team seems just as likely to be a bubble team as it could be a cellar dweller, but here’s one near-certainty: the Devils will probably have a better shootout record in 2014-15.

  1. dipspit55 - Aug 30, 2014 at 8:22 AM

    Yea the Goaltending wasn’t the problem last year…they couldn’t score

  2. lowenni - Aug 30, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    You know at first glance I’d like to say I think the Devils are gonna fall just short of the postseason again, but at the same time can you ever really count the Devils out? They may be boring to watch, but they also certainly get it done for a team really lacking top-end talent throughout the lineup. Wouldn’t be surprised at all if they sneak in to the playoffs, wouldn’t be surprised at all if they miss out. I really like the addition of Cammalleri for them, been an underrated goal scorer for a while who could score a lot if utilized correctly, and the Havlat signing could really pay off at that price as well if he’s healthy. He had a hat trick in the last few games of last season, he’s still got the touch.

    Also, I’d pick up Eric Gelinas in all your fantasy drafts if I were you…

  3. gbart22 - Aug 30, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    Yeah sometimes it feels like these hockey bloggers on pht don’t actually know much about teams other than their favorite teams and just use generalizations and perceived assumptions about teams to write about the rest of the league which is the case with most league wide writers no matter what sport they cover it seems. Reading this as a devils fan just confirms that to me and I’m sure it’s like that for the other teams and their fans when they read articles about their team on sports talk.

    If you want actual in depth accurate analysis of your team you’re better off sticking with your local bloggers and beat writers however coming here can enlighten you on what the perceptions are of your team even though most of them are false

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 30, 2014 at 11:21 AM

      Wel, Since you know so much about them apparantly, why don’t you take a stab at an assessment;)

    • zoojersey - Aug 30, 2014 at 6:48 PM

      I concur. It was so difficult to read this article. The actual writing is awful and the information included goes from wrong to misleading. I was going to include why, but realized my post would be longer than his poorly constructed article.

      I suggest reading Tom Gulitti.

      Rich Chere is awful, he writes like a 3rd grader and never asks the tough questions.

      Is James O’briens writing always this awful, or is this subject matter just beyond him?

  4. chill1184 - Aug 30, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    I think it’s going to be an up and down season for them much like last season however with an (in theory) improvement in offense they should do better and sneak into the playoff picture. However this is banking on things breaking right, so I won’t be surprised that they miss the playoffs a third year in a row.

  5. c1md6 - Aug 30, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    I thought PHT was only doing one NHL team per day? I guess they’re moving onto AHL now as well.

  6. gbart22 - Aug 30, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    I agree with the previous commenter wouldn’t surprise me if they were in or out honestly. I see them as occupying that 6-11 area where it could go either way usually.

    Also they are no more boring than watching any other team play. They don’t trap and they don’t do that terrible shot blocking game. it’s just another over used over referenced perception from idiots who don’t like them and have nothing to say so they resort to the cliche of the 90’s and early 00’s. It gets old much like the moronic “hockey doesn’t belong in the south” drum beaters. They do play defense quite well but then again every team outside of Edmonton wants to play defense so how is that anymore boring than the flyers boston rangers penguins kings Canadians etc playing defense? Really find something new.

  7. 950003cups - Aug 30, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    They started 0-4-3 last year. Went 0-12 in the SO (not 0-13 as stated above) with no explanation. They lost Parise, Kovalchuk, and to a lesser extent, Clarkson. Their young draftees were still developing. Timing was bad, while simultaneously having low confidence. Their big pick up in FA (Clowe) went bust. They lost two important coaches, Adam Oates and Larry Robinson.

    They’ll be fine this season. Their worst luck is behind them.

    • jonnyhammersticks - Aug 30, 2014 at 11:51 AM

      They are still without Parise, Kovalchuk, and Clarkson. They still have the 5th weakest prospect pool in the NHL according to Hockey’s Future. Clowe is still a bust. And those coaches are still gone.

      Not saying they won’t improve this year, but how is that just bad “luck” attributed only to one year?

      • 950003cups - Aug 30, 2014 at 2:04 PM

        Adjusting to the new team.

    • phillyphanatic77 - Aug 30, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      Can’t deny it must hurt to lose several stars (Clarkson excluded) but you can’t use the first 7 games as any part of the excuse. Both the Flyers and Rangers had more horrific starts and both recovered. And the Flyers were almost as bad in shootouts. Just think the Devils still got 13 points for those losses.

      Clowe was a predictable bust but Jagr and Ryder were still productive FA additions. Their young draftees are still developing… I mean are there are any prospects you could say have now arrived? Letting Brodeur go was a smart move but still you can’t just say “worst luck is behind them” and expect everything to be great again. You can’t predict injuries or slumps, especially based purely off past experience. The Devils may very well be a playoff team but it’s far from a sure thing.

  8. jaredwmoore - Aug 30, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    Between Schneider drawing roughly 20 more starts over a below-average Brodeur and law of averages in regards to the shootout, there’s definitely room for improvement with the Devils. The upside is a potential Wild Card spot, but there’s probably just as good a chance that they finish in the 9th-11th range in the East again and miss the playoffs.

    Considering the Devils never really found a LW they liked to pair with Zajac and Jagr last year, and now they theoretically have that with Cammalleri, there’s a chance Jagr could duplicate his 13-14 production. Clowe was fairly productive when healthy, but he’s a hard slap to the back of the head away from missing 3 months with another concussion. I’m hoping that Boucher makes the team and can provide an offensive spark, but the Devils will need to move some of the crappy forwards they have to open a spot. The minor league system is a joke, particularly their group of forwards, and it’s going to take several good years of drafting to rebuild.

  9. MannySilvers - Aug 30, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    As a Devils fan, in my opinion the hyping of Fayne as “super underrated” has gone a little too far. I get he has great possession numbers (and no this isn’t a “corsi is bull-crap post”) but two things to consider are A) the Devils are a great possession team and every d-man on the Devils has pretty stellar possession numbers (including Salvador and Volchenkov even) and he played with Andy Greene who’s one of the top possession d-men in the game. Not saying Fayne is terrible, but in my opinion he’s been over hyped a bit and I don’t think his loss will be particularly detrimental to the Devils.

    • zoojersey - Aug 30, 2014 at 5:21 PM

      I agree with your assessment of Fayne. I also agree that losing him will not “be particularly detrimental”.

      I was a bit surprised this writer wrote “sorely underrated defenseman” about him. Struck me as odd. The least corrosive area of the Devs is their defense, even with Fayne moving on.

  10. billiam55 - Aug 30, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    lol still cant believe they signed ryan clowe to that deal

    • barkar942 - Aug 30, 2014 at 2:46 PM

      He has compromising pictures of Lou seen in a Rangers jersey in a scum bar in Joizy City. LOL!

      • 950003cups - Aug 30, 2014 at 2:53 PM

        Most people in rangers jerseys can be found in scum bars in “Joizy City”.

  11. polkhigh4life - Aug 30, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    I think he just means that’s a lot of change to go thru in one year….bad luck was Kovy….we all knew Parise “missed” home and his BFF for life….overpaid bum

  12. mizzike20 - Aug 30, 2014 at 7:06 PM

    I’m failing to understand how this team didn’t improve this offseason. They will not be playing a goaltender with a sub .900 save percentage over 30 games this year, added the potential of 25-35 more goals on offense between Cammalleri and Havlat, and are still close to $5 million under the cap. Three of their potential top six d-men will be in their early 20’s with a nice season of NHL growth under their belts from last season. I don’t think NJ will be atop the conference, but a 5-8 seed is a very attainable goal for them.

  13. bush1069 - Aug 30, 2014 at 9:55 PM

    The east is not strong…they will be better…playoffs…I think so

  14. paulerhythm - Aug 30, 2014 at 9:58 PM

    I think the Metropolitan Division is so evenly matched that it will be the most entertaining to watch the jockeying of positions to make the post season. Let’s just say that the Atlantic Division has Boston, Montreal and Tampa Bay as a lock. In the Metro, let’s say Pittsburgh takes the Division. That leaves the Devils, Rangers, Islanders, Caps, Flyers and Jackets duking it out for the last 4 spots. Will the Devils be one of them? Stay tuned…

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