Skip to content

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.

Latest Posts
  1. What does Jack Eichel mean to the Buffalo Sabres?

    Aug 3, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    Jack Eichel Getty Images

    He’s already improved the perception of the franchise, but will he have that kind of impact long-term?

  2. MacLellan doesn’t think summer additions have to take from Johansson

    Aug 3, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    Marcus Johansson Getty Images

    He’ll have a tough time maintaining a top-six role though.

  3. Buffalo Sabres ’14-15 Outlook

    Aug 3, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    MATT MOULSON AP

    Despite all the splashy moves, patience likely will be needed.

  4. Poll: How soon will the Sabres make the playoffs?

    Aug 3, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    Tim Murray, Jack Eichel AP

    Pondering a rebuilding process that took a leap.

  5. Sabres’ biggest question: Defense

    Aug 3, 2015, 2:07 PM EDT

    Zach Bogosian, Boone Jenner AP

    Perhaps you can broaden this to “keeping the puck out of their net.”

  6. NHL ordered to turn over concussion data as part of lawsuit

    Aug 3, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Beyond Sport United 2015 Getty Images

    The league estimates such a process could cost about $13.5 million.

  7. Looking to make the leap: Sam Reinhart

    Aug 3, 2015, 11:57 AM EDT

    Sam Reinhart Getty Images

    In all likelihood Jack Eichel is going to make the team, but what about Buffalo’s other second overall pick?

  8. Under Pressure: Robin Lehner

    Aug 3, 2015, 10:42 AM EDT

    Robin Lehner, AP

    This is his chance to prove he’s a real No. 1 goalie.

  9. It’s Buffalo Sabres Day at PHT

    Aug 3, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    150803-Jack-Eichel2 Getty Images

    The worst should be behind them.

  10. Poll: Is Boudreau the right coach to lead Anaheim to a championship?

    Aug 2, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    Bruce Boudreau AP

    Is his poor Game 7 record reflective of anything?

  11. Ducks’ Biggest Question: Is their window already starting to close?

    Aug 2, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Ryan Kesler AP

    In other words, how much longer will Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler stay at the top of their game?

  12. In Bernier, Leafs hope they have a stabilizing force

    Aug 2, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    Jonathan Bernier Getty Images

    His newly signed two-year deal is an opportunity for

  13. Looking to make the leap: Nick Ritchie

    Aug 2, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    Nick Ritchie Getty Images

    He’s got the size and skill to potentially make an impact.

  14. Under Pressure: Anaheim’s goaltenders

    Aug 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    150802_FrederikAndersen Getty Images

    Andersen, Gibson & Khudobin have a combined 27 Stanley Cup playoff games on their resume.

  15. Bernier, Leafs agree on two-year, $8.3 million deal

    Aug 2, 2015, 11:48 AM EDT

    Jonathan Bernier Getty Images

    That will eat up his first year of UFA eligibility.

  16. Anaheim Ducks ’14-15 Outlook

    Aug 2, 2015, 11:28 AM EDT

    Calgary Flames v Anaheim Ducks - Game Five Getty Images

    Can they close to final gap between them and the Stanley Cup?

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. D. Stepan (2015)
  2. J. Toews (1636)
  3. N. Bonino (1586)
  4. E. Fehr (1527)
  5. B. Gionta (1440)
  1. C. Wilson (1367)
  2. G. Bettman (1355)
  3. L. Couture (1281)
  4. A. Chiasson (1252)
  5. S. Couturier (1234)