I’ll name it that because A) It’s true and B) I don’t know what the hell else we would talk about when it comes to New Jersey. Certainly not their hockey team, and certainly not the ambience. But I guess that’s our lot in life, so we’ll address Nico Hishier, Taylor Hall (for the 50 games he’s actually upright for), and whatever the hell else isn’t wearing green and red like they should be.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
’16-’17 Record: 28-40-14 70 points (dead-ass last in the Metro)
Team Stats 5vs: 47.8 CF% (27th) 47.4 SF% (26th) 47.7 SCF% (26th) 6.2 SH% (28th) .924 SV% (14th)
Special Teams: 17.5 PP% (22nd) 79.6 SV% (23rd)
Goalies: The year didn’t start off great for Cory Schneider when he was somehow demoted to the third-string on Team USA for the World Cup despite being clearly better than Jonathan Quick and Ben Bishop. But then again these things happen when John Tortorella is taking in oxygen anywhere near the premises. That certainly didn’t have anything to do with his somewhat below normal year, as his SV% dropped from .924 to .908 last year. Some of that was an even-strength drop from .933 to .921, and most of it was a drop while shorthanded from .880 to .855. You’d think that was a problem of the chances they were giving up, but at evens the Devils were actually one of the more miserly when it came to high-danger chances against. Not so much on the kill. Quite simply, Schneider just wasn’t as good, and now entering a season when he’ll turn 32 you can ask if maybe that ’15-’16 season is as good as it will get for him. It won’t matter for the Devils either way, but they might be wondering if he’ll be up to the task whenever they matter again. Then again, have the Devils ever mattered?
He’ll be backed up by Keith Kinkaid, who I’m pretty sure is in the league simply because he’s an alliteration.
Defense: Adam Greene and Ben Lovejoy might be the top pairing here. I really shouldn’t have to say too much more. Damon Severson just got new paper today and he’s like, ok. That’s about all you can say about him. LOCAL BOY and analytic heartthrob John Moore (riding through the glen) will join him on the second pair, and I guarantee this will probably be the last time you think about Damon Severson and John Moore, aside from the two games the Hawks play against them this year. They won the Will Butcher sweepstakes to install him on the third pairing, but if I spend any more time talking about the New Jersey Devils’ third pairing I’m just going to go open a vein and end what is obviously a life poorly spent and wasn’t any good to anyone else.
Forwards: I suppose there’s a little reason for excitement here, as #1 pick Nico Hischier has arrived to wonder why anyone from Europe would allow themselves the possibility of having to live and work in Newark (although I highly doubt any Devil actually lives in Newark). You’d have to believe at some point he’ll usurp Adam Henrique, who’s always been a “Oh right that guy!” kind of player, as the #1 center here to pair with Taylor Hall. They also signed Brian Boyle… because what a bottoming-out team really needs is a big doofus who can take faceoffs and really not much else? All of this probably moves Pavel Zacha to a wing, as yet another team doesn’t realize how much more value centers have over wings. Zacha looked to be putting it together toward the end of last year, so we’ll see how a move to the wing either blossoms or stunts that.
They traded for Marcus Johansson, which seems like a good pickup until you start wondering if he didn’t benefit from getting the hammock shifts in Washington and can he really carry more of the load on a top six now? Only one way to find out. Oh, and John Quenneville is here. I’m sure he’s full of grit and sandpaper and FAAAARRRRT
Outlook: It’s going to be another long year in the swamp, as it should be. This team is still a few years away, though I will admit they probably have it well time because by the time they’re ready for primetime, the Penguins should be pretty old, the Caps busted up, and they’ll only really have to worry about Carolina in the division who might have budget problems anyway. Schneider, if he returns to form, will probably have them win more games than they should, and the hope is that Hischier will flash some things to come in the future more consistently. But mostly the Devils will take place in a vacuum this year that you won’t even pay attention to, except for Rangers fans bitching about the trip and building when they have to go there because they couldn’t afford tickets at MSG. Good times.
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