Was last year a fluke for the New Jersey Devils? Or will they turn it around?

It has certainly be a rough start for the Devils. They are 9-10-3 with 21 points, they sit 8th in the Metropolitan division, 14th in the Eastern Conference and 26th in the NHL. They rank 23rd in goals for (65),  11th in goals against (72), 13th in power play percentage (20.8), 18th in shots against per game (30.8) and it seems like things are not getting any better for the Devils. 

In the last ten games the Devils are 4-3-2, scoring 29 goals and allowing 32 goals. Of those 29 goals the Devils have scored they have had 12 different goal scorers. Taylor Hall scored 6 of the 29 goals, Brian Boyle had four, Kyle Palmieri had three, Pavel Zacha had four, Travis Zajac had four. The point behind this is the big reason the Devils are struggling is because of depth scoring and defensive scoring. Of the 29 goals there was only two goals by defenseman. Will Butcher and Damon Severson, as well Nico Hischier only had one goal, Marcus Johansson had only one goal. The heroic story of Jesper Bratt has seemed to slow down, Hischier has only 4 goals in 18 games this year, Johansson has just 3 goals in 21 games, Miles Wood has been near irrelevant with just 5 points in 21 games. The Devils are lacking depth scoring and back end scoring. 

Devils lacking defensive contribution 

Of the Devils 65 goals this season the defense has contributed 5 goals to that 65 total. The Devils have two defenseman leading the way essentially are Butcher with 8 points in 22 games and Severson with 14 points in 22 games. Yet, Butcher’s 8 points is a major drop off to what he was last year at this point, being almost a point per game player and an impactful force. Unless Butcher is on the power play he is not going to produce it seems, as he has just 2 points this season five on five. Sami Vatanen has only 9 points in 19 games, they did bring this guy in to be more of an offensive defenseman who can be a solid power play two option as well as help lead the play out of the defensive end. Vatanen has not lived up to much in New Jersey. After the three mentioned above, Andy Greene has only 5 points in 22 games, sure he is not a production type player but with Butcher struggling, Vatanen slow to start and Ben Lovejoy and Egor Yakovlev only producing a combined 4 points. The Devils defense contribution struggles and it is hurting the team early on here. 

Scoring depth absence for New Jersey 

You may be saying but Blake Coleman is chipping in, Brian Boyle too, Pavel Zacha came back hot they are going to be fine. How realistic is it to imagine Brian Boyle scoring 25 plus this season? Slim. Zacha can be at least a 20-goal player but consistency has killed the young forward and Blake Coleman will probably be the only one to actually consistently produce month by month. Anyways when looking at the Devil’s top six scorers, Taylor Hall (23), Kyle Palmieri (21), Travis Zajac (14), Demon Severson (14) Blake Coleman (13), Nico Hischier (13) after those six there is a major drop off, to players with 8 points, 6 points and 5 points, they lack depth scoring and there has been very little offensive production besides Hall and Pals this season. The Devils other 10 forwards have a combined 23 goals. Without Brian Boyle’s 7 goals that would make it 16 goals between nine forwards. This is a clear suggestion that the Devils need to either shake lines up or talk to their struggling forwards like Bratt, Woods, Johansson and Hischier to get on the board more and consistently. The Devils do not get some depth scoring in the coming months they will be finding themselves looking out sooner than later and it could be a long off season for New Jersey fans.  

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