No matter which way you slice it, the New Jersey Devils are a team in a swamp of trouble right now. Here’s the statistical proof:
The Devils have been outscored 42-20 through 13 games (a -22 goal differential). The next closest team is Anaheim at (-13), thanks to a lousy start. No other team is in negative double figures.
The Devils are 30th in goals allowed, 25th in goals for, 29th on the power play, and 19th in penalty killing. They haven’t scored more than three goals in any game all season, with seven games with one or no goals. (Thanks to goalie reporter and disappointed Devils fan David Satriano for that one.)
Here is how the Devils’ scorers have struggled this season:
Ilya Kovalchuk has one goal and no assists in his last seven games (one goal and no assists since the infamous “benching” five games ago).
Travis Zajac has no goals and one assist in his last 11 games.
Jamie Langenbrunner has one goal and one assist in his last nine games.
Patrik Elias has one goal and one assist in his last ten games.
Jason Arnott has one goal and two assists in his last ten games. Arnott has struggled the least out of the bunch, but surprisingly, he was the player benched during Monday’s 3-0 loss in Vancouver. His comment after the game may be taken as a backhanded swipe toward Devils coach John MacLean, who has to be considered a favorite in the “first coach to be fired” pools currently running.
Rookie defenseman Matt Taormina leads the Devils with three goals. This stat is not a slight against Taormina, who has been one of the Devils’ few bright spots this season while looking like a borderline blueline fantasy option. However, your best players clearly have to be your best players, and this has not been the case for the Devils.
I haven’t even mentioned that Zach Parise is out indefinitely after it was revealed that he requires exploratory knee surgery. But there are a few short-term fantasy implications of Parise’s injury:
Although MacLean juggled his lines a little on Monday, Zajac still appears to be the center of choice for the $100 million man. Langenbrunner will also be playing on that line, meaning that if he can’t turn it around now, don’t expect him to at all this season. Arnott and Elias should form a second line that appears to be equally uninspiring right now.
Parise’s injury also means that the Kovalchuk experiment on the right side will end, at least for now. Kovalchuk should have an easier time attempting to produce on the left side, his natural position.
Before you stick a pitchfork in the Devils’ season, keep in mind that the Parise injury means that they can now afford to ice a full roster. If you’ve ever won or lost softball games because of a shortage of players on one team, then you’ll know what I mean.
As I mentioned before, if you own any Devils, don’t attempt to sell low, as this thing can only get better. After all, it can’t get any worse.
Tagged: Martin Brodeur
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