Tuesday, January 20, 2015

N.J. Devils: First Half Had Few Credible Highlights


So far, the firing of Peter DeBoer has failed to fan the flames.

1st Half ~ 7th Metropolitan Division
17-22-6 (42 points)

NEW JERSEY DEVILS: Lou Lamoriello Has Been Slow To Address An Aging Roster; Team Headed Towards 3rd Season Out Of Playoffs.

The Devils are in their third season since posting 102 points in 2011-12, and reaching the Stanley Cup finals against the Kings.

Last season, they fell to a 35-29-18 record for 88 points.  This season, gaining 80 points is questionable.

That's what happens when Martin Brodeur's Devils' career comes to an end; when Ilya Kovalchuk walks away from the NHL and still leaves behind a nearly $7 million dollar salary cap hit in 2014-15; when the organization fails to retain guys like Zach Parise, David Clarkson, and if you want to go back a little further, Brian Gionta, etc.

Instead, Scott Gomez is back.

Just saying...

Newark's 1st half highlights have so far been few, however, credible.  The Devils own victories over the Capitals, Penguins, a pair over the Lightning, and they defeated the Kings in Los Angeles last Wednesday by a 5-3 final.

Monday night, they turned in another impressive victory over the San Jose Sharks to end the first half of their season.  The team's leading goal scorer, Mike Cammalleri, broke a 2-2 tie in the second period with his 15th goal of the season.

But, despite their recent outbursts against L.A. and San Jose, it's no secret the Devils have trouble putting pucks on net, much less scoring goals.

Leading the Devils, Jaromir Jagr entered Monday night's game against the Sharks with 99 SOG this season.  Next was Michael Ryder with 83, followed by defenseman Marek Zidlicki with 76 shots on goal.  By comparison, the Islanders have 4 players with 100+ shots on goal, and another two players with 90+ SOG.

It's no wonder then, they rank 27th in the league in goals.  Their top three scorers; Jagr, Adam Henrique, and Mike Cammalleri; have only scored a combined 34 goals.  Henrique (10) and Cammalleri are the only Devils in double-digits.  By comparison, the Isles have 5 skaters in double digit goals, and the Rangers have three.  The Rangers Rick Nash has 28 goals, the Islanders John Tavares has 21, and as noted, Cammalleri leads the Devils with 15 goals.

Jagr leads the Devils with 25 points, and 16 assists.  He's played in 43 of 47 games this season, and averages 18:23 minutes a night.  On January 3rd against the Flyers, Jaromir Jagr became the oldest player in NHL history to register a hat trick.  He will turn 43-years old next month, and one has to ask how much longer can the Devils lean on him in the manner they do?

If Lou Lamoriello can negotiate a satisfactory deal, he should move Jagr to a willing contender, and begin adding more youth around Adam Henrique, and his young defensemen like Adam Larsson and Eric Gelinas.

The Devils are now 5-5-1 since Lou Lamoriello fired Peter DeBoer; a marginal improvement over their 12-17-7 record prior to his dismissal.

Lou Lamoriello is indeed famous for firing coaches.  I'm sure last season's 18 OT losses, failing to make the playoffs the past two seasons, and this year's poor start inspired Lou to make a move.  Peter DeBoer, however, deserved better.  Many aging players and matters of retention are Lou's problem, and Lou's only.

In just over 3 seasons, DeBoer posted a 119-88-42 record, had them playing ferocious hockey through various stretches of his tenure, and led them to the finals.


With a goal and two assists on January 6th against the Sabres, Patrik Elias scored the 1,000th point, and registered the 600th assist of his NHL career.


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