There are still 79 games to go in the 2019-20 NHL season, but for our New Jersey Devils, things are already looking grim. The team is off to a terrible 0-2-1 start, made even worse by the way a 4-0 lead slipped away and only one point was salvaged on opening night. While the team certainly looked promising in preseason, the regular season has seen the squad look slow, uncoordinated and generally…well…a mess. So what changed in one week from preseason’s end to the Winnipeg Disaster?
To be honest, personnel-wise, not much had changed since the preseason; the Devils sent Matt Tennyson, Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian down to Binghamton and returned Ty Smith to his junior team for one more season. None of these moves were unexpected, however, with the possible exception of Smith; with his preseason performance though, him being sent back was for the best. Still, the Devils were left with a roster that was much improved from last season, as P.K. Subban, Nikita Gusev, Jesper Boqvist, Jack Hughes and a healthy Taylor Hall made the Devils much better on paper.
Yet, it’s not manifesting in the results on the ice, particularly in the team’s own end where they’ve allowed 16 goals (“good” for third worst in the entire league right now) while only putting six in for themselves. The team’s scoring leader? Blake Coleman with three points in three games. While Coleman has been pretty good, the rest of this “improved” team has been for the most part putrid. Only four players (including Coleman) have recorded multiple points through three games. The goaltending has been downright atrocious, with both ‘tenders owning a save percentage below .900. So is it time to panic?