The 2013-14 season for the New Jersey Devils in some ways was the end of an era. This was goalie Martin Brodeur’s last season with the Devils after 21 years and setting almost every goaltending record imaginable. New Jersey acquired who they imagine to be their goalie going forward in Cory Schneider from the Vancouver Canucks for last year’s first round draft pick. In the actual season, the New Jersey Devils finished in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division and missed the playoffs for the second straight season.
Coming into the season, New Jersey had the most experienced players in the league. The average age of the team is just over 30 years old, which is almost two years older than the next team average. The funny thing about this is that as you get older, your body starts taking longer to heal from injuries, but New Jersey has been able to remain relatively healthy compared to other teams in the division.
Leading the team is Jaromir Jagr, who is going to turn 43 in two weeks and is second on the team in points. The season started off well as the Devils went 5-3-2, but have had a losing record in every month after. Going into the All-Star break, New Jersey has been playing well going 5-4-1 over its last 10 games. Unfortunately for the Devils though, they are in seventh place in the division and well out of the playoff picture.
The biggest problem with the team has been their lack of a consistent offense. The team has averaged 2.2 goals per game which is the fourth lowest in the league. Their defense has dropped off as goalie Cory Schneider isn’t posting the below 2.0 goals per game he was doing last season. That was a major part of their limited success last year, but this season Schneider and backup Keith Kinkaid have a GAA around 2.5 and that’s too high for a team like this. New Jersey does have a good power play, ranked ninth best with a 20.9%, but other than that there haven’t been too many bright spots for this team.
Player who is overachieving: Jaromir Jagr, RW
Jagr isn’t having the best year, but nobody thought he would be the second leading scorer on the team. For the majority of the season, Jagr led the team but center Adam Henrique passed him on the last game before break. Jagr is third on the team in goals and is in a three-way tie for the most assists, so it is clear that his scoring touch is still there. It seems as though Jagr is fine with doing these year by year contracts and it has been a pretty good deal for both parties. It is unsure whether or not Jagr will be able to keep this up throughout the rest of the season, or even if he will remain on the team, but for now New Jersey will take any offense they can get.
Player who is underachieving: Andy Greene, D
There has been a lot of underachieving, but the New Jersey Devils have probably had enough with trying to figure out the defenseman. Greene has had an up and down career and this is one of the worst seasons he has had. He hasn’t scored a goal yet and even though his 11 assists are on pace for his career average. Greene has all but disappeared from the Devils power play though as he has only one assists and his time has decreased. While his time on the power play has decreased, he is still averaging 24 minutes on the ice every night, and that has contributed to the Devils struggles. New Jersey depends a lot on Greene to provide defensively as well as offensively, but he isn’t doing that.
Second Half Outlook
Looking at the Devils schedule it doesn’t look too difficult, but it looks scary when you have the fifth worst record in the league. 16 of the 35 games remaining on their schedule are against teams that would be in the playoffs. One bright spot for New Jersey is that they do have seven games against teams that have a worse record. Overall, the New Jersey Devils have been playing better so they could win a few more games, but most likely they will struggle when they start trading players away.
New Jersey has trade partner all over it as most people who are traded are veterans with expiring contracts. Jagr figures to be talked about as a piece to be traded and he could provide a playoff team with a talented winger with plenty of playoff experience. On top of Jagr, forward Michael Ryder and defenseman Marek Zidlicky are two names that could be on the move. Some teams are worried that they have too many youngsters without enough experience, well is quite the opposite and in a game like hockey, that can hurt you. Some teams like to play with more speed and that is something that the Devils don’t have. The New Jersey Devils will most likely miss the playoffs for the third straight season which should get their front office to start making moves to bring some youth in.